Aston Martin will bring a new rear wing to Baku as they look to use their wind tunnel time advantage to reel in the aerodynamically efficient Red Bull RB19.
The leap which Aston Martin have made between last season and this one has been one of F1 2023’s main talking points so far, the team having gone from P7 finishers in 2022 to now holding P2 in the Constructors’ standings after three races.
And due to their lowly finish last season, it means Aston Martin have more time in the wind tunnel than current rivals Mercedes and Ferrari, with their biggest advantage being over Red Bull.
That is because on top of the sliding scale which awards more time the lower a team finishes in the standings, Red Bull also lost a further 10 per cent due to a minor breach of the 2021 cost cap.
And so, Aston Martin have been doing a great deal of work in the wind tunnel early this season, with the upcoming Azerbaijan GP at the Baku City Circuit set to yield some physical proof of what they have been working on.
“It’s definitely an advantage, we try to use it as much as we can,” Aston Martin performance director Tom McCullough told AS. “The more time you have, the more sessions you do and the more things you can analyse.
“We are every week in the wind tunnel looking for development avenues that can bring significant performance, keeping the cost ceiling in mind. From Baku onwards, parts will come in. It’s really the process that everyone is doing right now.
“Mercedes, Ferrari and us are close since testing. There are small differences between efficiency, slow corner, medium corner, fast corner. The cars do similar times but they do it in different ways.
“Our car is more about cornering than straight-line speed. Last year we made a lot of rear wings to have an optimal rear wing for many circuits, but that’s very expensive.
“This year we have had the same wing for three races. We will introduce a rear wing at Baku, where a lot of efficiency is required, but we plan everything from a cost ceiling perspective.”
And with the reveal that the AMR23 is designed to maximise the corner performance, it perhaps gives a strong indication as to why that Red Bull RB19 appears to mighty in a straight-line, especially when DRS is open, which can make overtaking something of a no-contest.
McCullough then would go into more detail over how he feels Red Bull are making their RB19 so strong, without doubt the top car on the grid having taken all three race wins and poles so far this season.
And one which McCullough admits Aston Martin are looking to find lap time against “in the corners and on the straights”.
“Their car is very strong on efficiency,” he stated. “The DRS effect is quite strong.
“But it’s also very strong on the straights. Albert Park has a high sensitivity to DRS because there are four zones in a relatively short lap. It’s a strong car in the corners and very strong on the straights.
“It’s more likely that [the RB19’s advantage] is fundamentally aerodynamic efficiency. I don’t have all the data, if you look at the other Honda-powered cars.”
That being said, McCullough gave another strong indication that the best is still to come for Aston Martin, pointing out tracks that are not necessarily geared towards the most aerodynamically efficient cars, adding that Aston Martin has looked to create an AMR23 which considers all types of circuits that will be visited in F1 2023.
“The Red Bull was already efficient last year,” said McCullough. “Baku and Miami will be circuits where efficiency is very important, but later on there are low efficiency circuits like Monaco or Barcelona.
“The first three circuits of the World Championship are not typical throughout the year. Now we have a lot of Grands Prix on high efficiency tracks, but throughout the year we will have more low efficiency events and we have designed the car for the whole season.”
Drivers’ Championship leader Max Verstappen heads into the Azerbaijan GP 24 points ahead of Aston Martin’s lead driver Fernando Alonso, while Aston Martin trail Red Bull by 58 points already in the Constructors’.