Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Monza, 2023

Monza “frustrating” for Alonso but Aston Martin expect better form in coming races

2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Following the delight of their return to the podium at Zandvoort, Aston Martin endured their least competitive weekend of the 2023 F1 season so far at Monza.

Fernando Alonso’s ninth place in the Italian Grand Prix was his joint worst race result of 2023, and 10th on the grid marked his worst starting position since joining Aston Martin.

He finished 46 seconds behind the winner, and 23s away from fifth place, while his qualifying deficit was 1.123s to the pole-winning time. Alonso would have needed to go 0.439s faster just to climb one spot on the grid. His team mate Lance Stroll qualified last, the pair separated by 0.817s in Q1.

“We were slow from the beginning to the end and not possible to fight better than ninth. So we take these points, but hopefully many lessons,” Alonso told media including RaceFans.

“It is frustrating because it was a very demanding race mentally, physically, to drive the car that was with very low grip, very tricky to drive. So for me, one of the most difficult races of the year.

“And it’s the worst result, so it’s going to be an anonymous race. No one will remember this. But I will do, in my head because it has been a tough one. But as I said, hopefully good lessons that we take from here on the car, all the data that we have from the race and we get better next time.”

Despite their disappointing result Alonso believes the team did the best it could with the AMR23. “We are doing the job every Sunday: executing the maximum from the car.”

Aston Martin’s performance director Tom McCullough was not discouraged by the team’s lack of pace, despite the advantage their rivals had in Q3. That’s because in the first two segments of qualifying, Alonso had a far smaller deficit to the drivers ahead.

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“The margin in Q1 and Q2, it wasn’t that far from what we were thinking,” said McCullough. “We were pretty close most of the weekend with Mercedes. They have been marginally quicker than us, as have McLaren and Williams too. But ultimately small margins, but it wasn’t our best qualifying session.”

Formula 1 was using its ‘Alternative Tyre Allocation’ for only the second time in Italy, and that required the nominated hard compound tyre to be run in Q1, followed by the medium in Q2 and the soft in Q3. It was that last tyre where Aston Martin’s problems seemed to lie..

“I think we got a lot out of the hard and the medium tyre. The soft tyre wasn’t strong for us. We had two goes with it,” McCullough said.

“We’ve still got some analysis to do to help understand this track on a tyre that we normally get to work well. We didn’t really get too much more than we got from it in free practice three either, so we were three or four tenths quicker. But some teams found more. So we need to understand.”

It was the “characteristics of our car, at this track” that did not suit the soft tyres, said McCullough. “There wasn’t really a balance issue, it was overall grip,” he explained. The Aston Martin AMR23 had “no sort of degradation during the lap, no warm-up problems” whenever running the compound.

The next race in Singapore “is definitely a track that will suit us better,” he believes. The team will also have new parts for the AMR23 there. Those parts were signed off before Monza, as the development focus now moves to 2024.

“Among the areas that we’ve worked on, there’s a lot of the elements actually that influence the efficiency of the car. And from now until the end of the season, most of the tracks are not the higher efficiency tracks, and our focus is really on the AMR24 to make sure that as we’re developing that car, we’re developing it as efficiently as we can be. And more efficient than this year’s car.”

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2023 Italian 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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4 comments on “Monza “frustrating” for Alonso but Aston Martin expect better form in coming races”

  1. I do hope they do a good job in Singapore, it’s more fun if Alonso is towards the sharp end of the grid in a decent car.

    1. Singapore has always brought out the best of Alonso too (even when he hasn’t profited from backroom shenanigans), so I’d expect good things. A challenge for pole may be asking too much given recent trends but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the top five.

  2. Thank God they have Stroll Jr. in the other car, otherwise that would be a really poor weekend.

    1. Sometimes it is hard to notice when Fred gives it all (which I believe is almost all the time) because he can beat his teammate while sleeping

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