Aston Martin has rarely fielded its best team in the current Formula 1 season. Sebastian Vettel’s squad lacked speed, especially in qualifying. In racing, the AMR22 at least seems to perform better. Why this difference? Aston Martin Executive Director Tom McCullough explains!
“Some teams are stronger in qualifying, some in the race,” McCullough said simply. “I think as a team we have been very focused on race performance.”
In 16 race weekends so far, Vettel has only entered Q3 three times. His teammate Lance Stroll managed to do this only twice. Only Williams has a worse qualifying record, with Q3 appearances each for Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi.
Race results, on the other hand, are much better. Aston Martin drivers managed to achieve a total of 10 top results in 2022. Six of them Vettel. Five Walks. However, poor qualifying usually has a negative impact on your chances in the race.
“If you start too far back, it’s hard,” McCullough knows. “So lately our focus has been on qualifying for the best grid position. We’ve done that a couple of times now, which makes the race a lot easier because you don’t have to fight first.”
Lousy Quali-Pace: That goes wrong at Aston Martin
More recently at the Monza Grand Prix, however, it was already over for Vettel and Stroll in Q1. Only because of the chaos of penalties did the Aston Martin drivers get better grid positions. So what’s the problem with AMR22?
“Basically it’s the balance of the car and the grip,” says the performance director. “Those things are the important things and what the drivers want. Getting them a balance that they are happy with in qualifying and in the long run has proved to be a challenge. I think we are making progress in that area though.”
Aston Martin: The sixth best car in the field?
McCullough doesn’t want to directly answer whether Aston Martin is now the sixth best car in the field thanks to improvements and upgrades. “At the moment we are in the middle class,” says Brit.
As a result, it often depends on the method itself. “Some tracks suit our competitors worse or better than us. We were very competitive at Zandvoort. At Monza we were not as fast as we wanted,” explains the performance director.
Aston Martin is currently leading the Constructors’ Championship with 25 points. Only Williams is six points behind the British team. However, less than ten points separate Aston Martin from Haas and AlphaTauri. “A lot of times it’s a small difference between teams,” McCullough said. “It’s often about who gets it when it counts.”