Aston Martin broke sprint ‘rule’ at US GP and prepared to do it again

Michelle Foster
Mike Krack watches on from the garage. Budapest, Hungary. July 2023.

Mike Krack watches on from the garage.

Mike Krack admits it was always a risk for Aston Martin to bring upgrades to a Sprint weekend, but while it was a “lesson learned” that doesn’t mean they won’t do it again.

Bringing an updated floor and bodywork to the Circuit of The Americas, Aston Martin had just one hour of practice in which to understand the new parts and find the right set-up.

But losing Lance Stroll due to a brake issue after just five laps, it was left to Fernando Alonso to do all the set-up work.

Aston Martin started both cars from the pit lane after major set-up changes

With their “homework” minimal, both drivers failed to make it out of Q1 a few hours later with Alonso qualifying 17th and Stroll P19.

That led to the team making the decision to start Alonso and Stroll from the pit lane, opting to make set-up changes that meant they broke parc ferme rules.

While Alonso’s AMR23 reverted to the Qatar spec to allow Aston Martin to run a comparative test, Stroll continued with the new floor but with major set-up changes to his car.

He recovered to finish seventh while Alonso retired due to floor damage caused by the brutal COTA bumps.

“You have to accept that after three days of really hard work, there are a couple of smiling faces in the garage,” Krack said in his post-race debrief. “And this is also well deserved.

“But you have also to see what a missed opportunity it might have been.

“And this is the reality. So, fact is that on Friday, we should have done our homework, we didn’t do it. And we had the consequences all over the weekend.

“Now, there is always the rule, don’t bring upgrades to the Sprint weekend.

“When you take this decision to do it, nevertheless, you know what the risk is, and then you cannot complain when it happens. It’s another lesson learned.”

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Team boss won’t rule out more Sprint upgrades

But having conceded that it was a lesson learned that doesn’t mean Aston Martin won’t do it again.

Asked if he would have done things differently and delayed introducing upgrades until a standard weekend, Krack replied: “I think you need to differentiate, you cannot just say no.

“You need to be aware of the risk. And we lost the Friday due to preparation, we were not well enough prepared, we overheated the front corners, and we lost the session.

“When you have only one hour when we came here, we said we have to be 100% in this one session. If we have one glitch, you don’t have the data that you want to have.

“And we had a glitch, and we didn’t have the data.

“So I think it’s manageable if you have no issues, to bring upgrades into a Sprint. And other teams are doing it. It’s doable, but the risk is higher.”

In the end, Aston Martin walked away from Texas with another six points on the board, however, they still lost fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship to McLaren who are now six points ahead.

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