Aston Martin’s performance this season has been catching everyone’s attention – for plenty of reasons. And now, Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko is issuing a stark warning. The team, which showcased a promising start to the 2022 season, is at a critical juncture, he thinks.
The initial part of the season saw Fernando Alonso collecting a series of podiums. But recent observations from McLaren’s Lando Norris indicate a different story. “Slower and slower,” he described Aston Martin’s progress.
In Austin, the team introduced a significant upgrade, which turned out to be more of a problem than a boost. Nevertheless, team boss Mike Krack is keeping a positive outlook, believing that the race on Sunday provided valuable insights for car setup improvement. “Here we have two free practice sessions again so we can work on setting up the car in peace,” Krack said.
Dan Fallows, the new technical director who made a move from Red Bull, admitted that the team’s simulation tools led them astray during the US GP setup. “We were simply wrong, and I think we have fixed the problem now,” he confessed, hopefully.
Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher is among those keenly observing Aston Martin’s trajectory, especially with every team’s late-season upgrades very much pointing towards their 2024 plans. Schumacher shared his hopes for the team, stating, “I hope they find their form again. After Mexico we’ll certainly know more.”
However, he also raised questions about the potential challenges Fallows might be facing, now detached from Red Bull’s developments. “What if Fallows was able to bring a lot of Red Bull’s know-how to the car this year but now he’s struggling more because he can no longer base it on the developments at his former team?” Schumacher pondered.
Dr. Helmut Marko underscored the gravity of the situation, warning that a wrong turn at this stage could lead to a prolonged struggle, akin to Mercedes’ experience in 2022 with the radical new aerodynamic floor rules. “You have to know as early as possible in the season what direction you are going for next year,” he advised. “If you make a mistake, you could be in for a rude awakening at the start of the new season.”
Another potential hurdle for Aston Martin is the unpredictable nature of Fernando Alonso. Known for his relentless ambition, a dip in car performance could quickly turn his motivation into frustration. “How long will Fernando Alonso keep quiet?” Schumacher wonders. “He is known for his ambition which can quickly escalate into a bad mood when things don’t go his way.”
However, Mike Krack is not worried. “Fernando does put pressure on us, but in a very positive way. He is one of our biggest motivators,” he assured.