Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer believes the aerodynamic tweaks introduced for the 2021 F1 season cost his team on average "nine-tenths a lap" across the season.
The Silverstone-based team finished fourth in the constructors' championship in 2020 as Racing Point, losing out to McLaren at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after a year-long battle over third.
To save costs in the wake of the Covid pandemic, teams agreed to run largely unchanged cars again in 2021 with a token system introduced to limit major developments.
A number of regulation changes were then made to cut downforce levels, however, for safety reasons in respect to the tyres with the most noticeable element being a reduction in the floor area ahead of the rear tyres.
Speaking to GPFans towards the end of the year, Szafnaurer explained that although the year had not been "all-round" bad for Aston Martin who finished seventh overall, it was "not what we had hoped".
"It was our fear once the unilateral aerodynamic changes were made so late," he said.
"Even our junior aeros feared that the changes would have a bigger impact on the low rake cars and wouldn't have such a big impact on the high rake cars.
“And because of it, probably on average, we lost nine-tenths of a second a lap, us and Mercedes, both. But they were so far ahead that what happened to them is they brought them into line with Red Bull and some of the others.
“What happened to us is we went from the third quickest car to the seventh quickest car because in the midfield it was so tight."
Aston Martin could have brought unlimited developments to the track to solve the issues in an ordinary year, but this was prevented by the token system and the newly-introduced cost cap.
Another restriction was the rapidly approaching aerodynamic regulation change for 2022, limiting the potential benefit of any upgrades to just a handful of races.
Asked if, in a normal year, Aston Martin would have done more to escape its situation, Szafnauer added: “We would've done more, for sure. We would've done more.
"How far it's hypothetical, hard to know, but yes, we definitely would've done more.
“Once that [the changes] happened, it was very difficult to develop our way out of it, mainly because we had to switch over to '22.
"'22 was such a big year. It was almost a perfect storm for us in that regard.
“The ride height was frozen because we had to use tokens to change the car. We used our tokens on the side-impact structure. Then the changes were made to aero where we couldn't develop our way out of it."