Even before the start of pre-season testing in Bahrain there were positive rumors about Aston’s aero numbers.
While it is still difficult to draw conclusions from the time sheets as testing enters its third and final day, competing drivers and teams have seen enough from Alonso’s long runs and his compliant AMR23 behavior to choose Aston as one of the teams to watch this season. .
“It’s clear that Aston Martin made a step,” said Alfa Romeo’s Zhou, who shared the track with the two-time world champion on Friday.
“Alonso seems to be very competitive over both days, both conditions. I think he will be one of the best guys in the midfield battle.”
Zhou topped Friday’s timesheet, albeit on Pirelli’s softer C5 tyres, but reckons Alfa won’t be too far away either after enjoying a productive and trouble-free pre-season.
“We both seem to have stepped up and over the two days they seem to be a bit faster, but we’re close.
“I think there are still areas I can improve on and it will be another tight battle.”
Felipe Drugovich, Aston Martin AMR23
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
When asked if anyone caught his eye, Kevin Magnussen also mentioned the Haas Aston driver.
“I think Aston Martin looks fast. They always seem to be doing good long runs,” he said.
“And when they try to put up a lap time they seem to do it as well. So I think they look like they’ve made a big step. But again, who knows.”
Esteban Ocon Alpine agreed with that assessment, but pointed out that there are still too many variables to get a reliable picture.
“I think it’s early days to really bring it to fruition,” he warned. “With those cars, it’s so easy to go from five seconds slower to five seconds faster in one trip, so… it’s hard to say exactly, the fuel loads, the energy management and which engine mode you run.
“They are looking for sure competitive at the moment, but the Williams look competitive too. I think it will be a close fight, as it always is.”
Aston Martin’s disappointing seventh-placed finish in the 2022 season but the Lawrence Stroll-owned team have gone on a major recruiting spree, led by former Red Bull aero chief Dan Fallows as new technical director.
Alonso is doing most of Aston’s testing this week, while Lance Stroll has been ruled out after sustaining a hand injury in a bike crash.
While it is not yet known whether Stroll will be fit in time for next weekend’s season opener, reserve driver Felipe Drugovich has represented Canada in the Bahrain test and was third on Saturday morning.