Aston Martin Deputy Technical Director Eric Blandin has insisted it won’t be long before the team will be challenging for Formula 1 world championships.
The iconic British outfit returned to the sport in 2021 for the first time in more than 60 years but have so far failed to make a serious impact, registering back-to-back seventh-place finishes in the constructors’ championship.
However, Blandin, who joined Aston Martin from Mercedes, is full of belief that the team is on the right track to mix it with the front-runners and upset the status quo in the years to come.
“It’s coming together: the car, the people, the resources,” Blandin said as part of Aston Martin‘s ‘Undercut’ series. “You can feel the energy. Even if we don’t get it right this year or next year, or don’t make the step forward we’re aiming for, we will eventually.
“There’s a strong feeling, a belief, that we’re on the right path. It’s going to take a few years to become championship contenders, but soon we will have everything we need to be successful.
“There will be no excuses. I want this team to succeed.
“I joined AMF1 because I think it’s one of the few teams that can join the group of teams at the front of the grid and l will do everything I can to help the team achieve that objective.”
‘Alonso will take us to the next level’
The 2023 season will see Fernando Alonso start his journey with Aston Martin, having sent shockwaves through the paddock when he announced he would be leaving Alpine to replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel.
At 41, the Spaniard is the oldest driver in F1, but is still widely considered one of the best on the grid and in the sport’s history, despite boasting just two world titles.
Blandin, who worked with Alonso at Ferrari for 14 months from 2010 to 2011, has already been impressed with his input and tipped him to take the team to the next level.
“Fernando is an outstanding driver,” Blandin added. “There aren’t many drivers of his calibre on the grid – you can count them on one hand. He’s so passionate, so driven… extremely driven.
“After everything he’s achieved, he still has that restless hunger to win. Signing Fernando was massive for the team. He’s going to push us a lot and help take us to the next level.
“He’ll push Lance [Stroll], too. They’ll complement each other and he’ll bring out the best in him. We have a very strong driver pairing, and it’s up to us to give them a competitive car.
“Fernando’s feedback is extremely precise. He clearly communicated what he wants from the car and immediately identified a few things that we’ve been able to feed into the design of the AMR23 [car for the 2023 season].
“Last season, Fernando drove a car that was quite different from ours – and more competitive. After driving the AMR22, he was quickly able to compare the two cars and say, ‘This is clearly better, this is clearly worse, and this is what we should focus on.'”
New car ‘completely different’
After Aston Martin scored just 55 points as F1 entered a new era of ground-effect aerodynamics in 2022, it’s no surprise to hear that the AMR23 is to be drastically different from its predecessor.
And not only that, Blandin believes he and his team have been able to exploit a few loopholes in the regulations that he hopes will provide the “icing on the cake” of a much-improved campaign.
“We took all our learnings from last year’s car and applied them to this year’s car. So much of the AMR23 is new, it’s completely different from the AMR22,” Blandin continued.
“We’ve changed more than 90 percent of the parts and more than 95 per cent of the aerodynamic surfaces are different.
“We’ve implemented a few clever innovations on the new car – they’re the icing on the cake. They’re a nice-to-have, but not a must-have.
“It’s great when you find a small loophole and can use it to your advantage, but it’s not often you can base an entire car around it. Instead, it’s essential to get the basics right, and then you can add things.”