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OPINION: A Rational Explanation to the Aston Martin Downfall

Written by Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Meghana Sree

Image Credits - Peter Fox, Getty Images

At the start of the season, Aston Martin started red hot. They were in front, not necessarily challenging Max Verstappen for the win, but challenging for podiums. The car showed a lot of promise, compared to the depressing year of 2022.

At one point, they were faster than every single team not named Red Bull. However, as the season progressed, they started to fall off rapidly and currently, they might be even slower than Alpine, a team with a considerably worse engine. But how did that happen? Did their performances drop? Did their competitors catch up? Or is it just pure bad luck?

Rational Explanation #1: The Team was Over-Performing Earlier in the Season

A huge narrative surrounding the paddock is that the car was simply over-performing, given that back at the start of the season, Mercedes were still in the no-sidepod design, while McLaren was way behind in the development schedule, and Fernando Alonso was driving at peak form.

It is tough to compare two different performances in two different tracks, but we can take data from similar tracks, and compare if they improved, fell behind, or remained the same in different categories. For the sake of consistency, we are going to compare the same two drivers, in tracks of similar characteristics, in the same engine, and in similar conditions (wet or dry conditions).

Image Credits - F1-Tempo

Consider this telemetry above, taken from the qualifying session of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, comparing the fastest lap time of George Russell and Alonso. The result of the session is that Alonso out-qualified Russell by about a tenth of a second. The key takeaways from this graph are: 1) Aston Martin is not as good as Mercedes in terms of straight line speed, and 2) Alonso gained time on Russell in the medium/high speed corners.

Image Credits - F1-Tempo

Now, consider this new telemetry which is taken from the British Grand Prix qualifying session, comparing the same two drivers’ fastest lap times. Here, we see the following characteristics: 1) The AMR23 is faster than the Mercedes in a straight line now, 2) however, the AMR23 is considerably slower than the Mercedes in low speed corners, falling as much as 15 km/h behind on certain corners. Another thing that was noticed was that in the corners of Becketts and Stowe, Alonso completely lifted from the throttle, which lost him a little bit of time.

Image Credits - F1-Tempo

This is another piece of telemetry, taken from the Japanese Grand Prix qualifying session, comparing the same two drivers. The same trend exists, as Alonso is gaining time on Russell in acceleration zones, while losing significant time in low/medium speed corners, especially in the final three corners, going from less than a tenth behind to nearly two and a half tenth behind.

To summarise here, as the season progressed, Aston Martin improved in terms of straight line speed, but their cornering speeds compared to their direct competitors are significantly worse. Their competitors caught up to their progress, and possibly overtook them. What about Aston Martin’s upgrades? That brings us to the second explanation.

Rational Explanation #2: Other Competitors Had Better Upgrades Compared to Aston Martin

Aston Martin hasn’t been the team that brought the most upgrades in this season, nor the most impactful ones. During the season, Aston Martin’s direct rivals such as Mercedes and McLaren brought heavy upgrades that essentially turned their season around. On the other hand, Aston Martin isn’t as heavily funded compared to Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, and McLaren. This virtually means they can’t bring as many upgrades, and their new upgrades had to be a home run. Turns out, their new upgrades brought in at Spain and Canada weren’t meeting the goals and purposes intended; at least not all of them.

The new upgrades had a couple of objectives – bring more downforce, and increase the aerodynamic efficiency, while keeping the balance and the wide-operating window of the car. After Canada, the car indeed had significantly increased downforce, but the aerodynamic balance became worse, and the operating window to create that balance became way narrower.

Rational Explanation #3: Lance Stroll Blew It… Or Did He?

While Lance Stroll didn’t directly cause the Aston Martin team to fall behind, his inability to tame the car and bring it to major point-scoring positions have led to the team being easily taken over in the constructors championship by Ferrari and Mercedes, and recently McLaren as of the USA Grand Prix at Austin.

Stroll is currently sitting in eleventh place with 53 points, right in between Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon who have 56 and 44 points respectively. In the 18 races so far this season, Stroll has retired three times, finished outside the points five times, and withdrew from the Singapore Grand Prix. That means, for more than half the races, he couldn’t register a single point for the team.

After reviewing every single race he raced in, and still couldn’t score a point, here is my conclusion. Out of the three retirements, he had one crash in Monaco, an engine failure in Saudi, and a rear wing failure in Japan. Out of the five instances where he couldn’t score a single point, he had a slow car in Italy, a track limits penalty that sent him from tenth to eleventh in Qatar, multiple poor pitstop decisions in the Netherlands, and he stuck at the back of the field in Miami and Silverstone. You can argue some of this is Stroll’s fault, but a majority of these incidents are really out of his control.

However, from a skill perspective, he is clearly miles away from his teammate and competitors. The few possibilities to Stroll’s step back is that either the injury he sustained from the biking accident is still affecting his driving, or the pre-season testing that he missed led to him being unfamiliar with the car, or that the car is just a complete pretender from the start of the season; and Alonso simply used his powers to will this average car to the podium.

Either way, Stroll had his fair share of issues out of his control and mistakes he made, and we can sit here, speculating what led to his regression, but here is one undeniable fact: if he had scored more points earlier in the season, Aston Martin could have been better equipped for the setbacks in the second half of the season. If the team still wants to hold their position in the Constructors’ Championship, they need Stroll to bring his A-game for the rest of the season.


In the end, only Mike Krack and his team knows the actual reason for their downfall. It might be none of the reasons listed above, or it could be all of them. The only thing we could be sure about is this – the AMR23 is currently the fifth fastest car, behind Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari, and Red Bull. They are fading quickly and the development gap between them and McLaren is now growing.

If they want any chance at returning to competing for podiums they need to bring impactful upgrades in the near future, ask everyone in the team to give their best efforts for the rest of the season, and limit self-inflicted mistakes.


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