After finishing fourth in their former guise as Racing Point back in 2020, the newly-named Aston Martin team slipped back in 2021, and ultimately finished the year seventh in the Constructors’ Championship. Can Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll have a better season in 2022?
Aston Martin F1 Team
Stroll & Vettel
F1 season 2022
Origins in previous F1 years
The Aston Martin team’s origins date back to the Jordan Grand Prix outfit that first entered F1 back in 1991. The squad won four races in total over the years, and finished third in the 1999 Constructors’ Championship. Financial problems eventually saw them fall off the pace, before team owner Eddie Jordan sold up to the Midland Group in early 2005
Renamed Midland F1 Racing, the team spent two seasons struggling at the back of the field before owner Alex Shnaider sold to Spyker Cars midway through the 2006 campaign.
Spyker F1 scored a point in 2007 and briefly led the European Grand Prix with Markus Winkelhock. However, money woes resulted in the outfit being purchased by Indian businessman Vijay Mallya for €88 million. The team was renamed as Force India Formula 1 Team.
Becoming Force India
Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella served as the team’s driver pairing for the 2008 season. The Force India VJM01 was an updated version of the Spyker F8-VIIB chassis, using Ferrari engines. Thanks to an increased budget, the squad set a goal of beating Super Aguri, who had battled it out with Force India’s predecessors.
Fisichella finished 12th in Malaysia, the team’s first finish after a double DNF in Australia. Sutil was in the running for points at the wet Monaco Grand Prix before Kimi Raikkonen lost control of his Ferrari and collided with the German, who consequently retired.
Super Aguri’s withdrawal from the championship meant that Force India often found themselves at the back of the field. They ended the year without a point, their best finish coming thanks to Fisichella’s 10th place result in Spain.
Both drivers returned in 2009, while Force India made the switch to Mercedes engines after signing a five-year deal with the manufacturer. Sutil almost scored the team’s first points at the wet Chinese Grand Prix, holding sixth place in front of Lewis Hamilton and Timo Glock with six laps remaining. However, aquaplaning saw the German go off track and crash out of the race.
Fisichella put Force India on pole for the first time in Belgium, finishing the race less than a second behind Ferrari’s Raikkonen to give the team their first win, podium and points. The Italian left before the end of the season to race for Ferrari for the remainder of the year, with Vitantonio Liuzzi replacing him.
At the Italian Grand Prix, Sutil qualified second whilst Liuzzi lined up in seventh. The former finished the race in fourth, as well as setting the fastest lap of the race. Force India ended the season ninth, level on 13 points with Toro Rosso.
The 2010 season saw Sutil and Liuzzi return, with the Italian picking up points thanks to a ninth-place finish in Bahrain. Both cars scored points at Monaco, the first time Force India had done so, and they did it again in Canada a few races later. Several high-profile team members, with Technical Director James Key being the biggest name, left during the season, as Force India ended the year seventh with 68 points, just one back from Williams.
Paul di Resta was promoted from reserve driver to a race seat in 2011, partnering Sutil. Although both cars finished out of the points in Australia, they were later promoted to ninth and 10th after both Saubers were disqualified for a technical infringement. The team’s best finish was sixth, with Sutil claiming that position twice compared to di Resta’s one. This helped the squad to finish sixth in the Constructors’ Championship with 69 points.
Di Resta returned in 2012, whilst Sutil was replaced with 2011 reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg. The team continued to build on their success, finishing in the points three out of a possible four times with both cars at the opening two events. Di Resta finished sixth in Bahrain, while Hulkenberg did one better with a fifth-place finish at the European Grand Prix.
The best finish came courtesy of di Resta, who finished fourth in Singapore, while Hulkenberg led the season finale in Brazil and had built up a 45-second lead from Jenson Button, only to see it taken away due to the Safety Car being deployed. He finished the race in fifth, while Force India ended the year seventh.
Sutil was brought back in 2013 as Hulkenberg departed for Sauber. The German finished seventh and di Resta eighth at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, giving Force India their strongest start to a season yet. The best result of the year came via di Resta’s fourth place finish in Bahrain, just over two seconds back from Romain Grosjean in third. Force India once again finished the year with a solid haul of points, placing seventh with 77 points.
Consistently scoring with over 100 points per season
Di Resta was replaced by Sergio Perez in 2014, while Sutil left for Sauber. Meanwhile, Hulkenberg did the opposite switch to Sutil and completed a return to Force India. The team started the season strongly, capped off by Perez’s third-place finish in Bahrain, marking their first podium result since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix. The Mexican scored the team’s third fastest lap in Australia, and the outfit finished the year sixth in the standings with 155 points.
Although the team only debuted the VJM08 on Day 2 of the third and final 2015 pre-season test at Barcelona, Force India had a somewhat strong start to the campaign. Hulkenberg finished seventh in Australia, yet the team went on to finish outside of the points on several occasions.
Things picked up in Austria, and the team introduced a highly modified B-spec car at the British Grand Prix that helped them in high-speed corners. Perez finished third in Russia, and this boosted Force India enough for them to take fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, with 136 points.
Perez and Hulkenberg returned for a third season in 2016 as Force India continued to establish themselves as a serious midfield threat. Perez scored two podium finishes, the first thanks to a third-place in Monaco and then another third at the European Grand Prix two races later. Both cars finished in the top five in Belgium, helping Force India to end the year fourth in the Constructors’ Championship ahead of Williams.
Hulkenberg left in 2017, with Esteban Ocon brought in as his replacement after having driven for Manor in the second half of the previous season. A new sponsorship deal with BWT resulted in a livery change, with the team now sporting a pink design.
Both drivers scored points at the opening five races, with Perez finishing fourth ahead of Ocon in Spain. Unfortunately, the pair came together on several occasions over the course of the season. At the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the two cars collided with one another which resulted in Perez retiring, while Ocon came home in sixth.
Another incident in Belgium whilst battling for position resulted in Ocon damaging his front wing and Perez getting a puncture. Ocon finished ninth, while Perez once again was forced to retire. In the end, the team finished fourth in the Constructors’ Championship for the second season in a row with 187 points.
Ownership change results in Racing Point Force India
Perez and Ocon returned for the 2018 campaign, which had a slow start as the drivers finished in the points just once from the opening three races. Perez came home third in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and that kicked off a run of four straight finishes in the points for the Mexican. Ocon, though, had to wait until the ninth race of the season in Austria for his first points of the year.
Force India were put into administration during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, with the legal action kickstarted by creditors, including Perez, in order to allow the team to continue operating while searching for a new owner.
The team were eventually purchased by a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll. The association were only able to buy the assets of the team, resulting in Force India being excluded from the championship and replaced by the new Force India Racing Point outfit. The new squad were unable to keep any of the points scored by the old team.
Force India Racing Point saw both cars finish in the points at their first two races, kickstarting a positive run to end the season that saw them score 52 points in nine races. This was good enough for seventh, whilst the previous incarnation of the team took 59 points in 12 Grands Prix.
© Racing Point
A new name of Racing Point
Prior to the start of the 2019 season, the Force India name was dropped, with the team competing as Racing Point F1 Team. Lance Stroll, son of Lawrence, and Perez were the team’s drivers for the campaign, scoring points at the first four races to go along with a double points finish in Azerbaijan. However, they struggled during the middle of the year, with Stroll finishing ninth in Canada and ending a run of six races without points.
The outfit’s best result came at the German Grand Prix, where Stroll finished fourth after briefly leading as a result of tyre strategy. Racing Point’s form improved from there on following the introduction of significant upgrades in Belgium. Perez scored points in the final nine races barring Singapore, where he retired with an oil leak. This helped Racing Point to leapfrog Alfa Romeo and finish seventh with 73 points.
Both drivers were retained for the 2020 season, while BWT replaced SportPesa as the team’s new title sponsor. The RP20 caused controversy during pre-season testing due to its resemblance to the Mercedes W10 that had won the 2019 World Championship. A formal protest was launched against the RP20 following the Styrian Grand Prix, specifically the brake ducts which, as per the rules, must be designed by the team. Between the British and 70th Anniversary Grands Prix, Racing Point were fined €400,000 and had 15 Constructors’ points deducted after Renault’s protest was upheld.
On track, Racing Point found themselves consistently in the top 10 and very often in the leading five. Stroll finished fourth in Hungary, while Perez was forced to miss the British and 70th Anniversary Grands Prix after testing positive for COVID-19. During these races, Nico Hulkenberg was brought in as his replacement. The German would also stand in for Stroll later in the year after the Canadian tested positive for coronavirus.
Stroll claimed the team’s first ever podium at the Italian Grand Prix, and also took their first ever pole position in Turkey. Whilst the Canadian led the race early on, he came home in ninth, while Perez finished second behind Lewis Hamilton. The Mexican almost added another podium finish in Bahrain, but retired late due to an engine failure, while Stroll failed to finish after being flipped upside down following a collision with Daniil Kvyat. It marked the only race where both cars failed to score a point in 2020.
The disappointment was transformed into jubilation the following week at the Sakhir Grand Prix. Perez clinched his and the team’s first win, while Stroll came home in third. It was the first time any incarnation of the team had won a race since the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Following Lawrence Stroll’s purchase of a 16.7 percent stake in Aston Martin, the team were rebranded as Aston Martin F1 Team for 2021.
The old Aston Martin days
Aston Martin’s original F1 foray was in 1959 with the DBR4 at the Dutch Grand Prix. Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori struggled, although the latter managed to qualify second at the British Grand Prix, which remains Aston Martin’s best qualifying result in F1 to date.
Maurice Trintignant raced in 1960 as Aston Martin failed to get the DRB5 ready in time for the first part of the season. Due to further poor results, Aston Martin abandoned Formula 1 entirely after their home race in 1960 to focus on sports car racing.
Despite years of speculation in the late 2000s that Aston Martin would make their long-awaited return to F1 with Dave Richards, it never came to fruition. However, Aston Martin did return as a title sponsor for Red Bull between 2018 and 2020.
The Aston Martin branding was on Red Bull’s car during the turbo-hybrid era, when the team won several races with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
© Aston Martin
Aston Martin’s full return to F1
After 61 years, Aston Martin finally returned to F1 as a constructor in 2021. Led by new owner and CEO Lawrence Stroll and Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer, the green machine was back racing in the top category of motorsport.
The team’s headquarters are in Silverstone, with a new facility set to be built by 2022 including a new wind tunnel.
In terms of drivers, Sebastian Vettel took over Sergio Perez’s seat after being replaced at Ferrari by Carlos Sainz. This may have come as a surprise to Perez, who had originally been under contract to drive for Aston Martin, but the Mexican was instead given an opportunity at Red Bull.
Vettel signed a multi-year deal to race for the team, whilst Lance Stroll was retained for his third year with the outfit.
Stroll scored the squad’s first point under its Aston Martin guise at the season-opening event in Bahrain, and he followed this with four more points at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
As was the case with other drivers who had switched teams for 2021, Vettel initially seemed to struggle to adapt to his new car. However, things turned around by the fifth race of the season in Monaco, where the German finished a strong P5.
There was an even better result two weeks later at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. An eventful race enabled Vettel to take P2, his first podium with Aston Martin.
Vettel went on to claim another podium at the similarly chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix, but his second-place result was later taken away as he was disqualified due to the FIA being unable to take enough of a fuel sample from his car at the end of the race.
Aside from Vettel’s five points from the rain-affected Belgian Grand Prix – which only ran for one full lap behind the Safety Car due to the torrential rain, and as such half points were awarded – both he and Stroll scored points at just three races each throughout the rest of the season.
The best result came in Qatar, which marked one of three Grands Prix in the year where both Vettel and Stroll finished in the points.
Aston Martin eventually ended the season with 77 points, putting them P7 in the Constructors’ Championship.
© Aston Martin
Vettel and Stroll return for 2022
In September 2021, it was confirmed that both Vettel and Stroll would remain as Aston Martin’s driver line-up for the 2022 F1 season.
There have been changes off-track ahead of the new campaign, though, with Mike Krack replacing Otmar Szafnauer as the outfit’s new Team Principal. Meanwhile, Dan Fallows – Red Bull’s former Head of Aerodynamics – will join the team this year in the role of Technical Director.
With new technical regulations being introduced into Formula 1 for the new campaign, Vettel is hopeful that this can offer an opportunity for Aston Martin to progress.