Aston Martin director of performance Tom McCullough has suggested that Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes could be looking nervously over their shoulders when Formula One returns to the track in Baku later this month.
The historic British team have emerged as the surprise package of the campaign after a hugely productive winter break, which has helped them to challenge the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari for top-three finishes in recent weeks.
Fernando Alonso has managed to get on the podium for Aston Martin at every race so far in 2023 and will be looking to do so again in Baku after establishing himself as a main rival to Hamilton and Mercedes over the last few weekends.
McCullough has since warned the Silver Arrows that upgrades are on the way for Aston Martin in Baku while pointing out the advantage they have in being able to do more wind-tunnel testing than their German rivals.
“It is without a doubt an advantage, we try to use it as much as we can,” McCullough told AS. “The more time you have, the more sessions you do and the more things you can analyse.
“We are every week in the wind tunnel looking for development paths that can bring significant benefits, keeping the cost ceiling in mind. Parts will arrive from Baku. It’s actually the process that everyone is doing right now.”
Aston Martin are allowed to run a greater number of tests in their wind tunnel than Mercedes under FIA rules because of their seventh-placed finish in last year’s Constructors’ Championship standings.
According to the current regulations, teams that finish lower down the order are given more testing time in comparison to those at the top, leaving Mercedes with less to work with than many of their rivals in 2023 after coming home in third.
“Mercedes, Ferrari and we have been close since the tests,” added McCullough as he ran the rule over where Aston Martin currently stand in the pecking order. “There are small differences between efficiency, slow curve, medium curve, fast curve. The cars do similar times but they achieve it in a different way.”
In any case, the trends of the single-seaters can be the consequence of strategic decisions due to the spending ceiling, so we must wait for the world championship to visit more varied circuits. Our car stands out more for the corners than for the speed on the straight.
“Last year we did a lot of rear wings to have an optimal one on many circuits, but that is very expensive.
This year we have had the same wing for three races. We will introduce a rear wing in Baku, where a lot of efficiency is required, but we plan everything from the perspective of the cost ceiling.”