Q&A with Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal Aston Martin F1 Team
Otmar, what does it mean to you and the team to race under the Aston Martin name?
“We’ve had almost a year of preparation to reach this point and we’ve been thrilled to see the positive reaction since we revealed our new identity as the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team. Representing such an iconic brand is a huge privilege for every member of the team. It might sound daunting, but we’ve been competing in Formula 1 for 30 years [under various names], winning races and taking podiums along the way – often against the odds. We’ve earned a well-deserved reputation for punching above our weight, so we’re confident we can do the Aston Martin name proud right from the get-go.”
What makes this new era different from that of the previous iterations of the team?
“With a new name, committed shareholders, fresh investment, and an experienced team, we believe we have all the ingredients in place to compete for even more podiums and hopefully victories too. By the end of 2022, we’ll also have a fantastic new factory at Silverstone, giving the team the space and infrastructure to realize our ambitions. We have a new title sponsor in Cognizant with the expertise to add value in all areas of our IT operations and make a valuable contribution to our performance on-track. It’s the start of a new journey and I can sense an extra energy in the team, with a determination to push performance further than ever before. Combined with some of the most creative minds in the business, a true racers’ mentality and the can-do spirit that has served us so well through the years, we have every reason to be excited about the future.”
Just how big a task has it been to build the team up and get ready for this new era?
“It has been a mammoth task. It’s easy to forget that we’ve been putting the groundwork in place for a brand-new era alongside a very challenging global setting, all the while balancing those tasks with our most successful Formula 1 season to date – including a race win and multiple podium finishes en route to fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship. Everybody involved should be extremely proud of that achievement and I think it demonstrates that while this is a new team name and identity, we have retained the strong backbone that has guided us through some tough times to where we are today. While the challenge was once establishing ourselves as the most efficient team on the grid, now there’s an exciting opportunity to establish ourselves as a top team, while still maintaining that efficiency, in order to add an exciting chapter to the Aston Martin legacy.”
While we’re only just getting started, there’s something exciting around the corner, isn’t there?
“That’s right – we’ll officially launch the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team in March, including the first look at our 2021 livery and driver line-up. The nature of the global situation makes things more challenging in many ways, and timelines were condensed, but we’re in good shape. I’m incredibly grateful to everyone in the team for continuing to be so adaptable and hard-working in such unique circumstances and we hope to see it pay off in 2021 before we then look to prepare for Formula 1’s new era in 2022.”
How excited are you to have Sebastian and Lance as a driver pairing?
“It’s hugely exciting for everyone in the team. In Sebastian, we have a proven four-time World Champion with experience of helping teams become race-winning and championship-contending outfits. That’s why he is such an important signing for us. He brings a winning mentality and we will all undoubtedly learn a lot from him on this journey. In Lance, we have a young and talented, hard-working driver who enjoyed his best campaign to date last year and really made strides in all areas of his racing. We know if we give him the tools, he’s more than capable of helping the team reach its goals. We also think Sebastian will bring out the best in Lance, with Lance pushing Sebastian hard in return, so we’re delighted with our 2021 line-up. It’s the ideal blend of experience, race-winning knowhow, and raw talent.”