Canadian-owned team has big plans going forward after announcing it will keep Vettel and Stroll for next season
By Olivia Kairu
Canadian billionaire businessman Lawrence Stroll is doing everything he can to turn Aston Martin Racing into a race-winning team by 2022.
The newly transformed outfit, formerly known as Racing Point in 2018 and 2019, endured a disappointing first season thwarted by aerodynamic regulation changes that hampered the AMR21 low-rake structure. So a massive effort has been exerted by the team with the aim of achieving front-running glory.
“As with every other business I own, my goal is to win,” said 62-year-old Lawrence Stroll to The New York Times. “In this case, winning in Formula 1 means world championships, and ultimately that’s what we are striving for, what I’m striving for.
Of course, we all know that success in F1, or any other business, for that matter, doesn’t come overnight. It takes years to put the right people, the right tools, the right processes in place.”
Now that the 2022 driving duo has been confirmed, with the team retaining four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and Canadian Lance Stroll, Lawrence’s son, more ambitious plans are in sight.
The transformation of Aston Martin into a tour de force has already begun with news of the construction of a new F1 factory complete with an innovatory wind tunnel and simulator.
The new 37,000 m² space will be home to Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team just across the road from the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in Northamptonshire, England.
It’s estimated that the 18-month construction plan will cost upwards of £150-200 million, ($260-350 CAD) with an end date of early 2023 and the commissioning of their wind tunnel to begin in the middle of the same year.
The project marks a multitude of milestones for the F1 stalwart. The new tunnel will be a first in the history of the team and will add to the strength in build and aerodynamic consistency in the development of future cars after depending on the neighbouring Mercedes factory wind tunnel.
The new factory breaks the lull in F1 factory construction since McLaren’s Woking headquarters was completed in 2004.
“It is a significant investment. It shows my belief in the team, confirms my ambition and confirms my belief in F1,” said Stroll, as quoted by F1.com.
“(With) the current factory, (it) would have been difficult. We are adding temporary offices to house the constantly growing workforce we have. Communication isn’t the best as everyone is located at various parts of the factory. The improvement in communications and research, development and design was a necessity. We could not continue to grow to the headcount I want to grow to with the existing premises. Not possible. Full stop.”
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Formula 1 is considering a change in aerodynamic testing which would involve a possible ban on wind tunnel use by 2030, signalling a massive change in development. Stroll has however defended his plans and places doubt on the 2030 ban date.
“We believe it’s a worthy investment that will have seven to eight years to be able to use it before any decision is made. I personally don’t think wind tunnels will disappear,” he said.
Stroll has his sights set on steamrolling his team towards the front of the 2022 grid but looks even further ahead at winning the Formula One championship in the near future.
Currently, Aston Martin is seventh in the constructors’ standings with 59 points.
What’s in store for 2022?
A lacklustre start to the 2021 season saw Lance Stroll scoring the only point in P10 and again as the lone scorer in Imola with four points in P8. His season-high result came in the most recent race, the Italian GP in Monza, when he finished seventh.
Aston Martin’s performance engineering director Tom McCullough disclosed the gains in pace the outfit has achieved through aerodynamically focused alterations to the car.
He also touched on the team’s plans to shift their previous focus onto the development of their 2022 car due to a vast change in regulations that spark from a newly redesigned race car that is focused on reducing dirty air and increasing overtakes.
“It was and is a more or less never-ending process of iterative development, and, as a result, there is almost no externally visible part of our car that has not been improved in some way between Bahrain and Silverstone,” McCullough said, as quoted by F1.com. “Or, to put it another way, if a part of our car is licked by the wind, we have probably updated it at some point over the past four months.
“It is working. We know that our car is still not the fastest, but it is now closer in performance to the cars of our principal rivals than it was at the beginning of the season, and that is the result of a carefully managed programme of aero improvement that has necessarily involved trial and error but has also delivered real results.”
“It has been a very impressive body of work, and I salute my colleagues for it,” McCullough added. “However, like almost all the teams, after the summer shutdown, we will transfer that effort and resource to the task of making our 2022 car as competitive as possible.”
Vettel adds experience to the mix
Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer praised Vettel for his attitude within the team and credits him as a contributing factor to the big advancements the team has been able to make including his influence on Stroll’s performance improvements.
“Seb brings a mentality with him that that he had when he won all those races and world championships, leaving no stone unturned for performance and the methodology of how he goes about his weekend and what he’s asked of us,” Szafnauer said. “And that applies to both sides of the garage. Lance and his team have learned from Seb, and it’s lifted us.”
More on Aston Martin:
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Szafnauer also expressed his enthusiasm at the new developments being made within the unit as well as the decision to focus on the 2022 car development.
“It’s exciting building something from now through to four or five years’ time when, hopefully, we’ll be winning world championships but at the same time, it will be hard work.”
However, he has also voiced his skepticism on regulation changes that have compromised their season so far and carry the potential to do so in the season to come.
“It’s hard to know because it’s a relative game. The regulations are so radically different, that it’s hard to know what others are finding relative to us. So it’s really, really not easy. Every week we find stuff, we find significant improvements or performance every week in the tunnel. I don’t know what the others are finding, and how significant is significant, you have no basis of comparison.”