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Alonso: F1’s ground effect cars can be ‘confusing’

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso has explained why the current generation of ground effect Formula 1 cars can be ‘confusing’ for teams and drivers to fully understand each grand prix weekend.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The radical overhaul of the technical rules for 2022 shifted the aerodynamic bias, with the underside of the car taking the priority over top surfaces to produce 60% of total downforce. 

Given the scale of the revamp, teams have battled porpoising and bouncing while - behind runaway champion Red Bull - the competitive order has been notable for fluctuating from round to round. 

Aston Martin, McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes all featured as the second-fastest team on occasion throughout 2023 as the cars struggled for consistency between different types of circuits. 

Two-time F1 champion Alonso reckons this is reflective of the new era of machinery being more difficult to set-up, with cars such as the Mercedes W14 notable for its narrow operating window.  

The Spaniard said: “[The cars are] definitely more difficult to set up, more difficult to understand. Even more difficult to give the feedback to the team.  

“Sometimes we drive these cars and we feel everything is going OK. You stop and you see the standings and maybe you are P14. And sometimes the opposite.  

“You drive a very difficult car: the balance is completely out of the way and then you stop and you are top three. There is a very sensitive way of setting up the cars.” 

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Alonso suggested the temperamental behaviour could be attributed to both the aerodynamic platform and the need to run the suspension low and stiff to maximise ground effects. 

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Getting the relationship between the two correct underlines how “complex” the current cars are and their ability to ‘confuse’. 

He added: “I don’t think that is only the aerodynamics. I think that is also the suspension being so stiff and so low. 

“You miss a little bit what the car is giving you in terms of feedback - what is the real balance of the car, what is the tyre interaction against the aerodynamic interaction, against the suspension and the mechanical grip? 

“All these three parameters are a little bit confused sometimes in your hands and in your body. I think it’s a very complex generation of cars.”

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