The Aston Martin name is back in Formula 1 in 2021 as Lawrence Stroll attempts to lead the team to the pinnacle of F1.
Struggling finically in the second part of the last decade, the team almost went under. However, they survived and are now building the resources to try and topple the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull.
Even in their most difficult period, the team [under the Force India name] finished a superb 4th in the Constructors’ Championship in 2016 and 2017; they achieved that position last year once again as the Silverstone-based team took their first win since Brazil 2003 thanks to Sergio Perez’s stunning victory at the Sakhir Grand Prix.
Otmar Szafnauer is hoping Aston Martin can go for the championship next year but is realistic about the challenge ahead.
“We are working hard on next year and we will do our best to win the world title next year, but if you look historically, it does take time to put the infrastructure in place, the people in place to be able to challenge for a world championship,” Szafnauer said to Racer.com.
Brawn took both championships in one of the greatest underdog wins in the history of any sport back in 2009.
Mercedes took over heading into 2010 but it took the Brackley-based team until 2014 to win a championship, as Szafnauer points out. They only started to be truly competitive in 2013 as they scored just six podiums between 2010-2012.
“Even Mercedes — who bought Brawn, who were world champions — it took them another four years to win. So it’s just what it takes when you have the goal, the ambition, the objectives and the funding to put the infrastructure in place as well as the correct people and then challenge for the world championship.”
With financial security, Aston Martin has been going on a recruitment drive, including the signing of Red Bull aero chief Dan Fallows. Nonetheless there is a lot more work to do yet on this says Szafnauer.
“At 550 employees, it’s a sprinkling of everywhere that we have to hire in. We have to hire like-minded individuals, quite a few of them, probably another 200 until we are right-sized. But it’s in all areas — in areas of performance, in areas of manufacturing, in the operations areas to make sure we are efficient, and now with the financial regulations even in areas where we can understand and plan for the financial regulations a bit better.”
2021 has been a tough one so far for the team. Despite Sebastian Vettel’s brilliant podium at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix last month, the downforce cuts for 2021 has harmed them more than most. Restrictions to improving the car hasn’t helped the team in their efforts to make progress too.
They sit sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, one point behind AlphaTauri and eight ahead of Alpine.
“It’s been difficult. During the season, in the past, we’ve made good progress. We’ve absolutely tried to do the same but it’s harder this year because one, we have the restrictions and two, we have a totally different car next year, so we can’t spend all of our time trying to develop this year’s car at the expense of next so it makes it more tricky. I think we’ve caught up a little bit and we’ll learn even more going forward and hopefully get a bit more competitive.”