Aston Martin arrived in Austria for the second race at the same venue with a hefty package of aerodynamic upgrades for their AMR21.
Aston Martin has had a somewhat disappointing season so far, if you compare it with last year. The Andrew Green designed car has not been able to live up to expectations.
The AMR21 has dropped behind Ferrari and AlphaTauri in terms of pace, whilst Sebastian Vettel took several races to get comfortable in his new car.
Last time in Austria – the Styrian GP – Aston Martin struggled in the high speed corners, with a very nervous rear-end, which is something that Vettel struggles with. Stroll was tenth in qualifying, Vettel was 14th.
But this weekend they arrived with a major upgrade package aimed at addressing this, although many of the updates have been reserve for Stroll, meaning Vettel will have to wait for the British GP in a fortnight.
New bargeboards and a new floor were only run on the Canadian’s car on Saturday and they loom to have helped. Stroll was tenth and Vettel eighth, prior to his penalty.
The flow deviators (arrows) have been revised in the central area, to try to better laminate the air flow which is directed towards the floor. Small changes have also been made to the upper part of the sidepod, to which three small flow conveyors have been added to the horizontal airfoil (single arrow).
One of the main problems of Aston Martin is precisely that of not being able to generate sufficient downforce from the floor and the diffuser, which, as we know, has been limited by the new 2021 technical regulations.
The AMR21 suffers even more from the problems that Mercedes had at the beginning of the championship, with a low rake set-up that has suffered more from the rule changes.
The new floor seen on Stroll’s single-seater has a different shape as regards the vortex generators: The many vertical elements have been modified both in the central area, where there is the Z-shaped cut and the wavy “lip”, and in the area in front of the rear wheels.
The team’s engineers are still trying to figure out how to regain the downforce from the 2020 floor, in order to be able to load the front of the car more. On circuits where downforce in corners counts, the AMR21 seems to struggle more, compared to tracks like Monaco and Baku where most of the corners are low speed.
To rebalance the set-up, Aston Martin has also introduced a new front wing, which both drivers ran this weekend.
The new wing has simply been revised in the last shorter flap, in the interior, resulting in a greater string than the old specification used in the Styrian GP. At Aston Martin, attempts are being made to solve the problems arising from understeer by looking for downforce at the front as well. One of the main problems Sebastian Vettel has highlighted is the lack of stability, which fails to generate sufficient downforce both in insertion (with understeer) and in traction (oversteer).
As done by other teams, Otmar Szafnauer’s team sought a more relaxed set-up for race two in Austria, trying to prioritise speeds in the first sector. In this regard, both drivers tested two different rear wing configurations during practice. Both Vettel and Stroll tried the spoon rear wing without the deck wing, discarding this choice for qualifying, however.
The difficulties in being able to release downforce are evident and unloading the rear also proved to be inefficient for tyre management, which is even more critical at the Spielberg circuit this weekend as Pirelli has gone a step softer on compounds.