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Aston Martin to make engine decision in nine months

NEWS STORY
23/05/2018

Currently title sponsor to Red Bull Racing, with which it is partnered in the Valkyrie hypercar project, Aston Martin has admitted that should a suitable rules package be agreed for 2021 which sees simplified, cheaper power units, it could well be tempted to enter the sport as an engine manufacturer.

Having hired former Ferrari and Toyota engine guru Luca Marmorini as a consultant, CEO Andy Palmer claims things are gathering pace.

It's gathered momentum, that's for sure," he told Motorsport.com. "Nothing's come along that's deflected the probability, nothing's been put in place that says we can't do it anymore, so we continue to do as much pre-study as we can in the context of what we understand of the regulations, which are not fully detailed. We can at least size up the opportunity now.

"The bit that we don't know about the regs is the cost cap," he admits, "and that's an integral part of our decision to come into the sport or not. We don't have money to burn. It has to be a better return, let's say, than straightforward sponsorship, and that's a key part of the decision.

"I'm expecting something along the lines of a limited number of dyno hours, some way of putting a monetary effect on hours spent, that kind of thing."

While Red Bull ponders what engine it will use beyond the end of this season, Renault or Honda, Palmer admits that Aston Martin must convince itself that it can provide a competitive engine before attempting to do a deal with the Austrian team.

"We're looking at 2021, so it's somewhere down the road," he said. "But if we can't pass the 'It's OK for Red Bull test' then that probably means we're not passing the 'It's competitive' test, and it has to be competitive.

"There's approximately nine months work in front of us to convince ourselves one way or the other," he continued. "You've got simulation tools and single cylinder work, and that gives you a pretty accurate correlation between the testing world and the simulation world."

While the British manufacturer will seek to join forces with an engine specialist, Palmer insists his company is determined to have direct input on the power unit's development.

"It brings authenticity, doesn't it?" he said. "We have the likes of Luca as a consultant to work with us, and help us through the bear pits. He's done it before, he has a lot of credibility, a lot of understanding, and he can guide us.

"But most engines around the world are done with some from of consulting, there's obviously the Cosworths, the Ricardos, the Ilmors, the AVLs, those kinds of companies, that's what they do.

"It's not easy," he admits, "we're not looking it from a naive 'It's just an engine' point of view.' But we are an engine manufacturer, and we are an engine designer. Our V12 is an example of that, the Valkyrie engine is an example of that, so we're not starting from scratch. I fully accept that Honda proves how hard it is. But at the same time you can start to see Honda improving."

Only yesterday, Aston Martin reported a pre-tax profit of 2.8m for the first three months of the year, a rise of around 3%.

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1. Posted by mickl, 25/05/2018 3:08

"If Aston can't afford to develop an engine for their road cars, which actually makes them money. How are they able to do one, which would probably be at a loss, for a top flight F1 team.

It all sounds a bit Caterham."

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2. Posted by ryanhellyer, 24/05/2018 14:20

"Making a profit of 2.8m for the last three months, yet are thinking of building their own F1 engine!? I feel this is a very bad idea for them, even if Red Bull turfs a lot of cash their direction."

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3. Posted by ESTM PRFT, 24/05/2018 4:00

"An Aston F1 engine would most likely be a Cosworth (maybe Ilmor) with 'Aston Martin' engraved on the cam covers. As Spindoctor commented "Aston lacks the technical & financial resources to ... [do anything]""

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4. Posted by Spindoctor, 23/05/2018 14:44

"@micki
Exactly! Aston lacks the technical & financial resources to develop an F1 chassis, let alone an entire package."

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5. Posted by mickl, 23/05/2018 14:37

"There's no way Aston can afford this without a massive injection of capital and investment unless the 2021 rules will be using a purely internal combustion power unit without any hybridization. The best that can happen is a rebadged engine from one of the existing manufacturers."

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6. Posted by neil-o, 23/05/2018 12:42

"How does this sit with the road car agreement for mercedes-AMG to supply engine and tech for the road cars? Is it cheaper to develop an F1 ICE and auxiliaries than a power unit and sat nav for a range of road cars?"

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