Photos: Aston Martin

New Aston Martin Vantage launched; Alex Lynn joins factory lineup

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Today was a busy day in Gaydon, Aston Martin’s London headquarters, as the company launched both its road-going and GTE specification race version of the Vantage.

The race version replaces the outgoing but legendary Aston Martin Vantage V8, which ran from 2012 through 2017 both internationally and occasionally, domestically.

Although the oldest car in the FIA World Endurance Championship field, it was still a regular pole, race, Le Mans and championship winner through 2017 (the car is credited with 37 of the team’s 51 international race victories, including two Le Mans 24 Hour class wins).

A famous GTE-Pro win occurred at this year’s Le Mans, with Aston’s Jonny Adam denying Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor right at the end of the race, while Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda claimed an overdue first championship in GTE-Am.

Photo: Aston Martin

As for the new car, here’s some of the highlights:

  • Designed and engineered in-house at Aston Martin Racing’s headquarters in Banbury, with project is led by Technical Director Dan Sayers, who also guided the design and development of the current V8 Vantage GTE
  • Development of the new Vantage GTE race car is well advanced, with more than 13,000km of testing completed, including a successful 30-hour run at the Spanish circuit of Navarra. The car has also been through a rigorous durability program at the notoriously rough Sebring circuit in Florida.
  • Reliability has been exceptional straight out of the box, while the drivers have reported the car is easier to control on the limit than its predecessor. This car has Mercedes-AMG 4.0L turbocharged V8 engine, that has been developed for use in the Vantage GTE application by Aston Martin Racing.
  • Aston Martin Racing is working with new technical partners: Alcon for the braking system, Öhlins for the suspension and Michelin for a bespoke tyre program. Also, the in-house Aston Martin Design team, led by Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman have taken their intimate knowledge of the road Vantage styling and amplified it for the WEC version. The result is an extreme and exciting evolution of an already aggressive road car design – a lesson in Aston Martin’s ethos of pure form and function.
  • Official partners and associations include both retained and new elements: Hackett London (Clothing), Immun’Age (who produce immune system boosting natural papaya food supplements), Total (Lubricant), Waldorf Astoria (Hotel), and Beats by Dr. Dre (Audio)
Photo: Aston Martin

“Designing and developing this new car has been an extremely satisfying process,” said Sayers. “We’ve collaborated closely with Aston Martin’s Gaydon headquarters to develop the road and race cars in parallel. Attention to detail has been a priority at every step of this process and we’ve made big improvements in each area of the car. We’ve spent every second optimizing the design right until the build of our test car, which has paid dividends during our current testing schedule. This project has been one of the most intensive but also rewarding of my career so far.”

John Gaw, Managing Director, Aston Martin Racing added, “It’s terrific to be involved in this exciting new chapter for Aston Martin Racing. The increasingly tough competition in the GTE class and the prospect of two visits to Le Mans and a return to Sebring within the 2018/19 super-season is thoroughly tantalising. To conduct the development process of this car so closely with Aston Martin’s design and engineering teams was essential for both road and race car to retain the same underlying DNA. We believe the Vantage GTE will bring further success worldwide to Aston Martin Racing in the coming years.”

LYNN JOINS FACTORY LINEUP

MONTMELO, SPAIN – MAY 17: Alex Lynn of Great Britain and Williams Martini Racing speaks with members of the media after day one of Formula One testing at Circuit de Catalunya on May 17, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Englishman Alex Lynn has been confirmed as a member of Aston Martin Racing’s factory lineup, joining the quartet of Darren Turner, Jonny Adam, Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen.

Lynn raced occasionally in the FIA WEC this year in the TDS Racing-run G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 Gibson, and won the LMP2 class pole position at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He also won in his only IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship start with the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R outfit at Sebring, on debut in the car, the track and the series, co-driving with Jordan and Ricky Taylor.

Elsewhere he races in the FIA Formula E Championship. He’ll be teammate to Sam Bird at the DS Virgin Racing outfit, which starts in a couple weeks in Hong Kong. This comes after Lynn won pole on his series debut at New York City’s Red Hook round, filling in for Jose Maria Lopez.

F1 Preview: 2018 German Grand Prix

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The German Grand Prix continues its biennial presence on the Formula 1 calendar – it’s hosted F1 events in even numbered years since 2014 – as Formula 1 returns to the Hockenheimring this weekend.

The German fans will undoubtedly be joyful in Sebastian Vettel entering his home race in the championship lead, by nine points over Lewis Hamilton. Yet, somewhat surprisingly, Vettel despite being one of the most successful and decorated drivers of his generation, Vettel has won in Germany only once (2013, at the Nurburgring) and he has never won at Hockenheim.

Conversely, Hamilton has won in Germany three times, including twice at Hockenheim (2008 and 2016).

As such, Vettel will hope to add to his points lead over Hamilton with a win on home soil, though Hamilton may be equally as motivated after watching Vettel his own home race at Silverstone two weeks ago.

Nevertheless, their 2018 championship duel will most certainly continue to be closely fought.

Talking points ahead of the German Grand Prix are below.

A Different World in 2018 vs. 2016

Nico Rosberg during the Formula One Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheimring on July 31, 2016 in Hockenheim, Germany. Photo: Getty Images

The Formula 1 landscape looked completely different back in 2016, the last time Formula 1 visited the Hockenheimring. Bernie Ecclestone was still the chief executive of Formula 1.

Nico Rosberg was partnering Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes team, and was on his way to a driver’s championship that year.

Vettel and teammate Kimi Raikkonen were in the midst of a slump as Ferrari went winless in 2016.

The world was still getting to know a then 18-year-old Max Verstappen, the young Dutchman having won the Spanish Grand Prix in May that year.

And the cars looked completely different, with skinnier and taller rear wings and taller rear tires highlighting the appearance differences.

In 2018, Vettel and Ferrari might be the strongest combination. Rosberg is long from Mercedes, and Valtteri Bottas is doing his best to shine in the wake of Hamilton’s enormous shadow.

Verstappen is still a rising star, though he has come under fire at times for overly aggressive driving and his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo has garnered more headlines this year, with a pair of race wins alongside his status as an F1 free agent after 2018.

In short, the Formula 1 landscape is hardly recognizable from what it was back in 2016. And even though Hamilton won that year, followed by Ricciardo and Verstappen in second and third, very little will carry over from that race two years ago.

Hamilton, Mercedes Look to Take Back Momentum from Vettel, Ferrari

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JULY 08: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 leads Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 8, 2018 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

The seesaw championship fight has tilted back in the favor of Ferrari, with Vettel leading Hamilton after finishes of third and first in Austria and England. Hamilton, meanwhile, DNF’ed in Austria and came home second in England after spinning on Lap 1.

Hamilton trails by nine points, but this is hardly an unfamiliar position for Hamilton in 2018 – he started the year trailing Vettel until he took the championship lead for the first time after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Both teams have had multiple swings of momentum this year – Vettel won the opening two races before finishes of eighth in China (he spun after contact with Verstappen) and a pair of fourth place efforts in Azerbaijan and Spain before getting two more wins in Canada and England.

Hamilton, meanwhile stumbled out of the gates somewhat with finishes of second and third before taking a fortuitous win in Azerbaijan and two dominant wins in Spain and France before the misfortune in Austria.

All told the ebb and flow of the 2018 season seems to change with every race, and while Vettel now leads Hamilton again, things could change this weekend.

Raikkonen Trying to Fend off Ricciardo, Bottas

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JULY 06: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland driving the (7) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 6, 2018 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Kimi Raikkonen is somewhat of a forgotten man this Formula 1 season, but he does rank third in the championship at the moment, 10 points ahead of Ricciardo and 12 points ahead of Bottas.

However, both Ricciardo and Bottas are likely thought to have had better seasons – Ricciardo has the aforementioned wins (at China and Monaco) and the only thing that has kept Bottas from the top step of the podium is a string of horrendous luck.

However, Raikkonen, to his credit, has picked up the pieces whenever others around him have faltered, and he has six podium finishes through 10 races.

However, in order to fully silence any critics, and maybe even keep his Ferrari drive, Raikkonen would do well to get a win in 2018.

Misc.

  • The driver challenging Raikkonen’s position within Ferrari is Sauber’s Charles Leclerc. The Ferrari junior driver has five points finishes, and that could have been six if not for a pit stop error at Silverstone that caused him to leave his pit stall with a loose wheel – it forced him to retire. Leclerc’s star is on the rise, and he could shine again in Germany.
  • Nico Hulkenberg is the “other” German driver on the grid. And though he has a 24 Hours of Le Mans win to his name, he is yet to finish on the podium in an F1 race. The Renault package may not be a podium threat in usual circumstances, but if he stays clean and others falter, he could sneak in there…and doing so in his home race would make that overdue podium even sweeter.
  • After a pair of eighth place finishes, Fernando Alonso has helped McLaren at least stop the bleeding after a dismal stretch of races from Monaco through France in which the team scored zero points. However, the team still has a long way to go, and Germany could be another weekend of struggles.

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