After financing a buyout of the Racing Point team in 2020, Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll installed the Aston Martin Racing name on the F1 team his son Lance drives for. Since then he has also made waves by financing a new headquarters for the team on the grounds of Silverstone — which should be finished in the middle of next year — shitcanning Sergio Perez in favor of Seb Vettel, and hiring some of the best designers and aerodynamicists in the biz. It’s been a busy 18 months for Stroll, and it seems his changes to the team haven’t ended yet.
It was announced on Wednesday that Aston Martin team boss Otmar Szafnauer would step down from his role, departing from the team he’s worked for in various positions since 2009. With Szafnauer’s help, the team formerly known as Force India has graduated from the also-ran years as Spyker to fourth-best car on the grid in 2020. After securing somewhat of a fluke victory at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, and coming close on a couple other occasions, the Racing Point/Aston Martin team looked ready to come out of the gate swinging in 2021. Unfortunately the team looked extremely hot and cold out on track, running fairly well some weeks, then struggling to get out of Q1 other weeks.
2021 was not kind to Aston Martin, and it saw a decline in points from an impressive 195 in 2020 to just 77 and 7th in the championship this year. The decline was so abrupt that very few actually saw it coming. Late last year the team announced that it would be hiring Martin Whitmarsh, formerly of McLaren, as the new CEO, and many suspected this would mean Szafnauer was looking elsewhere. Back then he vehemently denied any departure, saying he was quite happy to stay at Aston Martin. He even went so far as to claim he “could have left many times” but was “loyal to the employees.”
It isn’t yet known whether the departure was a firing or a resignation, and perhaps we never will know. Aston Martin has stated it is keen to be fighting for championships within this decade, and is willing to do whatever is necessary to get there. Did it, and by it I mean Lawrence Stroll, determine that this was only possible with Otmar outmar?
Is Aston Martin going to fare better with the new 2022 regulations? We’ll have to wait a few months to find out the answer to that. It would seem that the team’s future is Lance Stroll, but I don’t really see him ever fighting for world championships without either a serious technical advantage or a massive increase in talent.