Aston Martin is the most achingly obvious iconic high performance brand which has been missing from the F1 scene for far too long. Now, almost 50 years to the week since Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori drove one of the classic DBR1s to victory in the Le Mans 24-hour epic, Prodrive boss David Richards looks poised to bring the famous name back into the F1 frame. Prodrive’s decision to move into F1 next season must surely be a first step.
This firestorm of speculation comes on the day which marks the deadline for official entries for the F1 championship to be lodged, and while the established teams have spent the past few months wrestling with the FIA’s planned, much needed and controversial budget cap – set at 100m euros for 2010 before being trimmed to the governing body’s preferred level of 45m euros in 2011 – the news of Prodrive’s impending arrival in 2010 is a welcome slice of good news for the sport in dark economic times.
It speaks volumes for Richards’ upbeat optimism that he has been able to get a deal like this together with his commercial partners. And the connections with Aston Martin are so obviously compelling that it is difficult for most of us to regard Prodrive’s arrival as anything but an advanced guard heralding a fully fledged Aston Martin programme in a couple of years’ time.
As far as new teams are concerned generally, despite much upbeat talk on the part of the FIA, I have my doubts that many of those who showed interest initially are in no position to raise 45m euros, let alone next year’s proposed cap of 100m euros.
As one insider commented, shrewdly I thought; “When you think just how much trouble the Brawn team are having bagging a major title sponsor, even after winning five of the season’s first six races, then you can see just what sort of effect the economic depression is really having.”