In The-Race’s podcast, host Edd Straw and analysts Scott Mitchell-Malm and Mark Hughes see that Red Bull Racing dominates for the time being. In the first three races we saw Aston Martin, Mercedes and Ferrari as the three chasing teams, each with their strengths and weaknesses. The analysts are speculating and see one of the three chasing teams as the favorite to challenge Red Bull in the second half of the season.
The question is asked which of the three chasing teams is in the best position to threaten Red Bull in the battle for race victories. Mitchell-Malm doesn’t really see any of the three teams having a great chance of achieving this: ‘Can I answer that question by indicating which team is in the least bad position? I don’t think anyone is in a good position to challenge Red Bull.”
He then discusses the test restrictions that the teams face. The higher a team finishes in the constructors’ standings, the less time it gets in the wind tunnel, and the fewer CFD simulations it is allowed to do. Aston Martin finished seventh among the manufacturers in 2022, and therefore has significantly more testing opportunities than the competition. “When this rule was introduced, no one foresaw that there would be a team that finishes seventh in the Constructors’ Championship one year, suddenly be the second best team at the start of the season the following year.” The testing possibilities are adjusted every six months, so if Aston Martin is still second in the constructors’ position at the end of June, it will have significantly fewer testing possibilities from July. However, Aston Martin can still use their extra testing options in the coming months.
Aston Martin has less fundamental problems
Mitchell-Malm sees another factor that could work in Aston Martin’s favour. “In addition, Mercedes and Ferrari seem to be working with concepts that have a lower potential.” Aston Martin will want to build on the current concept next year, so it doesn’t have to weigh up how much money and testing time it puts into the current car, and how much focus goes to the new concept. “So Aston Martin has great potential to take on Red Bull, especially since Red Bull has less wind tunnel time and CFD simulations at its disposal,” the analyst refers to the penalty Red Bull received for exceeding the budget limit. coupled with the already limited testing opportunities it would get as champion.
“Red Bull will therefore quickly shift its focus to 2024 to prevent the testing restrictions from causing problems in later years,” says Mitchell-Malm. “So it’s a bit of a case of a perfect storm, which could allow Aston Martin to push Red Bull a bit more in the second half of the season. But of course we cannot rule out that Ferrari and Mercedes will discover even more potential in their concept. That’s why I talked about the least bad position, because I don’t think any of the three teams can now say with confidence that they can challenge Red Bull. Aston Martin comes closest to that.’
Hughes joins his colleague. “I agree with you, Scott. They are my favorite (as a challenger to Red Bull, ed.). It looks like a balanced car, if only they could just keep adding downforce instead of looking for balance or solving other problems. It looks good, but of course the Aston Martin doesn’t have as much downforce as the Red Bull. However, Aston Martin does not have to deal with the fundamental problems that Ferrari and Mercedes do.’ Straw adds that many teams will soon set their sights on 2024 as there appears to be little championship contention.
Furthermore, the analyst panel indicates that Aston Martin performs strongly in the twisty sections, but falls short on the straights. They therefore also see Monaco as a possible opportunity for Alonso in particular to challenge the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Pérez. The tight street circuit will give Red Bull little chance to make use of their top speed. In addition, the analysts believe that Red Bull’s tire warming problems could be costly on the streets of Monaco, where there is traditionally virtually no tire wear to be discovered.