Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Circuit of the Americas, 2023

Aston Martin have ‘learned lesson’ after upgrades ‘risk’ backfired in Austin

Formula 1

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Aston Martin’s underwhelming performance over the US Grand Prix weekend was down to their risk of bringing new parts to the sprint weekend failing to pay off, says team principal Mike Krack.

Both Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll struggled through the opening two days of last weekend’s round at Circuit of the Americas. Aston Martin introduced a new floor to Austin, which meant they only had an hour of practice time on Friday to gather data on the upgrade.

However, both drivers lost significant running time in the session due to a brake problem. Alonso eventually returned to the track for the final 25 minutes of the session, but Stroll was limited to just five laps in the hour. Krack pointed to their Friday troubles for their disappointing performance.

“The fact is that on Friday we should have done our homework, we didn’t do it, and we had the consequences all over the weekend,” said Krack.

“Now, there is always the rule ‘don’t bring the upgrades to the sprint weekends’, and when you take this decision to do it, nevertheless, you know what the risks are, and then you cannot complain. And when it happens, it’s another lesson learned I think.

“When we came [to Austin], we said ‘we have to be 100% in this one session’. If we have one glitch, you don’t have the data that you want to have. And we had the glitch and we didn’t have the data. If you have no issues, I think it’s manageable to bring upgrades into a sprint. And other teams are doing it, it’s doable, but the risk is high.”

After failing to score in the Saturday sprint race, Aston Martin took their cars out of parc ferme so they could run them in different specifications in Sunday’s grand prix, which meant pit lane starts for both.

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Stroll went on to finish seventh, his best race result in nine rounds. Alonso was running ahead of his team mate before retiring with floor damage.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Circuit of the Americas, 2023
Stroll only got five laps in practice
He was running the team’s old specification floor, which he switched back to following the parc ferme intervention, while Stroll ran the race using a new floor Aston Martin had brought to the event so back-to-back comparisons could be made.

The 49 laps Alonso completed before retiring still gave the team lots to learn from, and the damage itself gave them even more to investigate than if Alonso had finished the race.

“The track is brutal, it’s really very, very tough,” Krack said of the Austin circuit. “There was one part of the floor edges on the right that has just broken off like half a metre in length.

“We have some good data now, because in the middle of the race we had both cars driving behind each other with I think six or seven seconds difference, and also no car in between. So there should be enough data to know by tomorrow or the day after.”

Stroll raced sing the new floor, with question marks still hanging over whether it offered a performance improvement. Other work done on his car required it to be taken out of parc ferme as well.

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“We changed a lot of things on the car, so I think it was much better,” he said. “[The upgrades] didn’t work out yesterday or the day before, but they worked better today.”

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Circuit of the Americas, 2023
It was a rare point-less weekend for Alonso
Alonso described his Sunday performance prior to retirement as a “super race”, but was left frustrated by his failing to score any points for only the second time all season.

“Great comeback, a lot of pace in the car,” he said. “We started from the pit lane and we were aiming to finish eighth, so it was a very good race for us.

“It is painful because the whole weekend we were lacking pace, and that was not good, and in the race today we had a lot of pace but we still have to retire. So zero points, it hurts.”

He also backed up Krack’s take on how Aston Martin took an approach that meant they could learn as much as possible, but they’re learnings that will not necessarily be made straight away.

“We went again into the race completely blind with new set-ups for both cars, even different packages between the both cars, so a little bit as a test session.

“We felt much more competitive [on Sunday] than any other session in the weekend, starting from the pit lane, both cars in the points, I think is better than what we saw yesterday and that’s good news. But obviously we need to understand many details.”

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2023 United States 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...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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6 comments on “Aston Martin have ‘learned lesson’ after upgrades ‘risk’ backfired in Austin”

  1. The main lesson that Aston Martin need to learn is that Lance is a pointless waste of space.

  2. @nullapax

    From this weekend specifically though, Alonso was only slightly better than Stroll, and Stroll was actually good. He arguably was better than Alonso in the sprint.

    1. Yes, an unusual weekend, like spain, where stroll was up there.

    2. That’s because Stroll had the upgrade and they say the upgrade worked well and strolls race pace was matching some of the top runners

  3. Well.. they can blame their development underperformance on sprint weekends or whatever.. but the truth is that every update they brought, either made no difference to their performance, or it was a step backwards. Since the Mexican GP is a regular format weekend, lets see what excuse they come up with when they’re still the 5th or 6th fastest team.

    1. Indeed. Incredibly bad results this year in their development.

Comments are closed.