Alonso: Austria sprint “not ideal” for Aston F1 upgrade push

Fernando Alonso reckons the Austrian Grand Prix “will not be ideal” for Aston Martin to optimise its latest upgrades owing to the compressed timetable required by Formula 1 sprint weekends.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

For the Canadian GP earlier this month, Aston Martin debuted more aggressive sidepod bodywork and a revised floor design for its AMR23 which Alonso used to secure his sixth podium result of the season, finishing second to Max Verstappen.

But the Spaniard says Aston Martin’s push to fully understand its update risks being stymied by this weekend’s Austrian GP, which will run as the second sprint round of the season after Azerbaijan.

New for this year, the qualifying session to decide the grid for the main race takes place on Friday. Meanwhile, the sprint event now is self-contained with a qualifying shootout and race on Saturday.

This only leaves one free practice session on Friday afternoon for teams to refine their set-up and validate any car upgrades.

“I think the sprint weekend will not be ideal for us,” Alonso conceded.

“We still [need] more time maybe of free practice with our new upgraded car. We still need to understand and optimise the package a little bit. 

“In Austria, obviously with the sprint, we will have only FP1 to do that.”

He added: “The circuit will be good and maybe better for the package as well… so maybe Austria we have a little bit more pace.”

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Meanwhile, Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack hopes the coming rounds will provide a “clear picture” of where his Silverstone squad stands relative to rivals thanks to a move away from the anomalous nature of the Montreal circuit.

He said: “Canada is specific. I said in Barcelona that we should always wait a couple of races to identify really where you are.

“The mix between updates and the track characteristics makes it really difficult to get a clear picture. So, the safest thing to say at this point is Red Bull is in front... 

“Anything else, I think it's probably also the shape of the day, how you are that day or how the circuit is suiting your car, or which tyres you're having on.”

Krack added that, after Alonso’s strong result in Canada, he was not overly worried that a return to more traditional circuits would cause the team to drop back.

He said: “I'm not concerned because I think we have seen the latest upgrades, which seem to work.

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“There are some tracks coming now where you have a lot of high-speed corners and I think we improve in high-speed corners.

“So, actually, we're looking forward to them because, in such circuits, I think we will see the true strength of the Red Bull. And also, we will have a better indication of how far we are away.”

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