MAY 29, 2009

Aston Martin to enter F1 in 2012

Aston Martin is to enter F1 from 2012 as a fully-fledged manufacturer entrant, according to a report in Autocar magazine. The company will put its name on a new F1 team to be launched by Prodrive. The new F1 team announced will run as Prodrive in 2010, before being rebranding as Aston Martin in 2012. Aston Martins Prodrive-run sportscar racing programmes will continue. It is expected that the Prodrive team will get much assistance from McLaren Racing and will almost certainly use Mercedes-Benz engines. The cars will be built at Prodrive's Banbury factory. The team is understood to have picked up two big sponsors in the Middle East.

Aston Martin will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013 and it has long had an association with racing, dating back to the 1920s when Count Louis Zborowski, a wealthy British-based American racing driver, was a supporter of the firm. Zborowski was killed at Monza in 1924, driving a Mercedes, but the racing tradition continued under the patronage of Augustus Bertelli,a although the emphasis switched to sports cars. It was only after World War II that Aston Martin's sporting history really took off, following the purchase of the company and its merger with Lagonda to form Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd, under the guidance of David Brown. The company entered and won the Spa 24 Hours in 1948 and appeared at Le Mans in 1949. Throughout the 1950s Aston Martin would battle for victory in the classic French race but it was not until 1959 that the team scored an historic 1-2 finish with Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby leading home Maurice Trintignant and Paul Frere.

In 1959 Brown decided to enter Grand Prix racing again with the Ted Cutting-designed DBR4/250 being built at the Aston Martin factory in Feltham. Unfortunately, the car was an obsolete front-engined model and Salvadori and Shelby struggled to be competitive, although Salvadori's second place on the car's debut in the International Trophy was promising.

The cars were redesigned for 1960 and Salvadori was joined by Maurice Trintignant but performance did not improve and the company gave up F1 at the end of the year.