Lawrence Stroll’s aim is to reach the top of F1 in 2025
The keys to success: budget, facilities, staff and pilots
Fernando Alonso will leave the Alpine “ship” at the end of this season to lead the ambitious Aston Martin project. Many fans have thrown their hands over their heads with this move, so we’re going to walk you through the keys to the “formula” Lawrence Stroll has in his hands to try to win in 2025.
Before getting to the heart of the matter, it should be noted that the ‘plans’ or ‘missions’ are not built with smoke, but with means. Having blind faith in something or someone is legal, but it can lead to disappointment. To win in F1 you need four basic pillars: money, facilities, staff able to harness those resources to make a winning car… and pilotsrelease.
Lawrence Stroll’s roadmap is to win in the 2025 season. The Canadian said during the presentation of the AMR22 that it is a five-year project and that they are on the second. But which of these four pillars does Aston Martin currently own? And for the future? This is precisely what we will try to explain in this article.
In Formula 1, as in any other activity, the economic factor plays a very important role. Without money, the other three pillars are diluted. In the past, before the budget limit arrived, it was even more important, but today a team that wants to be a winner must have at least these $141.2 million which initially marked the limit.
We’ve always said that you don’t win in Formula 1 if you don’t invest as much or more than your rivals. In the limit time, you must at least invest as much as them. And most of the teams play in this limit league. Aston Martin is one of them, without going any further. On the other side of the scale, one of the teams operating below the limit was… Alpine!
This became evident when the “big guys” asked to adjust the budget ceiling due to inflation. There were four teams that were against at the start: Alpine, Haas, Alfa Romeo and Williams. These four squads, having run out of money, were only going to see how the economic gap increased compared to the rest. But finally the FIA accepted increase the budget limit by 3.1%.
It should be noted that Aston Martin is not going through its best time as an automotive brand. In reality, last year it closed with losses of nearly £190million. But the Formula 1 team benefits from a good portfolio of sponsors – it is the only one to have two “title sponsors” like Aramco and Cognizant – and, in addition, the entry in mid-July of the sovereign fund of Arabia Saudi Arabia in the ownership of the mark.
With the question of money resolved, the foundations of this structure rest on the presence of state-of-the-art facilities and the personnel capable of operating them. In this situation, Lawrence Stroll ordered to build a new base for the team which should be completed in 2023 and which, according to Aston Martin’s press release, will be the first “smart” factory in Formula 1.
It will be a factory – Britain’s first completely new for 17 years, as it will remain very close to the Silverstone circuit – made up of three buildings that will emerge from the hands of a state-of-the-art wind-tunnel builder and also a new simulator. Remember that the team is currently using the Mercedes tunnel.
The entire base, with the wind tunnel and simulator included, may not be fully operational until the second half of 2023, hence Lawrence Stroll’s roadmap. reach the top of Formula 1 in 2025. To speak of 2024 as the year to win would perhaps be too hasty and too much pressure on the shoulders of a staff who will have to adapt to the new facilities.
Speaking of personnel, which is another essential ingredient in the recipe for success, it should be remembered that Aston Martin has been greatly strengthened in recent times. Not only did they name a winner like Martin Whitmarsh at the helm of Aston Martin Performance Technologies, but they also “fished” in big teams like Red Bull or Mercedes. The key is in five signatures:
- Mike Krak: After the departure of Otmar Szafnauer, Aston Martin found in Mike Krack a guarantee manager for its project. With experience in Formula 1 as chief engineer at BMW Sauber and also immersed in other types of successful programs, such as Porsche and its 919 Hybrid, the Luxembourger wants to do like Andreas Seidl at McLaren and lead the team on the right track.
- Dan Fallows: This has perhaps been one of the most controversial episodes in recent times when it comes to off-trail activity. After an intense ‘duel’, those at Silverstone ‘stole’ Red Bull’s aerodynamics chief and he started working as Aston Martin’s technical director on April 2. Do you know the Spanish GP upgrade package or the new rear wing solution? We don’t know if it has anything to do with it, but it’s a curious coincidence.
- Andre Alessi: It was not as famous as the arrival of Dan Fallows, but Andrew Alessi also comes from Red Bull and already acts as Technical Operations Manager for Lawrence Stroll’s formation.
- Eric Blandin: Another of Aston Martin’s big additions comes from Mercedes. Eric Blandin was the star marque’s head of aerodynamics and, sure, he’ll have some great ideas for comparing concepts with Fallows, Alessi and company. He is expected to join the team in October this year.
- Luca Furbatto: finally, another of the great recruits is that of a Luca Furbatto who already occupies the post of director of engineering at Aston Martin. He comes from Alfa Romeo, but has also come through other teams in the past, including McLaren.
In addition to these five big names, the management of the British team have announced that they will be hiring over a hundred people by the time the new factory is fully ready. It was Otmar Szafnauer himself who was responsible for revealing it… before abandoning the project of going to Alpine at the start of the season.
Of course, it’s possible for such an exciting template to leave it at that, in a pure illusion. Let’s not forget that the McLaren-Honda project also had a Red Bull engineer like Peter Prodromou as one of its main assets. It is impossible to predict the future, but it is always better to lay the foundations and draw up a medium-long term plan than to devote all your energy to speaking.
HUNGER TODAY, BREAD FOR TOMORROW
Yes, it’s true that the Silverstone-based team is off-peak. Far is that 2020 season -still under the name of Racing Point- in which they seemed to have the third best car with the famous “pink Mercedes” and finished fourth in the constructors’ championship, since this year, they are only ahead of Williams.
But, depending on current regulations, today’s hunger may be tomorrow’s “feast”. Position in the Constructors’ Championship dictates the wind tunnel time each team hasand in this sense Aston Martin is in a favorable position for 2023, it is not in vain that it will have more time in the tunnel than its direct rivals.
It must also be said that Aston Martin revealed in Fernando Alonso’s signing statement that they had a group dedicated to next year’s car. “The team has a new direction focused on the development of the AMR23, and we are all excited that our projects will benefit from the knowledge and experience that Fernando will bring,” said Mike Krack.
In other words, the British team will not only have more time in the wind tunnel than their rivals and the necessary money to spend, but they will also be able to focus on the 2023 car that awaits them. While Alpine, McLaren or Alfa Romeo spend their resources to secure fourth place in this year’s Constructors’ Championship, at Aston Martin they could bet on giving Fernando Alonso a decent car in 2023. Decent means being in this fight to lead the middle group. “Miracles”, at least in the short term, do not exist.
THE CUSTOMER LESS CUSTOMER
Being a client team is something that has led many to immediate disappointment. “You can’t win as a Mercedes customer”, I’ve read more than once lately. And it is true that it would be very difficult for any customer to do so, but perhaps some have forgotten that a percentage of Aston Martin shares are in the hands of Mercedes-Benz.
Yes, in October 2020 an agreement was formalized by the two companies: on the one hand, Aston Martin would have access to a series of Mercedes-Benz technologies; In return, Mercedes-Benz would increase from 2.6% of Aston Martin’s shareholding to a gradual increase. up to a maximum of 20% over the following three years.
In other words, the success of those at Silverstone would benefit the star’s brand. Formula 1 safety car deal –from 2021 they take turns between Mercedes and Aston Martin– is a good proof of the relationship between the two brands. Additionally, the FIA has made it clear in the past that customers should receive the same hardware as the engine manufacturer…although the “software” is where the controversy lay.
Another remarkable fact in this section is the glorious era of Red Bull over the past decade. Let’s remember that Renault was still involved in Formula 1 with an official team when, in 2010, the domination of the energy drink brand began. Even if it’s very complicated, a client team can win…and even more so when the engines are “frozen” until the end of 2025for the rest of the car to become more important and, hand in hand with Fallows, Blandin and company, this is where Aston Martin wants to shine.
THE CAPTAIN OF THE SHIP
With all these ingredients, Aston Martin needed a leader to guide the project. A dedicated pilot who knows the techniques needed to reach the top. This is the fourth fundamental pillar for success, because none of this would make sense without a driver who can squeeze the car and withstand the pressure of fighting for the World Championship.
They wanted to confide in Sebastian Vettel, but it seems that the quadruple champion’s activism did not “marry” with a car brand bathed in Saudi oil money. Signing a contract in Formula 1 is not a one-day thing. Do you remember the entry of Saudi Arabia into the shareholding of Aston Martin in mid-July? Why would they want to pour more money into a brand that is spearheading a pilot that goes against their interests? Maybe, and just maybe, Stroll and Alonso were already “engaged.”
Alonso’s contract is said to be ‘1+1+1’ with the relevant clauses, so he would have the option to choose year after year and, if he is happy, he could reach 2025 – the year key, in that they want to win – from the hand of Aston Martin. But will Fernando Alonso arrive in a position to fight for a title at 44? There’s another big unknown.
Of course, we don’t know today if this ship is heading in the right direction or if its captain will be able to bring it back to a safe harbor when the time comes, but we can assume that Fernando Alonso, at 41, still performs at a very high level and he has the motivation to lead a project that, at least, wants to be a winner in 2025. Alpine didn’t want to see it. Time will tell who made the best decision.