Could Aston Martin spread its wings into F1 from 2021?
Innovation
Posted By: Editor   |  26 Jul 2017   |  11:48 am GMT  |  78 comments

Aston Martin’s presence at recent meetings between the FIA and Formula 1 manufacturers has raised questions about whether the marque could be considering an entry into the elite motorsport series from 2021.

The FIA’s engine Working Group met in early July to shape the future engine rules of F1, with Volkswagen/Audi Group representatives also present alongside those of current F1 teams and Aston Martin and Cosworth executives.

Sources with knowledge of the organisation have indicated that if the VAG Group was to enter F1 it would be with the Porsche brand, rather than Audi.

But the presence of Aston Martin is interesting. The company is small in comparison with other manufacturers orbiting F1 and is currently involved via its sponsorship of the Red Bull Racing team. Aston has earnings of £593.5m in 2016, compared to £2.7 billion for Ferrari, its main rival as a small volume luxury car brand.

Aston CEO Andy Palmer is a huge supporter of F1; he brought the Infiniti brand into the sport with Red Bull when they won four consecutive world championships and once he moved to Aston he was quick to partner again with the team and to encourage the joint development of a super car, with input from Red Bull design genius Adrian Newey.

Palmer told Autosport before the Hungarian Grand Prix that Aston could well enter F1 in the near future – but only if the costs are contained.

“There’s always that question, would you want to enter as a team?,” said Palmer (below, with Christian Horner and David Coulthard) to Autosport.

“Our major competitor is Ferrari, so in that sense there’s a rationale in being involved in some way.

“But for a company that’s only just moved to making a profit we don’t have the 350-400 million a year that you have to spend on F1.”

“If – and it really is the big if – there is a cap put on the number of people or the amount of money that you can spend on developing a new engine, and it’s at a reasonable level, we have a good reason to study it.

“At the moment there are lots of opinions, and it’s still morphing into whatever the final idea will be.”

The meeting, which took place on July 5, allowed the FIA to take a wide range of views from current and prospective F1 teams in order to formulate the future F1 engine regulations. The next Working Group is scheduled for September before the World Motor Sport Council meets on September 21.

“[The meetings are] definitely going in the right way,” continued Palmer.

“Clearly everybody accepts that you need more theatre in F1, you need more noise, you don’t want to restrict too much of the performance, but you have to bring the costs of entry down.

“I don’t think there’s anybody in the room that disagreed with that. But the debate is, ‘How?’

“The FIA will say, ‘Why don’t you remove this?,’ and half the crowd will say, ‘No you can’t do that.'”

A return for Cosworth?

Cosworth’s representation at the Working Group has catalysed rumours of a return to F1 for the historically prolific manufacturer. Furthermore, Aston’s development of the Valkyrie road car – which Red Bull Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newery is working on – uses a Cosworth engine.

“We obviously have a good relationship with Cosworth, and if you’re trying to create a relationship which says ‘Valkyrie, F1, by the way when you buy your £150,000 Aston there’s something in the bloodline,’ then obviously it makes sense to try and bring it all together,” said Palmer.

“That doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t consider for example Ricardo [supplier of the Valkyrie gearbox], who were at the meeting, or Ilmor, who were at the meeting.

“We were all listening. We’ve talked about what might be with various parties, but we haven’t decided.

“Hopefully it will be clearer in September, and that will allow us to make a proper decision.”

Palmer maintained that sponsorship is never enough and Aston wants to get involved with more than just a logo.

“I’ve never been a fan of just simple sponsorship. I always try to get some degree of authenticity, and the more authenticity the better really,” he said.

Cosworth’s last competed in F1 with Marussia in 2013 and CEO Hal Reisiger told Autosport that the company is optimistic regarding a return.

“We think we are well suited to come back into F1 if the engine regulations should change, and the compelling change has to be with the heat energy recovery [from the turbo] because that is the most expensive and time-consuming element,” he said.

“If F1 wants a new engine supplier for 2021 there will have to be some changes on that front.

“We would typically start in 2018 [for a 2021 comeback]. I know there is some discussion about moving it ahead by a year, and that would mean working really soon.”

The Formula E option

Aston’s sportscar operations are, of course, cheaper and more representative of its work on road cars than F1 could be. At the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours, its V8 Vantage GTE team took a class victory on the final lap.

There was an attempt to produce a prototype car but the Aston Martin AMR-One never took part in endurance racing and the manufacturer focused on its GT operation instead.

But, with electrification looming for the car industry, carmakers are shifting to motorsports which will aid their road-car operations. Notably, Mercedes announced that it will quit the DTM  in 2018 with a shift to Formula E, leaving Audi and BMW to evaluate their own futures in the German touring car series.

If Aston Martin is to protect and grow its valuable brand, F1 could well help those attempts but costs are still a huge issue with 2016 season budgets ranging from around £80m to £330m for the most wealthy team (Ferrari), according to various sources.

FE, on the other hand, caps its budgets at around £2.5 million, and its focus on pure electrification is a very attractive one for manufacturers. Williams Advanced Engineering already makes batteries for the 42 electric cars competing in FE, having used its KERS expertise from F1 and transferred the knowledge into FE.

Moreover, WAE’s electrics have been used in Aston’s all-electric RapidE concept car which is poised to enter production from 2019.

“This project with Aston Martin will draw on the extensive battery and EV experience we have accumulated and we are extremely pleased to be supporting this prestigious British company with their future electrification strategy,” said WAE Technical Director, Paul McNamara, in June.

Aston does indeed have its sights set on zero-emission performance vehicles, and F1’s cost of entry is verging on prohibitive for the marque. Indeed, FE might be the route Aston Martin takes if that ‘big if’ of F1 entry and season costs remains.

Have your say on Aston Martin’s potential Formula 1 entry in the comment section below.

 

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1

Aston Martin’s GT racing program is now successful and they should continue in this type of racing just as Porsche and Ferrari and Corvette do. Formula E has a magnetic draw for auto manufacturers now because it develops the powertrains of the future for road cars and this is a much better use of A.M.’s resources than F1.

2

Whilst it would be good to see the iconic brand of Aston Martin competing in the pinnacle of motorsport, I have severe doubts that F1 will be that pinnacle much longer. Mercedes & Porsche heading to FE sets the scene!

3

yeiiii!!!! more teams for the back of the grid!!!!!

sad.

4
Clarks4WheelDrift

Porsche have quit LMP1, leaving only Toyota, will they go too?

Porsche are apparently having to recall a load of vehicles due to the emissions software issue in Germany.

Can’t see them/VW going anywhere near F1 with this, and FE marketing and Merc spending domination and Honda/Renault failures.

What happens to LMP1 with their uncertainty over new 2020 cars etc could be mirrored in F1 unless Liberty waken up and start dealing with the PU complexity issues right now.

5
Clarks4WheelDrift

Way off in 2021, Ferrari could be the only team supplying PUs left in F1. Maybe then Aston can maniplate a deal suitable for their budget, where Ferrari don’t get a $100m historic team head start. An old school team, focused on wheel to wheel racing.

The Mercedes PU and ongoing dominance is killing F1, all for the fatcat Mercedes boardroom sales and marketing figures. Then they’ll waltz off to FE or some such formula they can buy and control that suits their newest patronising, fake marketing fluff.

Or maybe Ferrari will go full marketing electric green and follow Mercedes also. I guess the first sign of this nightmare will be if Ferrari make an ugly SUV like Porsche did…

6

Dear Santa….

7

Any programme whose starting premise is that the entry will only proceed based on cost controls within the sport is naïve and doomed to failure.

8

At the very least.. I expect them to have the most BEAUTIFUL LIVERY !!

Doesnt matter if it wins race right from the start, but it should Always look awesome visually while being reliable.

9

Zero chance for them to be competitive.

10
Christopher Fox

How about a Williams/Aston Martin F1 car. Cosworth could build the engine for Aston and Williams can provide the rest. I think Aston are too small a company to have a team in F1. It would be much easier for them to partner with a current F1 team. Red Bull will probably go with a VAG engine instead. An Austrian/German partnership.

11

Those wings of Aston Martin symbol go well with RedBull. They will give each other wings.

12

Only possibility of Aston Martin getting into F1 would be if budgets were limited to 70-80 million annually. The usual suspects may compromise on “heritage payments” so small teams get more money from F1 group but no way they give financial parity to them. Teams like Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull are similar to Real Madrid, Man Utd and Barcelona in that they attract the most support from fans, partners and even individuals wanting to work for the teams. That alone makes them worth more than Renault, Haas, Sauber, and any newcomers who feel they can compete in the coming years.

13

I find it hard to see the stratospheric costs coming down enough for Aston and Cosworth; sure their manufacturers but at the garagesta end of it. Can they really carry the brand and budget risk as far as the bit hitters of Mercedes Renault Honda and Ferrari. If Honda, even considering they’re insular and distant, cant make it go are Aston gonna just walk in the door and come out looking good?
Unfortunately I doubt it, much as Id love to see them put it over the big guns…

14

I am not sure how this would work.

If my sources are correct AMG currently supply engines to Aston Martin road cars and Mercedes supply other electronic components.
Could they be jeopardising their road car project.

I think they are too small to have their own team and their attendance at the meetings are oportunistic publicity.

They can barely afford to make their road cars much less field an F1 team.

15

They have got to get this road car relevance out of their mindset,I mean there is no comparison as we are not allowed to speed in public.We want entertainment and alot of noise.

16

Attend a couple of meetings, make a few statements of intent and Aston Martin have got themselves acres of free publicity. At best, Aston Martin can only provide a badge for a F1 engine made by Cosworth or Mercedes who supply the engines for their road cars. Aston Martin have nothing to offer F1 other than money and there won’t be a lot of that.

There may be several manufacturers attending the FOM/FIA engine meetings, but as time goes the wasters will drop out, as VW did when the discussions about the current engine design were being made. I’d not put it past Red Bull playing politics, with their ‘friends’ attempting to obtain a design that suits their own ends.

17

All adds up to one thing really – slow news day.

The summer shut down has commenced early. Shame.

18

Very slow news day. Things will go better tomorrow.

19

Credit to the FIA’s engine Working Group for bringing this together at this time

20

i wish Aston martyn and Illion make a joint venture to provide engine to RedBull, Williams, Force India. While Mc’Laren improves with Honda…. I fed up by seing one or two trams dominating F1

21

C’mon, you’ve got to admit they’re fast trams though…

22

In the end, Aston will find Formula 1 is too expensive, the return on investment too small.

23

“There was an attempt to produce a prototype car but the Aston Martin AMR-One never took part in endurance racing and the manufacturer focused on its GT operation instead.”

Erm – not true!!

Aston had the DBR1-2 (a gorgeous car) and then the AMR-1.. both raced at Le Mans and a few WEC races but were uncompetitive..

24

Mercedes invested hundred of millions in the current dominant hybrid F1 engine. That is hundred of millions for a power unit concept that will be discontinued in its current form after 6 years in 2020! For a company like Aston Martin (2016 operating income of £16M on £600M in revenue) that looks like a suicide mission. I suspect they will only join if they can get Red Bull to pickup the tab, but that will lead to the other question, what benefit would this have for Aston Martin since RBR marketing would drown out any benefit from that effort. Their money would be better spent on James Bond’s next DB model than the money, effort and time on F1. I bet you right now Honda wishes they were never seduced by Ron Dennis and McLaren’s dream of past glory.

25

But don’t you see the James Bond movie in around 2020 his car will be an F1 car that AM will make to take out the ones from that North Korean team. Both teams will have some extra features like maybe a mini gun and flame throwers and oil slicks.

Maybe it will be robotic battle cars by then. Who knows?

Cost of engines need to come down period for the same of the sport.

26

Mercedes pushed for it and how road relevant is that PU? Has Mercedes become a hybrid car force in the marketplace? Has any of this PU junk made its way to the consumer or been beneficial to the planet in any way?

27

Sebee, they didn’t push as hard as Renault, but they did want the PU. Are Mercedes a force in hybrid road cars? Absolutely. Has anythi filtered down from the PUs yet? They say so, and you don’t know any different.

28

According to a Daimler Benz report they launchose – on average – 1 new hybrid engine every 4 months and they currently have ten models available. This is only going to increase so it made sense for them to push for the techmology in F1.

29

Sorry I forgot – AMG Hyper-Sportscar expected in the market in 2019 with modified current F1 engine. Most likely to hit market in 2020-2021 year when the NEW F1 engine is approved to protect secrets and IP.

That is two models in commercial design right now. So yes there is bleed through to the real world.

Is it beneficial – what could be worse than the catastrophe crude oil politics has unleashed on our planet? Look how crude oil dollars are spreading discrimination, hatred and violence the world over. Anything that breaks that political fever would be the biggest positive regardless of cost. I bet you the good people of Latin and South America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, etc. wake up on some days wishing they had less oil and more transparency of government. Hell, I am sure there are times the people right here in the USA wish they had less oil exploration in their lives to protect parts of their environment.

30

Yeah I want one.

31

Mercedes Benz EQ Power Plus SUV in US expected by MBUSA market in 2020 for sale in 2021!

32

Mercedes EQ Power SUV will be 100% electric first in 2019. But eventually perhaps they will have a hybrid. It will co-brand on this EQ + genius branding idea. But you can be sure it will have zero in common to the specialized F1 PU and I bet it will sell like old milk by 2021 in hybrid form. 2021 there is a 90% chance or better Apple car arrives. Just like you see all execs rock Apple watch now and Apple bettered Rolex revenue by 1.5m in first year and is on track to double it this year, you’ll see what it does to these “luxury” brand cars. It will eat them alive along with their share.

That hyper car is a homolgomation like stunt, in such small quantities that it makes no difference to the world. Actually, the planet would be better without those cars, 230 or whatever it is, if you think about it. It’s a pure marketing/branding stunt. Nothing road relevant has come out of PUs.

Toyota owns 75% of hybrid market without being in F1 or having developed any PUs and were shipping hybrids during nearly the entire V10 era. And guess what? Toyota just announced solid state batteries with improved capacity and safety. No thanks to F1. I’m getting nice and tired about how F1 has done anything at all for this hybrid hype. Combined, F1 has produced excess unnecessary hybrid vehicles and total combined hybrid unit sales of F1 PU supplier brands are a fart into a hurricane. As I told you between different models and brands Toyota owns 75% share of hybrid.

Red Bull Tag Hauer has shipped as many hybrid cars as Mercedes AMG to date for example. That says it all, doesn’t it?

33

Red bull shipped as many hybrids as Mercedes?! Maybe you would like to explain that statement.

34

Why do we keep calling the current F1 technology SPECIALIZED? There is nothing specialized about F1 hybrid technology – which, by the way, is the only REAL argument for abandoning hybrid cars! The ICU (if we are to believe the technical rumors) is a fusion of diesel and multi-valve technology, the turbos units are old school, kinetic energy and brake by wire has been around for years. Finally, lithium ion battery technology is so old it is laughable to even think it is new. The ONLY special thing is that Formula 1 is the only branch of motorsport that force the adoption of those technologies into one racing platform. So your argument that F1 does not benefit standard vehicle production is irrelevant. The only philosophical debate we are having is should any sport be part of a car company’s R&D budget or should any sports exist simply for pure sense of competition. My argument will always be in today’s business climate you cannot separate the two. If you want money from car companies you have to accept car companies will participate only to further their commercial interests. If you want purity of competition, then ban the commercialization of motorsports and hope that fans will find you in the obscurity of alternative TV broadcasting.

35
Carlos Marques

I fear Aston would be yet another struggling team at the back of the grid trying to survive financially from race to race never accomplishing anything (save for an occasional wet race). Like many before them, Aston will damage their name & brand if they join F1.

I think it’s a lot cheaper to buy some stickers and ask Red Bull to stick them to their (mighty successful) race cars.

36

they’re more likely to supply redbull with engines…

37

Just get rid of the turbo in the current powertrain – noise solved & engine simplified. it could hardly be argued that turbos need significant development, although I’m sure they can be, because they have been around for decades. MGU-H is also potentially removable to simplify the engine but this is an interesting technology.

38

Or use a control MGU-h … all the teams use the Merc turbo and MGU since it works reliably.
Just like they all use McLaren’s ECU

39

Cosworth back in the fold and new teams a possibility. Some perspective for the future and some possible relief to the pressure for seats from up and coming drivers in all of those development channels. Some things to look forward with as development continues.

We can only hope that there is a practical and effective solution to the cost barriers which do not include grid penalties and other artificial means of purported containment. Oh, and maybe some cost-related direction on the aero parts as well so we can have a better chance of seeing the on-track application of driver skills ?

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