Aston Martin is keeping its expectations realistic in terms of being able to fight for world championships, based on how long it took Mercedes to be successful in Formula 1.
Mercedes took over the title-winning Brawn team at the end of 2009 — the year in which Ross Brawn had saved the former Honda team and delivered a stunning championship double. However, it was three years until the rebranded team took its first victory, four before it recorded multiple wins and five to secure the championship, and team principal Otmar Szafnauer says that is why Lawrence Stroll has set a four- to five-year timeline for Aston.
“We are working hard on next year and we will do our best to win the world title next year, but if you look historically, it does take time to put the infrastructure in place, the people in place to be able to challenge for a world championship,” Szafnauer said.
“Even Mercedes — who bought Brawn, who were world champions — it took them another four years to win. So it’s just what it takes when you have the goal, the ambition, the objectives and the funding to put the infrastructure in place as well as the correct people and then challenge for the world championship.”
Aston Martin’s ambition has been on display in recent months with the announcement of a number of high-profile senior hires, but Szafnauer says they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the team needs to do recruitment-wise.
“At 550 employees, it’s a sprinkling of everywhere that we have to hire in. We have to hire like-minded individuals, quite a few of them, probably another 200 until we are right-sized. But it’s in all areas — in areas of performance, in areas of manufacturing, in the operations areas to make sure we are efficient, and now with the financial regulations even in areas where we can understand and plan for the financial regulations a bit better.”
Aston Martin is currently sixth in the constructors’ championship, and Szafnauer admits this year has been harder than expected but believes that some of the pain is necessary with 2022’s regulations on the horizon.
“It’s been difficult. During the season, in the past, we’ve made good progress. We’ve absolutely tried to do the same but it’s harder this year because one, we have the restrictions and two, we have a totally different car next year, so we can’t spend all of our time trying to develop this year’s car at the expense of next so it makes it more tricky. I think we’ve caught up a little bit and we’ll learn even more going forward and hopefully get a bit more competitive.”