Fernando Alonso believes that Aston Martin has exceeded expectations this season, with the team claiming three consecutive podiums and currently sitting in second place in the Formula One standings as they head to Baku. The Spaniard joined the team after a difficult 2022 campaign which saw them finish seventh with just 55 points. However, the team has made significant development progress over the winter and is now aiming for world titles rather than just podiums, according to team boss Mike Krack. The breakthrough has shortened the team’s planned trajectory to the top by a year, Alonso said.
“I was hoping 2023 to be a learning season and in 2024 maybe to be challenging Ferrari and Mercedes and things like that,” Alonso explained. “But we challenged them in Bahrain in race one so obviously now everything looks more optimistic.” However, Alonso was quick to caution that the true test of Aston’s progress will come when rival teams begin to bring sizeable upgrades to their cars, a process which will begin in Azerbaijan. “Now we have to deliver. This is something we will see very soon,” he added.
The pace of Alonso and his teammate Lance Stroll‘s AMR23 has changed the team’s approach, according to Alonso. They now have the luxury of more breathing space to get through Q1 and Q2, something which was a pipe dream in 2022 for Stroll and former partner Sebastian Vettel. “We approach weekends now looking more to the top teams and that changed our approach a little bit in FP1,” Alonso explained. “It changed our tyre selections for qualifying, the runs you do in qualifying. You don’t really need to get too crazy because you know that you will go through Q1 and Q2. Yes, it’s changed a lot and it makes things a little bit easier, so happy with that.”
However, Alonso is aware that the team’s in-season development rate will be put to the test when rival teams begin to bring upgrades to their cars, a process which starts in Azerbaijan. “From Baku, Imola, Barcelona, the teams will start to bring upgrades to the car and we need to also be a top team in that regard,” he said. “On-track, but also off-track, we need to learn many things throughout this season to be a contender in 2024, hopefully.” Despite the need to push on with development, the team is basking in the glow of their positive start to the season.