I’ve been curious as to the amount of communication and commentary that Aston Martin has had in the unfolding story and proposed regulations changes that Formula 1 and the FIA would like to achieve for 2021.
I certainly understand they were involved in discussions over the proposed 2021 engine regulation changes and formula early on and they also have entered F1 through a sponsorship deal with Red Bull Racing so they are orbital to F1’s possible changes. That is clear but what isn’t as clear for me is the amount of opinion and commentary they seem to have about the direction F1 is taking and overall political landscape.
The interesting thing, as a sponsor of a team that also makes cars, Aston Martin (AM) felt compelled to engage in the delicate Formula 1 negotiations over the new regulations for 2021. Ostensibly this is because they have been toying with the idea of entering as a engine supplier if the formula is made more affordable to produce…meaning less complex and costly such as the hybrid power units F1 currently have.
AM feels it could be a negotiating piece in F1’s arsenal against the threats made by Ferrari to leave the sport should the new regulations go backwards from the tech that is currently employed. AM’s CEO, Andy Palmer said:
“Liberty obviously want a new engine [for 2021]. They want to move the sport on,” Palmer said.
“The incumbent teams don’t want to change the engine very much.
“In the old world, they would have won, wouldn’t they? Red Bull at one moment were left out in the open.
“But now they’ve got someone sitting behind them saying, ‘If you write the rules like this, we might be interested in providing an engine’. Now there’s an alternative.
“Now, when Ferrari threaten to leave the sport, Liberty can go, ‘well, Aston and Ferrari, same kind of space, same kind of customer type, maybe it’s not such a bad thing if you want to leave’.”
You don’t have to press me very hard to lavish AM with praise as I love their cars, but I’d be hard pressed to lump them and their brand as the equivalent of Ferrari. Ferrari are one of the most iconic brands in the world and they produce a product that backs that brand up. It also helps that they’ve been involved in F1 for over 50 years. There is no other car company with that pedigree that can easily fill the void should Ferrari leave and certainly not as just an engine supplier. Palmer feels F1 needs a change:
“Right now, what does F1 need? F1 needs a good kick up the arse and to remember what it’s there for,” Palmer added.
“It’s not about an ever-greater arms race. At its heart, it’s about entertaining, appealing to petrolheads and about pushing technology.
“The way that we’re acting and behaving right now, we’re upsetting the establishment.
“We’ve got people talking. And even if at the end we’re not there, maybe we helped in the process of improving the sport.”
There is a lot I can agree with in this statement but even so, Aston Martin is a fantastic car but they aren’t offering to field a works team, just an engine supply. That’s galaxies away from what Ferrari are doing or the kind of investment they have made in the sport for 50 years.
I’m doubtful Sergio Marchionne feels that even Aston’s initial presence in meetings about possibly entering the sport should cost-caps and affordable engine be chosen has had any impact on his decision matrix.
Hat Tip: Autosport