Dan Fallows on aero updates: “We believe we now have a good understanding of the car’s weaknesses”

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Photo credit: Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1 Team

After three weekends without any action -and a mandatory factory shutdown for two weeks- the Formula 1 teams are eager to get going again. Among them Aston Martin, who started the season off with a few impressive podiums, but since then have dropped a bit performance wise. Barely hanging on to third place in both the drivers and the constructors championship, the break couldn’t have come at a better moment for the Silverstone-based outfit. Technical Director Dan Fallows acknowledges the importance of the summer break in the current overcrowded Formula 1 season.

“The summer shutdown was a unique opportunity to switch phones and emails off and take a proper break, given how stressful and busy the season can be.

“It’s important for everyone in the team to shut off for a bit, relax and recharge, and now we’re ready to keep pushing forward in the second part of the campaign.”

A campaign that started with three consecutive podiums for Fernando Alonso, but hasn’t seen a top three finish since the Canadian Grand Prix. Fallows praises both drivers for their efforts this season, despite Lance Stroll trailing Alonso significantly.

“Our team has executed the season incredibly well so far and both our drivers have driven extremely well.

“In Fernando, Lance has a team-mate who is an exceptional driver and who has shown his ability from the outset of this season.”

Looking back at Stroll’s broken wrists at the start of the season, Fallows adds:

“Considering the injuries Lance sustained from his cycling accident pre-season and his determined recovery, he’s performed very well alongside a formidable team-mate.

“Both drivers have been absolutely critical in helping us understand where the car needs to be improved.”

Bringing some aerodynamic upgrades to the dunes of Zandvoort, Fallows already spoils a bit of how their free practice schedule will look, which of course is also used to confirm the simulator work and determine the tyre degradation.

“Free Practice is essential to see how the tyres behave and degrade on long runs and on Qualifying runs,” the Briton explains.

“However, we have to balance our limited practice time between understanding the behaviour of the tyres and evaluating our upgrades – and we have aerodynamic upgrades to test at Zandvoort.

“To achieve this balance, we have a baseline practice programme that we run at every Grand Prix, which we adjust accordingly to allow sufficient time for aerodynamic tests.”

However, the ever whimsical Dutch weather might quite literally rain on their parade, as some wet spells are currently predicted during the weekend. This poses a dilemma for Aston Martin, who would then have to choose between gathering the data and safeguarding their scarce new parts.

“Rain during Free Practice will make our job harder, as we will have to make a call on whether our upgrades work based on less running.”

The former Red Bull employee adds: “As much as we want to run as many laps as possible in the rain, we have to weigh up the risk of running in inclement weather with the return that we’ll get in data.

“We want to minimise the chance of damaging parts and if we believe the chance of an incident is too high, we’ll elect to keep our drivers in the garage.”

So for the sake of Aston Martin’s aspirations Fallows hopes the amount of rain is minimised, as the team tries to confirm that they’re on the right track in solving the AMR23’s weak points.

“We’ve been working tirelessly to develop our understanding of the AMR23. We believe we now have a good understanding of the car’s weaknesses and we’re taking steps to address them. We hope that the performance of the car at Zandvoort, with our latest updates, will confirm we are heading in the right direction and help Lance and Fernando fight for points this weekend.”