Aston Martin and Haas drivers to start United States Grand Prix from pit lane

Aston Martin and Haas drivers to start United States Grand Prix from pit lane

Aston Martin and Haas made the decision to pull out their cars from the pit lane to make setup adjustments moments before the United States Grand Prix.

Their decisions comes at a price unfortunately, as Aston Martin drivers Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll, as well as Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, will all start the United States Grand Prix race from the pit lane.

This comes after both Aston Martin and Haas made major upgrades before the race at the Circuit of the Americas with the expectation that it would improve their individual performances. However, the Sprint format only allowed them each one hour of practice to have as much acquaintance with the freshly upgraded cars as possible.

This means that they learned all through Saturday’s Sprint and during qualifying that their updated cars weren’t running as anticipated. Both teams decided to make setup adjustments in the hopes of boosting their chances of winning the Grand Prix.

The adjustments to the cars would have had to be done against parc ferme rules. The consequence is that all four drivers will start from the pit lane. The stewards attested to their findings in individual decision statements for each of the driver.

The stewards made clear that before both teams made the setup modifications, they requested the FIA technical delegate’s agreement.

All four of the drivers were already scheduled to start in the 14th or lower position, therefore it’s obvious that the teams believed that changing the car setup would increase their chances of winning the race.

The stewards made clear that before both teams made the setup modifications, they requested the FIA technical delegate’s agreement. All four of the drivers were already scheduled to start in the 14th or lower position, therefore it’s obvious that the teams believed that changing the car setup would increase their chances of winning the race.

Following the introduction of an upgrade package for its AMR23s, Aston Martin had a difficult weekend. During the first practice, their cars encountered issues.

Lance Stroll’s practice session was cut short after experiencing a brake issue in the early going, . Alonso’s car had a similar problem, but he was still able to keep racing.

On Friday, both drivers were ejected from Q1. They made it through to the second round of sprint race qualifying on Saturday after making a minor upgrade. However, Stroll retired after reporting more brake issues, and Alonso finished 13th and out of the points.

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“In FP1 we effectively, because of a mistake on the simulation, put too much blanking on the front brakes, so they caught fire,” deputy technical director Eric Blandin explained.

“That’s the reason why we couldn’t run more than two laps with Lance in the morning. And that really put us on the back foot for the work we’ve done.

“With the new package, you have to effectively optimise the brake balance, it’s a very different characteristic,” Blandin explained. “He struggled a bit, more or less since the beginning, to really optimise his brake balance shaping et cetera.

“So he struggled a lot with the braking in the race yesterday, but we retired time the car because we had an issue with the water pressure and that’s the reason why we had to retire the car.”

Following their problems, the team has decided to run its cars in different specifications during today’s grand prix.

“We learned that the package is actually performing as we were expecting,” said Blandin. “But we haven’t been able to optimise the set-up so one thing we have decided to do is to start both cars from the pit lane.

“We are effectively changing the set-up because we think there is a lot more performance to come from the car.

“But we have took the pragmatic approach to start both car one with the Qatar spec and the other one with the new package.”

Haas team boss Guenther Steiner expressed his concern about the upgrades’ insufficient results after the Sprint. The team had deliberately delayed making adjustments to its cars for several months to ensure that they could zero in all of their development efforts on implementing this shift in strategy.

However, Magnussen and Hulkenberg struggled in Friday night’s qualifying and did not particularly impress in the Sprint race.

“It didn’t go to plan today,” said Steiner. “We’ve got more work to do but, initially, we’re not very happy with what’s happened, so we have to see how we tackle tomorrow.

“We found a few things and went in the wrong direction, but it’s difficult to jump to a conclusion after one practice, two qualifying sessions and one short race.

“But at the moment, we have to find more as the upgrade has not done what we expected.”

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