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Formula 1 United States GP

Alonso back to old-spec Aston Martin for pitlane start in F1 US GP

Fernando Alonso is to revert to Aston Martin’s old car specification for Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix, as the Spaniard joins three other drivers in starting from the pitlane.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team, weighs in after the Sprint race

Aston Martin introduced a hefty upgrade for this weekend’s race at the Circuit of the Americas, but its weekend was derailed after it suffered brake problems in first practice that left it on the back foot.

Alonso and team-mate Lance Stroll were knocked out in Q1 and, with the car not looking competitive, the Silverstone-based team has elected to make changes to both cars for the grand prix.

It means they will join both Haas cars in starting from the pitlane.

Deputy technical director Eric Blandin explained that the FP1 woes meant both Aston Martin drivers were in a far from ideal set-up window, and it felt that big gains could be had by removing the cars from parc ferme and changing settings.

Asked by Autosport if the team had learned anything from the new upgrade package, Blandin said: “We learned that the package is actually performing as we were expecting.

“But we haven't been able to optimise the setup. So, one thing we have decided to do is to start both cars from the pitlane and we are effectively changing the set-up, because we think there is a lot more performance to come from the car.

“We took the pragmatic approach to start both cars; one with the Qatar spec, and the other one with the new package. Lance is going to have the new spec and Fernando will have the Qatar spec.”

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Blandin explained that the FP1 brake problems which ruined Aston Martin’s weekend were triggered by an error made by its pre-event factory simulations leaving it with too little cooling for the demands of the track.

“Because of a mistake on the simulation, we put too much blanking on the front brakes, so they effectively caught fire,” he said.

“That's the reason why we couldn't run more than two laps with Lance in the morning [on Friday]. And that's really put us on the backfoot for the weekend.

“Yesterday, in FP1, we couldn't really optimise the set-up of the car with the new package.

“And, as a consequence, I think the car is far from its optimum set-up, with the new package.”

With Alonso and Stroll joining Haas duo Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg in the pitlane, their starting order is dependent on when they form up at the end.

If they arrive there prior to the five-minute mark before the race, then they form up in grid order. That meant from Friday qualifying it will be Kevin Magnussen, Nico Hulkenberg, Alonso and then Stroll.

However, if they arrive after, they must form up in a line.

Article 44.4 of F1’s Sporting Regulations states: “Any car reaching the end of the pit lane after the five (5) minute signal must start behind any car already at the pit exit.”

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