Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test

‘Aston Martin have made a big step’ – Horner

2023 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has joined the growing number of Aston Martin’s rivals who are impressed by their car’s performance ahead of the new season.

Aside from a brief stoppage soon after the test began, the AMR23 has run reliably. The car, which is a significant departure from its predecessor, has lapped within half a second of Red Bull’s quickest time, in the hands of reserve driver Felipe Drugovich.

Aston Martin enjoyed a strong end to the 2022 season and Horner believes they’ve carried that momentum into this year. “I think they’ve made a big step,” he told Sky.

“It looks like their concept of car is moving forward and they look like they’re not too far away. Fernando in particular looks very competitive.”

Haas finished one place behind Aston Martin in the constructors championship last year. Their driver Kevin Magnussen also believes the Silverstone-based team are in good shape for the new season.

“I think Aston Martin looks fast,” said Magnussen. “They seem to constantly be doing good long runs, and when they try to put a lap time, they seem to do it as well. I think they look like they’ve done a big step.”

Interactive: Compare all 10 F1 cars of 2023 side-by-side
Esteban Ocon, who drove for Aston Martin when it competed as Force India, suspects his former team have started 2023 well despite the difficulties of analysing testing times.

“It’s early days to really give a conclusion,” he said. “Those cars it’s so easy to go from five seconds slower to a five second quicker in one go so it’s difficult to tell exactly the fuel loads. Obviously we can see the tyres but the energy management and what engine mode you run. So they look for sure competitive at the moment.”

Ocon has reunited with his former Force India team principal Otmar Szafnauer at Alpine. Szafnauer also has his eye on Aston Martin, among the team’s other rivals.

“I’m nervous about everybody in the midfield,” he said. “It’s not just Aston that we’ve got to beat.”

“With regulations that are stable, everyone gets closer together, and then it’s other things that matter,” said Szafnauer. “You’ve got to do a lot of things right to be top of that midfield. So it’s not just Aston, I’m I’m worried about everybody.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 F1 season

Browse all 2023 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

19 comments on “‘Aston Martin have made a big step’ – Horner”

  1. Wait till they put Lance in it.

  2. Pre-season talk and speed mean nothing; let us hope Aston Martin are going to fight for best of the rest.
    PS: On the F1 TV stream, they just told that Alonso was following Sainz for a few laps, and he was able to keep up on the same tyres. Still, we don’t know the fuel load.
    PPS: Last year, I said that Aston Martin will finish fourth before McLaren and Alpine this year. Fingers crossed.

  3. Fun part of the year, guessing who’s where in the pecking order. That is the big question though have Aston done enough to vault themselves into the elite tier and turn the big 3 into the big 4?

    It’s impossible to say really but all the teams have the tools to analyse this, so we have to assume where there’s smoke there’s fire. The aero numbers in the paddock are quoted to be up there and the long run data and short run data indicates it’s up there. So being objective there’s a lot of noise about this Aston from people who have the data but we can’t say for sure until it can prove it next week in outright competition.

    If I had a gun to my head I think they’re at worst 4th quickest a little clear of the midfield or at best they’re close with Mercedes for 3rd.

    Maybe it’s better than that, maybe we all find it hard to believe that they’ve produced a car that could be in the mix for wins after being so far off last year. Or maybe it handles well but they’ve run it light.

    What does everyone else think?

    1. Raveen Dhanapalan
      25th February 2023, 17:40

      Irrespective of the time sheets, the general point of everyone is the car looks stable and it changes direction without mush fuss.

  4. I’ll be fun to watch if Drugovich races and ends up close to Alonso. He’s no generational talent, but I reckon he’s better than most people seem to think, and definitelly better than Stroll.

    1. He’s better than Senna. No, but seriously. It’s sometimes impossible to tell who will thrive once they step up. For example, Brundle and Senna were dead even in the feeder series. And we know what happened when they jumped into F1. That story has been true for many drivers. Some look great or mediocre in F2 (or equivalent) and then have totally opposite performance once they get into F1.

      1. I totally agree with what you’re saying but I’d like to add some Brundle context. He was fifth in Brazil and second in Detroit before career altering injuries came in Dallas. The further context is the car was super illegal.

        I certainly think Senna was a step above Martin and improved the further he went in F1 but MB’s hands were tied. I’ve always felt that on talent for British 80s/90s drivers I’d have Brundle, Herbert then Mansell. But injuries hurt, pardon the pun, the other two more.

        From what I’ve seen in testing it’s a case of “Felipe, Fernando is faster than you”. But I think we’d all expect that. Drugovich just needs a clean weekend.

        1. Good points. I’d forgot about them all together.

  5. A season with a close championship battle between Max and Alonso.. if only

    1. It’s why F1 should have a double series. The constructor cars and then spec cars racing on the same weekend. It’d be a dream come true to actually see all the drivers with exactly the same equipment competing. It’d be insane.

      1. As much as that sounds like we would then see who the best driver is, all we would get is the spec car traits suiting some drivers and not others. Unless they had a setup window to suit everyone and then there could be no complaints.

        1. It’d still be the most fair comparison ever.

      2. Coventry Climax
        26th February 2023, 12:08

        Just give the FIA a couple more years. We’re not that far off already.

        1. Coventry Climax
          26th February 2023, 12:09

          Oh, and ‘insane’ indeed, but in a more literal sense.

  6. It’s all empty calories until we see the true speed in qualifying.

    1. Thank you for reminding me. It is easy to look at the fastest lap times and to think they have meaning.

  7. Lets hope so! Because an Alonso in the mix will be the only thing of interest in this season, which looks likes repeating last year!

    1. Alonso having a car to harry the top teams will indeed be a gold mine for memes and race highlights.

      Even if the championship turns into another snoozer, that’ll definitely make watching the races fun.

Comments are closed.