Since the conclusion of pre-season testing, Aston Martin has been in the headlines as it is being touted to be a high-profile player during the 2023 Formula 1 season.
The team has been tipped by some to start the season as the third fastest car – ahead of Mercedes, who is looking to bounce back from its 2022 slump.
Its form over the three days was impressive, with Fernando Alonso setting the most laps (270) of any driver in the field.
Although the true pecking order will not be realised until the opening round of the year, Pedro de la Rosa, who is working as an ambassador for Aston Martin, says there is nothing wrong with the team having high aims.
“That is a big statement, to say the third fastest [team],” he told the F1 Nation podcast. “I’m not sure.
“It’s going to be difficult to say until we get to the qualifying. It’s difficult to judge by single lap time, but then again if you look at the race simulations done by everyone, which is where we have to focus to get any performance evaluation of every team, we were really fast.
“On the last long run, the race simulation that Fernando did on the last day, at night time when is basically when the race will happen, he was impressive.
“His degradation was minimal. He was not the fastest but was possibly one of the guys that managed to have less degradation.
“Why not? We have to aim high as well. We can’t keep playing the card that we are going to be beaten by every team.
“We are ambitious, we want to feel the work that everyone has been doing in the factory is relevant, is important. Why not. Third team, fourth team, let’s see.”
However, de la Rosa says that all teams have expected to make gains compared to last year, making establishing its place in the order difficult.
“We have to play it down in a way, when we’re confident! In any case, it was a very interesting test.
“As a team, we learned a lot but I’m sure every team learned a lot with the new regulations and the new tweaks in the floor height.
“We’ll see, it’s always the same in winter testing. You go there for three days, you do long runs, you do short runs, you drive five different compounds.
“What do you know? You know nothing about the competitors, you can only say where you are in respect to last season.”
The team is no stranger to this position
Aston Martin being promoted as the third fastest team in the field is a position it found itself in before.
Ahead of the Covid-delayed 2020 season, the Silverstone-based squad produced a controversial car when it ran under the guise of Racing Point.
The infamous RP20 car was labelled the ‘Pink Mercedes’ for how it resembled the highly successful Silver Arrows car from the year before.
In the early stages of the 2020 season, it was sometimes even the second fastest car in the field – but the team was subsequently punished for copying the design of Mercedes and was docked 15 points in the Constructors’ Championship, which saw it miss out on third place in the standings.
However, the team has undergone several changes since that period, with vast investment being injected into a new factory and facilities.
While it’s unlikely that Aston Martin currently has the infrastructure to end the season within the top three, there would appear to be little surprise if it emerged from the blocks in Bahrain well clear of the midfield pack.
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