Aston Martin need “three to five years” to become title contenders

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In the round-up: Aston Martin CEO Otmar Szafnauer says it will take at least three years for the team to become championship contenders.

What they say

Szafnauer was speaking ahead of the team’s presentation of its AMR21 chassis for the 2021 season:

It’s a lot easier to say ‘we’re going to be fighting and winning a world championship’ than actually actually doing it. The two things that have to happen is, one, we need a good plan in order for us to start today and get to world championship contenders. And then we’ve got to execute. We’re in the midst of that planning now and the execution will definitely take some time.

People in Formula 1 and other teams have said ‘you’ve got to give us three to five years to do so’ and we’re no different. We’ve for the last year planned a new factory with new infrastructure and a place to house all of us under one roof to grow the team. The implementation of that is just now begun at Silverstone and towards the end of 2022 we should be moving into a new factory, for example.

Within that factory, we’re going to need state-of-the-art tools that will help us design and develop a car that’s worthy of contending for world championships. So that’s a few years away. If I have to look into the future, it’ll be in the three to five year time period.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Toto Wolff’s claim F1 should follow the DTM’s lead by introducing sprint races hasn’t convinced @Eurobrun:

DTM was a glorified domestic series with a limited audience. No one watched DTM qualifying, so changing the format worked for them, because they had nothing to lose. But that series imploded after Mercedes left… good omens!

F1 is the biggest motor series in the world and has millions tune in for qualifying specifically because it is qualifying.

Yes more people tune in for the race, but would more tune in for this sprint race? Maybe for the first one, to see what the fuss is about. For example, call me cynical but I was dead against the elimination qualifying embarrassment, however I got up early to watch the first one (Australia) live, specifically to see just how bad it was, so that I could accurately discuss it.

I chose not to watch the second attempt (Bahrain) as the joke wasn’t funny anymore. Not even on catch-up, unlike every other qualifying I’ve missed live over the past 10 years.

I just don’t see the added excitement of this unless you are going to muck around with the format, but people don’t want to do that cos of DNA, etc… The only way this will be “exciting” is if the top 4 collide at the first corner in the sprint race/super qualifying/insert-your-own-joke-name-here causing an ‘artificial’ grid for the main race that looks suspiciously like a reverse grid.

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On this day in F1

Jim Clark, Lotus, Brands Hatch, 1967
Two-times world champion Jim Clark was born 85 years ago today. He died in 1968

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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42 comments on “Aston Martin need “three to five years” to become title contenders”

  1. Sounds awfully similar to the hype of BAR/Jaguar when they joined, lets hope it works out better for them. They certainly need to start coming up with their own ground breaking concepts instead of copying others if they want to really compete for the titles.

    1. Unfortunately there is almost no room in the regulations for “ground breaking concepts” in F1 now.

      1. There is plenty of room for a lot of innovation which is why one team has dominated the sport for 7 years. While everyone else went chasing the high rake concept of Red Bulls glory days, Mercedes broke ground on the low rake super stable aero platform instead. Their entire aero philosophy was in direct contrast to everyone else at several points throughout the last 7 years and each time they’ve seemed to be spot on. Look at the outbound versus inbound focused front ends for example where they nailed it too.

        The only limiting factor seems to be a inability for some teams to create the complete package which is what Mercedes have nailed.

    2. Sounds more like mercedes might not be on the grid in 3 to 5 years time. in the end this right now is a great reward for 8 seasons or so of working for mercedes.
      As expected fom came up with the dilution rule so that the Dorilton/williams deal could go through, dorilton’s goal must have been vw all along.

      1. Not saying it they won’t join but VAG really don’t have Dorlilton’s agenda as a target.

  2. *bold*

    1. LessaisFaireLessePassé
      4th March 2021, 1:03


      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        4th March 2021, 1:14


        1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
          4th March 2021, 1:15

          Double bold is still just bold, the more you know

          1. Sorry, just had to try.

  3. I couldn’t agree more with the COTD!! Bravo!

  4. pastaman (@)
    4th March 2021, 2:09

    Aston Martin F1 Team CEO Otmar Szafnauer

  5. Still miss Jim Clark. Great gentleman and racer.

    1. I was in love with that car ! It was my first one i got from my uncle everthing (except the engine was working) and played with it during the 70 ‘s :)

      1. (@macleod) Cool with the car!

        As a kid in the ’60’s I had a Jim Clark in the Lotus poster on my wall, first race car on the wall.

    2. And only 75gp’s (fewer races per season) but such amazing stats from him. He was amazing.

    3. My first motor racing hero. His stats still compare with the very best. Favourites, only finishing second once, and following 1st F1 win, never being beaten by a team mate.

  6. Zach (@zakspeedf1team)
    4th March 2021, 6:15

    Re:COTD, at least F1 had the decency to scrap the elimination qualifying when it was obvious it didn’t work. Based on that single experience I’m not totally against doing a sprint-race trial run just to see how it works or doesn’t work. I’m not thrilled about sprint-races, but a trial run with a honest assessment afterwards is the best way to go on about it.

    1. They should have tested it before introducing it in a world competition.
      Instead the competition was once again used as the testing ground.
      Indicating that a lot of these decisions are made adhoc and on an emotional basis, or in other words irrationally.

      On top of that it is not good for the image of the sport (it looks amateuristic and childish).

    2. They did scrap it, but not when it was obvious… they let it happen a 2nd time.
      What was it Albert Einstein said? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
      It took a lot of effort to stop it happening a 3rd time. This time round we have 3 tests. Will they abort if the 1st one is awful, or will they persist because they’ve committed to 3 tests?

      And I agree, tests are for tests, not for real world trial.
      They could easily have a test sprint race at the pre season test. They could even have two on separate days and trial different grids / formats.
      Hell, they could even televise these test races and guess what… some people would watch… and more than would watch pre-season testing.

  7. The 2021-spec Renault PU sounds nice.

  8. Campos’ retro livery looks good.

  9. And it is not clear whether any entry would be as a full works team, in the manner of Mercedes

    Of course Mercedes is no longer a ‘full works team’ like Ferrari and Renault.

    I’m very excited to see the further mention (and hope ‘intent’) of moving to (carbon capture) synthetic fuels. It is technically already feasible (I shared a link to a running prototype earlier) and bio fuels are risky by competing with food production or growing trees just to chopping them down.
    It’s very fitting for F1 to take a lead role in this.

    There will probably never be enough batteries to take green energy ‘for a ride’, or light enough ‘to fly away’, and we also need the power when there is less wind and sun.
    Green synthetic fuels and green hydrogen can fill those gaps until our (grand)children find something better.

    1. Porsche has planned to produce half a billion liter of synthetic fuel by 2026.

      I just wonder what it means for the socalled transition.

      Because if internal combustion engines can run on fully sustainable fuel, and it is actually sustainable (the biological definition, not the green washing definition). Then EVs could have become an potentially obsolete technology even before it has gotten fully up to speed.

    2. @coldfly What doest thou mean Mercedes is no longer a full works team?

      1. Not sure what the minimum equity ownership is to qualify as one, @robbie.
        But 33% seems to be well below that threshold.

        1. @coldfly Oh, ok, had to google and recall the fact that the team is now owned 1/3 each by Mercedes, TW, and Ineos, which I seemed to have not soaked in when it was announced. OK I take your point I suppose from a technical or legal standpoint, but for me the important thing to appreciate from an F1 standpoint is that they (Mercedes) still make their own pu in house along with their own chassis, which is as we know a crucial ingredient to making a competitive car and one that gives a big upper hand compared to customers who are on their hind foot in marrying pu to chassis. So to me for all intents and purposes they are a full works team with the F1 car advantages that that carries.

  10. Would be cool if VAG joined the F1 circus. Maybe they need a new acronym though.

    1. VALBPSSG. Bit of a Mouthful !

      1. I thought you’d spell that with double B.

  11. Huge news with the VW / Porsche interest, but then we’ve heard that before.

    For sure they would want to partner Red Bull, but would Red Bull want to risk Porsche pulling out after 4 years and being back to square one now that they have their own engine program plans?

    1. but would Red Bull want to risk Porsche pulling out after 4 years

      Or Red Bull to pull out (except title sponsorship) before that. @balue

      1. @balue @coldfly Hey we aren’t coldflies on a wall, so who knows, but for one thing hearing something before is, well, from before, and the whole point is that they are showing interest ‘again’ or ‘still’ because of the sweeping changes Liberty has made to the financial side of F1 and to their commitment to relevant engines in the future. The past is the past and they made decisions then based on what they knew at the time.

        If RBR found it prudent, after much discussion and due diligence, to partner with Porsche I really doubt they would be sat there with something that would have evolved to be a meaty thing to put hard consideration into, only to then say, well, we don’t know what might happen if 4 years, so let’s pass. That makes no sense to me. With that kind of thinking how would they get anything done? Honda has been known to pull out of F1 in the past on several occasions, and that didn’t stop RBR from starting something with them. And indeed something even better might come out of it as RBR builds themselves up to not put themselves in that situation of dependency again. Sure they would take on a partner as they have said, but it doesn’t sound like they want to need to, come 2024.

        This is also why I would be surprised if, with what they are building up, they would pull out, but again, who knows, and certainly with the moves they are making, if they wanted to pull out they sure will have a much bigger entity to sell if they did, including yes or no to staying on as title sponsors.

        Anything is possible of course and what do I know, except that I am just looking at an F1 that is only going to be more affordable not more expensive in which to play, and should have a much bigger audience in 4 years time if Liberty and the teams have their way.

  12. People in Formula 1 and other teams have said ‘you’ve got to give us three to five years to do so’ and we’re no different

    Vettel: At least I have my championships already.
    Kimi: I drive for the fun of it.
    Ricciardo: Some teams take longer.
    Perez: I think I raced for them longer than that…

  13. Something i’d like to know is how would they define if the sprint race trials were a success or not & therefore if it’s a format that should become more permanent or not?

    A concern I have with this is that they will latch onto one specific thing that happens & then push that as the great success that proves sprint races need to be adopted everywhere.

    For example look at the narrative after Monza last year where they kept pushing afterwards how that race showed why reverse grid races were needed. They completely ignored the reasons Monza played out the way it did & that in terms of racing it actually wasn’t an especially good race, They just saw Lewis at the back & a surprise winner & pushed that narrative to try & make everyone see the reverse grid vision as been an amazing idea.

    If at Montreal for instance Saturday is really wet & the sprint race ends up been a bit messy like the 2011 race, I just honestly worry they will ignore the fact it was a wet race & just go ‘See it was unpredictable & exciting, this proves that we need sprint races everywhere’ when clearly under more normal circumstances in the dry they will play out vastly differently.

    1. The race really wasn’t the blinder so many people seemed to think it was, it was rather sad watching the Sky broadcasters trying to sell it on that basis. I think I rated it a 6 and I was being generous because there was a surprise winner although it might have got a higher score had Sainz won who arguable drove far superior all weekend and didn’t luck into his position.

    2. Not saying they’re not capable of screwing it up but on the silver side they have a very experienced team and a significant investment that can only possibly be recouped in the long term. I think the metrics and philosophy are significantly more weighted to (survival at worst &) entertaining competition (at best) than we’ve seen for a long while… as opposed to wholesale extraction of wealth.

    3. They’d probably look at TV viewing figures for the whole weekends where the sprint races happen, and compare those to the ‘normal’ weekends, but then also look at the dropoff in viewers between the first one and the last one. And get feedback from teams/drivers on how they think the races have gone and if they would support them at every race weekend or if they prefer the existing format.

    4. @stefmeister I think you make a valid point about what will determine if ‘super-qualifying’ is a success.

      Otherwise, I can’t go along with the rest of your post. To me you seem to be forgetting that the ‘great and unpredictable’ shall we say outcomes from all the umpteen rainy qualifying sessions and/or races in the past have never brought up the same types of conversations. Do you not recall BE’s sprinklers idea? And he was much more the dictatorial type, and an admirer of dictators, than Liberty and Brawn seem to be. For all the good that BE did for F1 that those in F1 will always praise him for, he also spent his last decade in F1 in a huge money grab with CVC. And yet, no sprinklers. It was basically laughed at.

      So why oh why, when Liberty has done exactly what F1 needed, when for all we know we could have had an entity even more dictatorial than BE, must there be this paranoia that all they can see is one rainy weekend in 2020 and therefore that must then become the start of some slippery slope…some ‘aha’ moment.

      I’m sorry but Liberty doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment. They’ve only rescued F1 by seeking a new better sustainable direction and by getting all the teams on board with that, or F1 was doomed otherwise. Suddenly now they are distracted by some shiny bobble like a bunch of newbies? Come on. Give them a bit more credit than that.

      But anyway, I get it, you’re skewed one way. You’re still using language that includes reverse grids, when those have been dropped, and you’re still calling them sprint races when it is more accurate to call them qualifying races. And I just find that quite unfair to level at those who have rescued F1 for us to continue to enjoy. And likely enjoy way more when it is not only sustainable, but more fair for all teams, and more of a driver vs driver series. The more I hear arguments like yours the more I want to dig my heals in and defend Liberty and Brawn. So far to me they have only shown themselves to be far better at what they are doing than BE was, and your level of paranoia belongs in the past with the BE era.

      I’m far far more inclined to agree with the likes of @dbradock who argues that we should just let the sweeping changes coming in for 2022 settle in before we try changing the qualifying format, which in itself supports the great things Liberty has done, than to have the attitude you have that all the necessary and massive good they have done is to be swept under the carpet, because they are asking if there might be a more exciting way to qualify.

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