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Thanks Alfred, I'll take the Aston


A shaken, not stirred, mixing of James Bond and Batman is a risky extended metaphor with which to set sail.

Yet your scribe and the Pitpass team, most especially the felines, are truly fearless in the battle to never be out-punned. Indeed I'm sure that within one of the many super hero universes cluttering a cinema near you, that Bruce Wayne owns Astons aplenty, and we already know James prefers them. So please Alfred, have the Vantage fettled and I'll be down in the stables in fifteen to take her for a fine gallop.

Previously I've seen fit to quip that modern Astons are German muscle wrapped in a Saville Row suit. Then, the latest land yacht that is the brain-bending, tarmac-flattening Ranger Rover Autobiography now has a Germanic Kraftwerk stuffed under its cricket pitch sized bonnet such that when these facts are combined one is rather forced to take a more measured consideration. Indeed, prior to selling their glorious 4.4L twin turbo V8 to Land Rover for the 2023 model year, BMW briefly owned them, as they (correctly) reasoned the best way to learn how to build what would become the BMW X3, and X5 SUVs was to buy the masters of the game, learn everything they could, and then flog them off to cover the cost.

The point being, German powerhouse genius wrapped in a Saville Row suit, is making a really rather compelling case for itself these days. If only TVR had repurposed Porsche parts, oh well.

Back in 2018 I wrote a piece on Fernando Alonso titled The Lord of the Rings. This reflected that Alonso is claimed to be a keen student of the Japanese Samurai tradition, specifically aspects of that tradition as captured in the book The Five Rings.

Add Sir Stroll, and depending on your views we either have our current Aston cocktail shaken with Fernando as Double-O, and Lawrence as Batman, or, if you prefer, Alfred. Now to stir this intriguing mix with your freshly drawn Katana we can revisit the Five Rings with Aston providing the delightfully realised German-Anglo hybrid powerhouse.

"The Book of Five Rings" (Go Rin no Sho) by the seventeenth century Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi provides details of five rings required to be studied, and absorbed, if the Samurai is to be a Master. Consistently urging the student to grow by doing, study, and observation, while not being distracted by flourishes and ineffective, yet fancy looking, technique.

Musashi himself was said to prefer a two-sword duelling style where the Katana (long curved sword, usually used two handed), and the Wakizashi (being a shorter single handed sword) were used simultaneously. Some modern readers of the text have rather taken it mean to be master of more than one approach, and adaptable to which best suits the moment.

So, Alonso San moves to Aston. Has this different approach finally moved him to a winning position? Is this the adaptation for the moment setting the old Master for renewed success?

To The Five Rings. The first book The Book of Earth discusses The Way in general, and an approach to strategy, while addressing the importance of good timing...

Timing is important in dancing and pipe or string music, for they are in rhythm only if timing is good... In all skills and abilities there is timing... There is timing in the whole life of the warrior, in his thriving and declining, in his harmony and discord.

A Master on track, witness his latest overtaking moves as he slices with all the precision of a Samurai with his Katana through the mid-field, his team selection timing has been off for many a long campaign. The great Fangio attained five titles with four different teams (Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes, and Maserati). McLaren and Ferrari served Fernando painful times, while a rumoured offer from Red Bull was gifted to Vettel. Poor timing one and all.

Could seasons 2023 and 2024 finally prove Alonso the master of team timing to the same level as his late dives for the Apex? If Shogun Stroll continues to refine the Aston racing team as briskly, and as surely as the past few years, this could well be a delightful Yes.

Next we have The Book of Water addressing more on strategy, while adding spirituality and philosophy.

In strategy your spiritual bearing must not be any different from normal. Both in fighting and in every day life you should be determined through calm.

Ah. Alonso has long been judged a weak performer in this area. Can we now consider him calmer, wiser out of the cockpit? I believe so. His attitude since his cutting remarks about Honda power plants appears to have improved. Could this calm maturity - long hours of reflection under freezing Zen waterfalls per chance - have resulted in a mature selection of Aston for all the right reasons? Time, as ever dear reader, will unfold to reveal all.

Third within this Japanese Pentateuch we find The Book of Fire. This book reviews the need for fine preparation, and effectively "Choosing one's battles".

You must look down on the enemy, and take up your attitude on slightly higher places.

Once more, Alonso has long been the on-track master of this lesson. Might he now have realised this advantage on the off-track field of battle? Again the signs are good, but two races do not a season make. Once more Alonso must count on his Shogun to provide the weapon with which to take up the fight, and win.

Next is The Book of Wind. Passing along lessons around gaining insight, not just of your own approaches, but also a keen understanding of your foe's approach.

Again Alonso's latest overtakes at "no one overtakes through that corner" prove his mastery of this on-track skill. The aging Samurai having gained on-track wisdom over the years, not lost it. Off-track he has slipped too far into the world of supposition politics, and as such missed the true moves of the power teams. Has Stroll San sold Alonso a Hattori Hanzo masterpiece or an Aldi fake with which to commence battle? Only the unfolding season will tell. What a delight to watch this battle unfold!

Finally the fifth book The Book of Void. This is something of a philosophic epilogue and deals with "That which cannot be seen".

By knowing things that exist, you can know that which does not exist.

In the void is virtue, and no evil. Wisdom has existence, principle has existence, the Way has existence, spirit is nothingness.

Musashi‘s Zen Buddhist concept translating as "emptiness" could now be considered as the modern concept of "Mindfulness". Fernando would not be the driver he is on-track unless he was utterly in the moment. He has been the master of this since he first sat behind a wheel. Again, like his on track tactics, this is a skill which has only grown over the years. Might this now have seeped into his team selection meditations, and hence ensured his selection of Aston at this time is the right selection for winning?

Some of Batman's skills are rooted in skills from the East, I believe that Alonso's application of the Five Rings might well be about to deliver a fine season. A win? Several wins? A championship within three years...? Well. That would depend on how the Shogun will take to his own son being beaten to the championship. It would be a twist from Batman, a double-cross from Bond, and an "I told you so" from The Five Rings, if Alonso develops the car, shows it can be done, and is then handed a butter knife to fight the next season, while Son of Stroll is gifted the battle ready Katana, and told to be stirred to win, as his team mate is shaken into following him home.

That would be the most bitter cocktail for Fernando to have to drink. Yet this season Shogun Alfred has placed two Astons equally on the driveway, and is gazing, deep in thought, as his two Samurai battle in synchronised harmony to vanquish foes. Will there be but one pre-ordained Aston Martin Vanquish available next season?

To quote again from the first book: Timing is important in dancing and pipe or string music, for they are in rhythm only if timing is good... In all skills and abilities there is timing... There is timing in the whole life of the warrior, in his thriving and declining, in his harmony and discord.

Has Alonso possibly served all his time of discord, and is back in a third period of harmony, or is the Shogun preparing a poisoned Sake as we all watch in wonder?

We shall soon discover. For now Alfred, the Aston was really the only option, so thank-you. This will do nicely for this season.

Or as our Mr Bond might be told... Do Mr Bond? Why I expect you to win Mr Bond!

Max Noble

Learn more about Max and check out his previous features, here



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1. Posted by Max Noble, 05/04/2023 11:44

"@BrightonCorgi - in short yes… in the longer… some Lotus, all Jags, a few 911s. Bentley Continental (any of them). Some TVR in the right setting… MX-5, type 86, skyline GTR… RX-7 for the budget constrained…

Never met a road going Aston I didn’t love… oh hang on. They’ve just built an SUV… sigh…"

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2. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 04/04/2023 19:27

"Aston Martin makes the only fancy sports car that you don't look like an a-hole driving. I hope their success over race weekends translates into sales in the showrooms."

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3. Posted by Max Noble, 04/04/2023 5:39

"@Spindoctor - one need look no further than Alonso once again finishing 3rd, and being placed 3rd in the overall driver standings, to confirm Aston is genuinely fast this season. Now we enter the period of “car updates”. We can only hope that Aston have a few good development pathways they are following to keep the car at the sharpe end of the grid.

As Alonso (currently) is not challenging for the Driver’s Championship I see V. Max racing him very cleanly. He’d rather come second to Alonso while remaining ahead of the Mercs, Ferrari’s and his team mate, than spin out battling Alonso and finished behind everyone… Now… Should Alonso, due to others falling off the track, inch towards being a Championship contender… well… that could prove very interesting…!

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4. Posted by Spindoctor, 31/03/2023 12:01

"Stroll Senior is looking increasingly like the Real Deal, though even with a cost cap I wonder if he'll have enough dosh to maintain a class-leading pace.
This year's car is clearly pretty fast & very driveable & Alonso still has the skill to peddle it effectively. I suspect there may be a couple of potholes in the road for AM:
1) - RBR's car is still substantially faster (if possibly a tad unreliable)
2) - The AM was fast straight away but in an aero-focused development race, with very little on-track testing, I'd back Newey every time.

Assuming things stay roughly as at present pace-wise, I'm really looking forward to seeing Verstappen vs Alonso at various tracks. Will V-Max pursue his "they shall not pass" stance, adopted towards Hamilton, or will he play percentages. Similarly, will Alonso succumb to his own Red Mist?
Two talented, arrogant drivers in competitive cars can serve up either stunning racing or lots of crashes. Historically V-Max has gone for the crashes....


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5. Posted by Max Noble, 31/03/2023 4:29

"@RP - agree with your view. Once Alonso has a third Championship in the Bank, Stroll junior will need to show he has what it takes, and it will be over to him… Some of his drives in the wet have already proven he has fine car control… it’s going to be a very interesting two years!
Like your Lewis analogy:-). That’s also going to be a fascinating developing story… "

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6. Posted by RP, 30/03/2023 20:52

"Well, an interesting theory. Lance has definitely improved. One would think that Shogun Lawrence would like to win the ultimate prize - constructor's championship and driver's championship. If the car continues to improve and Lance can take the measure of the Red Bulls, finishing second to Lord Fernando, then, and only then would I expect Fernando to be banished to the outlands. But, Robin, I mean Lance, would have to demonstrate that only Lord Fernando stands in the way of the ultimate constructor/driver trophy.
I don't think Lawrence became a billionaire by doing stupid things. The task at hand is to win first, see where the golden son stands. If he is ahead of Max et al, Fernando might look for another pasture.
It is impressive to hear other drivers complement his driving at his ripe old age.
I think Lewis is facing the "Fernando Dilema" is equal to the Kobayashi Maru task faced by the young James T. Kirk. If Mercedes doesn't make the leap, where do I go."

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7. Posted by Superbird70, 30/03/2023 1:54

"From the begining I always felt that Lance would the weak link in the team. Must be that Canadian inferiority complex. I think that for me at least that thinking has changed. This may be the year he gets to shine. "

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8. Posted by Max Noble, 29/03/2023 23:16

"@BrightonCorgi - Agree. I was curious to see if Lawrence had the transferable business skills, and intelligence to make it in F1, and it is increasingly likely that the answer is “Yes”. Very excited to see how the next two seasons unfold!"

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9. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 29/03/2023 21:07

"My money is on Lawrence Stroll. He's slowing acquiring the best talent as it comes around. As soon as the Silverstone facility is 100%; Aston Martin could be the new era after Red Bull."

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10. Posted by Max Noble, 29/03/2023 12:01

"@Toado - There is a world of difference between writing “Will he?” (Question) And “He will not.” (Statement). I asked a question. I did not make a statement.

Lawrence Stroll has been a remarkably successful business man, that like that dear departed genius at Red Bull has a knack for remarkable business. This time it is blood. Will that make a difference? We are going to find out.

Excited to watch it all unfold.

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11. Posted by Toado, 29/03/2023 10:47

"Max, you don't know Lawrence Stroll very well if you think this is all about "letting" Lance do the winning. Seems most of pitlane hasn't bothered to look at his track record or asked Lawrence what he thinks. "

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