Racing is a big part of what Aston Martin does and the image it conveys. But it could soon take a big step up from GT racing to Formula One.
After taking part in an F1 engine strategy session, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer spoke with Motorsport.com about the company’s prospects of getting in on the grand prix racing action in the coming years – if the conditions are ripe.
“We sit on the periphery of F1, with the Valkyrie, and with Red Bull,” Palmer told Motorsport.com, in reference to the hypercar it’s currently developing. “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.”
There remain a number of possible ways in which Aston could move into F1. Launching its own team seems unlikely, but it could act as an engine supplier, either with Cosworth (which is also evaluating a potential return to the series) or with another partner. Palmer revealed that in addition to Aston and Cosworth, representatives of other interested parties were present at the recent strategy session – including former Mercedes engine partner Ilmor and Ricardo, which is supplying the gearbox for the Valkyrie (and helped McLaren Automotive develop and produce its engines).
“There is no certainty. We obviously have a good relationship with Cosworth,” said Palmer, but he wouldn’t rule out partnering with Ricardo or Ilmor. “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.”
Aston currently sponsors the Red Bull team (with which it’s partnered on the Valkyrie) in a similar relationship that Palmer brokered when he was chairman of Infiniti. But he hopes for deeper involvement in the future. “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,” added Palmer. “At the moment the authenticity comes through Valkyrie, and the fact that Adrian Newey is working with us. But if we can put it in the other direction, and we can find something where we can contribute technically, then I’m all in favour.”