Revealed: Aston Martin’s performance ‘drop’ laid bare by Fernando Alonso

Thomas Maher
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso believes Aston Martin has taken a step forward with their car, but not as big as other teams have managed.

Fernando Alonso believes Aston Martin’s recent upgrades have taken the team a step forward, but not to the same extent as their rivals.

Aston Martin was one of several teams to show up with an extensive upgrade package for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, but the AMR24 struggled for performance throughout the weekend.

Fernando Alonso: Aston Martin dropped in performance relative to others

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper.

Neither Aston Martin driver made it through into Q3 at Imola, with Fernando Alonso’s weekend compromised due to an uncharacteristic error in final practice that resulted in his mechanics scrambling to repair his car for qualifying.

Qualifying in 19th, Alonso’s race turned into a test session as he put in the laps to finish with his worst classified finish in a Grand Prix during his entire 23-year career, while Lance Stroll secured ninth place and two valuable points for the team.

But while, on paper, the upgrades fitted to the AMR24 didn’t appear to work out, the team haven’t rowed back on them as Alonso explained that the new parts have taken the car forward – it’s just other teams have made bigger gains.

“I think we dropped in performance relative to the others,” he told media, including, in Monaco.

“I think we increased the performance that our car had but the others seemed to make a step a little bit bigger than us. We dropped a little bit in terms of positions.

“In my case, I think I was not perfect in those two races, I was not driving well enough in Miami and in Imola.

“I think it was more the search for answers that drives me sometimes on a weekend that I know the goals will not be good enough to satisfy us or myself, when you’re not fighting for top five, or top seven, or whatever.

“Sometimes you switch into a setup or test weekend. Because, to finish P9, I’d prefer to fix the problems of the car, give up that weekend, and start from scratch at the next one.

“I think this is what happened in Imola a little bit, which on one side is good because maybe you accelerate a little bit the fix of the problems.

“On the other side, that weekend is maybe zero points or you are a little bit less competitive than normal. So you need to combine normal weekends where you maximise the package and the points that are available, even if it’s P9.

“Some other weekends you need to think if it’s okay we give up P9 today because we need to shortcut the timings a little but that we have for fixing the car.”

Attempting to assess how the AMR24 handles in his own media session on Thursday at Monaco, Stroll said the car isn’t as compliant as last year’s.

“It’s the usual stuff. Entry oversteer, mid-corner understeer, these kind of things,” he said.

“Kerb riding [is worse than last year], it’s been more of a challenge for sure.

“Easier to fall out of the window? I don’t know if that’s the way I’d put it but it’s a trickier balance than the car we had last year, for sure.”

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Fernando Alonso: Aston Martin ‘not blind in the dark’

Alonso agreed with Stroll’s assessment, saying he felt he had similar feelings and comments to make as his teammate.

“There are a couple of setup tools and directions that could improve that – something that we’ve been testing also in Imola, for example, on my car on Sunday,” he said.

“But, fundamentally, I think we need to keep working on the balance of the car. We added downforce in all the upgrades that we brought to the track, but we still cannot use all that downforce in an efficient way in lap time, because the balance maybe is not totally perfect in the corners.

“But I think we understand this and we have a couple of ideas that, in the next development of the car and upgrades, we’ll try to fix those kinds of problems.

“I mean, we are not blind in the dark, we are aware of the situation but, at the same time, it’s the nature of these cars as well, that, as you add downforce, they become a little bit more critical and more difficult to drive.

“This is something that we need to fix.”

Asked whether he had tested out the upgrades to the car on the simulator before Imola, Alonso said he had but the sim isn’t necessarily indicative of the real-world impact on track.

“The simulator is a little bit more forgiving for you of many of the things that the track doesn’t,” he said.

“When you put the numbers, the theoretical numbers, on the simulator, you just get faster without too many problems – balance and things like that.

“The simulator is a great tool for the engineers, and for the drivers to learn tracks and things like that.

“For the last detail of the setup or the last behaviour on track, I think the simulator is still not the real car. So we need to work on Fridays a bit more now.”

Alonso and Stroll ran slightly different car configurations at Imola, as Mike Krack explained after the race, with the team boss admitting that it is “tough” for the Silverstone-based squad to stay on pace with the relentless development push as Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, and McLaren have all introduced updates over the past two races.

“We’re not happy with two points, that is clear, but other people are also bringing upgrades, so it is always a relative game,” he said.

“You have to really try to keep up and understand what you’re doing.

“It’s tough, we must not underestimate that. Apart from one team, I think everybody had a list full of upgrades [at Imola], so it shows how competitive the whole field is.

“It’s something where you have to really keep pushing and keep bringing more stuff and also understanding it.”

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