Aston Martin’s pre-season testing gets off to the worst possible start

Jamie Woodhouse
Aston Martin AMR23 on recovery truck. Bahrain, February 2023.

The Aston Martin AMR23 on the recovery truck after breaking down in testing. Bahrain, February 2023.

Aston Martin already suffered a blow with Lance Stroll’s absence from Bahrain testing, and things did not get much better as the AMR23 quickly came to a halt on day one.

With Stroll absent from the Bahrain test due to “minor injuries” which he suffered in a cycling accident while training in Spain, Aston Martin’s reserve and reigning Formula 2 champion Drugovich was drafted in to take the Canadian’s place on Day One of three at the Bahrain pre-season test.

But as the Brazilian racer headed out onto the track, surely beaming underneath that helmet at the opportunity which he was embarking on, it took only a few corners until he was forced to park the AMR23 at the side of the track down at Turn 4.

That meant a very early red flag to bring a temporary halt to proceedings as the AMR23 was loaded onto the recovery truck, and the customary black sheet was fitted over Aston Martin’s new challenger.

Drugovich is scheduled to be in the car for the morning session before handing over to Fernando Alonso for the afternoon.

The team were described in the paddock as being in “maximum secrecy mode” over their troubles in the immediate aftermath, with team boss Mike Krack ultimately revealing that “Felipe stopped on track due to an electronics issue that has now been resolved.”

Judging by the very glum expression on Alonso’s face, the Spaniard having been so upbeat upon joining his new team, this was also far from the start to proceedings that he had in mind.

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The car was quickly returned to the team’s garage where the mechanics were seen to be working on the front of the power unit, on the intake. Fortunately, with three hours remaining on the clock for the morning session, Drugovich was able to return to the circuit.

With this three-day pre-season test the only ahead of F1 2023, there is precious little time before the season then gets underway at the Bahrain International Circuit on the following weekend.