July 18, 2024

SERIOUS CAUTION: Fernando Alonso opened up on his main reasons” After his rigid warning to Aston Martin…

Fernando Alonso fired a warning shot at the underperforming Aston Martin Formula 1 team after finishing outside the points in the Spanish Grand Prix

His message was simple: “It’s time to work harder, to talk less, to deliver more

Although the work ethic of the Aston Martin employees is undeniable, he is correct to note that the pace at which the car’s performance is increasing is insufficient. It started the first five races in the top four cars based on single-lap pace, but after that it has fluctuated between fifth and ninth. The Aston Martin finished sixth in Spain, slightly ahead of Sauber.

Alonso’s surprising happiness, which he attributed to the fact that “our predictions were a little bit more pessimistic,” was explained by the fact that it wasn’t even further behind.

He was more negative after finishing 11th in the race – and couldn’t see any reason to expect Austria this weekend to be any better.

“It’s going to be painful as well because you have some characteristics of Barcelona with the long corners and high-speed sections, so it’s going to be another tough weekend,” said Alonso. “Also Silverstone, arguably. So we cannot get too frustrated. It’s time to work harder, to talk less, to deliver more, and it’s what we want to do.”

There are upgrades coming, most likely for the Hungarian Grand Prix, but while Alonso expressed some optimism he also fired a warning shot about the stuttering progress of his team.

“I’m looking forward [to the upgrades] but we’ve been upgrading the car a lot and we didn’t deliver the result,” said Alonso.

“So now it’s also a matter of whatever we bring to the track, it does deliver what we expect and we start getting better and better. So we need to work hard, get better every race, but without too much talking and promising.”

Aston Martin had a solid enough start to the season, albeit nowhere near the level it was at in 2023 when Alonso claimed six podiums in the first eight races before inevitably finding the going harder as others improved

There were top six finishes in three of the fourth races and generally it was dicing with McLaren to be fourth-fastest. There were some particularly eye-catching qualifying performances in a car that worked its tyres well on prep laps and produced good grip for a single attacking lap.

It has meandered into more mediocre territory since then, save for the mini-revivial in Canada where it bagged its biggest haul of points for the year with 14 thanks to Alonso and Lance Stroll finishing sixth and seventh. That was on a track which favoured the car’s characteristics.

But the Aston Martin doesn’t work well in long, fast corners and, according to Alonso, lacks downforce.

As always with the current generation of F1 cars, generating prodigious downforce from the powerful venturi tunnels is easy enough, but the real art is in doing so in a controlled way without triggering bouncing or porpoising and while producing a good balance through control of characteristics such as the aero centre of pressure.

For the past year or so, Aston Martin’s attempts to improve the car and widen its performance window have generally made it trickier to drive.

“We’ve been testing a few different set-ups,” said Alonso. “In these long corners, the cars all behave differently. Our car was behaving very differently in Bahrain and after the first package we introduced, we changed a little bit the characteristics of the car.

“We can mitigate that a little bit with the set-ups and I think we’re understanding more and more.

“Now we have a plan, let’s see if it contributes to a better result. But we’re more confident than we have been in the previous months.”

That confidence is encouraging. Alonso says that it’s now a case of getting through the next two parts of the triple-header prior to going to Hungary where an upgrade will be introduced.

According to Aston Martin performance director Tom McCullough, there is scope to close the gap to the front as the season moves into its second half.

“We know what we’re trying to achieve, it’s just quite hard to achieve it,’ said McCullough. “And that is the bottom line, both mechanically and aerodynamically.

“The suspension doesn’t move so much on these cars, so your authority mechanically is a lot less than the previous generation cars. And aerodynamically, we’re working flat out to bring the updates as soon as we can to address the issues

“The game is moving on so quickly. Our car now in total load, in characteristics, in DRS switching and efficiency is a different world to last year’s car. But it doesn’t really matter, because everyone’s improved. It’s a relative improvement.

“We are pushing really hard at the factory. At the new factory, the turnaround time of some of the parts, we’re just beginning to see the benefits of that.

“I do think from now to the end of the season, we have all the potential to make some relative gains compared to what we were able to do in the past.

Alonso’s comments about the upgrades not delivering and the unwelcome change in characteristics are pointed, but offset by his positivity about the Hungary upgrade.

But this is Alonso, and he doesn’t say things for no reason. It’s difficult not to conclude that he’s piling a little extra pressure on the team to ensure that it makes inroads on the top four in search of the kind of step that McLaren – and more recently Mercedes – have made.

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