Aston Martin identify ‘horrendous’ F1 cost that needs to be resolved

Oliver Harden
Fernando Alonso puts in the laps in the AMR23. Australia March 2023

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso puts in the laps in the AMR23. Australia March 2023

Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack has called for the “horrendous” cost of Formula 1 gearboxes to be reduced.

The Silverstone-based team currently compete with Mercedes engines and gearboxes as part of a long-standing technical partnership, but that arrangement will come to an end in 2026 when Aston Martin’s newly announced deal with Honda comes into effect.

Aston Martin will be forced to design and build their own gearboxes from that point, with Krack estimating an in-house gearbox facility to cost as much as $9million per season.

With F1 yet to finalise the technical regulations for the 2026 season, Krack sees an opportunity to drive down costs through simplification, arguing that gearbox performance is no longer a performance differentiator between the teams.

And he reckons another option would be to reduce the number of gearboxes available to a driver each season, which currently stands at four before penalties are applied.

According to The Race, he said: “If you look at the gearbox these days and you compare it with other motorsport categories, the gearbox is not a performance differentiator anymore.

“Everybody has more or less the same performance from the gearbox, but the cost for a gearbox is horrendous, especially if you compare it to other categories.

“So in a cost cap world you have to ask if it makes sense that you go with such complicated technology if there is no difference in performance. recommends

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“Every team is just writing off eight or nine million [dollars] a year for gearboxes where there is no performance difference at all.

“We have been in talks with the FIA if it does not make sense to go simpler, go more cost-effective from gearboxes with more simple technology, and also maybe less units per year that you would need, in an attempt to just make the whole sport more sustainable.

“Because, say the sum of the paddock is over 100 million a year, you could ask yourself, is that needed? If you look at other categories.

“That’s the reason why we are in talks and why I think, as a sport, we have to ask these questions and think about is it making sense that we make the whole thing a bit more simple.

“The list could be long, but there can be a healthy compromise between keeping some kind of technology like Formula 1 differentials for example, which are unique compared to other categories.

“But seamless [shift] is something that you can discuss, the amount of gears you can discuss or size or introduce some some level of standardisation. It’s possible.

“I would not go as far as saying a common gearbox for everybody or same gearbox for everybody, but design specification or stuff like that, just to cut the cost down.”

Despite his unhappiness with the current cost, Krack is confident Aston Martin will be in a position to produce their own gearbox in time for 2026 with the team beginning the process of transferring to their all-new state-of-the-art factory at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

“We don’t have a gearbox at the moment. It’s a challenge, we are aware of that,” he added.

“But we are moving into the new building – over this weekend, it starts. And we have all the provision there to build our own gearboxes.

“We are aware that is a challenge but I think over the next month, we will set up ourselves to be able to do that and then we should be ready by 2026.”