Fernando Alonso admits that Aston Martin is still “not totally clear” how to set up its upgraded car for the upcoming Mexico City Grand Prix.
Aston Martin elected to introduce a spate of updates in Austin – including a new floor edge, diffuser, engine cover and beam wing – in an attempt to stem its ongoing plight.
However, the team’s understanding of its revised package was limited by managing only 24 laps in the sole practice hour ahead of qualifying due to brake fire issues, resulting in both drivers dropping out in Q1.
Subsequently, the Silverstone squad elected to withdraw its two cars to the pitlane in order to make set-up changes, reverting Alonso back to the pre-Austin specification.
Alonso and team-mate Lance Stroll went on to enjoy an encouraging race, with the pair running line astern in the points places until the former retired late on with floor damage.
Asked where in particular Aston Martin discovered its overnight gains, Alonso said: “Optimising the setup. I think on Sprint weekends, you have that risk of, you know, having only one session, where you have to optimise everything on the car.
“We had a very difficult session in FP1 with a lot of brake problems. And yeah, we opted to change the setup, optimise a little bit everything, the package, and start from the pit lane. And that was a nice result for us, good information that we got from Austin.”
Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team in the FIA Press Conference. 26.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Preparation Day.
However, with the exception of Haas, Alonso acknowledged that the rest of its rivals were hindered by the Sprint format mandating no further set-up changes beyond practice.
“I think the pace that we saw on Sunday, it was a combination of being optimized on our side and I think our main opponents were not optimized, having only FP1,” he warned. “So it was the same for everybody and we took the opportunity to have a better Sunday.”
Following its strong Sunday recovery, Aston Martin Team Principal Mike Krack relayed that he is convinced the side heads into this weekend’s round in better shape.
But Alonso is wary that the team needs to maximise the track time afforded by the return to the traditional weekend format to gain a better understanding of its upgrades.
Asked if the team were clear on how the AMR23 needed to be dialled in at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Alonso replied: “Not totally clear. I think it is a completely different track with different needs. So I think we will use the full practice this time.
“After a few Sprint events we are, you know, more relaxed now and happier that we have FP1, FP2, FP3 to optimise things. So it’s going to be the same for everybody. But yeah, we really need these three practices that are coming in the next days.”