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Aston Martin: Simulation data sent us down wrong path with F1 upgrades

Aston Martin has revealed that its upgrade stumbles in Formula 1 this year were caused by it being misled by its simulation tools.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, leaves the garage

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, leaves the garage

Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The Silverstone-based outfit had begun the 2023 campaign as Red Bull’s main challenger, with Fernando Alonso rolling off a run of podium finishes early in the season.

However, as rivals like McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari made big gains through upgrades, Aston Martin started to lose ground and fall down the order.

The team bemoaned this slump as being triggered by “side-effects” of the development path it had taken, which appeared to have made the balance of the AMR23 worse.

Speaking ahead of the United States Grand Prix, technical director Dan Fallows said the squad had got to the bottom of what happened.

“We can see where we went wrong in terms of upsetting the car balance,” he said.

“We’ve understood why that’s hurt our overall performance. Now, it’s a question of making sure that we don’t make the same mistakes again: it’s certainly been a year of learning.”

Hoping to address its errors, Aston Martin brought its latest batch of upgrades to the United States GP, but their potential was masked by its weekend being derailed by brake problems in FP1.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

However, Lance Stroll’s encouraging pace in the main race has lifted hope that the team has turned the corner on its struggles – as it looks forward to some proper running with the parts in Mexico.

Asked to offer some more details about the difficulties it had faced in making progress this year, deputy technical director Eric Blandin said its woes were the result of wrong information coming from the factory.

“We were led in a certain direction by our simulation tools on the aerodynamic side, and we did follow a path that was just the wrong one,” he explained. “I think we have now corrected the issue with the new package.”

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Aston Martin performance director Tom McCullough has explained that the team’s main challenge this year has been in chasing a performance window that suits both low and high-speed corners at the same time.

“Ultimately, with this generation of cars, being strong in low and high-speed corners, from a rear ride height optimisation, is a little bit of a challenge without having porpoising, and how close you get to that. That is still the issue now two years down the road for everyone.

“If you look at our car, it hasn't been particularly strong in high-speed corners and low-speed corners [at the same time]. So, we're unable to do one or the other reasonably well, nearly since the start of the year.

“What we're trying to do is have an envelope that allows us to be strong at both lower ride heights and higher ride heights.”

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

He added: “We have not made the car easier to drive. But the updates that we brought [to Austin] are easier to drive. But you're always balancing that with being fast as well.

“What we're trying to do is just have a car that you can go to 24 races and be competitive at.”

The revelation about the simulation tools being a factor in its upgrade misstep comes on the same weekend when Aston Martin’s brake troubles were caused by wrong information from the factory about what it needed for Austin.

Asked if there were some improvements needed in its simulation infrastructure, Blandin said: “You always have to do improvements, constantly. We're always improving our simulation.

“A simulation tool is as good as what you put in the simulation. So, it just understanding better and trying to improve the correlation.”

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