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The bitter pill Aston Martin have to swallow

Aston Martin was the feel-good story of the paddock last season, but the situation at Silverstone has worsened significantly.

Although making conclusions from pre-season testing is never easy, the consensus in late February was that Aston Martin was the fourth or fifth-fastest team. Six rounds later, this assessment seems accurate of the AMR24. Fernando Alonso has occasionally given the Ferrari and McLaren duo something to worry about, but Aston’s race pace is a limiting factor. Despite last year’s incredible jump over winter, the team faces a harsh reality in 2024.

Of course, it would be a stretch to suggest the situation at Aston Martin is disastrous. They are still a top-five team, and more upgrades will be introduced at the Imola GP. In this sense, Mike Krack’s team have stopped the bleeding after spending the second half of last year going backwards.

Regrettably, this more charitable perspective does not erase their shortcomings. At this stage twelve months ago, Aston Martin was the second-fastest team – occasionally even lapping McLaren. Ferrari was grappling with extreme tyre degradation, while Mercedes was forced to return to the drawing board after the first round.

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Aston Martin failed to capitalise

In these conditions, Aston Martin was in the ideal position to become established at the very front. Unfortunately for Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll, this opportunity was not capitalised.

Despite Dan Fallows insisting over winter that the team learned from its mistakes, it seems clear that Aston has lost crucial time. After spending almost six months trying to undo their own mistakes, they fell to fifth-fastest in 2023. This is a position they have kept, with McLaren and Ferrari showing far more encouraging development trajectories.

Just last weekend in Miami, McLaren showed a significant improvement in their drag. The MCL38 was far more competitive in a straight line, eliminating one of the Woking outfit’s biggest weaknesses.

Ironically, Aston Martin has developed an unwanted characteristic they were able to control last season. F1 news outlets first began catching onto Aston’s pre-season trajectory in 2023 when the AMR23’s race simulation showed very good tyre management. This characteristic, combined with its pure performance, was a deadly combination.

This year, the Silverstone-based team often experience a major drop-off from qualifying to race day. Their one-lap pace is not necessarily spectacular either, as evidenced in Miami.

Whilst the Floridian circuit’s unique surface could have played a role, such excuses can only hold for so long. Aston Martin squandered last year’s opportunity to become a regular front-running team and put pressure on a Red Bull who – for all their excellence – seem to have been hit with diminishing returns in the last twelve months.

The next race of 2024 in Imola will provide some insight into whether Aston can realistically climb the field again.


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