Aston Martin Happy to Play the ‘Disruptor’ Role in F1 Engine Talks


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Andy Palmer believes Aston Martin are playing the role of ‘disruptor’ during talks aimed at the engine regulations in Formula 1 as the British manufacturer continues to analyse whether they should join the grid in 2021.

When the initial plans for the power units from 2021 were announced, Aston Martin were tentatively encouraged by them, although some of the current engine manufacturers, most notable Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz, were less so.

However, Palmer, the President and CEO of Aston Martin, says they would be looking at approaching Formula 1 differently from those already involved, although he appreciates the approaches from their rivals.

“We are acutely conscious that the current incumbents will try to bring the sport towards whatever they have right now,” said Palmer to Motorsport.com. “I would if I was in their shoes too.

“We stick out there as the disruptor, which I like. If we do an engine, we won’t do it by ourselves. We’ll start now to look for partners. That’s a partnership from a technical point of view and from a manufacturing point of view.

“We are starting that study now in parallel to the machination of the regulations.”

Should Aston Martin indeed join the grid, Palmer says it would need a drastic reduction in the cost of developing Formula 1 engines, with some of the technology currently being utilised and developed seemingly irrelevant, such as the heat recovery on the turbocharger.

“We put a letter together which we submitted to the FIA and Liberty saying ‘this is what we think’ from a potential independent manufacturer’s point of view,” said Palmer. “The main point of our position was to try and standardise the bottom end so an independent manufacturer can buy from other people.

“There’s no competition around that bottom end. Let’s get rid of the heat recovery on the turbocharger. That’s got hundreds of people working on something that is not so relevant.

“On the other side of our submission was to limit the development cost, which is mainly around limiting dyno hours in the same way we do on the chassis [development]. That hasn’t been addressed yet. What has come out is a good reflection on what we asked for so that’s encouraging.

“It means we’re still interested in pursuing it. We’re not a huge company. We have to spend our money carefully, which means that limitation of dyno areas is going to be a key next step. We’ve got a year as I understand it to mature the regulations.”

Even though they are not financially strapped, mainly down to Palmer’s influence, he acknowledges the need for Aston Martin to seek funding from external sources to ensure participation in Formula 1.

“We’re not the company we were three years ago so we’re not cash-strapped but it’s not limitless,” said Palmer. “I see a way of funding it if it falls into the criteria that we have set down as being acceptable.

“I still have to take my board through it. We understand what we’re getting into. I’m a powertrain engineer originally and we have two highly professional F1 engineers, we have Red Bull behind us.”