Formula 1 Correspondent
2:35 PM 12th February 2024
Aston Martin And Haas
Silverstone was the Formula 1 centre of attention yesterday and today after the Haas team undertook a shakedown of its new VF-24 car there, and then Aston Martin launched its new challenger, the AMR24, with its iconic racing green livery.
The Haas is attractive but will surely again lack pace
All the latest headlines about the US-owned Haas team have tended to centre on its decision to part company with its charismatic team principal, Guenther Steiner, due to a disagreement with Gene Haas about the level of funding needed to even give it a chance of catching up with some of the opposition. The livery of its 2024 car was revealed recently, but the car first stretched its legs on track yesterday around Silverstone’s fast sweeps during a private initial run behind closed doors. A second shakedown is set to follow in Bahrain on February 19, two days before the official and only pre-season three-day test there. On the driver front, Haas has opted to stick with its experienced pairing of the 31-year-old Dane, Kevin Magnussen, and Germany’s Nico Hülkenberg, five years his senior.
Steiner’s internal replacement as team principal, Japan’s Ayao Komatsu, has indicated that a significant early improvement in the team’s fortunes should not be expected, which sounds like the understatement of the year after it finished dead last in the 2023 Constructors’ Championship and may struggle to fare any better this time round.
Aston Martin’s new AMR24 revealed today
The Aston Martin team, under the ownership and leadership of Canada’s Lawrence Stroll, has invested heavily in a new high-tech factory in Silverstone, just walking distance from the iconic motor-racing track. The outfit had enjoyed a very promising start to last season, with the veteran Fernando Alonso seemingly rejuvenated in a competitive car, but the early promise rather dwindled away as results worsened and the team ultimately dropped from second to fifth in the 2023 Constructors’ Championship.
42-year-old Fernando Alonso will again be Aston Martin’s lead driver
Much more is expected this season as the outfit targets its first race win, and the responsibility will again fall primarily on the shoulders of its drivers, Alonso and the owner’s son, Lance. The team describes its new car as a “strong evolution” of last year’s offering, and Alonso, who simply lives to drive fast cars, is all set for the new campaign. The Spaniard has been linked with a possible move to Mercedes after this season to replace the departing Sir Lewis Hamilton, but he revealed today that his first priority is to decide whether he wants to stay in F1 beyond 2024. He confirmed, too, that, if so, Aston Martin will be his first priority, as he wants to explore every possibility to perhaps race for many more years with the team.
Alonso and Hamilton endured a single conflict-strewn season together driving for Ron Dennis’ McLaren team back in 2007, and the animosity between the duo seemingly still lingers on to this day. When Hamilton announced recently that he was exercising a break clause in his Mercedes contract to leave for close rival Ferrari at the end of this season, he declared that it was because he now had a chance to “fulfil a childhood dream and drive in Ferrari red.” However, Alonso today downplayed the move, saying, “It always sounded like he was very linked with Mercedes and very loyal to them," if clearly not, and then cryptically adding, “It was not his childhood dream 12 months ago nor even two months ago. I think he had a different dream then.”
Next up come the final four pre-season launches as the big boys come out to play. Tomorrow it will be the turn of Italy’s Scuderia Ferrari to lead the way before Mercedes and McLaren take centre stage on Valentine’s Day at Silverstone, and then Red Bull will complete the full set on Thursday at its Milton Keynes HQ.