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A determined Aston Martin is eager to continue building on the success of their promising performance in Formula 1 last year.
F1 Sport

A determined Aston Martin is eager to continue building on the success of their promising performance in Formula 1 last year.

Watching Fernando Alonso almost bouncing on the spot, an irrepressible grin plastered over his face, was an enormously endearing moment with which to open the 2023 Formula One season. He and his Aston Martin team had pulled off a brilliant coup at the season opener in Bahrain; Alonso was on the podium and Aston had taken the most improbable seat at F1’s top table.

Having finished seventh in 2022, impotent at the back of the field, Aston Martin’s form at the Sakhir circuit was revelatory. Alonso was third behind the two dominant Red Bulls, but he had comfortably beaten both Mercedes and Ferrari. Nor was it a flash in the pan. Where Ferrari and Mercedes had stuttered to a start, Aston had hit the ground running. Alonso went on to take six podiums from the opening eight races.

The F1 fairytale nearly came true, but unfortunately, it did not have a happy ending. Throughout the season, they were surpassed by Mercedes and Ferrari, and later on, by McLaren as well. They were unable to keep up with the rapid progress of the top two teams, and also faced obstacles with infrastructure and technical issues, ultimately finishing in fifth place.

While some may view it as a disappointing conclusion to a promising start, Alonso and the team see it as a positive stepping stone for the upcoming 2024 season. This season will kick off in Bahrain on March 2nd and will consist of a lengthy 24 races. There is a strong sense of optimism within Aston Martin and their goal is to finally break through and compete at the top level.

Alonso declared 2023 a triumph despite the lackluster finale, but acknowledged that there is still much work to be done. “I only see positives,” he remarked about the previous season. “It was unimaginable just 12 months ago to consider the progress we made.”

This is a challenging time for Aston Martin, the upcoming couple of years will be crucial in terms of finding that additional edge and coming up with something unique that hasn’t been done before. It will require creativity and innovation.

Lance Stroll leads teammate Fernando Alonso out of the pits at the start of the sprint at last year’s US Grand Prix

Mike Krack, the team principal, shared the same opinion. He stated, “We carefully consider what is necessary to take the next step. The first steps are simple, but they become progressively more challenging.” Krack is a composed and thoughtful leader. He does not exaggerate but radiates a calm assurance for the team’s future. While the team may have somewhat misled in the previous season, their ambition is sincere and they have the growing capability to achieve it, supported by their billionaire owner, Lawrence Stroll.

According to Krack, Lawrence is highly driven and dedicated to our work. The investments he has made are a result of his passion. He is determined to lead the team to success and will not hesitate to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Aston anticipates that these investments will have a significant impact in the coming years. Stroll has provided funding for a modern factory at Silverstone and a state-of-the-art wind tunnel facility. While the factory has been operational since last year, it will reach its full potential this season when the wind tunnel is also operational. The team has also secured a partnership with Honda, who will serve as the team’s engine supplier starting in 2026.

Stroll’s generosity has allowed for the acquisition of Alonso and the recruitment of highly skilled Dan Fallows as technical director from Red Bull, as part of a significant growth in personnel. These additions align with the team’s core values, as stated by Krack, regarding the importance of people, tools, and process. While progress has been made in the first two areas, the third requires experience and fierce competition.

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The owner of the team is known for being tough, which could be harmful in a sport that relies on teamwork, but Krack believes that his involvement is beneficial. He stated, “A certain level of toughness is necessary, but I haven’t seen much of it. It’s important to have someone who challenges your actions and doesn’t let everyone stay in their comfort zone because that won’t lead to growth and improvement.”

Krack also highlights the team’s agility in making rapid decisions, without being hindered by the bureaucratic processes of a large car company. This was evident in 2022 when their car initially performed poorly. Within two races, they acknowledged its shortcomings and shifted their focus to a completely new model for the next year. The outcome was their impressive start to the 2023 season.

They are gaining experience through practical work and anticipate improvement in that area. As the previous season went on, they discovered that the car was only performing well within a limited range as it was being developed. Attempts to fix this issue with new floor designs only made their efforts more complicated and caused them to fall behind. However, this time was not wasted. According to their performance director, Tom McCullough, it provided them with a deeper understanding of the car and valuable data to use for this year’s model.

Although they lost their fourth place standing in the championship, the team is focusing on the current year and testing out new aerodynamic packages. This will help guide the development of their new car. These actions demonstrate a strong and calculated plan, rather than impulsive floundering. Alonso may have reason to feel optimistic during testing in February, as the team is determined and driven, much like the double world champion himself.

Source: theguardian.com