Lawrence Stroll described bringing Aston Martin back to F1 as a dream come true, but their return is quickly becoming a nightmare.
More often than not, when a team ends up with the slowest car on the grid, it’s because they have a smaller budget and fewer resources at their disposal than their competitors.
That has very much been the case in recent times with Williams and Haas taking two wooden spoons each in the last four campaigns. However, it looks like Lawrence Stroll and co could be about to buck that trend.
The team formerly known as Racing Point used to be one of the underdogs of the grid themselves, but that’s no longer the case.
If we had a pound for every time Stroll has stated he’s going to turn them into title contenders since he took over in 2018, we’d probably be as rich as him.
Indeed, while they were performing relatively well, regularly scoring points, when he came in, he quickly made it clear he had much loftier ambitions, and has put his money where his mouth is since then.
The Canadian has invested in a huge brand in Aston Martin to bring them to the grid, has signed one of the biggest names – and highest earners – in the sport in Sebastian Vettel, has vastly increased the number of staff, and has forked out £200million on a new factory.
There’s little doubt that, when it comes to spending power and facilities, he has moved them firmly towards the top of the pack.
And so far, what does he have to show it? Well, nothing. Quite literally.
All of the above was done with the aim of making Aston Martin a top team in the new era of the sport that started this season, but three races in, they look to have gone backwards.
It is, of course, too early to say that they’ll be the backmarkers of the grid this season, but the early signs couldn’t be much worse.
They’ve only made it out of Q1 once, largely because Yuki Tsunoda wasn’t able to set a time, have finished in the bottom two of those to cross the line in two races and are the only outfit yet to score points.
There’s little doubt that, right now, the AMR22 is one of the slowest cars on the grids, if not the slowest. Not since 2017 have one of the wealthier teams on the grid found themselves in such a dire situation.
Back then, it was unmitigated disaster that was McLaren Honda punching way below their weight, and right now, the Aston Martin project is turning into just as big a catastrophe.
Where has it all gone wrong? Well, for one, if you want to put together a team capable of building a top car, having them copy Mercedes’ designs rather than come up with their own probably isn’t a good idea in the long term.
Such a strategy might have given them some success in 2021, but it cost them last year when the aerodynamic regulation changes hurt the German team and, by extension, themselves.
Now, it looks to be costing them this year too with them thus far falling short when required to come up with their own design philosophy for the first time since 2019.
The 2020 and 2021 campaigns would have been ideal trial runs for the team ahead of a time when it was absolutely crucial they got things right, but instead they just chose to copy a rival.
If you don’t have a top car, what you really need is top drivers, and they don’t have them either.
— André Castelo (@andrecasteloF1) April 11, 2022
They did in the form of Sergio Perez, a man who has bene performing well for years and is pushing Max Verstappen hard so far this season, but opted to get rid of him for Sebastian Vettel.
While the desire to have a driver with such experience, knowledge and success to his name onboard is understandable, the fact of the matter is that, when he was signed, he wasn’t driving anywhere near as well as Perez and had looked past his best for a few years.
As for the German’s team-mate, while he has shown signs of potential, there’s little doubt that Lance Stroll only has his seat because he’s the owner’s son.
To say he wouldn’t be in F1 at all if not for his father would be a little harsh – amidst all the mistakes, there is clearly a talented driver in there – but Lawrence Stroll wants to win titles, and it’s hard to argue that his son is a driver good enough to do that.
To challenge for wins and championships, you need a team that can build you a top car and drivers that get the most out of it.
Right now, it doesn’t look like Aston Martin have either, and that’s a problem that isn’t going to go away no matter how much money is thrown at it.
This project isn’t yet as disastrous as the partnership between McLaren and Honda was, but given the level of investment, unless some changes are made, it soon could be.
Aston Martin crashes proving costly
Aston Martin can't afford crashes and other problems like Sebastian Vettel had in Melbourne as it will limit what they can spend to improve the car.