Aston Martin has a broader strategy beyond the AMR23
Aston Martin’s plan for the future extends far beyond their recently launched AMR23. The team has a comprehensive strategy in place to progress and eventually move to the forefront of Formula 1, which includes new facilities, partnerships, and the addition of experienced drivers like Fernando Alonso.
Aston Martin’s AMR23 represents a significant departure from its predecessor, with the team’s technical director, Dan Fallows, citing a 95% change in design. However, the team is not focused on mounting a surprise title challenge this year, but rather aims to establish a foundation for a deliberate long-term strategy that could propel it to the forefront of the field.
According to Fallows, the team has been able to enhance its technical structure over the past year, thanks to its entry into the cost cap era as one of the smaller teams in Formula 1. This has allowed the team to avoid downsizing and focus on strategic evolution.
Fallows, who joined the team from Red Bull in April 2022, is joined by Eric Bandin, an aerodynamicist who previously worked at Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes, and Luca Furbatto, who previously worked at Alfa Romeo.
Bandin serves as the deputy technical director, while Furbatto is the engineering director. Meanwhile, the long-term technical director, Andy Green, has transitioned to a broader role as chief technical officer at Aston Martin, where he is involved in projects outside of Formula 1.
Although the AMR23 represents a significant departure from its predecessor, it will likely share similarities with future cars as the team seeks to anticipate and respond to evolving trends and technologies. By doing so, the team hopes to gain a competitive advantage and eventually move to the forefront of the sport.
Fallows revealed to a group of select media, including F1Lead, at the team’s launch this week that the team has taken a relatively assertive stance regarding the regulations. The goal is to predict where the designs will be in the coming months and years, allowing the team to pursue a non-traditional development path that could help them leapfrog the competition.
Fallows explained that the team’s objective during the design phase was not only to make a significant improvement from the launch car but also to establish a robust foundation for future development. The team incorporated elements into the car that may not be immediately apparent but are designed to support and enable exploration of promising development opportunities in the future.
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Fallows noted that the team has taken a forward-looking approach, trying to anticipate where the sport is heading in the future.
While predicting the future requires some guesswork, Fallows believes that the team has gained a good understanding of the essential areas and how they might evolve in the future. The team has been studying the regulations for a couple of years now and has developed a sense of where the critical developments in the sport may be headed.
Fallows stated that the team has integrated this forward-looking approach into the car’s design from the outset. By doing so, the team hopes to establish a foundation that can support and accelerate future development in key areas that may offer a competitive advantage.
As part of its long-term strategy, the team plans to construct a new engineering campus adjacent to its current Silverstone factory. According to Fallows, this new facility will complement the existing foundation of expertise and talent within the team.
Fallows acknowledged that while the team has the necessary facilities to be competitive, they are not yet on par with the top teams in the sport. He clarified that this is primarily due to a gap in the team’s infrastructure and resources, rather than a lack of expertise. In his opinion, the team’s strengths lie in its technical personnel and knowledge base.
Fallows was highly impressed with the team’s technical expertise when he joined, highlighting the wealth of knowledge and talent within the organization. However, the team is currently lacking in certain critical facilities, such as a wind tunnel, which it plans to address by building a new engineering campus. Currently, the team has the benefit of using the Mercedes wind tunnel, but this option has limitations.
According to Fallows, having a wind tunnel of their own will provide greater flexibility in testing and developing the car. The team is also looking to develop simulation facilities, which will be important for sustained performance gains in the future. Although the team can still progress without these facilities, they are essential for achieving the team’s long-term performance goals.
Fallows believes that the partnership between Aston Martin and Mercedes, which involves the use of engines, gearboxes, and rear suspension from the title-winning team, is not a compromise. While borrowing Mercedes’ wind tunnel as an interim solution has its limitations, the use of proven Mercedes technology in key areas of the car is a significant advantage. According to Fallows, this allows the team to focus on developing and optimizing other aspects of the car that are unique to Aston Martin, such as the front suspension, aerodynamics, and chassis.
Fallows emphasized that the partnership with Mercedes has been highly advantageous for Aston Martin. The team is fortunate to be able to leverage Mercedes’ technical expertise and incorporate their proven components into their car. According to Fallows, the use of Mercedes’ engines, gearboxes, and rear suspension has not been a handicap for Aston Martin. On the contrary, it has been a significant boost for the team’s performance.
Fallows noted that while Mercedes continues to develop their technology, Aston Martin is also able to customize and optimize their aerodynamic surfaces on top of Mercedes’ rear suspension. This customization ensures that the car is not entirely dependent on Mercedes’ technology from an aerodynamic perspective. As a result, Fallows reiterated that he doesn’t believe the use of Mercedes’ components is a handicap for Aston Martin.
Aston Martin broke from the recent trend in the early stages of the car launch season, choosing to launch their new car publicly rather than simply displaying show cars or renders. Although some minor tweaks are expected before the start of the season in Bahrain next month, the team is not worried that they may have revealed too much information too soon.
Fallows indicated that the team has an aggressive development program and intends to continue putting new parts on the car as quickly as possible, while still remaining within the cost cap limits. However, the team was careful to launch a car that will be ready to shakedown with only minor adjustments needed before it races in Bahrain. This was a key consideration for the team in their decision to reveal their new car to the public.
Fallows emphasized the importance of showing the team’s real car to their fans. He noted that it can be difficult for fans to appreciate the changes made to a car from last season when only looking at new stickers or livery.
As a result, it was crucial for Aston Martin to provide their fans with an opportunity to see the real car, especially since the team has built a strong fan base over the past couple of years. The team wanted to give something back to both the media and their fans, as well as their families, who support the team.
A key element of Aston Martin’s long-term strategy is their recent acquisition of Fernando Alonso, who replaced the now-retired Sebastian Vettel over the winter. Alonso has expressed a long-term ambition to help the team progress, and his influence has been immediately evident during his first few weeks with the team.
According to Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack, Fernando Alonso is a very experienced, fast racing driver who is also honest and transparent. While it is still early days in their collaboration, Krack is very pleased with Alonso’s demanding attitude. He believes that Alonso’s attitude will push the team forward and motivate them to go the extra mile, which is the only way to climb the grid and become more competitive.
Krack acknowledged that if the car does not meet their expectations, there may be some challenging discussions in the future. However, he is confident that they will be able to have honest and transparent conversations with Alonso, who will not tolerate any attempts to hide problems. Krack believes that they will be able to approach these discussions with an open visor, being straightforward and transparent about any issues that arise. He does not anticipate any issues as long as they maintain this approach.
Although Alonso debuted with the team at the end of last year in the post-season test in Abu Dhabi, he has since been working closely with the team to overcome the lack of pre-season running in the AMR23. With drivers having only a day and a half each in the car before the first race, the team has been focused on ensuring that Alonso is able to hit the ground running.
Tom McCullough, the performance director of Aston Martin, believes that getting Fernando Alonso up to speed with the team during the Abu Dhabi test with last year’s car was beneficial. Since then, the team has been busy preparing for the upcoming season, including participating in the 2024 Pirelli tire test in Jerez, conducting simulator sessions, and holding numerous meetings with engineers. The team’s goal is to be well-prepared for testing and racing and to hit the ground running when the season starts.
According to McCullough, the team spent most of the winter conducting a thorough review of their performance from the previous season and assessing areas for improvement. With the addition of a new driver, the team also took into account Alonso’s input during this process. The team is still working on this review and recently spent four hours in the simulator with Alonso in preparation for the upcoming season.
McCullough noted that Alonso’s motivation is high, and he is pushing the team hard to perform at their best. The team shares this motivation and is working hard to achieve their goals for the season.
Despite making positive statements about their long-term strategy, Aston Martin is maintaining a cautious approach. Krack emphasizes the importance of keeping their feet on the ground and taking things one step at a time.
This approach is echoed by Fernando Alonso, who understands the importance of patience and steady progress. By taking things step by step, the team can ensure that they are moving in the right direction and achieving their goals in a sustainable and effective manner.
According to Krack, it is not appropriate for the team to make predictions about winning races or titles at the moment. Instead, the team is focused on maintaining a steady and consistent approach that will allow them to progress in a sustainable way. By doing so, the team can build a solid foundation for future success while also keeping their expectations in check.
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