UNITED STATES: Aston Martin’s technical director, Dan Fallows, has warned powerhouse teams Mercedes and Ferrari, emphasising the increasing difficulty of changing car concepts the longer they delay.
Last season, as the sport introduced ground-effect aerodynamic cars, teams surprised observers with their design choices, particularly about sidepods.
While Red Bull opted for an undercut to channel airflow, Ferrari went for a baby bath design, and Mercedes took a bold step with no sidepods at all.
Aston Martin, on the other hand, switched to the Red Bull philosophy midway through the season.
The current season has seen more teams adopt the Red Bull design, inspired by the team’s success in claiming the 2022 championship double with 17 wins out of 22 races.
Red Bull has continued its dominance in 2023 with five victories in five races. Aston Martin, often called the “third” Red Bull, is currently second in the championship with four podium finishes.
In contrast, Mercedes and Ferrari, adhering to their design concepts, have struggled to match Red Bull’s pace, with only two podium finishes between them.
Speculation is rife that Mercedes and Ferrari may consider abandoning their current concepts and embracing the Red Bull approach.
While Ferrari downplays these reports, Mercedes will unveil a new design at the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix.
However, Fallows cautions that shifting the design philosophy is challenging, and the sooner the team makes the change, the better.
He explains that once a team commits to an aerodynamic concept, it becomes more difficult to make fundamental shifts.
Fallows suggests that Ferrari and Mercedes would face difficulties admitting they had gone in the wrong direction or expressing a desire for change. Nonetheless, he remains curious to see if any team will make the shift.
Aston Martin serves as an example of what teams can achieve by taking a gamble on a new concept.
Last season, they introduced a B-spec “green Red Bull” at the Spanish Grand Prix, which propelled them from a mere six points in the first five races to an impressive tally of 55 points by the season’s end.
This year, Aston Martin has continued with their Red Bull-inspired look and accumulated 102 points, placing them ahead of Mercedes and Ferrari in the standings.
As the Formula 1 season progresses, the pressure is mounting on Mercedes and Ferrari to reassess their design concepts and adapt to the changing landscape of the sport.
Fallows’ warning serves as a reminder that delaying the shift may only make it more challenging to catch up with the dominant Red Bull team and its successful design philosophy.