The 2023 season kicked off with high hopes for Aston Martin as they unveiled their F1 powerhouse, the AMR23. It was a promising start, with the car surprisingly proving to be the second-fastest on the Bahrain circuit, just behind Red Bull. The excitement peaked when Fernando Alonso secured a podium finish. However, as the season unfolded, the team’s fortunes took a downturn, leaving them with one last chance to redeem themselves before the season’s end.
Reports hinted at a robust winter development program, which seemed poised to inject more speed into the AMR23 compared to the previous year. The evidence was clear when Fernando Alonso’s qualifying time in 2023 was over two seconds faster than his 2022 qualifying time.
Aston Martin seemed to be on the right track, securing six podiums in eight races and appearing to challenge the dominance of Mercedes and Ferrari. However, their journey took an unexpected turn after the Canadian Grand Prix. In Montreal, a significant upgrade was introduced, including a new floor, and Alonso once again claimed a podium finish, reinforcing the belief that these upgrades were effective.
But the victory in Canada turned out to be a deceptive smokescreen. Subsequent races witnessed the AMR23 losing its top speed advantage and struggling in low-speed corners. The car, which had shown promise at the start of the season, became increasingly problematic. Meanwhile, McLaren managed to improve their car’s performance after Austria, leaving Aston Martin trailing.
Despite corrective updates in Belgium and Zandvoort, the AMR23’s struggles continued, as evidenced by disappointing results in Singapore and Japan. Aston Martin found itself trailing not only the top teams like Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren but also its own performance from the previous year, with Alonso’s Q3 time being slower than Sebastian Vettel’s from the previous season.
The Road Ahead
With just six Grand Prix remaining in the season, team principal Mike Krack has promised a series of upgrades by the final race in Abu Dhabi. The hope is that these upgrades will perform nothing short of miracles, as failure to address the AMR23’s issues could carry them into the next season, posing a significant challenge for technical director Dan Fallows in reversing the car’s problems.
The path Aston Martin chooses to follow in the coming weeks will be critical in shaping their strategy for the 2024 season. These decisions will determine their winter workflow and development direction after the conclusion of the 2023 season.
The worst-case scenario for Aston Martin would be a failure to diagnose and rectify the problems plaguing the AMR23. Such a setback could undermine their confidence in their simulation tools and development processes during the winter months.