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Red Bull: Mid-season aero reduction might impact Aston Martin's F1 2023 bid

Helmut Marko believes Aston Martin Formula 1's impending reduction in development time will make it harder for the Silverstone team to keep up its Red Bull challenge.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23

In the hands of Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin has been the surprise package of the 2023 F1 season, with Alonso sitting third in the standings behind Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

The two-time world champion also kept Aston Martin one point ahead of Mercedes in the constructors' championship with five podiums in sixth races.

Last weekend, only a stunning final sector allowed Verstappen to keep Alonso from pole. In a mixed-weather race, the Spaniard looked to retain an outside chance to beat Verstappen until a wrong tyre call cemented Verstappen's advantage, keeping Red Bull's clean sweep of 2023 race wins intact.

According to Red Bull advisor Marko, Aston Martin's impeding reduction in CFD and wind tunnel time could impact its ability to keep up the pressure in the second half of the season.

"If Aston Martin stay second in the championship there will be a reset of the amount of wind tunnel time around the middle of the championship," Marko told Autosport.

"Then they will be massively reduced in the wind tunnel time and the cost cap is another factor, so that might have an impact as well."

What Marko is referring to is the Aerodynamic Testing Restriction handicap system, which allows a certain amount of CFD and wind tunnel use depending on the previous year's construction standings.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

As the seventh-place finisher in 2022, Aston was one of the main beneficiaries of the system heading into this season. It was allowed 100%. of the base aero testing limit, compared to only 70% for 2022 champion Red Bull, which was hit by further reductions as a penalty for exceeding the 2021 cost cap.

But that ATR table resets after 1 July and, assuming Alonso and team-mate Lance Stroll can keep Mercedes behind, the team's CFD and wind tunnel use drops to 75% for the rest of the year, which will also impact the 2024 car project.

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The third-placed team will be restricted to 80% on a sliding scale of 5% per position, percentages which correspond to a certain number of wind tunnel runs and CFD items over six eight-week periods.

Until the result of that restriction will be seen on the track, which due to the long lead times involved would be towards the final third of the season, there is no reason to suggest Aston Martin's form will start tapering off any time soon.

But as it was generally acknowledged that Monaco would be Red Bull's most difficult weekend this side of the summer break, Marko thinks his team will be in even better shape in Spain.

"I believe in Barcelona it should be easier for us to be the frontrunner," he added. "I mean, Alonso is surprisingly fast and very consistent, but he could never really challenge Max."

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