Alonso ‘mind-games’ return

Despite the rocketship start for the team, the 2023 Formula 1 season has been a challenging one for Aston Martin in the latter stages leading up to the summer break, and the Hungarian Grand Prix was no exception. With this, it comes as no surprise the press-savvy Spaniard has begun to unleash his talent for ‘mind games’, in an attempt to steer the sport in a favourable direction.

For the second consecutive year, the team found themselves far from the podium positions in Hungary, finishing with Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll in the middle of the field, securing only the last two points positions.

“We weren’t fast enough to challenge those ahead of us, but we also didn’t face pressure from behind. Ninth and tenth places and the three points were the best we could achieve,” remarked Alonso, the two-time world champion.


No improvement at Aston Martin

The Spanish driver noted that there was no significant improvement in the performance of the AMR23 from qualifying to the race. The team’s pace remained “similar” on the Hungaroring, both over a single fast lap and the entire Grand Prix distance. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to contend for higher positions.

Aston Martin’s struggles have been evident in the past two race weekends, particularly in Silverstone, where the safety car helped them secure a seventh-place finish, slightly better than their actual pace would have given them.

“The safety car suited us so that we could finish seventh. That was a bit better than what our actual pace would have given us.” says Alonso, “we’re currently just P9, behind Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren. That’s more or less what we saw in qualifying and then in the race.”



Wolff’s blunt criticism of Hamilton



Alonso: Surprised they’re slow in Budapest

Alonso expressed some surprise at the team’s current situation, acknowledging that they expected a bit more in Budapest. However, the reality is that Aston Martin currently sits around ninth place, trailing behind Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, and McLaren.

The team is facing difficulties in analysing recent race weekends and understanding how their car’s behaviour has changed compared to the beginning of the season. Alonso believes it might be a matter of updates, as teams constantly bring new parts to improve their performance.

“We thought we would have a little trouble at Silverstone, but we expected a little more for Budapest. But that didn’t happen. We have to analyse that and fight back well in Spa next week.”

According to Alonso, it is “difficult for Aston Martin to understand how the car is behaving compared to the start of the season”.

“It’s also about how many updates we’ve used compared to our opponents and who understands the new tyres best. But the tyres are the same for everyone, so we just have to do our job better,”



Aston Martin ‘not a top team’

“There’s always uncertainty in Formula 1 regarding the causes of performance changes. In one race, Haas surprises with Hulkenberg, in another, Williams is fast, and then Alfa Romeo stands out. But in the end, the big teams tend to dominate the race,” Alonso stated.

The only catch is that Aston Martin is currently not one of the top teams, but stands behind it. “So we have to catch up with the top of this group first,” says Alonso, throttling back the ambitions of the team who were close to winning GP’s at the start of the season.

He continues: “Of course we always want to use something new, just like everyone else. It’s not like everyone is stopping development now and waiting for 2024.”

“We all bring new parts. Some of them sometimes work better than expected, others not as well as expected. Hopefully our next step is a good one.”

“We want to take some revenge in Spa, and it’s crucial to have the right attitude and focus for the upcoming challenges. Our goal is to catch up with the top teams in our group,” Alonso concluded.

READ MORE: Norris calls out ‘winger’ Hamilton




Aston Martin & Red Bull hobbled by rule changes

Alonso then suggested that Red Bull and Aston Martin have also been negatively affected by a mid-season change in Formula 1 tyre construction. The new construction, implemented by Pirelli at the British Grand Prix, aimed to address safety concerns arising from the cars’ increasing downforce levels, which have surpassed initial season-end forecasts.

While the tyre compounds remained unchanged, the stiffness of the tyres’ construction was altered to withstand the demands of high-speed cornering. However, Alonso believes that this change has had a noticeable impact on performance for certain teams.

After the Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying, where Max Verstappen missed out on pole position and Alonso qualified eighth, the two-time champion shared his observations with the press.


Brundle spat with Nico Rosberg



Alonso: It’s no coincidence

With further statements that appear to be aimed directly at the sport’s governance, Alonso stated, “It is no coincidence that when the new Pirelli tyres came in at Silverstone, there are a couple of teams that are struggling more, and a couple of teams that are very happy with the car now.”

Interestingly, he pointed out that Red Bull, which had consistently dominated qualifying and races, was now facing challenges with the new tyres as well, no doubt in a bid to lobby what is arguably the most powerful political entity within F1 if one discounts Mercedes.


Marko’s chilling warning to other teams



Red Bull is struggling

Verstappen missed out on pole position, and his teammate, Sergio Perez, struggled to reach the top 10 in qualifying. Alonso highlighted that in the previous race at Silverstone, Verstappen’s lead over Lando Norris was significantly reduced, indicating a shift in performance dynamics.

“It’s not only us, I think Red Bull has clearly been hit with those tyres, they’ve been one-two in every qualifying, one-two in every race, and now they are not even on pole position.

“Checo [Perez] is struggling to be in the top 10. At Silverstone I think Max [Verstappen] was only three seconds in front of Lando [Norris in the race]. So I see things a little bit abnormal since Silverstone.”


Hamilton calls for Red Bull investigation



On race day at the Hungaroring, Aston Martin’s struggles continued as the team failed to make a significant impact on their rivals, finishing ninth and tenth courtesy of Alonso and a recovery drive from Lance Stroll.

“We were not quick enough to challenge anyone in front, and we didn’t have any threats behind,” explained Alonso, reflecting on the race performance.

READ MORE: Wolff suggests Red Bull replacement for Perez



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