Aston Martin, logo, Red Bull, Singapore, 2019

Analysis: What a Racing Point-Aston Martin deal would mean for them, F1 – and Red Bull

2019 F1 season

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When first a source contacted me with suggestions that a consortium connected to Racing Point F1 team boss Lawrence Stroll intended making a bid for a buy-in of beleaguered Aston Martin – whose London Stock Exchange share price (AML) has plunged 75 per cent since listing a year ago while sales forecasts have thrice been downgraded since then – the idea of an F1 boss buying a car company seemed rather far-fetched.

But said source is no ordinary Formula 1 mover and shaker, but a senior motor industry figure who in the past has been absolutely on the money when it comes to industry developments that impact on F1. And Stroll is no ordinary F1 team boss.

Stroll is a brand builder par excellence, having elevated various fashion labels to dizzying stock exchange heights. The Canadian billionaire, who started life in Montreal’s rag trade (literally), is a car enthusiast deluxe – owning some of the world’s most delectable Ferraris, plus much more on the auto front. He also owns the sinuous Mont Tremblant circuit, host of the 1968 and 1970 Canadian Grands Prix, a two-hour drive from the race’s current home.

An associate of Stroll is Lord Anthony Bamford, scion of the founder of the JCB construction equipment brand, another car collector of note with a delectable portfolio of Aston Martins. He briefly pursued a takeover of Jaguar from Ford in the 2000s and was the architect of the JCB Diesel Max land speed record breaker (at 560 kph, driven by Andy Green), a project staged to ‘showcase British engineering’.

The JCB logos on Racing Point’s cars – and previously Williams’s when Lance Stroll drove for that team – attest to the bond between the two billionaires.

Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Sochi Autodrom, 2019
An Aston Martin deal would clearly benefit Racing Point
None of these factors, though definitively link Stroll (or Bamford, or any other of the Racing Point shareholders) to an Aston Martin buy-in, particularly when taken in conjunction with (on-record) ‘no-comment’ responses both Aston Martin and the prospective punter.

That said, when approached, neither party issued straight denials – as dictated by good business sense were the information wide of the mark, particularly given Aston Martin’s listed status and the impact on share price, which soared 20 per cent immediately after our news broke. At the time of writing, over eight hours after the story broke, no official word has been uttered.

Yet, our source is adamant a deal is in the offing. Why, then, would it even make sense? Certainly, the Aston Martin brand is desperate need of a makeover, having traded for over five decades on the now somewhat jaded James Bond image. Where in the late fifties Aston Martin was a Le Mans winner and points-scoring F1 competitor, the Red Bull RB15 which brand’s ‘wing’ logo appears on is powered by Honda.

A commonly overlooked detail is that Mercedes-Benz holds a 5% shareholding in Aston Martin through a technology-sharing agreement which entitles Aston Martin to use AMG-developed engines and Mercedes components. For example, the recently launched DBX SUV has a Mercedes-sourced powertrain and is controlled by Mercedes electronics.

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[icon2019autocoursempu]Our source stated that one of the primary reasons for the prospective deal is that Stroll’s Racing Point F1 Team needs an “authentic wrapping for his team”. Their Silverstone-based operation has several connections to Mercedes’s F1 team, which is situated in 10 miles up the road in Brackley. Racing Points uses Mercedes powertrains and has a wind tunnel share arrangement with the silver team,

Plans are afoot to expand Racing Point’s facility via a recently acquired 30-hectare ‘green’ site, which dovetails nearly with both Aston Martin, which is based in Gaydon (30 miles away) and last year opened a new vehicle dynamics engineering centre at Silverstone.

The 2021 technical regulations encourage further parts and facilities sharing amongst teams and thus Racing Point could morph into a British racing green Aston Martin Racing team, authentically operating as a second-tier Mercedes squad directly linked to a performance car brand. There’s authentic “wrapping” for you…

Should the deal come to pass, the potential implications for Red Bull Racing are profound. Their Aston Martin title sponsorship deal is said to be worth $10m annually, yet provides the team with a performance car link. The two entities are almost four years into a technology partnership, with the first models of the Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar – designed by Adrian Newey, and intended to compete at Le Mans – about to be delivered.

Stroll is believed to number amongst the 150 Valkyrie customers. And, of course, has the wherewithal to enter Le Mans in addition to F1.

Red Bull RB14, Aston Martin Valkyrie
Aston Martin and Red Bull co-developed the Valkyrie
‘Son of Valkyrie’, the partnership’s second model – and as the name implies, a smaller and more user friendly hypercar powered by a petrol-electric hybrid drive system – is due for launch in 2021, although insiders recently confided that development has slowed due to Aston Martin’s travails.

Coupled with Honda’s uncertain future, the potential loss of Aston Martin as both a technology partner and title partner – the commercial deal is said to expire at the end of the 2020 F1 season, albeit with options – could well pre-empt the drinks company’s exit from the sport ahead of its ‘new era’ in 2021.

A buy-in to Aston Martin by Stroll and his associates makes enormous sense, for Aston Martin is in desperate need of a cash injection and a total brand refresh – both of which Stroll is able to deliver immediately – while the race team, currently competing under a ‘holding name’ – requires authentic wrapping, with dark green being the likely colour.

Will the deal come to pass? Don’t bet against it, although Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz will surely hope that it does not.

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2019 F1 season

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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  • 26 comments on “Analysis: What a Racing Point-Aston Martin deal would mean for them, F1 – and Red Bull”

    1. Mercedes Silver, McLaren Papaya, Ferrari Red, Aston Martin British green, Renault Yellow… I like the idea of a grid full of team colours rather than sponsorship determining constantly changing liveries. With the exception of Red Bull and TR/AT, as that makes sense.

    2. Sorry to disappoint, but the DBX is not based on a Mercedes platform. the quote below is from the company website http://www.astonmartin.com

      AN EXCLUSIVE ARCHITECTURE

      DBX sits on an all-new platform designed exclusively for our SUV. Like all core Aston Martin models, DBX is crafted from aluminium that’s bonded not just for strength and toughness, but ultra-lightweight too.

      1. A 1cm difference in wheelbase would be enough to make it “exclusive”, but PR presentations are notoriously loose with language anyway.

      2. Trocadero, depends on what exactly you define as a “platform”.

        Whilst the chassis itself may be designed by Aston Martin, there are a lot of components fitted to it that are definitely from Mercedes. Dieter mentions the engine and electrical systems are from Mercedes, but the gearbox and all-wheel drive systems are all also Mercedes parts as well – there’s a fairly large amount of parts sharing going on.

        The way that Aston Martin are talking about it, they are defining a platform as just the core chassis – however, if you include the drivetrain and transmission system, that does use components from Mercedes and could be reasonably described as “Mercedes based”. Both of those definitions can be used and not necessarily contradict each other, so it can be both an Aston Martin platform and a Mercedes based platform at the same time.

    3. It is a gain-gain situation for all parts involved.
      Aston gets the brand refresh it needs. In the hands of “the” brand builder. It can be sold 10 years from now for a triple digits profit. Bernie classic move!
      Racing Point gets the manufacturer status that’s missing.
      Stroll Jr finally can drive a company supercar, like Mercedes and Ferrari give to their pilots.
      Honda will have a larger space to showcase their brand for only 10m more than the huge amount they’re spending in that engine development.

    4. If this comes to pass, I wonder if Newey would also be interested in the switch over to Aston Martin.

    5. I don’t want to assume you are new to the world of automobiles and partnerships. Their statement doesn’t say who designed the platform or from where it was sourced. Even if they only drilled two addition bolt holes it’s still purpose built.
      It costs a lot of money to design and fine-tune a chassis and I do not believe Aston Martin can spare those resources.

    6. How many British carmakers will be left after the takeover?

      Zero?

      1. McLaren, Caterham, Ariel & Morgan for starters.

        1. Morgan is owned, either majority along with the Morgan family, or outright by InvestIndustrial. McLaren is I think mainly owned by Middle East people/organisations.

      2. Based on share ownership Aston Martin has long been (primarily) a foreign-owned carmaker.
        Bond, @JamesBond
        And so is McLaren.

    7. Aston Martin share grew by 20%. Were many shares sold on that news?

      Stroll’s interest may have shrunk when the story leaked, if there was a story. Businessmen with his background don’t like having to pay an extra 20% on a deal, which would have been worked out at a much lower cost.

      Losing a £10m sponsor isn’t going to worry Red Bull too much after 2021, when their team spending is going to be far lower. There’s no reason why the Aston Martin/Red Bull collaboration should be affected by a new owner, McLaren are building cars that don’t have Honda engines.

      1. Businessmen with his background don’t like having to pay an extra 20% on a deal

        That’s not how these deals work; you don’t just call your broker and buy shares on the open market.
        If the rumours are correct then the investor has long discussed a price with the major investors (75% of AML shares are still in the hands of the old owners). And if the aim is to take the company private then a premium of 40-50% over the pre-announcement share price is normal.

        1. Coldfly …. Absolutely right. You beat me to the punch.
          The “deal” will be well orchestrated, done at a premium to the current listing price and likely contain a caveat that all shares are transferred to the new owner.
          Best thing for the current share-holders and given the business expertise of the potential consortium, very likely a great opportunity for Aston Martin as a brand and manufacturer.
          The main focus here, the forum, is the effct on the F1 Team. From Stroll Sr.’s perspective, this is a business deal and the magic is how he can tie the two groups together to best effect.
          Gonna be awesome.

    8. It also should be remembered that RBR’s HQ is not all that far from Racing Points as well.

      It’s possible, should Red Bull’s owner decide to withdraw, that Stroll & his investors could buy that team, merge the two and we’d end up with a potential contender PROVIDED of course Stroll decides to use the best available drivers.

      Alternatively he could run an A and B team the “old” RBR as Aston Martin A and the current RP team as the B team.

      The break between seasons might just get interesting.

      1. Whatever the outcome of this deal, Stroll will always put his son in the best car available to him. That’s why he is in Formula 1 in the first place. Would be fun watching a British racing green front-runner car with Lance behind the wheel.

        1. Much rather a genuinely talented Brit in racing green though!

    9. One small note: Aston Martin never scored points in F1 World Championship. Roy Salvadori had a couple of 6th place finishes, but at a time when only the top-five received points.

    10. Only 10m per year for a title sponsor? I would say it was much more, like Petronas/Mercedes.
      Honda has a great oportunity to put a huge v-tec logo on Red-Bull cars for only 10m a year, not much more than the tons of money they already invest in F1.

    11. One source is no source..
      This article is based on only one anonymous source

      but a senior motor industry figure

      sounds a bit like Bernie spilling beans he never ate ..

      1. But … But … It must be true. In the morning National Paper here, North of the 49th, there was even a credit shown to “RaceFans.net” as the reliable source for the News Flash.
        The best lasting and most effective rumors are the ones with a thread of truth, with a believable component and an overall premise that the recipient really wants to happen.
        Whether this one has legs, or not, it makes for great reading.

      2. This is a little too close to the release of the new bond movie trailer (another Aston marketing topic) for me to take seriously.

        I feel like we are in a post Rich Energy f1… where people realize just the threat of an f1 entry is enough to get people talking about your brand…

    12. Aston Martin’s share price has tanked because they’re losing money at an alarming rate & their strategy is being implemented, while drawing a massive salary, by the guy (Andy Palmer) that signed off the front wheel drive Nissan Le Mans car (one of the greatest duds of modern motor sport).

      The former Private Equity owners had proposed a share buy back at £10, but quickly cancelled that when it was heading south rapidly. Can’t fault PE for offloading a £4 share for £19; perhaps they should get into marketing too?

      Can’t see what the benefit of swapping a top 3 car/winner (RB) for Lance tooling around at the back is. How much cash is Lawrence’s ego going to cost him? Cliche about the only way making a small fortune out of motor racing is by starting with a large one could apply. I guess Prodrive couldn’t make the numbers work on this when DR was involved with AM.

      1. Not George, I believe that Palmer wasn’t actually involved with the decision to sign off the GTR-LM project, and instead it was Darren Cox who signed it off after the idea was raised by Nissan’s US division.

        1. True, Cox was the project “architect”, but Palmer was Exec VP, signed off the cheques, & made unrealistic claims about how they were going to win Le Mans… It’s nothing personal against Palmer, just the hyperbole. As a former Torotrak investor (bailed out long before this, though after I should have), I had hoped that the GTR had worked, but it was poorly managed and presented hence the concerns about AM strategy.

          1. Not George, Darren Cox was the director of Nissan’s motorsport division – Palmer might have provided support at the board level (though I believe that it was the board of Nissan’s US division that “signed the cheques”, as you put it, not Palmer himself), but Cox was the person who had the most direct line of control over the programme.

            Equally, at the time there were more than a few writers who did comment on Cox as having a somewhat “divisive” and “prickly” character (i.e. as somebody who had a strong passion to achieve that end goal, but sometimes did so in a destructive way), such that it sounds like Cox was more influential on the management – or perhaps mismanagement – of that project. It does feel as if you are focussing on Palmer when he doesn’t really seem to have had that important a role in that project.

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