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Formula 1 Emilia Romagna GP

Aston Martin's major F1 Imola upgrade a clue of "aggressive" development

Aston Martin has explained how its biggest upgrade package yet for the 2024 Formula 1 season in Imola is just a step of an "aggressive" development programme building on 2023's setbacks.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR24

Aston consolidated its spot at the top of the midfield but has so far generally been fifth fastest, some way behind fourth-placed team Mercedes.

It hasn't scaled the heights of its early 2023 run of podiums yet, and instead saw its performance levels fluctuate between various circuit conditions, with a curious discrepancy between qualifying and race performance.

Fernando Alonso in particular has often outperformed the car's natural position in qualifying before falling back to the team's usual spot in the pecking order in race trim.

Technical director Dan Fallows explained that the team has identified why the car has worked better on some circuits than others, and that the team is now cashing in on a lot of that knowledge with its major Imola update, which includes a floor redesign and a new front wing and diffuser.

"The majority of this update has been based on what we saw from the launch car, from the car in testing, and then how we want to sort of evolve that," Fallows said.

"We've seen some circuits suit us better than others and that's something we focused on trying to make sure we can perform everywhere.

"We have an era of ground-effect cars that have specific windows of performance and you're always trying to sort of broaden that.

Aston Martin AMR24 rear detail

Aston Martin AMR24 rear detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

"So, you want to make sure when you bring an update that it does perform in all the different conditions."

Only Alonso sampled the package in FP1 so the team could perform a back-to-back evaluation of the new and old spec. After the break the new items were also bolted onto Lance Stroll's machine for FP2.

The pair finished second practice 10th and 13th respectively, around a second off leader Charles Leclerc.

Aston was the surprise package of the first half of the 2023 season, but gradually slipped backwards to fifth place as it struggled to keep up its in-season development rate.

Fallows says a lot of the knowledge of those failings have been taken on board for what he has called "quite an aggressive" upgrade programme.

"We've realised where we can push things harder than we could before and some things we have to be a bit more careful of," he explained.

"It's been a learning experience and I think we have a bit more confidence now that these upgrades do work.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR24

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR24

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

"It is quite aggressive. We knew we had a car that we have a lot of opportunities with at the beginning of the season, we wanted to make sure we had continual upgrades coming through.

"This is probably our biggest one to date. But it's just part of our plan and we want to keep going with this in the next few races as well."

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