In an appearance on Radio Le Mans’ Midweek Motorsport tonight, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer spoke at length about the brand’s current motorsport commitments, and stressed that the partnership with Red Bull in Formula One going forward will not affect its sportscar programme.
“I think the relationship with Formula One is a partnership, it’s a very important technical partnership, and it has no effect whatsoever on our participation in GTE, GT3 or GT4,” he told John Hindhaugh. “If we stripped everything away, the last thing I’d do, is walk away from the WEC, we’re committed to it. The new Vantage for the end of this year, you’ll see it race at Le Mans and in the WEC next year.
If we stripped everything away, the last thing I’d do, is walk away from the WEC, we’re committed to it
He then continued to discuss the future of the partnership, and hinted that there may be chances, not only for crossover in branding between the two companies, but also in drivers. When asked specifically about Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo competing in sportscars with AMR, Palmer hinted that there may be potential.
“You’d have to ask him (Daniel Riccardo), but I’d love to think there can be crossover. There has been great crossover between endurance racing and Formula One. Look at Buemi, he didn’t quite make it in Formula One, but look at what he’s done in the WEC.
“We’re always looking to place good talent, and this partnership extends the options.
“We have quite a number of common partners, we have brand partners with Aston and there’s commonality with Red Bull. It makes sense to open up the sponsors to appear not just in one race series, but a myriad of race series. Our sponsorship teams are working together.”
With the new Aston Martin Vantage GTE set to make its competitive debut next year, Palmer went on to reveal that the new WEC winterised ‘Super Season’ calendar, which includes two Le Mans, a race at Sebring and now Silverstone, is a positive move in AMR’s eyes.
We relish the chance to go to Le Mans twice in a season and become double champions
“(The new calendar gave us) a little bit of a headache (with the Vantage’s development) but we’ll be ready. (Having a winter calendar) did come as a surprise. My most worrying reaction was having no Silverstone, but fortunately that’s been rectified. And we relish the chance to go to Le Mans twice in a season and become double champions.
“It also means from our perspective that you have races every weekend, with WEC and Formula One. Anything that keeps racing on people’s calendar week in week out, helps with the brand, and you can be in constant touch with your customer which translates to sales.”
Another point of discussion on the show was the GTE Am regulations, and whether customer teams would be able to race the new Vantage before the 2019/20 season. Palmer says that the negotiations with the ACO about its eligibility for next season are still ongoing.
DSC knows that at least two customer Aston Martin teams would race the new Vantage if it was available next year, one of them being ELMS team TF Sport, which is set to make the jump to the WEC in 2018.
“We’re in negotiations with the ACO,” he said. “It’s a transition for us, and the GTE cars are usually a season behind there, we have to work out a way of managing that.”
You’ll see the new GTE car by the end of the year, and the GT3 and GT4 cars some time during the course of next year
It’s set to be a busy few months ahead for AMR, with the GTE car’s development phase coming to a close, and the new GT3 and GT4 models looming. Palmer gave an idea of the time frame for the new cars, as well as the chance of seeing the GTE race in other series, such as IMSA.
“You’ll see the new GTE car by the end of the year, and the GT3 and GT4 cars some time during the course of next year. In automotive development terms, we’re there and it’s just around the corner.
“In terms of other race series, I have a particular interest in whatever we can do in the United States, and we’re constantly looking at how we can promote ourselves there. In my previous role I worked to get commonality for DTM and Super GT. Anything that helps access without new development gives us the chance to race in other series.”
Featured image courtesy of Aston Martin