Aston Martin is gearing up for a strong comeback, fueled by determination and lessons learned from the setbacks of the previous year.
Stoffel Vandoorne, the team's test driver, expressed optimism about the upcoming season but acknowledged the formidable challenge posed by Red Bull's dominance in the sport.
“Honestly, I would say that it was a surprise for us to be so competitive at the beginning of last year,” he said in a statement to Motorsport Week.
“There are big teams like Mercedes and Ferrari, I think the goal is to compete with them on a more regular basis.,” he added.
During the previous year's mid-season, Aston Martin suffered a setback and lost ground in the standings to McLaren.
Lando Norris, who is a driver for McLaren, observed that Aston Martin had difficulty adapting to each upgrade, which led to a decrease in their car's speed. The team acknowledged their development mistakes and decided to reassess their strategy.
Learning from their mistakes, Aston Martin undertook on-track research and development, reverting to a more familiar strategy for the final races of the championship.
The efforts paid off, with Fernando Alonso securing a podium finish in the Brazilian Grand Prix, showcasing the team's resilience and ability to recover lost performance.
Stoffel Vandoorne emphasized that the team has gained valuable insights despite the challenges faced last season.
He acknowledged the surprise of their initial competitiveness, the subsequent dip, and the eventual resurgence toward the end of the year.
The team's test driver highlighted the difficulty in predicting their competitiveness at the beginning of the new season, considering the relentless progress of their rivals.
“We learned a lot during that time, but it’s hard to know how competitive we’re going to be at the beginning of the season,” Vandoorne said.
While Red Bull remains the benchmark, Vandoorne believes that competing with powerhouses Mercedes and Ferrari is Aston Martin's primary focus.
The goal is consistently challenging these top teams throughout the season, aiming for regular podium finishes and closing the performance gap.
Vandoorne expressed doubt regarding McLaren's potential challenge, suggesting that the team is writing off McLaren as a direct competitor.
Instead, he emphasized the importance of measuring up to Mercedes and Ferrari, acknowledging the significance of competing with these giants in Formula 1.
Alonso, providing insights from simulation runs with the new AMR24, highlighted some challenges with the car's steering. Despite acknowledging room for improvement, he conveyed excitement for the upcoming season, with the first practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix scheduled for February 29.
Aston Martin's determination to compete at the highest level and its focus on Mercedes and Ferrari signals a renewed commitment to success in the upcoming Formula 1 season.
As the team's official launch date of February 12 approaches, all eyes will be on Aston Martin as they aim to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the 2024 championship.