Aston Martin F1 Faces Data Challenges in Shanghai

Aston Martin Heads to Shanghai Buoyed by Alonso’s Extension


Aston Martin F1 encounters a lack of ‘reference data’ during a challenging weekend in Shanghai, testing their preparation and strategy.

Aston Martin F1 heads to Shanghai with a light-hearted spirit for the Chinese Grand Prix, following the contract extension of Fernando Alonso last week. Tom McCullough, the team’s performance director, outlines the significance of having the two-time world champion on board.

“It’s truly exciting news that we are working with Fernando for at least a few more seasons and into the next era of regulations starting in early 2026,” McCullough stated.

“Since his arrival, his skills and experience have proven invaluable in our quest to compete at the front. He remains one of the fastest drivers on the grid and is still at the top of his game. I know I speak for the whole team when I say we are thrilled to continue our journey together.”

Returning to China with limited information

McCullough confirms that from an engineering standpoint, returning to China after a four-year hiatus poses a real challenge: “The facilities and the circuit are both very impressive. It’s a technical and atypical track, which is fun to tackle from an engineering perspective.”

“There are many long-duration turns and a lot of linked turns. Finding a compromise in these sections, like turns 1, 2, and 3, to pass them the quickest is crucial.”

“It’s a real test for your car because there’s a good mix of low-speed and high-speed turns. This circuit puts a strain on the front end, and the left front tire in particular can suffer in the long turns, like the first one.”

“We expect significant track evolution, partly because there haven’t been many races on this circuit in recent years. It’s also the first time the current era’s ground-effect cars are running on this track, so we don’t have much reference data to study.”

“We will rely heavily on our simulation tools to ensure we have a good base setup at the start of the weekend, but we already understand how the current tires perform in long turns and what we had to do in 2019. To some extent, much of that applies to this car philosophy.”

A Sprint that complicates preparation

To add to the weekend’s challenges, it will be a Sprint weekend with revised proceedings: “Sprint weekends present a unique challenge as there’s a lot to learn in the first practice session before heading straight into competition.

“The Sprint rules have changed this year, with the Sprint Shootout now taking place on Friday after the first free practice session, before the Sprint precedes qualifying on Saturday.”

“From a parc fermé perspective, this season, we are allowed to adjust car settings after the Sprint and before Saturday’s qualifying session, whereas last year, it was not possible to make adjustments during the rest of the weekend after the Shootout.”

“This means that between the Shootout and the Sprint, everyone will rely heavily on their simulation tools to see if they have correctly understood the track, tires, and settings. Then, it will be possible to reset before starting qualifying, if necessary, before parc fermé conditions apply again.”

Operational efficiency is key

The engineer explains how the team is working this year to succeed in most races and avoid mistakes. A strategy that is succeeding in the pits, with a very good average in stops.

“We’ve had very good pit stops this year. Consistency and average pit stop times are the metrics we use to analyze our performance in the pit lane.”

“We don’t pay too much attention to very fast or very slow pit stops, as consistency is a measure we work hard on with the mechanics. We had excellent pit stops in Japan. In terms of strategy, we are also doing well.”

“We are in a tight fight with McLaren and Mercedes on the track, and the margins are very thin, meaning a good pit stop or strategy can earn extra points. Operationally, if you manage your race weekend well, you often get a better result, and we have focused a lot on this aspect.”

Aston Martin F1 Faces Data Challenges in Shanghai. Aston Martin F1 Faces Data Challenges in Shanghai

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