Currently reading: Aston Martin to push for F1 championship in 2025
Co-owner Lawrence Stroll says the racing team is aiming for 'occasional podiums' this season

Aston Martin is keeping a tight lid on expectations and is targeting only “occasional podiums” in Formula 1 this year, despite the clean-sheet regulation reset that should level the competitive playing field, according to co-owner Lawrence Stroll.

The Canadian billionaire was on hand to unveil the team’s new AMR22 F1 car at the company’s Gaydon headquarters on Thursday morning and reiterated that 2022 is “the second year of our five-year plan” to win the F1 world championship.

The new car features a revised shade of green in comparison to the one used last season, which was Aston Martin’s first as a fully fledged F1 constructor since 1960. Backing from Aramco, the state-owned Saudi Arabian oil giant, has been added as the company becomes joint title sponsor with digital solutions brand Cognizant.

Aston’s sophomore year coincides with a new era for F1, which has undergone “the biggest set of rule changes on the chassis side ever seen”, as Stroll put it. The new rulebook is based around ground effects aerodynamics, which return to F1 for the first time since 1982, with a target of allowing cars to follow each other more closely and improve the racing spectacle by diminishing the ‘dirty air’ effect of surface aerodynamics.

The chassis rules, combined with the introduction of lower profile 18in Pirelli tyres also designed to aid closer racing, have been pitched as an opportunity for midfield teams to rise up the competitive order. But Stroll remains cautious about 2022 as the team embarks on a second campaign with four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel – who will race in his 16th F1 season – and the co-owner’s son, Lance Stroll.

“A good result would be a step up from where we were last year,” said Stroll Sr. “This is a five-year journey I have planned. I’ve been around F1 in one shape or form for well over 30 years, so I knew what I’d bought myself. Everything I do in life I try and win.

“This is year two of the five-year plan and I hope to improve this year over where we were last year. But it is a journey. Do I think we are fighting for world championships? Absolutely not. We all know the top teams have a history of IP that takes years to catch up on.”

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Aston Martin finished seventh out of the 10 teams in the F1 constructors’ standings last season, far behind fellow midfielders McLaren, Alpine and AlphaTauri. Vettel, in his first season for the team since switching from Ferrari, finished second in Azerbaijan, but lost another podium in Hungary on a technicality, while Lance Stroll’s best result was sixth in Qatar.

Asked what he is expecting in terms of results this year, Stroll Sr said: “I’d say occasional podiums. I wouldn’t say regular podiums. Regular podiums next year? Yes. Would I say fighting for the world championship after the regular podiums? Yes. In five years, we will be fighting for the championship. In four years, we will be regularly on the podium. Three years, which will be next year, we’ll often be on the podium. This year, it will still be occasional.”

While on-track expectations remain modest, the team continues its drive to expand amid an aggressive recruitment process in which key technical figures have left other major teams to join Aston Martin. Stroll has also hired ex-McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh as CEO while in the off-season team principal Otmar Szafnauer departed the Silverstone-based squad. Szaufnauer had led the team when it was known as Racing Point, during which it won praise and recognition for overachieving for its size.

“I bought a team that had 400 people at the time,” said Stroll, who took over Racing Point during the 2018 season. “It was punching above its weight and had finished fourth in the championship for three years. It had £90 million of [annual] budget when I took over and the teams above it had £300m, and the teams below it, McLaren and Renault, had well over £200m. Which is what enticed me to buy the team.

“I’ve embarked on bringing in the right people. I don’t know another business like F1 that has these garden leaves [for employees who switch teams]. It’s quite frustrating when you are trying to build a team and hire people. I decided a long time ago I wanted to hire Martin Whitmarsh to join me as my CEO. He had some other businesses he had to deal with because he wasn’t expecting that. I’ve known Martin for over 25 years. He’s won eight championships and over 100 grands prix. McLaren was probably the first team to bring a real performance culture into F1, and I wanted Martin to help me do that.

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“Two of my biggest guys haven’t started yet. I’ve hired Dan Fellows [former head of aerodynamics at Red Bull Racing] and he’ll be starting on 2 April. We’ve also hired the aero chief from Mercedes, Eric [Blandin]. The band is still being put together.”

The F1 team will also begin operating next year out of a new 400,000sq ft factory being built close to its current base at Silverstone. “We’re still operating out of Eddie Jordan’s very expanded [ex-Jordan Grand Prix] facility built 33 years ago,” said Stroll. “Now we are going to have the latest, greatest premises. It’s the biggest investment that will be made in an F1 team. We’re building a brand-new wind tunnel, too, the first one in F1 in 18 years.”

The drivers were also in attendance at Gaydon for the 2022 launch. When asked about his expectations amid the five-year plan, Vettel said he hoped to “ideally accelerate it a little. Where we’ll be is impossible to say at this stage. We had our difficulties last year, but this year should be better. The field will be closer together, but we don’t know. Our potential is rising.”

The first pre-season F1 test takes place in Barcelona next week, ahead of another three-day test in Bahrain next month – the first occasions the new cars will run on track. The first grand prix of the new season will take place in Bahrain on 20 March.

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