Although the test days can be misleading, one team is very often mentioned as a positive surprise after the winter tests: Aston Martin. While Aston Martin had to deal with another setback before the winter tests in the form of the absence of the injured Lance Stroll, the new AMR23 made a good impression from day one. Analysts, team bosses and drivers agree that Aston Martin has taken a big step forward.
Aston Martin started the first morning with a false start due to a sensor problem, but quickly recovered to finish the first day with a second fastest time. Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner, among others, was impressed. “They have taken a big step forward,” the Briton told Formula1.com. “It looks like they’re not too far from the front of the field. Fernando in particular looks very fast.’ Fellow team boss Otmar Szafnauer sees that the midfield is close together and does not see Aston Martin as the only competitor. “I’m nervous about everyone in midfield. We don’t just have to beat Aston Martin,” said Alpine’s team principal. “With the stable regulations, everyone comes closer together and then it’s all about other things. You have to do a lot of different things well to finish at the top of the midfield. So it’s not just Aston Martin, I’m worried about everyone.’
Kevin Magnussen also saw that Aston Martin had performed well during the winter test. The Haas driver called Aston Martin the midfield team he feared most. “I think Aston Martin looks fast,” said the Dane. “It looks like they are consistently putting in good long stints and once they try to set a good lap time, they succeed. It looks like they’ve taken a big step.’ Alpine driver Esteban Ocon, like his team boss Szafnauer, kept a bit more to himself, and indicates that it is difficult to draw conclusions now. “With these cars, it’s so easy to be five seconds slow and then five seconds faster again, so it’s very difficult to say who’s using how much fuel,” said Ocon. ‘Of course we can see the tyres, but not the energy consumption and the engine position. But they definitely look competitive.’
Analysts predict surprise
While the team bosses and drivers are logically careful with their statements, various analysts are not afraid to predict a surprise. Sky Sports analyst Ted Kravitz predicts a good result for Aston Martin in the Bahrain Grand Prix: “If the Bahrain Grand Prix was today, Max Verstappen, Sergio Pérez and Fernando Alonso would have been on the podium.” Will Buxton also predicts a good season for Aston Martin. “There’s a feeling in the paddock, given the speed in the longer stints, that Alonso and Aston Martin will be one of four teams with serious podium chances in the opening stages of the season,” said Buxton. “Of course these are just the testing days so there are a lot of ifs and buts, but it looks really promising for Aston Martin.
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