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Aston Martin

Exclusive: De La Rosa lifts lid on Aston Martin performance slump

Aston Martin enjoyed early success in the opening stages of the 2023 Formula 1 season, but a slump midway through the year. Team ambassador Pedro De La Rosa speaks to RacingNews365 exclusively about how they managed to turn things around.

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Aston Martin got off to a great start in the 2023 having established themselves as the 'second best' car on the grid.

The AMR23 was the only one that came close to the dominant RB19, and was credited with having followed some of their lead with car design.

The downwash sidepod concept was visibly more aggressive on the AMR23, but it provided Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll with the stability to push the tricky Pirelli tyres.

The former even had time to do some PR over the team radio while he was on his way to a podium finish in Bahrain, describing it as a "lovely car to drive."

Fast forward to the midway point of the season and Aston Martin find themselves in a development war with Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren. Between the Austrian and Qatar Grands Prix Alonso only had one podium, after lucking in at the Dutch GP during the red flag.

The next low point would be at the USA and Mexico, which were marred with double retirements for Alonso. Aston Martin slumped down from third to fifth in the Constructors' Championship.

Team ambassador Pedro De La Rosa puts their mid-season slump down to the outfits struggle to understand their updates, particularly to the floor which triggered their downward spiral.

"There were other teams that did a better job, especially at that mid-part of the season with the upgrades. We lacked track time to understand many of our upgrades and that cost us a few races," says De La Rosa, in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.

"In Austin we had to start from the pit lane and then in Mexico as well. So in those races which were just understanding the package. We had no test available and it was a big mixture of teams making big upgrades, them [updates] working immediately, and us having to understand them to make them work.

"Those two or three races that we were just trying to understand them, cost us a lot of points and a bit of understanding time. But we eventually bounced back."

Article continues below photo.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Understanding these updates is what set them back to Ferrari and Mercedes at crucial moments in the season.

"The thing is, where we are and where we were on the grid, within two or three tenths of us there were 10 cars," says De La Rosa.

"Some teams make a bigger upgrade, you're trying to understand your own upgrades and optimise your setup, then suddenly you lose two-three tenths. Then suddenly you're out of the points by a big margin."

De La Rosa reveals that Aston Martin were also set back by their lack of car setup optimisation, owing to the differences between the AMR22 and AMR23.

"During some races we were just trying to understand and optimise our car setup. If you have two or three tenths in your pocket, no one will notice all your learning process. We were just in the under spotlight on that on that," explains De La Rosa.

"It was extremely stressful for the team and the drivers. We were going into qualifying in Sao Paulo and we hadn't tried the Medium compound tyre on this for the Sprint Shootout.

"We just had to qualify on the Mediums and we hadn't tried a single set of Mediums during the whole weekend. So it was a fantastic season, but we tried to do a lot of things in very little time and just we took many risks. Possibly these risks were not shown to the public."

We took many risks. Possibly these risks were not shown to the public.

- Pedro De La Rosa

The song 'Seven Nation Army' by the White Stripes has become the soundtrack for those who bring hope to the underdog. This is the chorus that rang out to the lyrics 'Oh Fernando Alonso' during their run of podiums at the start of the season.

It also rung through the pit lane when he pulled off an audacious move on Sergio Pérez in the closing stages of the Brazilian GP to seal his final podium of the year, with the pair separated by just 0.053s at the line.

For De La Rosa this was a personal highlight, but not so much for the photo finish: "That was really exciting for the fans! But I think the team went home understanding the upgrades that we had brought in the previous races, making them work, we qualified third and fourth, and eventually on the podium with Lance [Stroll] fifth.

"I think that was a huge credit to the whole teamwork that had been going on. Not only at the races, but especially at the simulator and back in the factory.

"It just proved that we had understood the problems, understood the aero package, where the car was working, what type of setup was required, and that was a very important to turn things around."

Understanding those updates came at a pivotal moment for Aston Martin, as it enabled them to get back on track as they committed resources to their car for 2024.

"But also to understand the development of the car for the future. That's why for me, it doesn't really matter all the podiums in Bahrain or others we had," explains De La Rosa.

"That was really nice, but I think the fact that we understood our car, our aero package from Sao Paulo onwards, was very beneficial for the future and was a huge personal moment for the team for everyone involved."

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