Aston Martin CEO and Team Principal, Otmar Szafnauer has spoken out on the privilege of representing a ‘iconic brand’ in Formula One as the team prepares to make its comeback this season.
Aston Martin announced their return to F1 last January after Racing Point owner, Lawrence Stroll brought a major stake in the company, which paved the way for the car brand’s return to F1 after a 61 year absence.
Speaking on racing under the Aston Martin brand, Szafnauer said; “Representing such an iconic brand is a huge privilege for every member of the team.
“It might sound daunting, but we’ve been competing in Formula One [under various names of Force India and Racing Point plus etc.], winning races and taking podiums along the way – often against the odds.”
Last season saw mixed fortunes as a 15 point deduction for alleged cheating cost them third in the Constructors’ championship but Lance Stroll secured pole for the Turkish Grand Prix, before Sergio Perez clinched his maiden F1 win in Sakhir, Bahrain, despite losing his seat to Sebastian Vettel.
On replacing Perez with a four-time champion in Vettel, Szafnauer stated that the latter’s ‘experience of helping teams become race-winning’ with his ‘winning mentality’ makes him ‘an important signing’ for Aston Martin as they begin their journey back into F1.
The 56 year-old also spoke of his belief that Vettel will help extract more of Stroll’s potential, saying; “We also think Sebastian will bring out the best in Lance, with Lance pushing Sebastian hard in return, so we’re delighted with our 2021 line-up.
“It’s the ideal blend of experience, race-winning knowhow, and raw talent.”
Szafnauer consequently feels that the team’s ‘well-deserved reputation for punching above our weight’ plus blend of youth and experience will enable them to do a ‘proud’ job under the famous Aston Martin brand.
On whether we can see differences in this era compared to previous, Szafnauer spoke of ‘fresh investment’ and experience as being important ingredients already in place to boost ambitions of challenging for podiums and race victories.
A new factory is also set to be ready for use by late 2022 whilst their new title sponsor – Cognizant will ‘add value in all areas of our IT operations’ and benefit the team’s on-track performance.
Szafnauer however pointed to ‘creative minds’ mixed with ‘can-do spirit’ and ‘true racers’ mentality’ as adding extra energy to the team and excitement about the future as F1 prepares for massive rule changes next season.
Aston Martin’s return however comes amidst a time when the world is in the grip of a Coronavirus pandemic and F1 endured a cramped calendar in 2020, with Szafnauer describing the challenge of preparing the team for this new era as “a mammoth task.”
Szafnauer however expressed his pride at how ‘extremely proud’ everyone within Aston Martin should be of retaining the team’s ‘strong backbone’ which has seen the team adapt to preparing for this new era in terms of both digital and racing operations.
Aston Martin’s new livery however won’t be officially launched alongside a first look at their new driver line-up until March in part due to ‘condensed’ timelines, although Szafnauer acknowledged the ‘adaptable and hard-working’ approach of staff at the team during these tough times.
Szafnauer’s ultimate focus though is on next season despite aiming for more success this season which sees a technical regulation overhaul, saying; “… we hope to see it pay off in 2021 before we then look to prepare for Formula 1’s new era in 2022.”