Excitement about a potential Fernando Alonso podium challenge will build all the way up to Sunday’s Bahrain GP, but Aston Martin are staying calm.
Whisperings about Aston Martin being the big movers of 2023 were a theme of the off-season, but the team’s pre-season testing performance exceeded expectations.
Ignoring all “it’s only testing” caveats, Alonso and stand-in driver Felipe Drugovich sank into an AMR23 that is showing huge promise. The Brazilian talent was described as “faultless” while Alonso’s single-lap and long-run pace sent the imaginations of “Nando” fans wild.
The Spaniard hasn’t piloted an F1 car with true Grand Prix-winning, or even regular podium-contending pace since his Ferrari exit in 2014. It will be a decade since Alonso’s last celebrated on the podium’s top step in May and at 41 years old, his move to Aston has been widely seen as a final roll of the dice to get back into race-winning machinery.
With the spotlight shining on Aston Martin, team principal Mike Krack wants to manage the Silverstone outfit’s expectations for Round 1.
“You know these dynamics that you can sometimes get, it’s like when word goes around the children at school,” the Aston Martin team principal told media including PlanetF1.com in Bahrain.
“So I think we need to keep our feet on the ground, expectations are always high at this time of the year, everybody wants to do well.
“We are realists. We have clear objectives: that is to improve compared to where we were last year.”
Last year was was a whole different story. With the retiring Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll at the wheel, the Silverstone team finished their second season since the Aston Martin rebrand in P7. The first half of the season was spent treading water after a rocky start, before gradually rising towards a strong finish.
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Now, the AMR23 looks capable of at least matching the team’s last season as Racing Point, when Sergio Perez led the team to fourth place on the Constructors’ standings via a victory on the outer circuit at Sakhir.
With the hype only building outside the team, Krack explained how he manages expectations internally.
“First of all, it’s a very good and very experienced team. It’s not the first year that we are that we are doing this,” Krack added.
“People have learned a lot from last year and we are very humble people, as a team. We are not coming with big words, we have never been.
“So from that point of view. the expectations are let’s try to improve and then we see what what is the outcome because you cannot predict it.”
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher