Aston Martin Formula 1 technical director Dan Fallows says that there is still “a little way to go” before the team can compete on equal terms with Red Bull.
After a strong start to the season, Aston currently lies second in the constructors’ world championship table despite being outpaced on occasion by rivals Ferrari and Mercedes.
Fallows says that it is natural that the Silverstone outfit eyes the currently-dominant Red Bull as a reference, and he admits that the AMR23 can be improved in all aspects.
"We do we need to sort of consider where we are relative to the Red Bull,” said Fallows. “But I think there are areas we believe where we're relatively strong.
“Also, we have to optimise our car for every particular circuit, which means that sometimes there may be aspects of whether it's low-speed, high-speed corners, which aren't quite as strong as some other competitors.
“The Red Bull as a concept has been evolved for a bit longer than ours. We obviously very publicly went to a different concept early last year. We are still developing that.
“We think we've made a very big step this year, but we still have a little way to go. And I think honestly, I wouldn't point to sort of one single area of it. I think we just need to improve everything, really.”
Fallows indicated the Aston Martin is a good all-round car, with no particular vices.
"It's not necessarily that I think our car has particular strengths in some areas,” he said. “I think we have managed to generate a car which is reasonably capable in a lot of different areas. We can tune it to what we believe is the optimum for that particular track.
“There are certainly areas that we are focused from an aerodynamic and mechanical point of view that we think we can make progress. But honestly, I don't look at it as a car that has any significant weaknesses at the moment.
“It's just that we want to kind of build on the speed that we have and keep going with the same philosophy."
Fallows say the team shouldn’t focus too much on straightline speed and DRS performance, which has been the great strength of Red Bull so far in 2023. Other teams have also erred towards ultra-low drag packages.
"We look to sort of optimise our lap time on every track we go to,” he said. “We do have to be a little bit conscious about what everybody else is doing as well, as you don't want to be miles out of bed on your top speed.
“But honestly, we try to focus on what we think is the quickest ultimate lap time and why we think it's the quickest race as well. So that's really been our focus, rather than what other people are doing around us.”
Asked if Aston can win on merit this season, Fallows noted: "I'd love to say that a win is possible this season.
“There are obviously some circuits where it's not the normal run of play necessarily, sometimes cars have particular characteristics that can play out. For example in Monaco, tracks like that.
“But honestly, I think we're realistic about our situation, where we are at the moment, our focus is really on just maximising the amount of performance we get on the car in the shortest possible time. And we'll see what kind of rewards that brings."
Fallows conceded that the team doesn’t want to sacrifice 2023 by switching focus to next season too early.
"We definitely want to start next year's car as early as we possibly can. The game really for us is to make sure that we don't sacrifice this year's car. Inevitably, it will be a form of evolution of this year's car.
“So everything we can do to get data, to get updates on this year's car, will certainly inform that. But yes, we will be looking to start as early as possible."
He also acknowledged that stable rules for 2024 mean that any gains made with the AM23 can be carried over to next season: "Exactly, which is why we can treat it as a sort of evolutionary step.
“Again, we don't want to be any less aggressive with the way we go about developing this car than we were going into this year."