F1 News: Aston Martin had one hand tied behind its back in Canada

Aston Martin AMR23, CanadianGP
Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR23. 18.06.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

Fernando Alonso claimed his sixth podium in eight races at the Canadian GP, once more putting himself near the front of the F1 news cycle by performing at a high level in qualifying and the race with the newly upgraded AMR23.

Aston Martin’s updates for the streets of Montreal were highly anticipated, as the Silverstone squad worked to bring the necessary improvements to respond to the recent upgrades introduced by rivals.

Mercedes found plenty of lap-time with their recent updates at the Catalunya circuit in Spain, and these positive indicators were validated by the W14’s performance last weekend. 

Even Ferrari are finding some joy with their latest changes, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz giving positive feedback about the SF-23’s handling in Canada – which translated to impressive lap-times over race distance.

With this in mind, Aston Martin were no doubt pleased to make a forward step with its latest package. Even Max Verstappen was relatively closer, as Alonso kept him company for most of the afternoon in Canada.

Although extraneous factors (like a bird getting stuck in the Dutchman’s brakes) played a role, the fact remains that the 9-seconds separating the Aston and the Red Bull at the chequered flag was the smallest gap of 2023.

However, the disrupted nature of Friday practice – alongside the rain of Saturday – meant that Aston Martin had little time to understand and optimise their new parts.

It takes a few race weekends for teams to collect adequate data on their updates at the best of times, never mind when two of the three practice sessions of the weekend are either interrupted or in wet conditions.

Alonso touched upon this issue post-race:

“We still need to understand and optimise the package a little bit and in Austria, obviously with the sprint, we will have only FP1 to do that.

“But yeah, it is what it is. The circuit will be good and maybe better for the package as well, this one with a strange layout, let’s say.”

Aston Martin’s new floor in Canada, including a revised outer edge and undercut – Illustration by Rosario Giuliana

The cancelled Imola GP forced Mercedes to introduce their updates at Monaco (perhaps the worst track to bring new parts), which created some lag time before meaningful data could be gathered.

After two clean weekends in Spain and Canada, the Silver Arrows have been able to draw some conclusions. Among these conclusions was confirmation that – for the first time under these regulations – there are no longer correlation issues between the simulator and the track.

Returning to Aston Martin (who haven’t struggled with such correlation issues), it will also take a few rounds before they can fully understand the limitations and strengths of their new parts.

A new floor was one of the updates parts of the AMR23, one of the most important areas of performance for this generation of F1 cars.

Rain during FP3 also prevented Alonso from running a more experimental set-up with the suspension, which would have been targeted at addressing the relative weakness of the AMR23 when riding curves.

The full race distance in Canada would have been helpful, but with the final stretch of rounds before the summer break approaching, it will be imperative to be efficient in the races ahead.

Climbing to the front over winter was a fantastic achievement, but the next test for Aston Martin will be to establish itself as a regular front-running team.

Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang