Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Zandvoort, 2023

“Too early to say” if podium signals return to form for Aston Martin – Alonso

2023 Dutch Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso returned to the podium for the first time in five races last weekend but is not yet sure Aston Martin are back to their best.

The team brought a new floor to the Dutch Grand Prix, but their testing plans were disrupted by a power unit problem on Lance Stroll’s car on Friday.

In qualifying Alonso used the new floor to put himself fifth on the grid. Stroll, also running the upgrade, qualified 11th.

At that stage in the weekend Aston Martin’s performance director Tom McCullough felt qualifying “wasn’t really representative” and that the race would show the AMR23’s performance gains.

“If, operationally, you can do a good job with both your cars and you can make the most of the opportunity, you can maybe outqualify cars that are quicker than you,” he said on Sunday morning.

“It’s very tight, lots of teams, very, very close,” he continued. “I think what’s happening is that some characteristics on some tracks that are suiting our base package better and worse, and then also other teams aren’t standing still. So it’s a relative game.”

Aston Martin did not get to see the impact of the upgrades they brought to the previous round at Spa-Francorchamps until they had dry running for the race, but McCullough said they were “quite happy with how they worked.” The Zandvoort upgrades were successors to the Spa ones.

On the strength of what he’d seen before the race, McCullough felt “the fight for second is definitely still the challenge” for the team in the constructors’ standings.

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“McLaren have come strong recently, and Mercedes and Ferrari are fierce competitors and a lot of other people are really close as well. So we’ll keep developing the car as hard as we can do.”

The race brought more encouragement for the team. Alonso finished second on Sunday, marking his best starting and finishing positions since June’s Canadian Grand Prix when the team also had sidepod and floor upgrades.

Stroll spent too long on slicks when rain fell at the start of the race and was unable to get into the points, but was nonetheless encouraged by the team’s showing. “It’s a tight grid but I think that this weekend was definitely very promising,” he said. He described Alonso’s second place as a “huge result.”

However Alonso is not sure whether last week’s result indicates Aston Martin have returned to the early season competitiveness they enjoyed, when he began the season with four consecutive podium finishes.

“It’s too early to say,” Alonso remarked. “I think that the car is better than the previous events, that’s for sure.

“I felt the car was easier to drive. We were more competitive. We’ve been in the top five in every session this weekend. It was not only in the race where we were fast. We felt competitive since Friday.”

However he pointed out this weekend’s race will place completely different demands on the car’s performance.

“Monza next week is a completely different layout, minimum downforce there and drag. Let’s see if we can still be competitive.”

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2023 Dutch Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
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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3 comments on ““Too early to say” if podium signals return to form for Aston Martin – Alonso”

  1. Yeah. I don’t think we can say either way based on the last race. Alonso had a good run from the line, did a good strategy and it paid of where Mercedes had Hamilton starting way back and messed up the strategy for Russel just like McLaren got it wrong on strategy.
    Without that surely they would have been competitors in the mix towards the front of the field with Alonso and Perez.

    1. Agree. Mercedes dropping the ball with strategy flattered Aston slightly. Alonso looked a whole lot more comfortable and capable of pushing the car, which is positive, but that doesn’t mean their raw pace is actually good enough to compete for podiums regularly.

    2. Rain is a great equalizer. Great drivers can make up for car deficiencies much better than in the dry, while poor drivers in better machines go cross-country

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