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Aston Martin has been the biggest shock in the Formula 1 paddock and, despite a drop-off lately, third place in the constructors’ championship is nothing but a success.
A shock at the start
After two years with Sebastian Vettel, the retirement of the German forced Aston Martin to look elsewhere ahead of 2023. But the British manufacturer caught everyone off-guard when it announced the signing of Fernando Alonso. It was a questionable move, as the 41-year-old moved away from Alpine, who was ahead of Aston Martin in the pecking order, to sign a multi-year contract.
The old dog leading the charge
The pre-season testing was a positive sign, but very few expected the team to reach the podium. With Fernando Alonso leading the team, the Spaniard took his 100th podium at the season opener and followed it up with five more finishes in the top three over the course of the next seven races.
Sitting third in the drivers’ standings, this season has been a resurgence for Alonso, who had only stepped on the podium once since 2014. The only thing missing from the double World Champions’ campaign so far is a much anticipated 33rd victory, one he came so close to in Monaco. If not for a wrong pitstop call in changeable conditions, Alonso could have returned to the top step of the podium.
Despite a recent drop-off in performance for the team overall, the Spaniard is still the leader of the team, having scored in every Grand Prix so far this season, joining Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton as the only drivers to achieve the feat.
Stroll lacking pace
The season started with bad news for Lance Stroll, who injured his wrists in a biking accident. As a result, he needed surgery and missed pre-season testing. He was still feeling the effects at the Bahrain Grand Prix, but was still able to finish sixth, in one of his best drives of the season.
But the rest of his campaign has confirmed what we already know. While he is often able to get in the top ten and score points, he has just one top five finish and he has not scored in four Grands Prix this season, although one was thanks to a race-ending engine failure, in Jeddah. His main source of trouble is his qualifying performances, as he has failed to reach Q3 on five occasions.
Teammate comparison: Alonso ever-dominant
As we have seen more often than not, Fernando Alonso has been able to dominate his teammate battles over the years. And this has been the case this season. There are plenty of stats that highlight this, perhaps none more than their head-to-head stats.
Alonso holds an 11-1 score in his favour in the Grands Prix, with qualifying not much different; the score being 10-2. Another telling stat is their points difference with Alonso on 149 points and Stroll on 47, a gap of 102 points. While the Spaniard is sitting third in the standings, the Canadian is languishing down in ninth.
The race score could have been perfect for Alonso, who was all over the back of his teammate in the Spanish Grand Prix, but surprisingly elected not to mount an attack and settled behind, on his way to seventh. Stroll has also come out on top in the Sprint at Austria, held in wet conditions, as well as the one at Spa-Francorchamps, during which Alonso crashed.
Goals and expectations
The team’s major step in form sees it sit on 196 points, just twelve races into the season. For reference, it only scored 55 for the entirety of 2022, on its way to seventh in the standings. This has moved the goalposts significantly for the Silverstone-based squad, regarding the rest of the season.
Is P3 in the constructors’ championship viable?
The biggest goal for the rest of this season is clear for the British outfit. While Mercedes has pulled away in the last three races, growing the gap from three to 51 points, the battle is still on for third. Aston Martin is just five points clear of Ferrari, which has had an up-and-down season so far.
McLaren has also joined the battle for podiums in recent races, its horrid start to the season sees them 93 points behind Aston Martin, which is not a huge worry so far. Its recent resurgence has had a huge impact though, so the battle is on.
What happens the rest of the way through could be very much dependent on how Aston Martin’s next upgrade package performs. That is rumoured to be coming for Zandvoort, the next race on the calendar.
The layout of the circuit is thought to be suitable for the AMR03 as well, as it has performed very well at circuits with slow corners and big traction zones. However, its recent performance in Hungary, which was the worst of the year for the team with just three points, leaves question marks regarding those types of circuits too.
Optimism about the future
Of course, this season has been significant on multiple levels for Aston Martin. The level it maintained at the start of the season can only be promising for 2024 and beyond, as it shows that it can be in the fight for podiums and even victories. The team keeps building its technical staff and, with both drivers set to return in 2024, there will be some continuity.
Aston Martin also launched its new factory at Silverstone. The building is among the most spectacular in Formula 1 and is a big upgrade for a squad that was pretty small, in F1 terms at least, up to a couple of seasons ago.
Another major announcement regarded the announcement of its new partnership with Honda as its works team, in a deal that will start in 2026. Until then, Aston Martin will be powered by Mercedes, as it has been since 2009, when it was known as Force India.
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