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How big will Aston Martin’s F1 2022 recovery be? Our verdict

by Josh Suttill
6 min read

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Formula 1 launch season is in full swing with Aston Martin due to become the third team to unveil its 2022 challenger on Thursday afternoon, but what are its prospects like for the year?

The team was hamstrung by aerodynamic changes that were brought in ahead of the 2021 F1 season and affected the low-rake cars of Aston and the Mercedes.

Feb 09 : Red Bull launches the not-so-new RB18

What followed was a pretty miserable year for the Silverstone-based outfit, with seventh in the constructors’ championship marking only the fourth time since 2012 it had finished that low.

Last year, the team quickly switched focus to 2022 and, away from the track, there was plenty of investment in new infrastructure and a hiring spree as part of Lawrence Stroll’s masterplan for the team.

But just how much progress can the team make in 2022 – if any at all? We asked our writers to give their verdicts.

Progress is a must

Mark Hughes

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Italian Grand Prix Sprint Day Monza, Italy

In theory, it should look pretty impressive, given that it feels it was artificially constrained last year by the regulation floor tweaks which hurt the low-rake concept of its car and instead of researching a major upgrade to get around the effects of that (as Mercedes did), it pressed full-on with the 2022 car from very early in the year.

While that was happening a lot of processes were changing at the factory, a lot of new understanding becoming apparent and Sebastian Vettel’s direction played a big part in this.

The team feels that it’s actually a much stronger technical entity now than back in 2020 when it had a much faster car.

While the recent high-profile recruitments to the aero department from Mercedes and Red Bull won’t have a great impact on the 2022 car, the technical core of the team already there is a pretty strong one and shouldn’t be written off.

On the other hand, it’s a team with inevitable growing pains as its ambitious owner strives to transition it into a major player. What would recovery look like? It would have to look like regular podiums and qualifying in the top three rows as a matter of course and pitching for the occasional win on merit.

Anything else for such an ambitious, well-funded entity would be seen as a disappointment.

Under such an all-new set of regulations nothing can be really be predicted with much confidence and if there is another season as disappointing as 2021, Lawrence Stroll’s patience would likely be stretched past breaking point. That doesn’t engender the sort of stability that is an essential part of growth.

Patience will be important

Gary Anderson

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Dutch Grand Prix Race Day Zandvoort, Netherlands

The one thing in Astons Martin’s favour for 2022 is its pre-2020 experience with a high-rake car before it moved to a clone of the low-rake Mercedes.

This should have allowed the technical team to understand the major differences between these two concepts, meaning that for 2022 it will be in a better position than other teams to have made decisions on which direction to follow.

But even with that, podiums will only come with a lot of help from others making mistakes. With Mr Stroll’s short fuse, this could easily lead to the team imploding.

Aston Martin is a long-term project. Yes, a huge amount of money has been invested both in upgrading its factory and recruiting more people, but it takes time to complete building work and to integrate staff. That’s what makes patience so important.

Stroll has talked about a three-to-five-year timespan for becoming a title contender, which is saying the right thing. But the question is whether he’s willing to let that play out with the ups and downs that will happen when a team is changing so much, so quickly.

Firmly in the best of the rest fight

Scott Mitchell

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Spanish Grand Prix Race Day Barcelona, Spain

The team’s core infrastructure is still not what it needs to be to challenge F1’s benchmarks so there is a lower ceiling on Aston Martin’s potential for now.

Realistically, the best it can probably hope for on-track is a season like McLaren enjoyed in 2021 – fast enough to be on the first two or three rows of the grid consistently, scoring occasional podiums when everything comes together.

That might feel a bit optimistic given where Aston Martin was last year but it has devoted a lot of attention to 2022 and it’s a clean slate. We know that Andy Green and his technical team are capable of giant-killing so it would be unwise to underestimate them.

I would expect Aston Martin to be floating between third and sixth among the teams. But the main thing is that it has more of the right stuff going on off-track, and continues to build towards its long-term goal of fighting for championships.

Drivers could be a limiting factor

Matt Beer

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship British Grand Prix Preparation Day Silverstone, England

With the amount of behind the scenes change and progress ongoing at Aston Martin, it’s absolutely right to have limited 2022 expectations but also to have faith that this team can be a major long-term player.

But equally, it’s difficult to be confident we’ll get a proper read on what the team and car are really capable of this season given the driver line-up.

Sebastian Vettel had a handful of races in 2021 that evoked his glory days (which deserve more credit than they often get now – the man’s a four-time F1 champion, that’s a remarkable feat) and Lance Stroll has some decent peaks.

Neither, though, gives you absolute faith that the Aston Martin’s full potential is being realised week in, week out. If the new car gets podiums, it’ll be hard not to suspect it might have been a winner in different hands.

Expect only a small improvement

Sam Smith

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship British Grand Prix Qualifying Day Silverstone, England

When you strip it all down to the short-term of 2022, Aston Martin doesn’t have a great deal going for it and, in all likelihood, its first real season of consistently troubling the top three or four teams will probably come in 2023.

In a commercial and marketing sense it’s certainly on the up but from the sporting side, is anyone really convinced it can significantly improve upon seventh in the constructors’ championship this season?

Answering that question will take time, probably far beyond the coming season, as it will only be from the summer onwards that new recruits Martin Whitmarsh, Mike Krack and the soon to be enrolled ex-Lola and Red Bull aerodynamicist Dan Fallows start to combine their individual skills into a cohesive ethic. Therefore, mid- and long-term Aston has strong potential.

That some believe Vettel could be a fast-track to Aston Martin making its breakthrough into the winners’ circle seems fanciful at best.

Even at his career peak, Vettel couldn’t lead Ferrari to the title, so what chance is there of him enabling and achieving more modest targets in his 35th year?

Lance Stroll looks to be something of a mirage of Ralf Schumacher or for older readers, Thierry Boutsen. Excellent on occasions, but customarily more run-of-the-mill.

It will be a recovery of sorts, but more in consolidation rather than out-and-out progression in the 2022 points table.

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