Aston Martin was the surprise team of the early stages of the 2023 F1 season.
The team, however, has not kept up the pace in the tight development battle and has fallen to fifth in the F1 Constructors' Standings.
Driver Fernando Alonso also angrily dismissed recent rumors that he was seeking to depart Aston Martin.
At one stage in 2023, Fernando Alonso was threat to win Formula 1 races as Aston Martin emerged became Red Bull Racing’s nearest opponent.
Alonso opened the year with three consecutive podiums—he has seven for the season—as life in green began in surprisingly encouraging fashion. But that early season stretch is now an increasingly distant memory amid the team’s recent struggle for performance.
Aston Martin has not kept up the pace in the tight development battle and there have also been missteps with some new parts, prompting the squad to run different setups and specs in a bid to gain understanding for 2024.
Aston Martin is now fifth in the championship, behind a resurgent McLaren, and of the 236 points it has amassed, it has scored only 40 of those points in the seven Grands Prix since the summer break. Even Alpine has outpointed Aston Martin during the current run.
Alonso has had back-to-back retirements in Austin and Mexico, his prospects there thwarted by car damage, and has dropped from third to fifth in the F1 Drivers’ Standings.
“Obviously we are not as competitive as we wanted, we all try to get to our best level which is obviously not the one we are showing now,” said Alonso. “But we are analyzing some of the upgrades that we brought lately. Here in Brazil, we have a Sprint format so maybe it's a more traditional weekend for us, not experimenting as much as the last two.
“Obviously we are not happy, (team principal) Mike (Krack) is not happy, no-one is happy with the current form. But at the same time, I said a few races ago that this team was 250 people two years ago, now we are in this transition to hopefully be a contender for the future—800 people, new factory, seven podiums this year, 200 more points than last year. All these kind of things which are not the current form.
“We should not be happy, but we cannot be too dramatic about the situation when this 2023 campaign has been a super season for us.”
Alonso described the 2023 cars as “very complex” and backed up comments made by Krack after the last event in Mexico City that the operation is not lost when it comes to its development, but that its current situation is a combination of things.
“One is the setup that has to be optimized for each circuit,” said Alonso. “Then qualifying pace is extremely important with the tight grid as it is at the moment. If you start in the front train of cars you can follow that pace. If you start at the back the traffic is hurting the downforce, the tires, the temperatures, all these kind of things.
"So small details can make a huge difference and that’s maybe also why we are not super-concerned or panicking, because we also saw the pace is there in Austin and we are not putting everything together over the weekend lately. Hopefully in Brazil we have another chance.
“At the beginning, even if the car felt not perfectly comfortable, you back off 0.1 ssecond and you’re still P5 or whatever. Now if you back off 0.1 second you lose three or four positions, so we are much more on the limit now.”
Alonso also angrily dismissed recent rumors that he was seeking to depart Aston Martin, either to retire or to take Sergio Perez’s place at Red Bull. The rumors came after a Spanish TV journalist posted a tweet suggesting there was big news, and while Alonso was not named in the social media post, rumors emerged in the aftermath about Alonso.
“I mean, nothing to say,” said Alonso during his session with the written media on Thursday. “Just rumors—the normal paddock rumors—from people that just try to make fun of it and gain some followers and this kind of thing, but I’m not into that game.
"I’m not enjoying (the rumors). Because even in this room I appreciate that all of you are journalists and professional people that have been in Formula 1 for so many years and you gain your respect and this is how it should be. All the rumors are coming from people that are not in this room, they’re just here to make fun, and I think it’s not funny when they play with anything. I will make sure that there are consequences.”