‘Major car changes could see Aston Martin fall behind in F1 2023 development race’

Oliver Harden
Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin AMR23. Silverstone February 2023.

Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin AMR23. Silverstone February 2023.

A respected Formula 1 technical analyst fears that Aston Martin’s sweeping changes to their 2023 Formula 1 car could hurt the team in this season’s development race.

Aston Martin revealed what technical director Dan Fallows hailed as a “bold and aggressive” design with the launch of the AMR23 car on Monday, with the car featuring a revised nose and sidepod structure.

Expectations are growing around the Silverstone-based team following the arrival of two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso, with Aston Martin set for a much-improved season after missing out on sixth in the Constructors’ Championship to Ferrari customers Alfa Romeo in 2022.

Appearing on F1 journalist Peter Windsor’s YouTube channel, technical expert Craig Scarborough has claimed that Aston Martin have built one of the most interesting cars of 2023, which has been heavily influenced by the designs of other teams.

He said: “They’ve produced one of the most changed cars on the grid and that’s kind of good and bad in some respects.

“They came from a long way back last year and had a far more successful season in the end than it looked when they first went testing and the car really has grabbed the best concepts from up and down the grid, as have many other teams to be fair, but I think they’ve applied them in a way that’s quite interesting.

“The overall layout of the car is following the fairly consistent pattern we’ve seen with the rest of the cars.

“They’ve changed the nose, it looks a little bit lower. If you remember last year, it looked really raised in the middle. They’ve lowered it, they’ve made a lot more downforce in the middle of the wing and the areas just inboard of the front tyres. That’s all quite interesting.

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“Then we come to the sidepods and they’ve taken influences from everywhere really. There’s a bit of Red Bull in there, a bit of Ferrari and some of their own philosophies.

“From the inlet you then have this sculpted, ridged-side sidepod – but rather than that just being a shoulder that ends as you start to go into the coke bottle, that ridged shoulder goes all the way down into the diffuser.

“So what they’re doing is building this airflow arc that goes down the ramp of the sidepod, constrained by this shoulder all the way down to the diffuser.

“That looks really cool. It’s really interesting from my point of view [working out if] it’s going to work.

“Historically, when you have people trying to guide airflow over large lengths of the car, it doesn’t tend to work.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if that gets tweaked over the season but it just shows that they’re really working very hard to get that sidepod overflow over the top, around the sides and down to the diffuser and the beam wing, which is the real area that helps produce the downforce from the underfloor. That’s all really interesting.

“Lots of other little tweaks up and down the car. They’ve changed the roll hoop shape quite significantly, it’s that slightly squared-off shape with a very V-shaped central structure in the middle.

“So overall they’ve really worked quite hard on that car to bring it up to what a 2023 car should look like rather than something that’s been copied from a 2022 car.

“It looks good, they’ve obviously got the right people onboard there as well, so fingers crossed that brings them into the area where their spending, investment and potential should bring them.”

Scarborough outlined the challenges of the major reconstruction surgery to the sidepod area and believes that the huge work carried out by the team over the winter could leave Aston Martin lagging behind in the development race in the era of F1’s budget cap and aerodynamic research restrictions.

He added: “It will have some repackaging, certainly where you put the side-impact structures coming out of the side of the cockpit, which will be the key thing, but also to the flanks of the monocoque.

“Most people have now brought the inlets on to the side of the monocoque and that undercut underneath is literally the bare monocoque – there’s no gap between the sidepod bodywork and the structure of the car, so tight is the bodywork under there now.

“So you’ve had to repackage electronics, hydraulics and cooling and that’s a big job.

“They did part of that job through the season last year, but certainly when you see that level of reconstruction to the car’s design, that’s where you start to see your fixed budget get eaten up because everything you have to change costs you money and every hour in the wind tunnel uses up your aero testing restriction allocation.

“The question will be, ‘have Aston Martin left enough in the pot to keep the development going through the year?’

“They seem to be a wise bunch of people so I wouldn’t be surprised if they have, but if we think back to their days as Force India it was something of a problem of theirs, maintaining development through the season.

“We’ll see if the team have improved in that respect as the year progresses.”