Lawrence Stroll’s dream comes true

The launch of Aston Martin Cognizant F1, which is he revamped version of Racing Point, was an interesting affair. I’m all for F1 teams doing things differently for launches – not the same old thing a la Alfa Romeo – but this one was a funny old mixture. Let us put things into perspective here. This is the old Jordan team – 30 years on. It has always had good people behind the owners, and it was an act of genius (Well done, Otmar Szafnauer and Andy Green) to work out that one could legally copy the 2019 Mercedes and, with Sergio Perez driving and Mercedes falling over its bootlaces, it was possible to win a race last year in Bahrain.

This is the team that was once owned by the Midland Group, the Dutch car company Spyker (whatever happened to them?) and, of course, Vijay Mallya, who continues his fight to avoid being sent home to India, where presumably the full force of India will mean that he goes to jail. It is five years since he fled his home country and although he has lost one court battle after another, he is still in England and appealing – although I cannot say I find him appealing at all…

The team became Racing Point under new owner Lawrence Stroll although, to be quite honest,  I never really understand the Point. It sounded like a holding pattern until the man came up with a plan. It was always going to happen.

Stroll’s billions came from being “a branding guy” and so we waited to see what the team would become. Nasty folk said that it was all just a vehicle for his son Lance, but Lawrence has bigger ambitions than that.  Lance has some talent, but is still working to create the full package, but Lawrence has now bought himself the sexy Aston Martin brand and is aiming to do with it what he did with Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors etc.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but I think it is fair to say that I was not waiting for Santan Dave to say “We’re gonna tell you a story…”

If it sounds like I have heard of Santan Dave, I apologise, because I did not have a clue who he was, which I put down to the fact that I have lived in France since long before Santan was even conceived. Thankfully, that nice Mr Google helped me out and I discovered that he is a 22-year-old relevant rapper from Brixton, who I suspect might not necessarily appeal to the average Aston Martin buyer. That segment was a bit odd and an indication that perhaps Santan wasn’t fully aware of Aston Martin’s history in F1. He talked a lot about that rosy place called history, but I guess no-one told him that it might be best to avoid talking about Aston Martin and F1 in the same sentence, as the story does not glow in any golden way…

With that segment finished (happily), we were presented with a presenter. I know that face, I thought. She’s not an Sky F1 presenter doing some freelance. She’s a proper film star. Actually, I’m very fond of Gemma Arterton because she made a film called Gemma Bovery some years ago which was shot in my local village. The result of this was that the fountain that the film-makers installed is still there and it adds to the charm, fake though it may be.

Sadly, poor Gemma Bovery choked to death on bread from the very boulangerie where I often buy my bread, although I continue to buy it, based on the principle that the film was fiction and they won’t kill me with their baguettes…

Anyway Gemma Arterton was involved with Aston Martin even before then because she was a Bond girl, having played Strawberry Fields in “Quantum of Solace” in 2008. She has since gone on to enjoy success in films such as Tamara Drewe, while also doing work prize-winning work in the theatre.

But there was more to come. We had James Bond himself – or at least Daniel Craig – and the American football legend Tom Brady.

And, to cut a long story short, we ended up with questions from fans about whether Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel prefer cats or dogs. Both said that they prefer dogs (as does Gemma), but I would have answered the question with: “Fried or boiled?” – just to throw the cat among the pigeons.

This, however, was all colourful confetti around the happy couple: Lawrence Stroll and Aston Martin.

“I’ve dreamed about this day for a very long time. I’ve always been a car guy, since I was a child,” the bridegroom said. “I’ve always loved racing, too. My first dream was to own a Formula 1  team. My second dream was to acquire a majority shareholding in Aston Martin Lagonda. Today is about the merging of those two dreams. So, as I say, today is all about dreams, and it shows that dreams really can come true, in the shape of our new AMR21.

“Aston Martin returning to Formula 1 after an absence of 61 years will have a powerful effect on the sport, the media and the fans, commanding global attention. 

“The team who designed and built our new Aston Martin Cognizant Formula 1 car – the 500 men and women who conceive, manufacture, build and prepare our cars so that we can go racing at the pinnacle of global motorsport – has always punched above its weight. Now, as the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula 1 Team, it has the power with which to punch even harder. This is just the beginning. The team is pushing forward, and our ambitions are limitless. We now have the pieces in place, the people and the partners, to make real progress.

“The Aston Martin Cognizant Formula 1 car is our group’s highest expression of performance, innovation, engineering quality, attention to detail, and teamwork. I have great confidence in Otmar [Szafnauer], Andrew [Green] and all who work for them. I firmly believe we have the perfect blend of experience and youth in Sebastian [Vettel] and Lance [Stroll]. An ethos of fierce ambition and unshakeable dedication is shared by every single team member. It is exhilarating to see – and to feel.”

Andrew Green, who was one of the original Jordan Grand Prix design team, back in 1990 summed things up well, I thought.

“When I was a young boy, my first toy car was the James Bond Aston Martin DB5 – with the ejector seat,” he said. “I still have it and had always dreamt of owning one, so Aston Martin has always been a big part of my childhood. Cut to where I am now, and every day I walk into a factory with the Aston Martin logo over the door. To be the Technical Director of the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula 1 team, it’s the dream come true, it sends shivers down my spine.”

Mine too…

One hopes that Aston Martin F1 will be a success and will drive huge success for the car company. But it should perhaps be noted that last week Aston Martin Lagonda reported its financial figures for 2020, during which the firm sold 4,150 cars, 32 percent down on 2019. The company is hoping to sell 6,000 cars in 2021 and wants to get to 10,000 by 2024 or 2025.

Aston Martin booked a loss of £466 million before tax for 2020, compared to a £120 million loss in 2019. Revenues were down by 38 percent. There are high hopes for the DBX SUV and from F1 and James Bond is expected to help out in September with the launch of the much-delayed new film “No time to Die” in September…

26 thoughts on “Lawrence Stroll’s dream comes true

  1. I thought having Dave presenting was brilliant. Grime is undoubtedly the most significant British musical export since Punk. And whilst Stormzy, Dizzee Rascal, Wiley (MBE) and Skepta may be the more established trailblazers, Dave is arguably the most talented, thoughtful and relevant artist who will be around for the long run. Hopefully in an Aston, rather than his usual Lamborghini. Getting the brand identified with him appears to me to be a good idea to me, and the fact that most over 50s (myself excluded!) don’t know who Dave is suggests Stroll is targeting a younger savvy client sector.

      1. Where I live, we see a surprisingly large number of young men driving Ferraris and McLarens. Apparently these super cars are often paid for in cash (yes, actual folding money), and the purchases are presumed to be made to launder money (car dealers can deposit the cash without identifying the purchasers). If Aston Martin can pick up some of that trade, here and else where, they might do OK.

      2. Joe, I reckon you’re missing a trick here. Grime is huge amongst a very wealthy slice of the younger market in Asia. That’s the target.

    1. Grime is what I expect to get rid of when I put my clothes in the washing machine. It does not in any way attract me to Aston Martin.

    2. Agreed, he’s a talented actor too!

      Positioning AM away (only partially) from the male, pale and stale clientele is a good move if done properly. Clearly sticking with their current customer base wont end well.

  2. I wish the brand and the team and the owners all success this time round well recall the original F1 cars run back in the 60’s great cars and drivers just a bit late at that time technically……on a different tangent fascinating story in the Guardian “The Long Read’ on the Wentworth Golf Club, The Chinese Billionaire, and Red Bull……….

    1. Agreed an interesting read esp the red bull connection.The Grauniad of course missed the significance of the chubhouse Burma Bar so named because the wentworth course used to be known as the ‘Burma Road’ because tiu needed to be long and straight to do a good score 🙂

  3. I love it when a mans dreams and ambitions come together. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn nightmarish.

  4. We know you’re not a fan of Vijay Mallya now but how about when he first came into F1, or were you always suspicious of him?

        1. No, I think what irritated me was the fact that he seemed to think that being second generation rich made you more intelligent than everyone else, which translated to a kind of arrogance that rubs me up the wrong way. In the end he wasn’t so clever, was he?

  5. I am fortunate in that my bride of several decades loves to watch F1 races. Even old ones. Sometimes she’s a step ahead of me about strategy.

    But she doe not enjoy reading about F1… with one exception: While she doesn’t read all of Joe’s essays, she has instructed me to send her his best jottings. She’s getting this one.

    Thanks for this, Joe… IMO, it features your best turn of phrase.

  6. Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings PLC has no ownership interest in the F1 team AMR GP Limited, previously Racing Point.

    For marketing reasons they are trying to conflate the two – but you should not fall for that guff Joe. There is a certain symmetry in that both sides of the equation rely on Mercedes engines and technology – but that is about it.

      1. But you quoted their nonsense “Aston Martin returning to Formula 1 after an absence of 61 years” which implies that the current incarnation is more than just a branding exercise – which they did previously with RBR?

  7. As we close in on the 60th anniversary of Dr No it seems odd that a firm looking towards the future and “new money of youth” is still clinging on to the coat tails of history waiting for the next chapter in the life of 007.

    Yes history and heritage is important but I suspect that like Joe there are more people in world younger than me than older than me. Thats just dawned on me writing this !!

    Thinking forward, and looking to one of the other sponsors, I’m eagerly awaiting the the worlds first Green F1 inspired piece of heavy plant. Roll on JCB Aston Martin 😉

    1. I achieved the aged of 50 recently. It was quite a shock for someone who’s still 24 in their head. So I’m with you on the “fewer older than I, than the many younger” revelation.

  8. For me it is exciting to see this team finally get a decent, stable budget. I am completely with Joe on Mallya and I didn’t need to meet him to feel that way, but the people building the cars have always got the best bang for the buck in F1.

  9. Bentley used to be for crusties and now it’s for footballers and drug dealers, so I can see why Stroll wants to go the same way with Aston Martin. Hope it works.

  10. “Sadly, poor Gemma Bovery choked to death on bread from the very boulangerie where I often buy my bread”—would that be Boulangerie Dubourg, Joe?

  11. This year, Aston Martin Cognizant F1, will be spiced in races with some boys and girls under the cover of secret agents.
    Its performance will amaze us and also the competition.
    We also will have, during the season, a cinematic sequel with the main roles to be announced.
    At the end of the season, Aston Martin Cognizant F1 will rebranded as Aston Martin Prometheus F1. The movie will be named as 00S Bet (Double Stroll Bet). Obviously!

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