After entering a handful of races in 1959 and 1960 but never competing in a full season, Aston Martin joined the Formula 1 grid for good in 2021, and with huge amounts of money being poured into the project with the aim of fighting for titles by 2026, they’re here to stay.
The British manufacturer’s journey back to F1 began in the summer of 2018, when Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll led a group of investors in buying cash-strapped midfield team Force India midway through the season, shortly after they entered administration.
He inherited a team with a relatively strong car, and even though they’d had all the points earned that year before his takeover taken away, they still did well enough in the final nine rounds to finish above three rivals in the final standings.
Ahead of the next campaign, he renamed the outfit Racing Point, invested a huge amount of money and replaced Esteban Ocon with his son Lance Stroll, who previously drove for Williams.
Sergio Perez was Stroll’s team-mate and comfortably the stronger of the two drivers throughout the latter’s father’s first year in charge.
The Mexican scored a total of 52 points, with most of them coming in an extremely strong end to the year in which he finished inside the top 10 in all but one of the final nine races. In five of them, he crossed the line in the top seven.
Stroll, on the other hand, only did so once all year, although that was a P4 finish in Germany that proved to be the team’s best result of the season. His final tally was 21 points.
That gave Racing Point 73 points in total and was only enough for them to finish P7 in the Constructors' Championship. In their previous form as Force India prior to the purchase, they hadn’t finished that low down the order since 2012.
Between the 2019 and 2020 seasons, speculation began to grow that Lawrence Stroll was set to purchase a large stake in Aston Martin, and at the end of January, that speculation was brought to an end.
It was announced that the Canadian had invested £182 million in the iconic brand, taking a 16.7% percent stake in return. Soon afterwards came confirmation that his F1 team would become Aston Martin in 2021.
Before that change took place, there was one final season for them to compete in as Racing Point, and it proved to be one that consisted of huge amounts of success and controversy in equal measure.
Eyebrows were raised throughout the paddock when they arrived at pre-season testing with a car that looked extremely similar to the title-winning Mercedes challenger from the previous year.
It soon became clear that it was effectively a copy of that car and was the third-fastest on the 2020 grid, much to the anger of rival teams.
In it, Sergio Perez enjoyed the best year of his career, finishing inside the top six in 9 of the 15 races he competed in, taking P2 in Turkey and getting his and his team’s first ever victory in Bahrain.
Once again, Stroll wasn’t as impressive as his team-mate, but did have some high points too, standings on the podium twice and claiming a stunning pole position in Turkey.
The team finished the year P4 in the standings and would’ve been P3 if not for a decision by the FIA to give them a points deduction of 15 points for copying parts from the 2019 Mercedes rather than designing their own.
Nevertheless, on the back of their strongest season ever, they headed into their first as Aston Martin with a lot of optimism.
That was especially the case because four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel had joined, although the decision to give him Perez’s seat rather than Stroll’s was heavily criticised and widely believed to be made only because the latter was the owner’s son.
It quickly became clear that, in a new British racing green livery, the team wasn’t as quick as they had been in 2020 with Stroll scoring five points in the first four rounds and Vettel scoring none.
Things picked up after though with the German taking P5 in Monaco before becoming the first ever Aston Martin driver to stand on the podium at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in which he finished P2.
Unfortunately for him and his colleagues, that proved to be the high point of the season by quite some way. Vettel finished P2 again in Hungary but was disqualified due to a fuel issue, and he and Stroll were only able to finish inside the top six once each after that.
The pair scored just 77 points between them over the course of the year which put the team above the three backmarkers of the grid but at the very bottom of the midfield.
Given the enormous amounts of money owner Stroll has invested, with 220 staff members being added and a new state-of-the-art factory being built as well as a wind-tunnel, he would’ve been hoping for and expecting much more.
With the ambition and financial muscle that he has though, don’t expect him to be discouraged; he still believes Aston Martin can fight for wins and titles, and will do everything in his power to make that dream a reality.
If they can handle the new regulations well, it could become so sooner rather than later.
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