Mexican GP: Preview - Aston Martin


What did you make of our updates to the AMR23 at COTA?
Lance Stroll: "Bringing updates on a Sprint weekend was always going to present some challenges due to the limited practice time available, but everyone at the AMRTC had been working super hard to get the package ready and, given we're heading into the final few races of the season, we wanted to get them on the car as soon as possible.

"Unfortunately, an overheating issue in FP1 meant I only got five laps of running so we went into Qualifying with very little data to help optimise the car. Parc fermé regulations meant we were unable to make any changes from Friday evening onwards so, whilst we knew there was more performance to unlock, we couldn't change anything until Sunday when we elected to make set-up changes and start from the pitlane.

"Once we'd made those changes, the car felt so much better to drive and I think our race on Sunday really demonstrated that the upgrades were working. I had much more grip, especially in the corners, and that meant being able to overtake cars we've been struggling to pass in recent events.

"There's definitely still some more optimisation work to do, and having more practice time in Mexico will help with that, but I'm feeling positive that we're heading in the right direction."

How happy are you to have scored points in the 2023 United States Grand Prix, having started in the pitlane?
LS: "Really happy, especially given we'd had a tough Friday and Saturday at COTA. We knew starting in the pitlane - behind the three other cars doing the same thing - was going to give us a big job to do in the race, but the team quickly got in a nothing to lose, but everything to gain' mindset which gave us a bit more freedom to really experiment with the set-up changes we made. I felt like we were doing a good job in the race and my pace, especially on the Medium compound, was strong. Our strategy meant I could really push during my final stint too, so I had a few laps of trying to chase down Pierre [Gasly]. One more lap and we would have got him."

How has this season been for you? You began the season with an injury but have scored 49 points and helped the team score more points this season than it has in any other campaign.
LS: "When you put it in the context of the team's history, I think this season has been strong. We made a huge amount of progress on where we were last year; the team did great delivering a car that has been able to compete at the front end of the grid.

"From my own side, there have been races where I've been happy with my performance and races where I think I could have got more out of the car. That feeling isn't always based on finishing position though. Bahrain is a good example; everyone was congratulating me for finishing sixth after missing testing with two broken wrists, but I came away from the race thinking I could have finished higher if I'd managed the Medium tyre better.

"On the other end of the scale, as we've struggled with the car in the second half of the season, there have been drives I was pleased with but that we didn't score points for. That's racing sometimes.

"So, it's been a mixed season, but big steps forward have been made and the job now is to take our learnings into 2024."

Do you enjoy racing in Mexico City - a fast and historic circuit with a stunning stadium section?
LS: "I love coming to Mexico City; it's a great track and the fans bring an incredible energy. I have some good memories of finishing sixth here in 2017 and - although the race didn't play out so well - making up five places on the opening lap in 2022 was super fun.

"This race usually falls around my birthday too, so there's the real bonus of getting to eat some chocolate cake here which is always a good thing."

How do you think we'll fare in Mexico City?
LS: "Mexico can be a tough race; it's not somewhere we've been particularly strong in recent years. The low altitude presents a pretty different set of challenges; it's harder to generate downforce and there's a higher demand on the turbo.

"That being said, we come to Mexico with a much better car than we've had in the last few years, and I think we need to be optimistic about the added performance that the upgrades have brought."

What are your objectives for the rest of the season?
LS: "The objective is always to keep pushing for more. We have four races to go, including a Sprint weekend, so there are still plenty of points up for grabs. We've had a few tough races since the summer break, so I'll be happy if we can round off the season with some strong performances."

Insight and Speed with Cognizant

• There's little margin for error at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, which means race interruptions are frequent: in the past five races there has been one Safety Car and six Virtual Safety Cars. Last year, there were two DNFs in the race - with the lower air density making engine cooling more difficult.

• Despite having a long straight and three DRS zones, overtaking is more difficult than at many other circuits; Mexico City's high altitude means lower air density, which reduces the slipstream and DRS effect.

• Pirelli have allocated C3, C4 and C5 tyres for this year's race - one step softer than in 2022 - which could change the optimal strategy for what has historically been a one-stop race. A new version of the C4 will be tested by all teams during free practice in preparation for 2024.

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Published: 26/10/2023
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