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.