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Aston Martin's big trump card in battle with Red Bull: much more wind tunnel time

Aston Martin's big trump card in battle with Red Bull: much more wind tunnel time

11 March - 09:06 Last update: 10:16

Red Bull Racing has built the strongest car for this season, but that does not necessarily mean that the RB19 will remain the best throughout the 2023 season. OK, it is not very likely that Aston Martin (the second team in Bahrain) will manage to overtake Red Bull in eight months, but they do have a key asset that will help them do so: way more wind tunnel time.

To level out the differences between teams in Formula 1, the FIA has in recent years introduced a budget cap that is the same for everyone. It has also introduced a rule that the higher a racing stable finishes in the world championship, the less time they get in the wind tunnel than the competition. Vice versa, the same applies: the number 10 in the constructors gets proportionally the most time to test new parts in the wind tunnel.

The number one in the World Championship gets 70 per cent of the total time by default. Ferrari has exactly 75 per cent available for 2023, Mercedes 80 per cent and so this keeps increasing by five per cent. Williams is the straggler with 115 per cent. Aston Martin finished seventh in the constructors' standings last season, making 100 per cent.

Distribution wind tunnel time 2023

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That 100 per cent equals 320 runs. However, Red Bull is allowed to use wind tunnel time not 70 per cent, but 63 per cent of the time. This has everything to do with the penalty for exceeding the budget cap in 2021. The Austrian team received a 10 per cent penalty (0.1 x 70), leaving only 63 per cent. Aston Martin can therefore do more than 100 runs extra, although there is a catch.

New ranking at the end of June

An important detail is that there will be a mid-year reshuffle of the above rankings on 30 June. That is when three of the six aerodynamic testing periods (ATP) will have come to an end. At that point, the table above will be changed to reflect the order of the 2023 World Cup. Based on the current calendar, that will be after this season's seventh Grand Prix, the Canadian GP.

After the mid-season reset - assuming Aston Martin is no longer seventh in the standings (as it was in 2022) but now second - the British team will have relatively less advantage in the second part of 2023 than in the current situation. Aston Martin's second place in the championship will then be put to 75 per cent. Lawrence Stroll's team is therefore unlikely to have an advantage of 37 per cent more time in the wind tunnel for the whole year.

While Aston Martin will feel some of that, the impact on the development of the current AMR23 will not be as great as perhaps thought. Many teams are already shifting their sights and resources to next year's car by then. Technical designer Dan Fallows and his men will therefore have to focus mainly on making big strides over the next three and a half months if it wants to seriously challenge Red Bull for the title this year.

The team of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell may have dropped a few places among the constructors at the beginning of July compared to last season and so they will get a 'boost' in terms of available wind tunnel hours.

New wind tunnel Aston Martin

The Aston Martin team is currently in the process of building its own complete wind tunnel. The project will reportedly cost around $230 million and should be completed by mid-2024. The car being developed for 2025 should be able to make full use of the new wind tunnel.

Currently, Aston Martin shares a wind tunnel with Mercedes and although this wind tunnel has proven itself, it is a big step forward for Aston Martin to commission its own wind tunnel that is fully tuned to its own requirements.