FIA president believes Aston Martin ‘are on the way’ to becoming a race-winning team

Michelle Foster
Fernando Alonso leaning over Aston Martin car. Abu Dhabi November 2022.

Fernando Alonso leaning over Aston Martin car in Yas Marina garage. Abu Dhabi November 2022.

FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem has backed Aston Martin to become Formula 1 race winners, saying they “should be able to do it” in time.

Under owner Lawrence Stroll, Aston Martin are investing heavily in the Formula 1 team’s future with a new £200m “game-changing” F1 factory as well as a new wind tunnel.

However, the team has predicted it won’t be until 2025 that the effects of the infrastructure upgrades are felt out on track as the wind tunnel will only be operational midway through the 2024 season.

That, though, hasn’t curbed the team’s ambitions for the 2023 campaign.

With new signing Fernando Alonso now leading the charge, the double World Champion replacing the retired Sebastian Vettel as Lance Stroll’s team-mate, Aston Martin are hoping for a few champagne celebrations after a 38-race dry spell.

Those are more likely to come from podiums than race wins, although Ben Sulayem reckons the P1s will come at some stage.

“They should be able to do it, they are investing for it, they are on the way and they have a driver ready like Fernando so I think so,” he told Motorsport.com.

“But,” he added, “winning is very complicated.

“It’s the same with Ferrari. It’s not because they’re slow, management or reliability or both are also important.

“However, I think that Aston Martin, with [team owner] Stroll, they are trying things by signing a new driver and new staff, new discipline, which is also very important.”

Last season Formula 1 welcomed all-new ground effect aerodynamic cars, the sport’s latest step towards creating better – and closer – racing.

While it did seem to some to be a step backwards with eight teams on the podium in 2021 and only four in 2022, there was more passing than in the previous season.

Ben Sulayem and the F1 bosses hope that in time the new cars coupled with the sliding scale for R&D and the budget cap, the field will close up.

“I think so,” he said, “the challenges that I see and that the drivers themselves see is one thing, but then the challenges with the teams are different,” he said. .

“It’s not easy to create a balance of performance, and what I can say is working and what we’re working on the most is the budget ceiling.”

There was controversy surrounding the cap last season when it emerged that Red Bull had exceeded it in 2021 as Max Verstappen raced his way to a first World title.

As he followed that up with a second in 2022, Red Bull were hit with a 10 percent reduction in this year’s R&D time as well as a $7m fine for their breach.

Ben Sulayem applauded the FIA’s handling of the matter.

“I have been very clear with what happened with Red Bull,” the FIA president continued. “We were very transparent throughout the process, we were clear in a public way.

“I hope that nobody uses the cost cap to hide things because they know that we are watching them, that is one of the tasks that we have, the difference is big [for] now.

“But we have to keep working and make sure the small teams get closer to the big ones.”

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