Aston Martin team boss Otmar Szafnauer says his team’s ambitious roadmap plans for the Silverstone-based outfit to become a title contender in F1 in the next three to four years and win the world championship within five seasons.
Under the guidance and financial support of team owner Lawrence Stroll and his associates, Aston Martin has gradually strengthened its foundations and increased its resources.
And the hiring of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel for this season is yet another testimony to Aston’s growing ambitions.
The team will operate under a new roof in over a year when it inaugurates its new factory, a modern tool that will help carry Aston forward. But the hardware upgrade will also include an important recruitment effort that will aim to bridge the gap to F1’s top teams.
“We’ve added significantly the amount of people we have since we were Force India,” said Szafnauer.
“The new factory is on track, we have started building already, and it’s a big, big programme to recruit even further,” he said.
“We are at about 535 people now and we will get to about the region of 800 or whatever the right size is under the cost cap.
“And we are strategically working on that now and trying to recruit likeminded individuals that want to come work for Aston Martin Racing and go racing at the highest level. The recruitment process is going well.”
Szafnauer says the introduction this year of F1’s budget cap is having a “transformative'” effect on teams.
“We don’t quite fully grasp how big this change is, but I think it will be transformative for Formula 1,” ensured the Aston Martin boss.
“For the teams, our design engineers and aero [teams], especially at big teams, the cost was really a secondary issue, it was all about performance.
“But now, cost will become an aspect where you have to trade off cost for performance. We’ll be making decisions based on performance but also with cost in mind.
“If we can add a little bit of performance, but at a very significant cost you may not do it, so you’ll start looking for more low hanging fruit, to get performance at a lower cost level.
“It means teams will be thinking totally differently; not so much us as we’ve been forced to make cost versus performance decisions [previously] as we didn’t have the money, but for the big teams it will be different.”
And where does Aston Martin’s evolution leave the team in terms of its proclaimed ambitions?
“If we can get to the world championship contention in three to four years, that would be a success, and winning in five, that would definitely be successful,” said Szafnauer.
“If you look back at the teams that have recently won multiple championships, I think it took Mercedes four years after purchasing Brawn, the timeframe was about the same for Red Bull after they bought Jaguar, we’re starting I think from a lower base.
“[When] Mercedes purchased Brawn, they had won the world championship the year before, and we finished fourth a few times. We weren’t world championship contenders, so it takes longer to take a team that is top of the midfield to number one.
“So if I say four to five years I think that would be a success if we can achieve that.”
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