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Formula 1 Spanish GP

The characteristics that are holding back Aston Martin's F1 car

Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll have endured a "difficult" Aston Martin Formula 1 car so far, with a key weakness emerging

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR24

Aston Martin has been honest that upgrades it has brought to its Formula 1 car this year have made it more "difficult" to drive.

Having delivered a host of developments to try to lift it closer to the front of the field, Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll have found that the AMR24 is a more troublesome beast to extract speed from on the limit.

And, at a time when the F1 field is closing up in competitive terms, any element that leaves the drivers in a position where they struggle on the edge is not a great thing to have.

Up until now, the team has not offered many details about the specific weaknesses it has faced, with Alonso in particular shutting down questions ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix when asked to explain what was lacking.

Asked by local media if he could explain some of the details, Alonso said: "No, of course not. If not, I will give all the information to everyone. So, we keep it for ourselves.

"These cars are, when you put more and more downforce, they became a little bit more critical in some situations."

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR24

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR24

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

But while Alonso was reluctant to give anything away, his team-mate Lance Stroll has elaborated a bit more on the dynamics at play – and pinpointed the balance issues that have made the Aston Martin car a bit more of a handful.

Rather than the squad's issues being similar to Mercedes, which has struggled to balance performance through a range of different corner speeds, Aston Martin's problems relate to how the car transitions through the turns.

In particular, it is the AMR24's mid-corner understeer trait that is its biggest weakness, a characteristic that will be exposed a lot by Barcelona's long corners.

"It's a balance thing for sure, but it's not really a confidence thing," explained Stroll. "It's just that the car is limiting in terms of balance.

"It's not a hard car to drive in the sense of putting laps together. It's just we have limitations, with entry and stability, a lot of mid-corner understeer and things like that, which we can't get around.

"And if you're sitting in a very long radius corner, and you're just living with a bunch of mid-corner understeer washout, you're just limited by that.

"So it's not difficult to get around the corner. It's just a balance limitation to go faster. So we see that kind of exposes itself, along with just general downforce."

Aston Martin performance director Tom McCullough explained recently that getting cars sorted for tracks with longer corners was not a walk in the park.

"A short corner is easier to set a car up for, a longer corner is harder," he said. "So getting a through corner balance in a long corner is always more challenging, and that's something which everybody's working on. We've been working on it from Bahrain onwards."

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR24

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR24

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

He added: "There's always balance characteristics you want to improve, and we've been focusing on that and bringing bits all the time to help that. So we're slowly chipping away at that.

"At the same time, we're trying to add base performance to the car as well, and both aerodynamic and mechanical development bits. It is just trying to get a car that the drivers can be confident and consistent on from track to track. That's what everyone's doing, but that's our been our big focus."

But while aware of what it needs to do, Aston Martin is under no illusions that there is a quick fix – with upgrades aimed at improving its situation still a few races away.

As Stroll said: "I think we gathered a lot of information over those [last few] races and now it's just kind of attacking the problem.

"We have updates coming not this week, not next week, but in the coming weekends, as quickly as possible really. So it's really just about attacking the issue more than understanding it."

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