Aston Martin and Force India to Sign F1 Deal for 2016
About five months ago, there were rumors that Aston Martin was looking to return to Formula One as a brand partner with one of the teams using Mercedes-AMG power units. Red Bull Racing, Williams and Force India were among the candidates according to reports. Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer, however, said such a scenario was "improbable".
Now, Autosport reports that the Force India "is closing on a deal to be rebranded as Aston Martin Racing next season." The news comes straight from Force India team principal Vijay Mallya, who confirmed talks with the British car maker.
"If tomorrow someone comes and offers me a good sum of money for title sponsorship, I’ll seek the team name. If the marque comes along and I have to change the team name, I have to look at what it does for the team in terms of profile," Mallya said. "It’s premature to talk about it now, but we’re talking. Nothing is done until it’s done. I don’t like to count my chickens until they are hatched."
The outlet also said that Mercedes-AMG, which owns five percent of Aston Martin, has given its blessing for the tie-up. Moreover, the arrangement would also include a sponsorship link-up with Johnnie Walker, which would change the team’s livery to blue and gold. Should an agreement be signed, Aston Martin will return to Formula One in 2016 after a 55-year hiatus.
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Why it matters
With Aston Martin currently looking to overhaul its lineup with a new platform, AMG-sourced engines, and even an SUV, it’s not surprising that the Brits want to have a presence in F1 as well. Though the Aston Martin badge won’t be more than just a logo on a single-seater — pretty much what Infiniti is to Red Bull Racing — its presence on F1 tracks will help raise their brand awareness.
With Aston Martin aiming to compete against premium sports car manufacturers such as Ferrari and McLaren, it needs all the exposure it can get right now, and Formula One is the right way to go. Furthermore, such a deal could also allow it to transfer technology developed for F1 to its road car business, which could mean potent hybrid drivetrains, enhanced aerodynamics, and innovative technology.
Aston Martin in Formula 1
Although it started life as a race car builder, Aston Martin had only a brief stint in Formula 1. The Brits made their debut during the 1959 season with the DBR4, a car designed by Ted Cutting (who also engineered the DBR1, winner of the 1959 Le Mans) and powered by a 2.5-liter straight-six engine. Its first race was the Dutch Grand Prix, where both Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby retired. The couple raced three more events, with Salvadori finishing sixth on two occasions. The team, however, failed to score any points.
For 1960, Aston Martin returned with the DBR5. Lighter and smaller than its predecessor, the DBR5 was supposed to be quicker too. It didn’t live up to expectations, however, and was ultimately less successful than the DBR4. Roy Salvadori and Maurice Trintignant finished only three races (with disappointing results) and retired five times. Poor results prompted Aston Martin to abandon Formula 1 to concentrate on sports car racing.