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Why Aston Martin will aim to banish demons of Formula 1 history

Why Aston Martin will aim to banish demons of Formula 1 history

F1 News

Why Aston Martin will aim to banish demons of Formula 1 history

Why Aston Martin will aim to banish demons of Formula 1 history

Aston Martin will return to the Formula 1 grid this season hoping to build on the performances of predecessor Racing Point rather than its own history in the sport.

The team, taken over from Force India by a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll in August 2018, claimed a maiden victory last season ahead of the transition to the luxury car manufacturer from this year.

But what many may not be aware of is its disastrous maiden foray into F1 over 60 years ago, which failed to materialise into a full-blown tilt at the big guns of the sport.

So let's take a look back at Aston Martin's doomed assault into the top tier of racing.

Joining Formula 1

Aston Martin Lagonda, led by Sir David Brown, produced some exceptional sports cars to compete in the classic endurance races in the late 1940s and 1950s.

The marque took victory in the Spa 24 Hours in 1948 and challenged throughout the 50s for the Le Mans 24 Hours, only to be beaten by Ferrari, Mercedes and the mighty D-type Jaguar.

The competitiveness displayed at the great French race, however, led Brown to develop the manufacturer's first F1 car - the DBR4 - alongside the DBR1 sportscar for its endurance endeavours.

1959 -1960 - the Formula 1 years

Brown knew he could not compete toe-to-toe with the Maseratis and Ferraris of the world due to a vast gulf in resources, so developing the two cars at the same time - in theory - would allow Aston Martin to gain some advantage.

Sadly, this proved not to be the case and instead was its undoing. Development on the DBR4 began in 1957 but the car did not appear on a Formula 1 grid until 1959 as focused shifted to the DBR1.

Whilst the sportscar finally took Le Mans glory that season at the hands of Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby, with team-mates Paul Frere and Maurice Trintignant following home second, the F1 car was a flop.

Fundamentally, the team had built a good car in the DBR4. Salvadori drove it to second on debut at a non-championship event at Silverstone. But by the time it raced in a recognised grand prix, the front-engine design was outdated and relatively uncompetitive.

Two sixth-place finishes for Salvadori were the best the team could muster in only four starts, whilst the DBR5 built for 1960 - an evolution of the DBR4 - only took to the grid once, with Trintignant placing 11th. The F1 project was immediately shelved.

2016-2020 - Return with Red Bull

Prodrive - and former BAR - boss David Richards, who at the time was Aston Martin chairman, pushed for entry into the championship for the 2010 season, though was not chosen for a place on the grid.

In 2016, Aston Martin finally returned to F1 as a partner to Red Bull Racing. Although there was no technical partnership in the sport, designer Adrian Newey was part of a Red Bull influence in the development of the Valkyrie hypercar.

In 2018, Aston Martin then became the title sponsor of the team, overseeing victories courtesy of Max Verstappen, though championships have been out of reach such has been Mercedes dominance.

2021 - Stroll to lead push for greatness

Since Stroll's consortium took over from Force India, Racing Point has flourished with the influx of funds. The team had always been famous for its underdog capabilities, but with backing and the handy - though controversial - design philosophy for 2020, the team emerged as challengers to the top two.

Podiums at the Italian and Turkish Grands Prix were followed by a first victory for the team courtesy of Sergio Perez, whilst Lance Stroll completed a maiden double-podium in Sakhir.

With Stroll senior bringing in the Aston Martin name, alongside four-time champion Sebastian Vettel to partner Lance and IT company Cognizant as title partner ahead of a new factory being built at Silverstone, it appears the demons of more than 60 years ago will finally be laid to rest.


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