DRS Woes Plague Aston Martin’s Grand Prix Hopes
As the Azerbaijan Grand Prix approaches, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso raises concerns about Aston Martin’s drag reduction system reliability, adding a layer of uncertainty to an already challenging weekend. With poor starting positions in Baku and a history of straightline speed issues, the team is facing an uphill battle.
Fernando Alonso expresses concerns about the reliability of Aston Martin’s drag reduction system heading into the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Formula 1, as his team seeks to recover from a challenging weekend.
Alonso, who has consistently placed third in every race this season, and his teammate Stroll will start from sixth and ninth places respectively in Azerbaijan on Sunday, representing their worst starting positions of the season thus far.
This comes after Aston Martin experienced a lack of straightline speed in earlier races, and given the importance of top speed on Baku’s distinctive layout, it indicates the team is facing increased difficulties this weekend.
However, an inconsistent DRS activation issue during Friday practice and qualifying has distorted the overall picture, affecting both cars.
During Q3, neither driver had access to DRS on the start-finish straight, and Aston Martin believes that with a working DRS, Alonso could have easily secured fourth place in the Grand Prix.
This issue persisted in the sprint shootout, where Stroll required a tow from Alonso to reach the top 10 without DRS. They ultimately qualified in eighth (Alonso) and ninth (Stroll) for the sprint race.
The issue’s reappearance primarily on the main straight rather than in the second DRS zone points to a specific problem related to wing pressure at top speed. This is exacerbated by bumps on the straight, causing the wing to vibrate in such a way that the DRS flap would not open.
It is believed that the DRS functioned better in traffic, where airflow and wing pressure varied, and it operated during the sprint race on Saturday.
However, two-time world champion Alonso stated that Aston Martin “cannot be 100% certain” the problem will not reoccur: “We’ve encountered issues in every session, so I don’t think the system is foolproof heading into tomorrow’s race.
“Nevertheless, that’s the situation. Even with the DRS, overtaking appears to be quite challenging when following other cars, so perhaps it won’t be the deciding factor tomorrow, even if it doesn’t function properly.”
In the sprint, Alonso managed to overtake two cars and finish sixth, while Stroll secured a point in eighth place by passing Lando Norris and Alex Albon. This helped Aston Martin maintain their second position in the championship, 6 points ahead of Mercedes F1 Team.
The fact that the DRS functioned on both cars under race conditions offers a glimmer of hope that the weekend can still yield positive results.
Alonso acknowledged the concerns going into the sprint but said the race left him “more optimistic” about Aston Martin’s potential for progress in Sunday’s Grand Prix. He aims to finish in the top five, noting that such a result “on a difficult weekend will be very good news.”
When asked by F1Lead if the DRS issue had distorted the perception of Aston Martin’s weekend and whether the outlook would have been different had it functioned from the beginning, Alonso replied: “I think so; yesterday’s lap with the DRS open was P4, so if I start P4, I think we’ll have a different opinion of the weekend.
“Our performance is more or less as anticipated. The Ferraris are faster here than in the first two races.
“However, we’ll have to see if everyone finishes the race. It’s a very complex race here, and we need to see the checkered flag to know how many points we have.
“Our primary competitor in the constructors’ championship at the moment is Mercedes.
“George [Russell] starts P11 tomorrow, so we still have an opportunity to outscore Mercedes if both of our cars finish in the points. That’s the target.”
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