Lawrence Stroll, Racing Point, Suzuka, 2019

Aston Martin F1 team will be “highly competitive” vows Stroll as he completes investment

2021 F1 season

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Lawrence Stroll has vowed Aston Martin’s Formula 1 team will be “highly competitive” when it enters the championship next year.

Stroll, who has taken over as executive chairman of the car maker after completing his investment in the Aston Martin Lagonda brand today, said the company’s return to Formula 1 for the first time since 1960 form part of his plans to “reset” the struggling luxury car business during his first year in charge.

However he must contend with the additional challenges presented by the global pandemic, which has forced the closure of Aston Martin’s road car manufacturing facilities. The Racing Point F1 team, which Stroll co-owns and will be rebranded as Aston Martin next year, is also closed.

Nonetheless Stroll expects the team to begin next year in good shape. “In 2021 Aston Martin will take its place on the Formula 1 grid as a highly competitive works team for the first time in over 60 years,” he said.

“This will give us a significant global marketing platform to strengthen our brand and engage with our customers and partners across the world.”

Racing Point finished seventh in the championship last year. As Force India, it placed fourth in 2016 and 2017.

The team was tipped for a competitive start to the 2020 F1 season following a strong showing in testing with a car closely based on last year’s championship-winning Mercedes. Several of their rivals identified them as the team most likely to lead the midfield with the RP20, dubbed a ‘pink Mercedes’ by some.

Aston Martin Lagonda also confirmed ErsteAM Ltd, which is controlled by Mercedes team principal and CEO Toto Wolff, has acquired 14.4 million of Stroll’s shares in the company, giving it a 0.95% stake. It described the purchase as a “financial investment” for Wolff. “The partnership and executive role with Mercedes are unaffected by the transaction,” it added.

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26 comments on “Aston Martin F1 team will be “highly competitive” vows Stroll as he completes investment”

  1. ColdFly (@)
    20th April 2020, 8:37

    In 2021 Aston Martin will take its place on the Formula 1 grid as a highly competitive works team for the first time in over 60 years,

    What does that mean? What is his definition of a ‘works team’ or even his prediction of ‘highly competitive’.

    We’ve seen other supercar manufacturers try F1 as a marketing vehicle and failing (Spyker, Marussia).

    1. Spyker, Marussia failed baddly due to lack of finances.

      RedBull was only a drinks company, pumping 500 million per year in two F1 teams they became a force to reckon with.

      Offcorse will take a few billion dollars before they get somewhere.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        20th April 2020, 10:43

        Red Bull took over ownership from the Jaguar team so they weren’t just a “drinks company”, they were an extremely rich investor who owned a competent F1 team. Unless Stroll is intending to start using existing Aston Martin staff to work on the F1 team, they are exactly the same as Red Bull – a rich investor with a brand to advertise. Neither are like Ferrari where the racing team and car sales business are closely connected.

        The question is whether Stroll is going to invest as heavily as Mateschitz did and is willing to do so over as long a period of time. I may well be proven wrong but I personally wouldn’t bet on it.

        1. they are exactly the same as Red Bull – a rich investor with a brand to advertise.

          Or more like Alfa Romeo: a not so rich investor with a brand to advertise.

        2. @petebaldwin Racing Point is already a competent racing team, making this pretty much exactly like Red Bull, but with Aston Martin being a different market (I’m not convinced there’s about to be an engine swapover, so I can’t call this a “full works” outfit).

        3. @petebaldwin that Jaguar team was the former Stewart Grand Prix team that was bought out by Ford – unfortunately, Ford’s management was notorious in that era for bloated and inefficient management where one half of the company didn’t seem to know what the other half was doing.

          There is the legend of Bill Ford Jr supposedly finding out that the highest paid employee of Ford was Eddie Irvine, back when he drove for the Jaguar team, and asking who this “Edward Irvine” figure was. The story is probably apocryphal, but it is one of those stories which flourished because of the reputation that Ford’s senior management had at the time of not really knowing what they were doing and simply relying on throwing money at problems to make them go away – something Irvine seems to have exploited, as he was reportedly raking in a very substantial salary whilst he drove for Jaguar.

          It also has to be said that there were some of Jaguar’s cars which did have some rather strange technical features too. A simple example I’ve heard was that of the brake caliper placement, because it was a simple thing that Jaguar ended up doing in a way that was completely at odds with other teams for no explicable reason.

          At the time, most teams would place the caliper either towards the bottom of the brake hub, or halfway up. Placing the caliper at the bottom offered a small centre of gravity advantage, but because it could be a bit more difficult for mechanics to access and because there was a slightly higher risk that debris could become trapped in the caliper, some teams would compromise by placing the caliper halfway up – the centre of gravity was slightly higher, but accessibility and the lower risk of debris becoming trapped made it worth the slight performance disadvantage.

          Jaguar, though, decided for inexplicable reasons to stick their caliper right at the top – the worst place in terms of centre of gravity, and seemingly not offering any other benefits to explain why they’d pick a place that was probably the worst they could pick in terms of performance.

          In terms of staff, Red Bull did go on a fairly significant recruitment drive in the years following their takeover, particularly when Newey arrived at the team and restructured it fairly heavily. I’m fairly certain that most, if not all, of Jaguar’s senior designers and technical staff were replaced by Newey when he got to work overhauling the team.

          1. Some managers were let go after Newey identified a few rotten apples upon his arrival (if I remember his autobiography correctly).

      2. Spyker, Marussia failed baddly due to lack of finances.

        Exactly, @jureo. And Aston Martin Lagonda has exactly the same challenge.

        It’s easier to keep an F1 team running than doing that at the same time as (re)building a supercar company.

  2. Hope it is competitive. But I’m not holding my breath…

  3. They’ll need to hire a better driver to partner Perez, then…

  4. If Toto puts his money in to this, it must be good.

  5. John Richards (@legardforpresident)
    20th April 2020, 10:02

    Given Aston Martin’s plummeting value, all Stroll can do now is just hype up the entry until then and hope his investment works. Anything he says or doest until 2021 will just be PR-talk to appease his shareholders. For starters, if he’s got his son in the team, I’d wonder how seriously he was taking his involvement in AMR, in the first place.

    1. It actually makes it a lot cheaper to gain control of the company for Stroll @legardforpresident.

  6. I’ve seen some car makers buy racing teams and then re-brand them, I can’t recall an f1 team buying a car maker.

    1. @peartree – indeed. They can throw phrases like “works team” around all they want, but it’s a case of the tail wagging the dog. That said, it actually makes RP look that much more impressive.

      1. @phylyp about head and tails… Good PR from RP.
        There is no denying that Aston sounds a lot better than RP, even without the engine turned on.

        I also read a reference of Toto Wolff confirming in the Austrian press that he was considering to leave Mercedes. Talks have been suspended though.

    2. It’s just a rich man’s play thing. Stroll has lots of luxury brands that he can advertise on the car alongside AML. The idea is that the “luxury” added value (a.k.a vulgarity) of some clothing brand or handbags will cause people with more money than sense to buy an Aston Martin SUV. What management consultants and marketing types call synergy. Larry has been looking for a luxury car brand to plonk onto the F1 team for a while, I guess (it’s just that pesky VW keeps buying them up too). This isn’t a Chapman-esque (or Ferrari) idea to maintain a small road car business to fund the F1 team.

    3. Neil (@neilosjames)
      20th April 2020, 17:42

      Tony Fernandes bought Caterham, that’s the only one I can think of off the top of my head.

  7. The grand plan is probably to absorb a lot of Mercedes talent when Mercedes leaves F1, and then Aston Martin will indeed become a powerhouse F1 team. That’s how I interpret Toto’s investment.

    1. @krommenaas That’s an interesting thought, Toto knows a lot more than we do, and he’s not an idiot, perhaps that’s the long game?

      I was about to say it’s a bit weird owning a stake in one team whilst being principle of another, but then Briatore et al, etc, yadda yadda, F1 history has plenty of examples.

      1. it’s a bit weird owning a stake in one team whilst being principle of another

        But the more interesting consequence is that Toto through his investment in AML is now paying Red Bull (sponsorship).

      2. Toto apparently owns 30% (source: wrongapedia) of Mercedes F1 so <1% of AML is nothing. I don't think there's anything to see here, folks. Toto is a self made man so clearly knows what he's doing (as is Stroll, I believe?).

    2. @krommenaas Yes very interesting thought. It would fit Stroll’s bold assertion, Wolff’s investment and some of his recent comments about being unhappy with some individuals, presumably new Daimler CEO, Ola Källenius.

  8. It’ll be interesting if there is even an Aston Martin (the car company not the F1 team) post the massive recession that we’re about to have. I’d have thought that it far more likely that it would be in the hands of administrators.

    Sure Stroll gave it a cash injection but it would be haemorrhaging cash at the moment at a fair rate and their corporate performance has been far from stellar for years.

  9. Does anyone think the Lagonda name is evocative? Why don’t they just drop it? It sounds clumsy.. like an anaconda of cars or something.

    1. Lagonda evocative? depends on your age I suppose.

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