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Formula 1

What F1 gains (and loses) as Aston Martin era begins

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

A livery reveal is still a couple of months away, but Aston Martin’s Formula 1 comeback “has officially begun”.

News of a new title partner, with IT giant Cognizant joining the team in what sounds like a hugely substantial deal in commercial and practical terms, coincides with the early-January rebranding of the team-formerly-known-as-Racing Point’s social media channels and launch of a new website.

These are just the first steps in a journey that chairman Lawrence Stroll wants to lead all the way to winning world championships. Racing Point’s rebrand is exciting for F1, and now 2021 is here and the team is fully embracing its new identity, that will only kick up a notch.

Aston chiefs, namely Stroll, will survey the start of 2021 with great optimism and satisfaction.

Lawrence Stroll

Force India’s gradual decline and fall into administration put the team at risk, and while there was one more than buyer in the offing it was Stroll’s consortium that worked to ensure everything was solved as quickly as possible.

The salvation of a popular team is significant enough. Giving it the resources to build on its reputation as F1’s best-value operation upped the feel-good factor.

Intrinsically linking it to one of the world’s most famous brands (by virtue of a separate Stroll-led consortium investment), and relaunching it as a ‘works team’? Stroll calls it a “landmark moment” for F1. It’s certainly an enormous story.

As is the fact it coincides with Sebastian Vettel’s much-needed rebirth.

The four-time world champion had a miserable farewell season with Ferrari but almost everybody expects some kind of renaissance away from Maranello. At times Ferrari brought the best out of Seb but by the end he was trapped in a vicious circle.

Last year, Racing Point’s bosses talked enthusiastically about hauling him out of that spiral. Now Vettel says he “can’t wait to start working”, that “there’s so much for me to discover over the next few months,” and he’s “incredibly determined to help make this team even more successful”.

There is no doubt that this iteration of Team Silverstone is its most credible, most professional, most exciting yet. It has retained the personnel that made Force India so efficient and it’s the same organisation that was being strengthened as Racing Point, but with the added gravity and elegance that comes with the Aston brand.

“Everyone knows what Aston Martin stands for, but the Formula 1 team will allow us to take the essence of the brand to new places, building on the strong foundations laid by the previous iterations of the team,” says Stroll.

And in Cognizant, the team has aligned itself with a massively successful company that senior figures are insisting will be more than just sponsorship, more than a branding exercise. Team boss Otmar Szafnauer says the partnership “will add value in all areas of our IT operations and make a valuable contribution to our performance on-track”.

With all that, of course, F1 waves goodbye to a few things as well. For starters, no more garish pink livery that Force India and Racing Point cars donned from 2017 through to 2020.

Sergio Perez Racing Point F1

BWT’s extension/exit has not been confirmed either way and it may be that the company remains onboard, but it will not have pride of place as before if it does. It’s clear that Aston is poised to embrace an identity in its traditional green colours.

Pink F1 cars have seen some things in the last four years, from huge underdog successes to internal team rows to financial crisis to an ownership change, phoenix-like revival and a first win.

Because pink F1 cars became synonymous with THAT team. It was exactly what branding should be in many ways in that it smashed you in the face with instant recognition.

What that pink livery represented was the last visible remnant of what made Force India such a fun and valid addition to the grid.

It was a slightly rough-and-ready operation, an upstart, and an outlier as an underfunded but plucky competitor taking on bigger teams than it had any real right to challenge.

Giancarlo Fisichella Force India F1

That’s all changing. A fresh start is an opportunity to judge this team anew, and the reality is Aston Martin will be (and wants to be) viewed as an elite, well-resourced operation with huge expectations. And also no excuses. It will get away with a lot less, but almost certainly achieve more.

What we’ve seen so far is just a small step, but the journey has now begun. Aston says this is “an icon reborn”. That goes for the team as well as the manufacturer it is representing.

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