Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023

Floor damage cost Alonso over three-tenths of a second in qualifying

2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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The floor damage Fernando Alonso suffered at the start of qualifying cost him in excess of three tenths of a second per lap, his Aston Martin team believe.

Alonso went through the gravel trap at the exit of the final corner as he began his first flying lap of the session.

“The quali one damage in particular was really big,” Aston Martin’s performance director Tom McCullough said in response to a question from RaceFans. “So the fact that he made it through was good.

“What was a little bit hard for him is every run we were repairing the car. We didn’t actually know how much better it was going to be aerodynamically and therefore the aero balance until we’d actually run the car and got the data. So he was having to adapt and he’s very good at that so he did a really good job on Saturday.”

Some teams have found a bump into the way into the ultra-fast corner has triggered porpoising on their cars, but this wasn’t the case for Alonso, said McCullough.

“Opening the first lap in quali one he went in and had a snap on the way in,” he explained. “So whether it was a little damp patch, probably pushing a bit hard – it wasn’t any bouncing, so it was just more a low-grip snap, track not quite in good enough condition.”

McCullough described the damage Alonso did when he went off. “When you fly into the gravel trap at that speed it’s just like sand-blasting in the car.

“The underneath, the strakes and everything, got a real beating. It ripped off some of the veins and winglets underneath as well. So we were definitely quite sub-optimal with the car.

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The team was only able to repair it during Alonso’s brief stoppages between runs. He therefore had to adjust to a car which gradually improved through the session.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Spanish Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
“We were able to, each time the car was in the garage, repair the car and actually slowly improve the car to the point that near the end of qualifying three, we nearly got half of the deficit back from a data side of things,” said McCullough.

“Unfortunately Fernando then in the end on his one new set of tyres in qualifying three went in a bit deep to turn 10 and ran wide onto the damp patch.

“But yes, it was great job by the crew in the garage. And also we have a group of people monitoring the data back at mission control able to tell us the overall load loss and the aero balance loss as we were evolving through the sessions. Which makes it really good for the race engineers to be able to adapt the flap angle and try to get a balance on the car.”

Aston Martin has replaced the floor on Alonso’s car ahead of today’s race. “So it should be back to normal,” said McCullough.

Alonso will line up eighth on the grid, three places behind team mate Lance Stroll. However McCullough believes they could have achieved much better starting positions.

“I think the car had the potential to be on the front row of the grid with Sergio out, with both drivers I think. Lance felt at the end it was a solid lap but he knew he could have got a sniff quicker in a few little places.”

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2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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    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...
    Claire Cottingham
    Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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    One comment on “Floor damage cost Alonso over three-tenths of a second in qualifying”

    1. I’d love to know what those damages really were and how were they fixed. I can only imagine pieces of the floor were ripped away and then the created holes had to be closed and missing elements glued back?

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