JoeE wrote: ↑
Wed Dec 14, 2022 10:43 am
Would be if it wasn't behind a pay wall
Optically significantly different from AMR22
Aston Martin wants to get away from seventh place. But the car will change face again. The AMR23 for the coming Formula 1 season already looks significantly different in the wind tunnel than its predecessor – say the engineers. Aston Martin has high hopes for new signing Fernando Alonso.
Andreas Haupt 09.12.2022
Aston Martin does not announce a real goal in the form of a placement for the coming Formula 1 season. However, one thing is clear: the racing team from Silverstone must get away from seventh place in the Constructors' World Championship, which they took in 2022. This place does not fit the self-image and the high investments that are made at Silverstone.
Aston Martin will have to fight for the top positions in midfield in 2023. It has to jump out more than the 55 points in the past Formula 1 year. The opponents there are likely to be Alpine and McLaren, who drove their own race for fourth place behind the top teams in 2022. The team of race director Mike Krack was more than 100 points short of the two.
Aston Martin's hopes are based on several pillars. The new additions to the technical department – above all Dan Fallows (from Red Bull) and Eric Blandin (from Mercedes) – should make themselves more noticeable in the new project. This time they were more or less present at the birth of the race car, and didn't join when the car was already running. And it went badly. Aston Martin tormented itself at the start of the 2022 season with strong bouncing. The green racing car therefore had to be operated with increased ground clearance.
Two projects cost time
This resulted in a high loss of downforce because the aerodynamics were designed to drive low and hard. The values from the wind tunnel and simulations could not be achieved with a jacked-up and hard-trimmed chassis. The drivers missed feedback in the steering. They didn't feel their car. In addition, the Aston Martin AMR22 was well above the minimum weight. "We couldn't drive the car in the window it was built for," says Tom McCullough, head of operations. "It wasn't until Miami that we were able to show a reasonable race pace." This was the fifth Grand Prix of the year.
The decision had long since been made to have a B-version debut at the following race in Spain. One that looked confusingly similar to the Red Bull RB18 in parts such as the sidepods. Aston Martin had been working on two projects in parallel over the winter.
From the Spanish GP onwards, they switched to the version that promised less bouncing, a wider working window and better development opportunities for the future. Having two approaches in the quiver made it easier to change, but also brought disadvantages: "Pursuing two different approaches took us weeks, if not months, to work exclusively with the new concept." The concept that prevailed from Barcelona. Aston Martin improved from the bottom of the table to the wide midfield.
Aston with too many compromises
The B version of the B version came to the home race at Silverstone. And with it the next step. Aston Martin concentrated in the course of the season after the major conversion of the sidepods mainly on the underbody and on the diffuser. On the underbody, work was carried out in particular on the front baffles, the entrances to the venturi channels, and the lateral edges. "We had a lot of underbody updates. For example at Paul Ricard, Silverstone and the last one in Singapore." The last major renovation of the year was approved and launched before the factories closed in August.
Since then, the engineers have been fully focused on the 2023 project. The troupe of new and old is more well-rehearsed. "When new people come, it never goes smoothly. They need to integrate. You need to understand how we work and why we do it this way. And we have to deal with their new approaches and embrace them. That takes time." Work processes are adapted as the team grows. Meanwhile, Aston Martin has slowed the pace of new hires. That's not to say that other engineers aren't joining in. You want to grow to the level of the top teams.
The conversion during the season made it easier for engineers and drivers to trim the car for the respective circuit. However, the change of philosophy was accompanied by an increase in air resistance, although the opposite is the case with Red Bull. "We knew this was happening. One weakness that we need to work on specifically for 2023 is air resistance. Our car was not efficient." It lacked top speed. This made the Aston Martin vulnerable on the straights. And forced the engineers into too many compromises. "Less than at the beginning of the year, but still in too many."
With Fernando Alonso in the cockpit, things should go up for Aston Martin.
New nose for AMR23?
Aston Martin analysed in detail the strengths and weaknesses of the AMR22. How do you compare to the competition in the different corners, from slow to fast? As on the straights – with and without DRS? Straight ahead was too slow as described. In fast corners there was no downforce. The inefficient aerodynamics meant that Aston Martin was proportionally better off on circuits that require maximum downforce. Because everyone there drives with big wings.
Wherever you had to choose between small or larger – such as at Spa-Francorchamps – Aston Martin suffered especially. Then you either sacrifice speed in the corners or starve to death on the straights. A toad has to be swallowed. Towards the end of the season, progress was also made in this respect. Although not sufficient. "We still have deficits in many different areas. For aerodynamics and mechanics, we have quite a lot of developments going on."
The AMR23 will look so different from its predecessor that it can be seen with the naked eye. This would already be evident in the wind tunnel model, which remains hidden from the public. The Aston Martin engineers give a hint. They had driven the entire season with practically the same nose and the same front wing. Without a budget cap, as it has existed in Formula 1 since 2021, changes would certainly have been made in this area. One can assume that this will happen with the new race car.
Alonso in the factory
Compared to last year, the teams are developing on a completely different basis. The first cars of the new ground effect era were created through assumptions and forecasts. Now they have real data from 22 Grand Prix. They know how the cars behave in different driving conditions. Knowledge can be transferred. But some of them don't. The innovative rear wing with the curved endplates, which debuted in Hungary, has to mothball Aston Martin. The guardians of the rules forbid it.
A big topic for Aston Martin are the tyres. The AMR22 was too good-natured to them. It was difficult for the pilots to bring the Pirellis to one lap into the temperature window. The gentle handling in the race helped. How do you find the balance? "This is a question that we ask ourselves very often and that we invest a lot of time answering." Perhaps newcomer Fernando Alonso can help with his experience at Alpine.
The former world champion sat in the AMR22 for a day after the race in Abu Dhabi. After that, Alonso was to go to the factory at Silverstone for a few days. To test in the simulator and get to know his new team better. And to deepen the knowledge gained from the test and to incorporate them into the development of the AMR23.