Aston Martin believes the changes to the aero rules for the 2021 season have hurt them much more than Mercedes during the final year. The pressure imposed by the FIA to reduce downforce for this year, in order to ease the pressure on the tires, has triggered some changes in regulations around the floor and body parts.
These changes, which occurred during the phase when teams had to transfer their chassis from 2020, particularly harmed cars like Mercedes and Aston Martin. Although Mercedes recovered through the season and reached a record eighth constructor’s title in the final year of the rules introduced in 2014, Aston Martin faced a tough season as they dropped from fourth in 2020 to seventh place this season.
Aston Martin boss Otmar Szafnauer assures that the fall of his team was no surprise, as the Silverstone-based team did not have the performance as Mercedes had to minimize the impact of the loss of downforce. "What has happened this year has confirmed our pre-season concerns that the one-sided aerodynamic changes made late in the season have had a huge impact on us and Mercedes," says Szafnauer.
"Because the middle of the grid was so tight, the time in the lap we lost: seven, eight, nine-tenths of a lap, depending on which track we were on - moved us from the third-fastest car to about the sixth, seventh fastest car," he explains "Mercedes lost because of the aerodynamic philosophy they have, but that only moved them from where they were always at the pole position in the fight for the championship."
"For us, I think it had a much, much bigger impact because of that and because the regulations for 2022 were completely different, we had to switch early to focus all our attention on 2022 and leave 2021 at that time, "He added.
While Aston Martin has managed to work on some improvements to counter losses at the start of the season, Szafnauer explained that in the end, it was pointless to invest too much as gains would be minimal - compared to the risk of losing in 2022 car development.
"We had a major development program in early 2021 to try to make up for part of the aero deficit that was imposed on us," he continued. "We tried to solve it earlier, but we had to stick to our transfer plan, because otherwise you have the middle (grid) this year, and then you don't have the optimal year that we should have next year."
"Therefore, we consciously tried to switch, no matter how embarrassing. " What Aston Martin brought to improve its aerodynamics proved to be expensive in another area - as it harmed it in some other areas of the car.
“Trying to get some of the downforce back, we also ended up with a car that was slower than it used to be. On some tracks it was a little different. That's why we've been up and down this season. "