Aston Martin has taken the wraps off its first F1 car in over six decades, the AMR21. This season will see the team – formerly known as Racing Point and now operating as Aston Martin’s works outfit – pairing four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel with Lance Stroll.
Read on to find out more about the AMR21 and what Aston Martin’s targets are for the 2021 F1 season.
Aston Martin AMR21 sports British racing green livery
Vettel and Stroll will race for the team
F1 tech will be used to develop Aston Martin’s future mid-engined sportscars
Aston Martin AMR21 F1 racer
The new AMR21 carries Aston Martin’s traditional racing colours, sporting a British racing green livery. Hints of pink yet remain, with a magenta stripe running down the side in reference to the team’s partner BWT. American IT giant Cognizant comes on board as the team’s new title partner. As for the power unit, the team will continue using Mercedes power.
Racing Point finished last year’s championship in 4th place, losing out to McLaren after running into reliability issues towards the end of the season. Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer wants to further improve on that and is targeting a top three result. Speaking during a media session, he outlined the team’s goals for 2021: “We want to have multiple podiums in 2021.Our aggressive targets are to be best of the rest.”
“We lost out to McLaren late last year; we had a couple of late engine failures which cost us third place in the championship. We want to make good on the performance of the car. So our objectives are that we’re the third fastest car on the grid.”
“And actually, with the third fastest car like we were last year, [we have to] use that and become more consistent to score more points and beat the likes of McLaren, Ferrari and Renault again,” he added.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 cars have largely been carried over into this season. However, a number of changes have been made to the aerodynamic rules to keep downforce in check. Szafnauer believes this year’s order will largely be determined by which teams do the best job of adapting to these changes: “The teams that are going to do the best are those who claw back most of the downforce over the winter.”
AMR21 should be better suited to Vettel’s driving style
Sebastian Vettel moves to Aston Martin this year, hoping to revive his career after a difficult few years with Ferrari. While testing yet has to get underway, Szafnauer says having a multiple-time world champion on board is already making a difference.
“We have one focus and that’s doing the best that we can on track. And Sebastian is very much the same. He’s very similar in attitude, in work ethic, in leaving no stone unturned and looking at every little detail to make sure that all the details are in place for us to go faster on track,” he says.
“He asks a lot of questions – good questions. He makes us think about the processes we have in place, how we go about our work and every day, can you improve, can you do something different, that’s a bit better? So he brings that to the team from a driver’s perspective.”
In the past, Vettel has shown that he really thrives when the rear-end of his car is firmly planted. And Szafnauer believes the AMR21 will be much better suited to the German’s driving style: “I think our car over the last few years has come along significantly in that area and I think we definitely have a stable rear-end for him.”
As part of the rules, teams can only make limited changes to their cars under a token system. Benefitting from a loophole in this, outfits like Aston Martin, who used 2019 non-listed parts supplied by another team, can switch to the 2020-spec parts without spending any tokens. This means Aston Martin can upgrade to the 2020 Mercedes rear suspension, which was significantly redesigned last year to improve airflow.
F1 tech to help develop future Aston Martin models
The AMR21 is Aston Martin’s first works F1 car since Maurice Trintignant’s DBR5 crossed the finish line at Silverstone in 1960. When asked about why the brand has decided to focus its motorsport efforts on F1 instead of other series like the World Endurance Championship’s new Le Mans Hypercar class, Aston Martin’s Chief Creative Officer Mareck Reichman had one simply answer: “I think we have to be at the pinnacle of motorsport.”
“We’re there because we believe it’s the right place for our brand to be and it’s the right platform in terms of our future product strategy, the mid-engine programme” he adds.
With Aston Martin shifting its focus to the mid-engine segment, the F1 team will act as an innovation lab for the brand’s future road car technologies. These will include a range of mid-engined sportscars, inspired by the Valkyrie, which will become central to the product portfolio through the next decade.
Rechman adds: “F1 in terms of that [the car’s] particular layout is exactly what a mid-engine car is. The whole point is that we are there, being represented every weekend with a car which is a derivative of that particular layout,”
“It’s a platform that’s viewed by fans, people who enjoy the competitive nature of motorsport, but most importantly technology, because it’s the pinnacle of technology. And we will transfer some of that technology in percentages down into our road cars as well. If you are able to see a Valkyrie soon, you will see those direct relationships with the F1 car and that will filter down into the Valhalla and then into the Vanquish.”
2021 F1 season
The team’s journey makes for an incredible story. It wasn’t too long ago that the Vijay Mallya-owned Force India was on the brink of bankruptcy, before a consortium led by Canadian businessman Lawrence Stroll (father of Lance Stroll) took over ownership of the team.
Force India was always known for being proficient, often battling it out with teams running on a far greater budget. And Racing Point continued that trend. Their 2020 F1 challenger, the RP20 (dubbed the ‘Pink Mercedes’ for its striking resemblance to the 2019 Mercedes) may have divided opinion. But you have to give credit where it’s due – the fact that Racing Point were able to extract that sort of performance out of the RP20, beating out the likes of Ferrari, was impressive.
With the Aston Martin rebranding, the team finally has the sort of backing and finances it has been looking for. Combined with a world champion driver, they certainly have all the right ingredients, but only time will tell if they will emerge as a genuine F1 title contender in the future.
Pre-season testing gets underway at the Bahrain International Circuit on March 12-14, two weeks before the season-opening Bahrain GP at the same venue on March 28. You can head here to check out the full revised calendar.
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