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Aston Martin: A REAL Threat to the Top 3?

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

The 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix has come and gone, and to the absolute shock of everyone, the hype surrounding Aston Martin and the astonishing pace of the AMR23 turned out to be real, with both cars entering Q3, and the race yielding a podium for 41 year old Fernando Alonso, ahead of both the Ferraris and both the Mercedes cars. Not only that, the car allowed a still injured Lance Stroll to enter Q3 and finish P6, ahead of the Mercedes of George Russell, on pure pace. This is incredible considering the team just 12 months prior at the previous Bahrain Grand Prix had a double Q1 exit, and failed to score any points at all. It is an incredible turnaround for a midfield team, as it becomes the first one to finally seem to challenge the long years of dominance of the current top 3 teams on the grid. It also puts a negative light on Aston Martin’s previous midfield rivals, as questions are now being raised, as to how these teams, with arguably better resources, a well-developed facility, and mountains of funding, are yet unable to breach the gap to the front runners, while Aston Martin, although with a state-of-the-art facility nearing completion, still operates mainly out of the now 30+ year old facility that housed all the previous iterations of the team, from Jordan to Midland, to Spyker, then Force India, Racing Point, and now finally Aston Martin.

It is clear that this is the cumulative result of the right funding, right hiring of personnel, and the general overachieving nature that the Silverstone team has become known for. Added to that, the experience from not one, but two former world champions in Sebastian Vettel and now Fernando Alonso, has clearly had an uplifting effect on the entire team, as it now raises itself closer and closer to its ambitions of becoming a title-winning team.

All of this has had a humbling effect on the grid, but none more than its engine supplier, Mercedes. As a works team, this is the first time in the turbo-hybrid era, that the team seems on the backfoot compared to its customer teams, and on the backfoot in general. As Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton remarked, “We've got work to do, because half of their car is ours, and they built their car in our wind tunnel, they do their aero in our wind tunnel, so we've got some work to do”. This is a serious wakeup call to the Brackley team who clearly seem to have got the new aero regulations fundamentally wrong, and have started to look like a shadow of the all-conquering steam roller that they were from 2014 to 2021. Not only this, it also raises a concern from Aston Martin, as the team must now look towards becoming more and more independent from Mercedes, by manufacturing more and more parts in-house, which or may not include the entire power unit itself. As a team that looks ever closer to achieving its ambitions as a title-contender, it becomes more and more crucial to unfetter itself from technical limitations and needless dependencies on potential rival teams.

Turning to Ferrari, Aston has humbled the Italian team by laying out a much more aggressive development strategy than the Scuderia had planned for the 2022 title-contending season. The first iteration of the Ferrari F1-75 was more than a match for the soon-to-be all conquering RB18. However, Ferrari’s complacent attitude to development and failure to work on reliability eventually led to a complete rout for Team Red, with both drivers and constructors championships being wrapped up by Japan, and USA respectively. Funnily enough, even the 2022 season from Silverstone saw a more aggressive, and clearly a far better development strategy than Maranello, and scored more points than all its midfield rivals, and was set to convert a pointless P10 in the constructors championship in Australia, to matching Alfa Romeo Sauber in points by Abu Dhabi in P6. By having an aggressive development path from the get-go, Aston Martin has shown the most successful team in Formula One the proper way of being a title-fighter against an extremely strong Red Bull squad.

But in the midst of all this hype, it is important that Aston’s aims and goals for the year do not balloon out of proportion and become far too ambitious for them to achieve and end up making the wrong step towards developing their car. This means that with all success, Aston must keep its feet on the ground, and stay level-headed in their approach to the season. Considering Aston’s performances up until now, the only way they can head is up. With the talent behind the car and behind the wheel, with the right decision making, I am sure that they will be the team to finally challenge the long-standing oligarchy of the front runners and begin a shakeup of the world championship, not seen in a very long time.

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