At the 2018 Rolex Australian Grand Prix taking place this weekend, Aston Martin will embark on its most ambitious and far-reaching global motorsport program in over 50 years. As the iconic British marque grows its comprehensive motorsport vision decisively forwards, the Aston Martin name will appear once again in both Formula 1 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time since 1959, when the Aston Martin DBR1/300 won Le Mans and the RB6 contested that year’s F1 World Championship with Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori behind the wheel.
Together with its push to take the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship titles with the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team, Aston Martin Racing will contest the 2018-2019 FIA World Endurance Championship Super Season’s GTE Pro class with the Vantage GTE challenger. Aston Martin Racing factory drivers will also race in the Blancpain GT Series and British GT Championships with the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3s , with the marque also racing at the Nürburgring 24 Hours once again in May. For 2018, Aston Martin will be a significant part of 44 races in total around the world.
Aston Martin’s President and Chief Executive Officer Andy Palmer said, “Racing forms part of the original DNA of the company and this reinforces the message. It’s in the name, Lionel Martin built and raced his car up Aston Hill, so it’s always been part of what we are. Extending our association with, and renaming the team, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing is about seeding the soil for the future. First and foremost, that concerns the Aston Martin Valkyrie and creating the fastest mid-engine car ever. But what it also does is create a fertile ground for when we launch our first core mid-engine car in 2021. Secondly, continuing in the FIA World Endurance Championship allows us to demonstrate our quality, reliability and durability. To race for 24 hours and then win, like we did at Le Mans in 2017, helps to sell that message. By going racing we have demonstrated this to the whole world. I think what you are seeing is a much more confident Aston Martin. We’re a global force and that reflects on our position in motorsport in 2018.”
A TAG Heuer-branded 1.6-litre turbocharged hybrid engine will continue to power the new Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB14 which Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen will drive throughout the 2018 F1 season. Nevertheless, Aston Martin remains open to the possibility of becoming an engine manufacturer in 2021 if future F1 regulations allow it. Palmer added, “The draft regulations put together by the FIA, I would say, are broadly acceptable to us. In other words, they are most definitely going in the right direction. And they are drafted in a way which I believe puts more control back with the driver and less with the electronic brain, which is what F1 is all about. We don’t expect to see the final draft regulations published before the end of the year, but we are preparing our engine concepts so that we don’t lose any time. If we get that simplified engine and we get a cap on costs, then that is something that we are very interested in doing.”
Having won the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Pro class and being the GTE Am class’ reigning champions, Team AMR is solidly poised to live up to this legacy when it competitively debuts the 4-litre turbocharged Aston Martin Vantage GTE at the FIA WEC Super Season’s opening round at Spa-Francorchamps in May. Two AMR Vantage GTEs will compete in the GTE Pro class, while the highly-acclaimed and iconic normally-aspirated V8 Vantage GTE will fight to defend its GTE Am title in its final season of competitive racing in that class.
Aston Martin’s Vice President and Chief Special Operations Officer David King stated, “The team has done an outstanding job in designing and developing the new car. The driver feedback is excellent and we expect to be competitive, but with an all-new car and the Balance of Performance process, we won’t know for sure until the racing starts. It is great to see more manufacturers coming into the GTE class – it is a sure sign of health in the GT and sports car sector of our industry. The competition is certain to be intense, which is good for the sport and especially for the fans, many of who I hope will be cheering us on throughout the season.”
The 2018 Formula 1 season starts off with the Rolex Australian Grand Prix this Sunday the 25th of March. Meanwhile, the 2018 FIA WEC Prologue will take place on 6th to 7th April at Paul Ricard before the FIA WEC Super Season opens with its aforementioned first round on 5th May at Spa.