go ahead than Aston Martin has a good car, perhaps the revelation of the preseason. In the Sakhir tests he was competitive at one lap and extremely solid in race pace. Horner and Wolff point to him as a possible opponent according to the internal analyzes of his teams. And it can be said that the design team of the AMR23, led by Dan Fallows (ex-Red Bull) and Eric Blandin (ex-Mercedes), has brought a car to the track that, according to the trends seen since last year, could become a fourth car on the grid that would even fight with the erratic Mercedes. But the Bahrain GP hasn’t started yet and the real chances of the car Fernando Alonso (Oviedo, 41 years old) they are unknown. His fans are excited, there are more reasons than in the past.
AS walks the paddock from end to end with the two-time champion and recounts the first kilometers of his new adventure, perhaps the last, in the F1 World Championship. Fernando, have the tests gone as well as it seems from the outside? “It depends on what is considered to be going well”, interrupt. “I know that there is a lot of attention to the times, but you never know what others are shooting. We are happy because we can work on the car, the three days have gone well, it has been easy to drive and we have already verified that it has a very different working window from last year. It seems that it is a good base for future cars, but nothing more than that ”, Explain. Comparisons with real fire, starting Saturday.
The reliability of the AMR23 has not been a weakness, although Alonso points out that there have been details that could be improved due to the condition of the car: 95% of its components are completely new, barely inheriting 5% from the AMR22. “Yeah, I guess there was more reliability than in recent years. We had some problems the first day, but ok. What happens is that It is such a new car, in everything, that changing a spring or whatever takes longer than we expect. So we lose a little bit of time on the show, because it takes a little more practice.” Aside from the power outage with Drugovich, there were minor time losses on Thursday and Saturday in the early afternoon. Aston Martin is the third team with the fewest laps (387) in the preseason. “We had a long list of things to complete and we have done half of it. But that’s how the tests are, ”Fernando himself illustrated when he got out of the car.
“Stroll would have been a big help on the track”
Lance Stroll’s absence due to injury (Drugovich can replace him if he doesn’t arrive on time) has put the bulk of the work on Alonso’s shoulders. Although he may seem positive because he receives more kilometers, the Spaniard does not interpret it that way: “It is worse. Worse. Because I feel things in the car, or transmit things to the engineers, which I don’t know if they are part of the Aston Martin philosophy or if they really come from the physics of the car. “If the driver who has been here every year was there, it would be a great help, because we would have been able to get his feedback. In fact, we have always been in contact with him in case he could answer many questions. I wish I had tried it,” he says of the Canadian, who is recovering from a bicycle accident and has wrist injuries. He will go through the simulator in the coming days to confirm, or rule out, his presence in Bahrain.
Mercedes rear end and a “super-tested” engine
The AMR23 incorporates the rear end of Mercedes: gearbox, engine and suspension. Judging by the GPS logs, traction remains one of its strong points compared to direct rivals, including the top-3. In the fastest laps on Thursday and Friday (Alonso barely did performance runs on Saturday), the Aston Martin beat Ferrari and Red Bull at the exit of the curves, although it gave way on the straights. Traction will be important at Sakhir, although Jeddah Corniche and Albert Park are circuits where power will prevail. It will be difficult to draw any real conclusions about the car’s potential until May.
Interestingly, Alonso becomes the second driver (along with Magnussen) to have used all four power units of the hybrid era: Ferrari, Honda, Renault and Mercedes. “It depends a lot on when you try it. I tested the 2014 Ferrari engine, the first time it was a hybrid power unit, and from those engines that there are now, it has changed by 200 horsepower, I say this without exaggeration. Both in reliability and in driving possibilities. Throughout. It is very difficult to compare. But Mercedes has an engine that is undoubtedly super-proven. It has many years of development behind it, ”he says. During his first tests with the AMR22, in Yas Marina or Jerez, he was already pleasantly surprised with the mileage of the engines compared to the limitations offered by the mechanics of his old Alpine.
The winter of illusion
AS has followed Alonso’s initial steps on the ground in an ambitious project that aspires to win races. First in Abu Dhabi, on November 22 of last year, when he drove the AMR22 (7th car of 2022) for the first time in tire tests and got out of the car with an indelible smile: “I am happily surprised”. Later in the presentation of Silverstone, with the gesture of the child that he opens his new favorite toy and wants to show it to all his friends. “What do you think?”, he asked in the huddle.
That was in a factory “very hungry, talented, but when it was called Force India or Racing Point it didn’t have the financial resources it does have now.” And Fernando commented that day of the premiere that his personality has matched the standards of the team: “I am very demanding, I expect a lot from the people I work with because I give one hundred percent. From day one at Aston Martin, I felt that.”
The last stage of this accelerated winter concludes in Bahrain, here the illusion has given way to a serious face and hard work: Fernando has followed every kilometer of the tests and has not lost his concentration gesture. In public and private, the team lowers expectations until the season officially begins. This team is not a smoke factory or a golden destination: Aston Martin will arrive or not, but they certainly aspire to win the World Cup in the medium term. And if the 100th podium or the 33rd victory falls along the way, it would already be a success.