Aston Martin are going against the grain amongst the leading teams, as they bid to end the F1 2023 season on a high.
Aston Martin started the season in sensational form, with Fernando Alonso scoring six podium finishes in the first eight races. However, just one podium in the last eight races has seen Alonso slip to fourth overall, with the team falling away to the same position in the Constructors’ Championship.
Worse, the team are having to look over their shoulders at the approaching McLaren as the Woking-based outfit have improved their MCL60 immeasurably through the middle part of the season in what has been a mirror image of Aston Martin’s season.
Mike Krack: We have to accept we haven’t developed as well
Having started the 2023 season with one of the quickest cars on the grid, the fact of the matter is that the Silverstone-based squad – perhaps unsurprisingly, given their lack of experience at the front – have fallen away through the relentless development cycle of the season.
“At the start of the season, we were a bit surprised that we had the second-fastest car,” performance director Tom McCullough has said.
“But our pursuers weren’t far behind back then. They then developed faster and better. We have to accept that. We slowly fell to the bottom of that group.”
However, unlike the majority of the frontrunning teams, who have switched off development for 2023 as the focus changes to next year, Aston Martin will keep up the development – including the introduction of upgrades – of the AMR23.
Last month, team boss Mike Krack said “We will still continue to develop it for a while. Because we think the regulations are stable and what we learn on this car we can translate it into next year’s.
“From the moment that it becomes a hindrance for the new path, we will obviously stop, but this is not the case.”
Having introduced upgrades that haven’t had as much effect as might have been anticated through the middle portion of the season, Krack said the aim is to reverse the trend of recent races heading into the final part of this season.
“Our upgrades didn’t do as much as we had hoped,” he said.
“Of course, we always question whether the methods and the development direction were correct. Then you have to make the necessary changes for the future.
“We have the reverse situation from last year. If you get off to a good start and then the others gradually overtake you, it’s not good for morale. Therefore, it is very important for us to reverse the trend. We have to turn it around, wherever we end up then.”
Aston Martin’s lead over fifth-place McLaren is down to 49 points with six races remaining, a small lead considering the speed McLaren have shown in recent races. In the last three races since Alonso’s second-place finish at Zandvoort, Aston Martin have scored just six points. McLaren have scored 61.
Despite this, Krack is confident that, should his team perform at 100%, Aston Martin can hold onto fourth place.
“I think we have a couple of races to go, plenty of opportunities and we need to maximise every weekend,” he said.
“We have not done that for a while now. We have managed to do that earlier in the season so it’s on us.
“We don’t have to look at others, we have to deliver 100% at all times, in all sessions. We had reliability glitches, and we had operational ones that we didn’t have at the beginning of the season and that is something we really need to improve on to get the maximum out of the car at all times. And if we manage that, I think there will be opportunities.”