Aston Martin analyse chances of further jump that would put them ‘well ahead of Red Bull’

Michelle Foster
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin and Sergio Perez, Red Bull

Fernando Alonso leads Sergio Perez at the 2023 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Shaving as much as two seconds off their lap time over the winter, performance director Tom McCullough says a repeat performance would see Aston Martin surge ahead of Red Bull.

He, however, has conceded it is “not going to happen” between now and 2024’s season-opener in Bahrain.

Seventh in last year’s championship, Aston Martin made major strides forward over the winter with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff declaring it was as much as “two seconds” that they’d gained.

‘We’d be well ahead of Red Bull, which is not going to happen’

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

That saw Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso carrying the best-of-the-rest tag behind Red Bull in the opening part of the season as the Spaniard secured six podiums in eight races.

But while the team lost ground as the season progressed as they went down the “wrong” path with their upgrades, they bounced back towards the end of the campaign.

So much so Alonso could hold off Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship.

It begs the question can Aston Martin do it again?

McCullough, the team’s performance director, says probably not while explaining that the jump wasn’t as big as it appeared to those looking in from the outside.

“Obviously, I think it’s helped when you weren’t as strong last season to make such a big jump,” he told the media including PlanetF1.com.

“If we were to make the same jump now, we’d be well ahead of Red Bull. Which is not going to happen.

“We actually in all honesty during last year were developing the car and by the end of the year, we were actually a lot closer to the fourth fastest team.

“So the jump… yes, we’re closer to the front but the jump wasn’t as big if you’re looking at the start of 2022, not at the end of 2022.

“It just shows you that with stable regulations there’s always an element of convergence. Now, some teams have developed really well this year, but I think they’d be the first to admit they started badly as well. So I think next year, it’s going to be fantastic for the sport.

“I think it’s going to be again that trackside execution is going to be important. The margins I don’t think are going to be enormous, but everyone’s trying to get that extra 10, 15,20 points more than everybody else because that just gives you the advantage on track.”

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‘Push a few areas a bit harder to get a bit more performance’

Struggling to enter the podium battle in the latter part of the season, Alonso complained at times about his AMR23’s straight-line speed.

That hampered the Spaniard’s efforts after pit stops as he tried to regain lost positions, Alonso notably complaining about it at the Japanese Grand Prix where he said the team had “thrown me to the lions”.

McCullough accepts maximising the DRS is an area in which Aston Martin can still improve.

“There’s been very little non-DRS running, and I think we’re not that far out of bed with most people from a non-DRS,” he said.

“Your DRS is important for your straight-line speed when you’re open the DRS. And that’s still an area that I think we can improve on more.

“We know first us the stability, the aerodynamics has been key, to give the drivers a platform that they can rely on and are comfortable with.

“But we need to sort of push a few areas a bit harder to get a bit more performance.”

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