Formula 1, of late, has been a dominance sport, but Aston Martin have forced themselves into the mix and don’t plan on giving up the fight anytime soon.
Since Jenson Button’s win for Brawn in 2009, every World Championship has been won by a driver from either Red Bull or Mercedes. Their duopoly has been incredible.
But in 2023 there’s a new fighter beginning their ring walk. Aston Martin, though unlikely to challenge for a title any time soon, are on a run of three podiums in three races thus far.
Aston Martin on the charge
Fernando Alonso, two-time world champion, has bagged all three of those for Lawrence Stroll’s team, while the owner’s son Lance has impressed in parts too.
And Aston Martin’s engineering director Luca Furbatto says there’s no reason not to be optimistic for a fourth podium as the F1 season resumes in Baku, Azerbaijan, this weekend.
“I think it’s fair to say that perhaps we were not expecting to be P2 [second in the race] but now that we are [on the podium] I think we want to stay there,” Furbatto told City A.M.
“We’re conscious that the gap to P1 is still quite large. But I think Lawrence was very clear on where we need to be as a team going forward. To be world champion, you need to be P1 at one point.
“I like to say that we’ve normally done very well there [Baku] but I need to be a little bit careful. What we learned from the past is that everything can actually happen in Baku.
“This year there’s going to be a sprint race. Is that the best place for a sprint race? I think it’s too late now for that.
“There’s plenty of walls there and if you go out you could be facing a tough challenge to rebuild a car between Saturday and Sunday. Let’s see how it goes. I’m reasonably optimistic.”
Formula 1 realism
Aston Martin have capitalised on the regression of Mercedes but, given it has been a month since the last grand prix, a lot can change.
Due to ongoing Covid-related issues, China was removed from this year’s Formula 1 calendar, creating a four-week gap after the opening three races of 2023.
After this weekend’s race in Baku, the Formula 1 paddock travels to Miami next week before returning across the pond for the first of two grands prix in Italy this year.
“We always look back [on a grand prix] and say: ‘If we could have done something different for that event, what could we have done?’,” Furbatto added.
“We put that in the simulator and try to optimise our performance during previous events, but for example, Baku is a specific circuit.
“The first two sectors, there’s a lot of low speed corners, a lot of 90 degree corners.
“And then you’ve got sector three, which is almost like a long straight with maximum efficiency so it is a tricky balance between a car that ideally would call for high downforce in the first two sectors and extremely low downforce in the third sector.
“So getting that balance right for the event is going to be the key. In a way, Miami’s not dissimilar, and obviously a little bit less extreme than Baku.
“The developments [for this weekend are] a range of rear wings with less downforce. But also mechanical setup opportunities that perhaps we could not exploit in the first three races.
“Baku normally gets resurfaced every year and is normally smooth, and it allows us to run setups that are not possible on a street circuit like Melbourne.”
Aston Martin are ambitious, and it is clear Stroll, his son Lance, and Alonso have a Formula 1 world championship in their sights.
But it is a difficult game, and progress can be slow, so three podiums in three races is one of the biggest recent developments in the sport that shows the dominance of a few could become the playground of the many.