Monaghan conceded that Jeddah was an easier weekend, at least in terms of understanding the car. “Some of the problems we had with Checo’s car on Friday were of our own making, but we’re over it,” he said. “It’s a bit smoother, but we don’t have precise knowledge about it [the car], there are other tracks that have different requirements in terms of drag/downforce changes or track characteristics, bumps, whatever. So smoother, but far from settled.”
What the team seems to have at the moment is the most effective aerodynamic package, the envy of the rivals scrambling around and talking about changing concepts.
“It’s an important factor in the performance of the car,” said Monaghan. “It has to merge with the other aspects. However your aero map evolves, you need to be able to work that way on the track and it needs to be a viable proposition on the track.
“Similarly you need an engine that is well housed and you can run the engine as well as possible. And we have to give the driver a platform that he can control. So it’s a complex merging of many elements.
“I wouldn’t say it’s the only aspect, it certainly has a huge impact. But all aspects fit together to put you at the front of the grid rather than the back of the grid.
It will be exciting to see if Aston in particular can find more power and close the gap. Like RBR, the team benefits from the car being born quickly and without major issues, unlike in 2022 when the team made an early and resource-intensive concept change.
“It makes it a lot easier,” says McCollough. “Last year around this time it was very difficult because we had a lot of problems and then you try to keep focus and find a way out.
“Our goal is to turn this car into hell”
“We’re still a long way from Red Bull this year. And there are a lot of people who are pretty close to us. It’s a nice thing that we’re not fighting fires, we’re just evolving, understanding where our weaknesses are compared to the competition, and just continuing with the usual evolution.
“Our goal is to develop this car to hell and get as close to them as possible. But they won’t stop there, they have a good lead, especially over a lap at the speed of their car.
“It’s going to be very difficult to keep up the rate of development this year with Ferrari and Mercedes, let alone Red Bull, but for sure we’re sitting there week in and week out trying our best.”