Aston Martin‘s entry in this year’s Formula 1 with AMR23 has created shockwaves in the racing world. Expectations were already high even before the vehicle was put through its paces during pre-season testing. The buzz around the paddock was confirmed at the Bahrain Grand Prix, where Fernando Alonso, seemingly reborn, claimed a podium spot, and Lance Stroll also placed impressively in sixth despite an injury. This was the first of Alonso’s six podiums this season.
Aston’s breakthrough year is nothing short of a remarkable turnaround. In 2022, the team languished in seventh place in the championship. Sebastian Vettel, in an forgettable send-off season, could only manage 37 points, with Stroll barely managing to scrape together 18 points.
The team, owned by the ambitious Lawrence Stroll, began feeling the pressure as both Vettel and Stroll consistently struggled to advance past Q1 throughout the first half of 2022. A notable low point was the Australian Grand Prix, where they qualified in dismal 18th and 20th positions. Stroll, the only finisher for Aston Martin at that race almost finished a lap behind the curling pack.
However, rather than precipitate panic or blame, the team held its nerve. Team principal, Krack, confirms this was essential to Aston Martini’s approach. “The start was not great in 2022. I think after three races, we were the only team without the point. The pressure was immense,” Krack spoke to F1 Initiative.
The team proceeded decisively in managing the mounting pressures. “Tom [McCullough, performance director] and I said on our flight from Melbourne, ‘We need to hold together’. The risk of finger pointing and blame was high,” Krack revealed.
Far from falling apart, the team rallied and learned from their hardship. New members like Dan Fallows and Eric Blandin helped create a constructive and positive dynamic. Despite tough circumstances, they remained dedicated to teamwork. Aston Martin started to reverse their fortunes, embarking on a successful in-season rebound plan during 2022. This prepared the stage for an impressive 2023 performance.
Reflecting on 2022, Krack added, “We knew we couldn’t create miracles, but we decided to take it step by step, with whatever resources we had to implement improvements.”
They ended the 2022 season on a positive note, having narrowed the gap to the pole position. The 2023 project resulted in a car Krack describes as ‘95% different,’ and its design surpassed aggressive development targets. The car earned the nickname ‘Green Red Bull‘ due to its similarities to the leading Milton Keynes team, but such a comparison undervalues the effort the Silverstone crew put into their own design.
Aston Martin exceeded expectations at the Bahrain Grand Prix, with veteran Alonso securing the first of his six podium finishes. However, Aston Martin‘s car performed exactly as they had envisioned. “We achieved the progress expected. In the wind tunnel results week by week, we saw improvement,” Krack stated.
However, the races became challenging for Aston as stronger McLaren and Mercedes teams, as well as a resurgent Ferrari to a lesser extent, made significant strides. Yet, despite recent difficulties, Krack believes the team won’t get complacent after the early celebrations of their success.
“You need to allow people to celebrate. That’s because such passion requires reward,” Krack said. Adding “But, we regrouped on Monday after Bahrain and realised it was only one podium. We still have a long way to go.” Despite all the success this season, Aston Martin remains grounded, understanding that it’s a balancing act between not getting carried away and staying humble.