The Bahrain GP confirmed the suspicions about Aston Martin that first emerged during the winter break, with Fernando Alonso taking an impressive podium in his AMR23.
Lance Stroll also contributed to Aston Martin’s points haul in round 1, battling injury and limited pre-season testing to put the team second in the constructors’ standings.
Although Fernando Alonso only showed the full extent of his pace and tyre management at the end of the Grand Prix, Aston was uncontroversially the second or third-fastest team in Bahrain.
Considering their unprecedented start to 2023, the Silverstone team’s chances of sustaining their early momentum have become a popular area of discussion in F1 circles.
Aston Martin developed impressively last season, clawing themselves out of an embarrassing start to the new regulations and introducing a different concept at the Spanish GP.
Then again, competing against midfield teams is quite different to being in a development race against titans of F1 such as Mercedes and Ferrari.
Still, the challenges facing both these outfits give Aston Martin a window of opportunity to capitalise on, not just this season but for 2024 as well.
Their development trajectory should be far more streamlined than the two previously mentioned rivals, and additional wind tunnel time should help the British squad to better optimise its aggressive new package.
Speaking after the Bahrain GP, however, Mike Krack made sure to put the team’s performance in perspective:
“Monumental efforts from the team, you will probably remember twelve months ago.
“We had a very difficult first three races; we came last to Imola. But I think one of our great strengths of this year is teamwork.”
“I think it is this union that makes our strength. I think this is also what has helped us to progress – but it will not be easy all the time.”
The Aston Martin team principal did not shy away from the team’s speed in Sakhir – but was unwilling to make any conclusions after just one race:
“Maybe today [Aston was second-fastest], but we need to keep our feet on the ground. There will be new cars in Jeddah [with updates], a completely different track.
“And we must also not forget who we are with here – Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull. They are really strong teams we respect a lot.
“It can well be that in two weeks’ time, we are fourth or fifth or sixth.”
Mike Krack’s comments, whilst conservative, are still appropriate for Aston Martin.
The expectation surrounding the team has only grown since pre-season testing, so managing this wave of excitement will be important.
Aston Martin is already punching above its own weight to compete against manufacturer teams, so crowning them as the second-fastest team outright could be a step too far.
There is no denying the legitimate performance and potential at Aston Martin, but the team’s resources will be focused on optimising their current package – as opposed to making direct comparisons.