Aston and Haas teams opt for pitlane start at US GP

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Aston Martin and Haas will have both their cars start Sunday’s US Grand Prix from the pitlane following set up changes to their machines.

A difficult opening day at COTA marked by brake issues combined with a lack of set-up work compelled Aston Martin to make further changes to both its upgraded AMR23 in a bid to try and improve the latter’s performance.

Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll had qualified a lowly P17 and P19, meaning there was little to lose for both drivers by breaching parc fermé regulations and launching their race from the pitlane.

“We learned that the package is actually performing as we were expecting,” explained Aston deputy technical director Eric Blandin. “But we haven't been able to optimise the setup.

“So, one thing we have decided to do is to start both cars from the pitlane and we are effectively changing the set-up, because we think there is a lot more performance to come from the car.

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“We took the pragmatic approach to start both cars; one with the Qatar spec, and the other one with the new package. Lance is going to have the new spec and Fernando will have the Qatar spec.”

Over at Haas, the US outfit appeared to be facing a more fundamental problem with its VF-23.

The team introduced in Austin a major new Red Bull-inspired aero package that included revised sidepod inlets, a new engine cover and a modified floor, all of which are aimed at combatting the chronic tyre degradation troubles suffered by Haas this year.

But based on Saturday’s Sprint event, both Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg felt that little progress had been achieved in terms of tyre-wear.

“It didn't look too good, honestly. But we'll investigate and see what we think,” said Magnussen who finished the 19-lap event P18, three spots behind Hulkenberg.

“It's just frustrating. [The tyre struggles] looked a little bit similar… It wasn’t a great sprint.

“The pace dropped off a lot… I got a decent start and a decent first lap, then stayed there for a few laps before the well-known cycle of getting overtaken and the tyres dropping off started.”

“First glimpse, obviously not a transformation unfortunately,” added Hulkenberg. “But it feels like it was the first real session, with this car, with this package.

“FP1 is obviously very compact, very condensed, a lot of things going on, different tyres, different fuel loads, etc, etc, and two times quali so it was hardly any running.

“There's more to explore, more to unlock, probably also to readjust the set-up around it a bit more.”

Consequently, Haas has also opted to start both its cars from the pitlane to revise the settings of its cars, and especially the rear wing specification.

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