Aston Martin Team Principal Mike Krack has explained that “side effects” from upgrades have been responsible for the side’s recent drop in performance.
After successive finishes of seventh since the team morphed into Aston Martin, the British marque emerged as a surprise front-running threat in the opening stages of 2023 with its highly revamped AMR23 car.
Subsequently, Fernando Alonso, who arrived from Alpine over the winter to replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel, scored six podium finishes in the first eight races of the year.
However, the Silverstone outfit has endured a drastic slump in performance since Alonso finished second in Canada, failing to feature in the top three in the past four rounds.
But Krack isn’t concerned by Aston Martin not maintaining its competitive streak, highlighting its early-season exploits never altered the team’s long-term aspirations.
“It’s true that the more recent races have been more difficult, some of our competitors have taken bigger steps forward on track than us, and this underlines how important it is to enjoy the highs because they don’t come automatically,” Krack said in an interview with the Aston Martin website.
“Nothing is given in Formula One, the competition is fierce, and this makes all that we have achieved so far this season even more impressive – it really emphasises how well the team has done.
“Naturally, expectations have increased based on what we achieved, but I think it’s important to temper them with the reality that we are still very much growing and developing as a team.
“We’re still in a building phase – quite literally in many respects: just look at our new Technology Campus where only phase one is complete.
“We’ve made great progress, but we’ve still got a long way to go. At the beginning of our journey, we said it would take several years to realise our ambitions – that doesn’t change because of the achievements of the team so far this year.”
Having denied Alonso’s claims that the new tyre construction from Silverstone onwards was partly responsible, Krack reveals that upgrades to its 2023 car have been primarily accountable for the side’s collapse.
The ex-BMW engineer asserts the new parts worked as anticipated, but he accepts they also negatively impacted the behaviour of the AMR23, enabling other teams to out-develop Aston Martin in recent months.
“We’ve lost small amounts compared to our competitors and as an engineer, that makes you disappointed, but it’s the qualifying and finishing positions that give the perception that we’ve dropped back massively when in reality we haven’t,” he stated.
“Our competitors have just improved more than us and jumped into that gap between us and Red Bull.
We’re constantly pushing the development, and these cars are so complex that any change will impact other areas of the car – there are side effects. Very few changes you make to the car work in isolation.
“We made a change earlier in the season and didn’t anticipate it having some of the side effects that it did. It wasn’t until after several races at different types of circuits that we realised how it was influencing the car.
“The upgrades we have put on the car have worked, and the numbers are where they should be – but I think the results over the last few races are representative of where we are.
“Events like Monaco and Canada were outliers – they masked the weaknesses – and because we did well in those events, expectations ramped up only for the disappointment to be bigger at Barcelona, Austria, Silverstone and Budapest when we couldn’t achieve such top results.”
Krack adds that the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend marked a “reality check” for Aston Martin on a circuit where the team initially expected to perform strongly.
“We thought that we would be strong there and we weren’t, but it made us take a zoomed-out view and look not at Hungary in isolation but see Budapest and how it relates to Silverstone, how it relates to Barcelona and so on,” he explained. “It’s all important learning.
“From the start of the season, I’ve been saying that these events are very dynamic, and with an upgrade it takes a couple of races to understand what the AMR23 is doing. After lots of analysis in the aftermath of Budapest we understand the changes we need to make.
“We’ve improved less than the others so now it’s up to us to improve more than them.”