Aston Martin surprised the F1 community this season with their AMR23 car, which was said to have immense potential even before it hit the track for pre-season testing.
The whispers and murmurs up and down the paddock about its prowess were confirmed in Bahrain, with a rejuvenated Fernando Alonso taking the podium and an injured Lance Stroll sixth, the first of six rostrums for the former.
Aston’s performance saw more than just an improvement in form, but rather a remarkable transformation. In the 2022 championship, they ended up in a disappointing seventh place, with Sebastian Vettel, who was leaving the team, only managing to earn 37 points in a forgettable final season. Stroll, on the other hand, could only accumulate 18 points.
The former Racing Point team, now under the ownership of the highly ambitious Lawrence Stroll, faced increasing pressure in the first half of 2022 as both Vettel and Stroll frequently encountered difficulties in advancing beyond Q1.
The Australian Grand Prix, where the pair qualified 18th and 20th respectively and Aston’s only finisher Stroll nearly finished a lap down, proved a particular low point.
Instead of panicking or fostering a culture of blame within its Silverstone headquarters, team principal Krack describes how the team remained composed and implemented a systematic plan to regain their competitive position.
“I cannot reword.”
Mike Krack, Team Principal, Aston Martin F1 Team
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
“I have a vivid memory of being on the flight from Melbourne with Tom McCullough, our performance director. We were both discussing the importance of maintaining unity, as there was a potential for blame to be assigned and conflicts to arise.”
“We successfully avoided doing that. We were able to learn from our mistakes.”
The priority was to have the new members, Dan [Fallows] and Eric [Blandin], join our team. What was great about it was that their contributions were consistently constructive and positive, fostering a strong sense of teamwork.
In 2022, the idea of competing with Ferrari and Mercedes seemed impossible for the team. However, they began addressing their issues and implementing a recovery plan during the season. This laid the foundation for their success in 2023 and revealed their potential.
While it was too late to salvage Aston Martin’s midfield ambitions, Vettel and Stroll started slashing the gap to pole near the end of the campaign, an early indication that the team was on the right track.
“I cannot reword”
“We decided to gradually enhance the car, taking any possible measures, and observe the outcome it brings.”
“At the conclusion of the year, I believe in Abu Dhabi, we achieved significant progress. Although there were not ample points available to make significant advancements in the championship, we ultimately finished where we did.”
“We were content by the conclusion of the year, reflecting on how we had successfully resolved the situation.”
Podium: Race winner Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, third place Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin Racing
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
The 2023 project underwent extensive modifications, resulting in a car that was significantly different, approximately 95%, from its predecessor. The design team successfully achieved their ambitious development goals, which were fully funded.
Its 2023 challenger was soon dubbed the ‘green Red Bull’ as it followed a similar concept to the dominating Milton Keynes team, but that sold the Silverstone squad’s design efforts rather short.
Alonso, an experienced driver, skillfully guided the car to the podium, securing his initial of six impressive placements within the top three positions in Bahrain.
The outcome exceeded Aston Martin’s expectations, but the car’s actual performance aligned perfectly with their intentions. They simply underestimated the level of competitiveness it would bring against its competitors.
“I cannot reword”
We had a strong belief in our advancement, but we were uncertain of the outcome and therefore aimed to be practical in determining the amount of progress required to take a significant leap forward.
“The Bahrain test was the first eye-opener; we really were at the top of the times all the time without really trying. Be it long runs, be it short runs, it always came easy.
“And naturally, you always question whether we are using less weight while others are using more weight, and so on. The true test only occurs during the qualifying round.”
Aston’s impressive achievement of reaching the podium in Bahrain was a great recognition for the dedicated team at Silverstone. The calm and collected strategy of the management seemed to have yielded positive results.
Lance Stroll is currently ahead of Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin AMR23 race.
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
In the most recent races, Aston faced increased challenges from Mercedes and a rejuvenated McLaren, and to a lesser degree Ferrari. These teams made progress in the 2023 competition to prevent Aston from achieving any more podium finishes.
Whether Aston took a wrong development turn or was subject to a flexi-wing clampdown by the FIA, Krack believes its recent struggles will prevent the team from getting carried away after its early successes were met with wild celebrations.
He stated that it is important to allow individuals to open the valve and simply rejoice. He observed how our team members were celebrating, and we did the same at the factory.
It is crucial because everyone engages in it with immense enthusiasm; it is necessary to experience these instances where you reap the benefits of your diligent efforts.
“After Bahrain, we reconvened on Monday and collectively acknowledged that the podium finish was just a single achievement. We recognized the need to remain focused on our journey ahead and continue progressing.”
“We have also experienced our initial encounter in the races where things were not going smoothly, which is also assisting in keeping individuals down-to-earth.”
Finding the right balance between becoming overly enthusiastic and remaining modest is crucial. However, we acknowledge that there is still a significant distance to cover in our journey.
The Aston Martin team cheer Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, 3rd position, over the line
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images