Aston Martin engineer sees better qualifying: ‘We have a strong DRS effect now’

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Aston Martin engineer sees better qualifying: 'We have a strong DRS effect now'

The start of the current F1 season seems almost the opposite of the start of the 2023 season for Aston Martin. While qualifying was a little more difficult last year and the green car mainly did well in the race, they now achieved good results mainly during the qualifying sessions. This is mainly due to the efficiency of the DRS.

After the first two races of 2024, something of a ranking is already visible. Red Bull Racing is ahead, followed by Ferrari, followed by Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin. In a sense, Ferrari now takes over the role that was reserved for Aston Martin last year as the fastest pursuer of Red Bull. The AMR23 did not perform great in qualifying, but in the race Fernando Alonso regularly managed to drive towards a podium, partly due to good tire management. However, this was not the case in the first two races with the AMR24.

In Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Aston Martin seems to be more effective on a flying lap than on a longer distance such as during the race. Alonso himself also indicated that his team really needs to work to improve the race pace. “As a team we have always been stronger in the race, while qualifying was a bit more difficult for us,” performance engineer Tom McCullough told the Italian branch of Motorsport.com. “The characteristics of this car are very different from an aerodynamic point of view and we are now trying to make the most of that,” he emphasizes.

Qualification possibly better due to DRS

The racing team itself is not entirely sure why the AMR24 is so effective in qualifying, while in the race they struggle more with the race pace. One possible explanation is the work that has been done to improve the DRS. “The effectiveness of the DRS is very important during qualifying, especially in Saudi Arabia,” says McCullough. ‘We looked at the difference in DRS during qualifying in 2023 and in 2024, with almost identical wind direction and wind speed.’ The Brit calls the difference between the two remarkable. “We have gained a lot of time, but we want to keep improving the car and get closer to the top.”

Last year, despite the fast car, Aston Martin was still quite far behind Red Bull, partly due to the DRS effect. “The efficiency of the car and the DRS effect are aspects we worked very hard on last year,” says McCullough. ‘That was a goal of ours. And again, this is one of the reasons why we were strong in qualifying,” he emphasizes once again. ‘We have a very strong DRS effect now with the AMR24. There are three DRS zones in Jeddah, which means that we were able to gain a lot of lap time,” he concludes positively despite some question marks surrounding the car.

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