Formula 1: Towards the end of Aston Martin?

Formula 1: Towards the end of Aston Martin?

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Taken over in 2018 by the Canadian Laurence Stroll, the famous brand and the F1 team of the same name risk the imminent disappearance of the London court.

by
Luc Domenjoz

(Silverstone)

On the stock market, the storm is currently raging for the Aston Martin Lagonda share (and not only that one, for that matter). While still worth £22 in February 2021, AML stock fell to less than £4 last week. Nothing is going well within the legendary brand. Its boss, Laurence Stroll, acquired it in 2018 with a consortium of relatives who lost so much money that they no longer speak to him.

But that’s not all: to develop the Valkyrie supercar, Aston Martin did not have the means to finance its very complex development. In 2016, the brand therefore joined forces with the Swiss company Nebula Project SA, based in Teufen, in the canton of Appenzell. The latter advanced 100 million dollars to develop the Valkyrie, in exchange for a 4% commission on the sale of all Aston Martins (the 4×4 DBX excepted).

Terminated contract

When the new boss, Laurence Stroll, became aware of this agreement, which he had not been aware of when buying the brand, he terminated the contract with Nebula and had the Aston Martin dealership in St. -Gall, owned by Nebula, through which 80% of Aston Martins sold in Switzerland pass – a very large market for the British brand.

The whole affair is now on trial in London, Nebula Project asking Aston Martin for 190 million dollars for wrongful breach of contract concerning the Valkyrie and 50 million more for the closure of its dealership. A case that could mean the end for a brand that no one wants to help support financially.

Leased factory

Sebastian Vettel can retire at the end of the season.

Sebastian Vettel can retire at the end of the season.

Getty Images

In the meantime, everything is going even worse on the circuits for the two Aston Martins, driven by Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll – both eliminated in the first minutes of qualifying for the British Grand Prix on Saturday.

At Silverstone, rumor has it that Sebastian Vettel has had enough and has decided to retire at the end of the season. He could be replaced by Mick Schumacher. Laurence Stroll, the owner of the team and father of Lance, would like to have a “Schumacher” in his stable, certain that his son would beat him on a regular basis. Which would make the father proud!

In the meantime, the new 40,000 square meter factory that the team is building next to its current building, just at the entrance to the Silverstone circuit, could not be financed by the issue of bonds as Laurence Stroll would have wished. He had to resolve to sell the land to a third party company, which is building the factory and will lease it to the team for the already decided amount of $16 million per year. Provided of course that the Aston Martin brand has not disappeared by then.

Sainz, Leclerc and strategy

Carlos Sainz Jr took the first pole of his career on Saturday.

Carlos Sainz Jr took the first pole of his career on Saturday.

REUTERS

At the end of a qualifying session with twists and turns, Carlos Sainz signed the first pole position of his career in F1 – after 150 attempts. The interested party was quite surprised: “When I was younger, in the other racing formulas, I loved the rain, he let go after qualifying. In the wet, I easily qualified half a second ahead of everyone else. But in F1, they are all gifted, and no one has such an advantage in the rain anymore. So I’m surprised to be in front, because my lap wasn’t particularly great, the flight was good, nothing more. »

Charles Leclerc, on the other Ferrari, will start third. He hopes the team will ask Carlos Sainz to let him pass in case the two end up leading the race – which is not in his contract. Especially since there is Max Verstappen between them on the grid. The Dutchman had to slow down due to yellow flags during his last lap, while Lewis Hamilton recharged his battery when the track was fastest.

At the end of qualifying, the Red Bull driver was booed by the crowd. He said he didn’t care about the attitude, which was condemned by the Mercedes driver. “We (the British) are better than that,” lamented Lewis Hamilton.

Cost control in question

This year, the F1 teams’ budget is capped at 141.2 million per year (ie 140 million + 1.2 to compensate for inflation). By their own admission, it will be overtaken by at least four teams, with fines at stake.

In theory, this budget should be further reduced by 5 million next year. But maybe not: next week, as part of the Austrian Grand Prix, a meeting bringing together team bosses, Liberty Media (which owns the commercial rights to F1) and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile ( the FIA) will discuss another version of the capped budget: a budget that includes everything from the team leaders, the drivers and the engine. This budget could be set at 350 million per year, which seems easier to verify than the current solution.

Today, in fact, pilots, bosses and engines are not included in the capped budget, which opens the door to several cheatings, double accounting and other displacements of invoices here or there. To be continued.


#Formula #Aston #Martin


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