The Aston Martin Formula One team has dropped to fifth place in the World Team Championship at Austin: Wrong development direction due to incorrect simulations?
Aston Martin has revealed that the lack of performance from this year’s upgrades in Formula One was due to being misled by its simulation programs. The Silverstone-based team had begun the 2023 season as Red Bull’s fiercest challenger, with Fernando Alonso taking a string of podium finishes early in the season.
However, as rivals such as McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari made great strides through upgrades, Aston Martin began to lose ground and fell down the rankings. The team laments that this slump was triggered by “side effects” of the development path taken, which apparently worsened the balance of the AMR23.
Ahead of the United States Grand Prix, Technical Director Dan Fallows said the team had got to the bottom of the causes. “We can see what we did wrong to upset the balance of the car,” he said.
Aston Martin: gap to Red Bull has remained the same
“We understood why that affected our overall performance. Now it’s about making sure we don’t make the same mistakes again: It’s certainly been a year of learning.”
Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack, however, downplays the team’s declining form. Asked why they haven’t been able to show the strong pace of the start of the season since Austria, he says: “The bottom line is that when it comes to analyzing mistakes or looking for the reasons: the gap to the fastest car hasn’t changed much.”
“If we go back now to Jeddah and Bahrain is the race pace versus Red Bull and we look at that now, it’s not a big difference. But: there are three teams in between, they have developed in between. And that’s what happened and that leads to us now fighting for P9 for P10 if everything goes smoothly and before that three and four. “
Data disproves Krack’s statements
Looking at the 2023 season data we have from technology company PACETEQ, however, Krack’s statement is not true. In Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Fernando Alonso was six to seven tenths short of Red Bull per lap in the race, but in the last five races, the average was 1.1 seconds.
Even more interesting is the comparison of the first eight races from Bahrain to Canada, where Aston Martin was missing an average of 0.492 seconds per lap in the race, but since the Austrian Grand Prix the average gap has been 0.905 seconds.
Austin updates a success after all?
Hoping to fix the bugs, Aston Martin brought its latest upgrades to the United States Grand Prix, but their potential was ruined by brake problems in the first free practice session.
Lance Stroll’s encouraging pace in the main race, however, has raised hopes that the team has got its problems under control – and it is now looking forward to trying out the parts again in Mexico.
When asked about the difficulties the team has faced this year, deputy technical director Eric Blandin says the problems were due to incorrect information from the factory.
“We were steered in a certain direction by our simulation tools in the aerodynamics area, and we took a path that was just wrong,” he explains. “I think we’ve fixed that problem now with the new package. “
Aston: Can’t handle different types of curves at the same time
Aston Martin performance director Tom McCullough explains that the biggest challenge for the team this year has been finding a performance window that can handle slow and fast corners at the same time.
“Ultimately, with this generation of cars, it’s a bit of a challenge to be strong in slow and fast corners without ‘porpoising’ and how close you can get. That will still be an issue for everyone two years from now.”
“If you look at our car, it wasn’t particularly strong in high-speed and low-speed corners [at the same time]. So we’re not able to do one or the other reasonably well, and we’ve been doing that almost since the beginning of the year. “
Braking problems also due to incorrect simulations?
“What we’re trying to do is have an envelope that allows us to be strong at both lower and higher ride heights.” He adds, “We haven’t made the car easier to drive. But the updates we brought [to Austin] are easier to drive. But you always have to do the balancing act of being fast as well. What we’re trying to do is have a car that you can race 24 times and be competitive.”
The revelation that simulation tools were a factor in the upgrade misstep comes on the same weekend that Aston Martin’s brake problems were caused by misinformation from the factory about the Austin requirements.
Asked if the simulation infrastructure needs improvement, Blandin says, “You always have to make improvements, all the time. We are constantly improving our simulation. A simulation tool is only as good as what you put into it. So it’s about understanding better and trying to improve the correlation. “