The first team to change concepts in the ground effect aerodynamic era, Aston Martin’s Tom McCullough has revealed the downwash design was actually “worse” on paper only to prove to be better on the track.
Last season Aston Martin introduced a B-spec AMR22 at the Spanish Grand Prix, the car making headlines as it leant towards the Red Bull look and was dubbed the ‘green Red Bull’ in the media.
Questions were asked about the legality of the car given the change was made under Red Bull’s former head of aerodynamics Dan Fallows’ watch with the Briton having joining Aston Martin in April 2022.
The FIA cleared Aston Martin of any suspicion and declared the revised car to be entirely their own IP with Aston Martin saying they’d already been working on the Red Bull-esque concept back in September of the previous year.
McCullough says they didn’t put it on the track and instead went with the other concept they were working on because the downwash philosophy looked “worse” on paper.
But with the AMR22 suffering with extreme bouncing, to the point where the drivers were breaking the floors, Aston Martin made the call to change philosophies and found that what didn’t work on paper, worked on the track.
“In the development phase of the ’22 car, we very much went two different routes and then one route we parked and another seemed to be really good,” Aston Martin performance director McCullough said as per The Race.
“We then took the car to the track and the bouncing, porpoising was horrendous. We really tried to get on top of that porpoising, but everything we were doing wasn’t making big enough steps without losing too much performance.
“So we kept going down the route of losing a lot of performance to stop the porpoising, but we never seem to be able to do both.
“Then we went back to the other philosophy, which on paper was worse but when you put it to the car, the first time we ran it in Barcelona, we had no porpoising. And from then you started learning and tuning.
“It helped that we designed the car with two different regimes and layouts, the chassis was designed to accept both. We got a lot of data from both ways and we just accepted that what we’ve done, we couldn’t get on top of the porpoising so we had to switch.
“Pretty easy for us really, at that point, especially also because the car at the time, the Red Bull and a bit the Ferrari had gone that other philosophy and you see they’re competitive and not porpoising as badly. That also makes you think, let’s crack on with the idea.”
It’s a lesson that Mercedes are learning today with the Brackley squad having introduced a B-spec car earlier this season, one that is in keeping with the Red Bull and Aston Martin downwash concept.
Aston Martin’s progress, slow last season before kicking off this year, is perhaps a warning to Mercedes about what awaits them in today’s F1 world with its budget cap.
“The philosophy started really in March last year and this car is an evolution of that philosophy,” McCullough said.
“The car that we brought to Spain, that philosophy, has just been developed throughout last year, then again, continuing over the winter some quite big steps [were made] because during the year there’s only so much you can change because of cost cap.
“But we tried to give ourselves the freedom to keep developing the car. So when we’re designing the chassis, the floor, the radiator layout, the idea was to give ourselves the volume potential just to keep developing the car and so far that’s working pretty well.”