‘No longer in no man’s land’ – Mercedes put on notice by rival after Suzuka breakthrough

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton leads George Russell in Mercedes formation

Lewis Hamilton ahead of George Russell.

Aston Martin are full of optimism after the Japanese Grand Prix where they had the beating of Mercedes, as they now chase confirmation of this huge step.

The 2023 season saw Aston Martin establish themselves as the early feel-good story of the grid, the team surging out of the lower midfield to score consistent podium finishes, though the momentum slowed and that continued into F1 2024. But, have they now turned the tide?

Aston Martin put Mercedes on notice

P6 last time out for Fernando Alonso may not have been an amazing result on the face of it, but the two-time World Champion hailed that drive from P5 on the grid as potentially one of the top five performances of his career, as he kept McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and the Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton at bay.

For Aston Martin team boss Mike Krack, that marked a clear step forward as he now looks to the upcoming Chinese Grand Prix and beyond to confirm this as fact, which potentially would not bode well for Mercedes.

“I think we can agree that we were not in no man’s land and that is positive,” said Krack, as per Motorsport.com.

“Because here, with the high degradation and – you can pass, we have seen you can pass in incredible places, although I wasn’t aware that you can pass through the Esses – but you see that with a large enough pace delta and tyre delta, you can do it if you’re brave enough.

“But we did not seem to be in no-man’s land. We seem to be in the pack. We were ahead of the Mercedes. So that is very encouraging.

“But again, it’s one data point. Bahrain is easier to pass than here. But we were never really under threat, let’s put it like that. Let’s see, we need to confirm over the next races.”

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Aston Martin introduced an upgraded floor, sidepods and beam wing at Suzuka in the hope of latching onto the Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes ‘best of the rest pack’, with the team at the tail end of that in Mercedes having seemingly been successfully caught.

However, without the numbers yet on what impact the upgrades made, Krack said his team now need to pick through the data and learn the impacts which they had.

“We’re looking into everything at the moment to try and understand and quantify”, he confirmed. “Again, it’s one data sample. And this is something we need to find out.

“I said it before, cars are complex, and sometimes you need a bit more time to really understand what you have changed. It was not easy with the lost session [rain-affected FP2] that we had on Friday. So we are learning a lot about it.

“Again, I don’t have the full numbers yet in terms of, we know how far off we were in the first races and it seems we have been a bit closer now. This we need to understand – how much is it? And where do we move from here?”

Aston Martin go into the Chinese Grand Prix P5 and just a point behind Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship.

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