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Aston Martin to evaluate wing choices to counter Red Bull F1 top speed

Aston Martin will evaluate after the Australian Grand Prix whether it needs a rethink about its wing choices to help counter Red Bull’s immense top speed advantage in Formula 1. 

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

While the Silverstone-based squad has proved to be a close challenger to Red Bull in the opening two grands prix of the season, it has also been clear that there are big differences in how the two cars perform. 

While Aston Martin’s AMR23 has clear strengths in braking, acceleration and low-speed corners, it is also noticeable how much it is giving away to Red Bull on the straights. 

In Saudi Arabia’s speed trap in qualifying, Fernando Alonso was around 6.2mph (10km/h) slower than pole position man Sergio Perez – and was one of the slowest overall on the start-finish straight. 

Aston Martin believes the stark difference between the two cars is down to their choice of wing levels, with Red Bull having been aggressive early in the campaign in rolling out a lower downforce and drag specification than the opposition for Saudi, and this has especially proved beneficial when DRS is open

On the other hand, Aston Martin has committed to a higher downforce specification wing because the cost cap meant it could not afford to introduce a lower drag version at this stage of the campaign. 

However, having taken notice of the car characteristics over the first two races, Aston Martin says it will re-evaluate its plans after this weekend’s race in Melbourne to work out if it needs to change approach. 

Aston Martin performance director Tom McCullough explained: “We have sort of said, let's get through the first three races and then have a think going forward, whether we need to change what's in our plan already at the moment. 

“I can't stress the cost cap thing enough. It's very easy to sit and say: “I'll make seven or eight different rear wings to be globally optimised for qualifying with DRS and racing.

“But to do that is quite difficult when you are in a cost cap environment.” 

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

McCullough explained that, while in Bahrain there were some set-up choices Aston Martin made to add downforce for improved tyre management, in Saudi Arabia it was obvious that the gap between his squad and Red Bull was about overall wing philosophy.

“In qualifying, for sure, the Red Bull is very strong with the DRS,” he said. “I think, in a race situation, we have come from a cost cap side of things that you can't have every wing that you want at every track. 

“So we sort of prioritised what we thought was the right thing to do. We knew [in Saudi Arabia] that the wing that we designed and made would be, a little bit, not as fast in a straight line as we wanted.  

“But we have to balance out over 23 races the amount of wings we are trying to make.”

 

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McCullough said that while Aston Martin was boosted by its early-season form, it was also not sitting back in its hopes of closing down the advantage that Red Bull currently has. 

“Our aim is to develop the hell out of this car and get as close as we can to them,” he said. “But they are not going to stand still. They have a good margin, especially over one lap with how fast their car is.  

“With Ferrari and Mercedes, it will be very hard to maintain the development rate with those teams this year, never mind Red Bull. But we are sat here week in and week out trying our damnedest.” 

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