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Aston Martin

Aston Martin are F1's big losers in impending ATR 'handicap' reset

By the next Grand Prix, a big reset is coming to F1 - here is everything you need to know about the changes and how it affects the big teams.

XPB 1214748 Hi Res
To news overview © XPBimages

While the cost cap being introduced into Formula 1 grabbed most of the headlines for trying to close up the field and foster the closer racing that is craved, another new system perhaps slipped under the radar.

The spending limits placed on teams undoubtedly grabbed the headlines, but the Aerodynamic Testing Restrictions rules also came into force.

Essentially a handicap system, it is used to limit the field spread and works by giving the teams who finish lower in the standings get more aerodynamic testing time than those who win the title.

For example, Williams finished last in 2023, and so received 115% of available time while champions Red Bull were allocated only 70% (which then became 63% when the cost cap breach penalty was applied).

But crucially, the ATR is reset every six months, with the first period for 2023 covering January 1st to June 30th - meaning by the time of the Austrian Grand Prix, the allocations will have changed, with Aston Martin set to pay the price for their success so far this season.

It should also be noted that Red Bull's penalty was for a 12 month period, meaning the deduction they carried in the first ATR period continues on.

Aston set to be hit by ATR changes

The amount of testing time allowed for each team in the championship increases by 5% per position with seventh place receiving 100% or 320 wind-tunnel runs and 2,000 Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) research items. That allocation is set to be awarded to Alfa Romeo.

Aston Martin finished seventh in the 2022 standings and so received those figures for the start of 2023, that they have used to their advantage to break into the top four teams alongside Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, taking six podiums from eight races to lie third in the Constructors'.

Their allocation is set to drop to 256 wind-tunnel runs and 1,600 CFD items - a change of 20%.

The full changes can be seen in the table below.

New F1 ATR allocations from July 1st

Championship Position Team Change from start of season Percentage of limit Wind-tunnel runs CFD items allowed
1st Red Bull Same 70% 224 1,400
2nd Mercedes +1 75% 240 1,500
3rd Aston Martin +4 80% 256 1,600
4th Ferrari -2 85% 272 1,700
5th Alpine -1 90% 288 1,800
6th McLaren -1 95% 304 1,900
7th Alfa Romeo -1 100% 320 2,000
8th Haas Same 105% 336 2,100
9th Williams +1 110% 352 2,200
10th AlphaTauri -1 115% 378 2,300

A welcome problem for Aston

As the table shows, only Red Bull and Haas are set to receive the same allocation in the second six-month period.

Mercedes are also slightly set to lose out with a 5% deduction in their allowance, but Aston are the standout, leaping up four positions but costing themselves that 20% in the process.

But the team are not expecting any great change to how they work, as Performance Director Tom McCullough explains.

"We don't have to fundamentally change the way we work," says McCullough to media including RacingNews365.

"But certainly ever since it was obvious that we were going to be a bit further up the pecking order, we've taken the approach of trying to rethink how we can modify our approach.

"It's not really a case of front-loading it, there's consistent development as we go along, so we just have to adapt to the slight reduction in wind-tunnel runs and CFD.

"There is substantially more CFD capability than the wind-tunnel, so you can bias things a little bit more towards that if you want to.

"It's a nice feature of being slightly further up the grid that we have - it's a nice problem to have in many ways."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

The effects on Red Bull

Questions have been raised by some over how Red Bull's RB19 machine could be so dominant when the team is operating under the cost cap penalty and the reduction in their development time.

Put simply, the RB19 would have been conceived during a time before the cost cap breach was even a thing last autumn. The car was designed in a penalty-free environment.

The effects of the penalty were only going to be felt in the second-half of 2023 (the ATR period that begins on July 1st) and into the birth of 2024's RB20, as Technical Director Pierre Wache alludes to.

"It is never easy, it is not easier because we are leading the championship," he said.

"It's difficult as we are going to the limit, and it could affect the current development of the car and maybe close the grid this year.

"But it will affect massively next year's car, how it will affect our performance, I don't know yet."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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