Aston Martin introduced its B-Spec car at the 2022 F1 Spanish GP weekend. Needless to say, the upgraded AMR22’s uncanny resemblance to RB18 turned many heads in the paddock. It also caused a lot of frustration and anger throughout the grid. Come Saturday, the teams, drivers, and fans were all eagerly waiting to see the new car’s performance.
Unfortunately for the Silverstone-based team, the newly upgraded car’s performance left much to be desired after the Spanish GP weekend. Not only did both Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll get eliminated in Q1 during Saturday’s qualifying session, but neither managed to finish in the points in Sunday’s race.
Now, while the FIA might have cleared Aston Martin of any wrongdoing, its B-Spec car clearly displays the direction the team is going in, and it does not look promising.
Aston Martin’s explanation of preparing two cars simultaneously does not add up
Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll offered a rather strange explanation as to why AMR22 looked so similar to Red Bull’s RB18 and why it could not have been plagiarized. He claimed that the team had worked on two concepts prior to the 2022 season’s start. The first concept was trialed in the first five races of the season and when the team noticed that it did not produce the performance they were looking for, it moved on to the second concept. The British team claimed that the concept for the upgraded AMR22 had already been developed before Red Bull ever revealed its car.
Former F1 driver and TV presenter Karun Chandhok ended up calling out the Canadian-Belgian driver’s explanation on live television by pointing out how even big teams like Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes with much larger pockets and resources than Aston Martin had to scurry to get their singular designs ready on time.
A difficult day on track, but that doesn’t take away from the team’s hard work.“/>
Tap below to discover what else #SV5 had to say about qualifying day with our latest report, presented by @aramco.
A difficult day on track, but that doesn’t take away from the team’s hard work.
Tap below to discover what else #SV5 had to say about qualifying day with our latest report, presented by @aramco.#F1 #SpanishGP
Chandhok begged the question: how does a new team like Aston Martin, which does not as of yet possess the resources that the top three teams do, get not just one but two extremely different cars ready in the same timeframe? This too in an era of a new budget cap of $140 million, which most teams are already struggling with.
We agree with the former F1 driver that Aston Martin’s explanation for its “Green Red Bull” seems shaky at best.
The team’s lack of ingenuity is indicative of a low ceiling
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This is not the first time the British team has seemingly drawn “inspiration” from another team’s car. In 2020, the same team, known as Racing Point then, had used Mercedes’ 2019 car as inspiration and created a replica of it. The only difference was that the design had worked for them. Racing Point’s 2019 car was easily the third-fastest car on the grid in 2020, just behind Mercedes and Red Bull.
All of this to say: what is Aston Martin’s ultimate goal in F1?
Is the team aspiring to be the ‘best of the rest’? If so, then it can definitely reach there by drawing “inspiration” from the top teams’ designs. However, if it truly wants to run with the top dogs, as it says it does, then its current approach won’t get it too far, as to be the top team, it needs to lead innovation in the paddock and be strong from the get-go.
The “boss” might be counterproductive to the team
| Red Bull was in danger of not taking part in the race or having to start from the pit lane due to low fuel temperatures before going out onto the grid.#F1 [@tgruener]
| Red Bull are under investigation for copying Aston Martin’s pre-race tactics of having low fuel temperatures. Lawrence Stroll said in an interview, “They accuse us of copying their sidepods then pull this. Unacceptable”.#F1 – Source: [@Carroll_NIR] twitter.com/lappedcars/sta…
One of the big news that came out last week was that only Lance Stroll was going to receive the upgrade package for the Spanish GP. Now, if anyone has ever wondered how the young driver and Sebastian Vettel compare, they must only watch the last race.
The four-time world champion thoroughly beat his younger teammate in Saturday’s qualifying; he was almost helped a second quicker than stroll. Even in the race, the German driver managed to drag the car to P11 while the 23-year-old was further down the pecking order in P15. To make matters worse, he has not set lap times anywhere close to Vettel’s.
It is evident to anyone who has been following the 2022 season that Sebastian Vettel is the superior driver of the two. While he did end up receiving the upgrades in the end as well, the story does bring an important issue to the forefront.
The fact that Lance Stroll’s father, Lawrence Stroll, owns the team and, more or less, bought his son a seat in F1, first at Williams and then at Racing Point (now Aston Martin) is well known in the paddock. However, there have been various instances of Stroll Jr. receiving preferential treatment due to who his father is over the years. This is a problem since this has not always been in the team’s best interest.
Somewhere down the line, Stroll Sr. will have to make a tough decision: either make Aston Martin into a well-functioning, efficient front-running team or a team where his son simply occupies a seat. It seems as though it cannot be both, since the former requires the Aston Martin boss to put the team’s interest over his son’s.
The British team’s former team principal Otmar Szafnauer has previously implied that the Canadian billionaire was much too hands-on, unlike the team’s former owner Vijay Mallya, who’d kept a watchful eye, but had mostly let the personnel do things their way. Looking at the last four years, it’s obvious that there needs to be a change and, perhaps, it’s time for Lawrence Stroll to tweak his leadership style to one that works better for the team.
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The team has always run on a shoestring budget and has always punched above its weight. It even stood fourth in the Constructor Standings twice in the last decade. The team has seen a might decline from that in the last two years. Aston Martin still maintains that its goal is to be a title contender, however, after its recent performance, it is clear that the team must make some big changes and shed unnecessary weight before it can achieve its goal.