Such is the rapid rate of development in Formula One, the car that a team reveals at launch often looks very different come the end of the season – and this is certainly true for the AMR22. A major upgrade at the Spanish Grand Prix saw a significant revision of the car concept unveiled in February, for instance.
With just two races remaining until the curtain falls on this season, Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One™ Team Performance Director Tom McCullough reflects on the aggressive development of our 2022 challenger, the evolution of the team and what's to come in 2023.
A change of concept
"Coming into the season, we had two very different development paths. We went one way but, given the troubles we experienced with porpoising [high-frequency car bouncing], we then chose to go the other way. The performance potential of our launch car was big, but we went down a different route because we couldn't get it to work as well as we wanted.
"The scale of the concept change shouldn't be underestimated. We completely changed the cooling layout, floor, sidepods, engine cover, brake ducts, fins around the halo, mirrors – everything changed.
"Since we introduced that concept change at the Spanish Grand Prix, we've steadily improved. Race by race we've brought small upgrades to the car and developed the package.
"When we introduced the new concept, we were lacking in terms of high-speed performance, but we've gradually made gains in this area, and we really saw that at the United States Grand Prix."
The evolution of the team
"The team has grown significantly this year. Many talented people have joined us on our journey, including Technical Director Dan Fallows and Deputy Technical Director Eric Blandin. Both Dan and Eric have integrated seamlessly into the team and that's evident in how we've developed the car this year and made steady progress since their arrival.
"All the new members of the team have bedded in well – lots of new ideas are flowing – and they're complementing the skills and experience of existing team members.
"And, crucially, everyone is pushing in the same direction. There's been no ‘which way do we go?' We know the direction we need to go. We've kept our heads down and pulled together to make steps forward with the car during the season and ensure we're on the right path for 2023."
We want to get to the front of the midfield pack – to do that, we've got to be aggressive.
"We've taken part in the Pirelli tyre development programme over the past couple of weekends to understand whether dropping the maximum tyre blanket temperatures to 50°C next season is a viable one.
"The tyres we tested in Austin took two, three, even four laps to get up to temperature – to the point that they are useable. Pirelli reacted to that in Mexico: we went to the higher blanket temperatures for a shorter duration of time and, around a very low-grip low-tyre energy track, this worked reasonably well.
"In 2023, I think we're likely to stick with the 70°C maximum temperature that was introduced this year. For 2024, there is a proposed ban on tyre blankets. This relies on Pirelli developing a tyre that not only warms up quickly but, once it's up to temperature, the temperature remains stable and there is low or acceptable degradation."
Choosing the right path for 2023
"We want to get to the front of the midfield pack and then start charging ahead – to do that, we've got to be aggressive.
"We tried to be aggressive as we could this year, but with the budget cap and resources available this has been difficult. There are parts that we would love to have made. The front wing, for example, is largely the same as the one with which we started the year.
"There's so much we could have done, but we couldn't afford to within the budget cap – especially after the significant changes we made to car in Barcelona. The formula has changed somewhat. Now, it's about trying to pick the upgrades that will give you the best performance return versus the cost.
"For 2023, we've got to put all our ideas and learnings from this year together to deliver a significantly better car. It's all relative though, as every other team will be doing the same.
"We think the path we're now on is the right one, and we'll be able to iterate our 2023 car to consistently deliver more performance rather than having to change concept mid-season."
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