Aston Martin Team Principal Mike Krack has played down his squad's chances of starting next season's Formula 1 campaign in front-running form.
The Silverstone-based squad commenced the 2023 season with six podiums in the opening eight races as it made strong gains over the winter break.
However, towards the mid-part of the season, it slipped back in the pecking order as it was overtaken by rival teams.
Aston Martin ended the year fifth in the Constructors' Championship, two positions higher than its spot from the previous campaign.
“The first six races were incredible – but I knew there would be difficult moments that would follow,” Krack said.
“We were realistic and tried to manage expectations. Competition in F1 is fierce; very good teams that didn't start the season so well would inevitably get on top of their problems and bring the fight to us. We knew it would get harder.
“The middle of the year was difficult for us, but perhaps it appeared more so because of the start we had.
“Expectations levels rose dramatically. Imagine if our season hadn't started with six podiums from the first eight Grands Prix, but instead started with one?
“Had that been the case, then what happened at rounds nine, 10, 11 and 12 isn't quite such a contrast. Score 23 points in the first race, understandably the expectation level rises.
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Aston Martin managed to secure two more podiums in the second half of the season with Fernando Alonso going on to finish fourth in the Drivers' standings.
As it looks to carry over its learnings from this year to next, Krack asserted that it is remainign cautious over its place in the pecking order when the new season gets underway.
“We did understand the car by the end of the season – but it would wrong to say we understood absolutely everything about the AMR23,” he said.
“We understood a great deal, we know what we want to do for 2024 and the direction we need to go in with next year's car.
“That doesn't necessarily mean we're going to turn up at the season-opener in Bahrain next year and be fighting for the race win.”