Rebranded Aston Martin team launches new car in return to Formula One after 61 years

ASTON MARTIN
Horst Galuschka/dpa (Photo by Horst Galuschka/picture alliance via Getty Images
0 Comments

SILVERSTONE, England — The rebrabnded Aston Martin team presented its new Formula One car Wednesday, revealing a slick livery of British racing green as it returns to the F1 series for the first time since 1960.

Aston Martin left after failing to score any points that year, and the automaker returns to the grid with high hopes after signing four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel. He has won 53 F1 races but endured a dismal final year with Ferrari in 2020 during which he secured just one podium finish.

“I love the history of motor racing, and Aston Martin is one of the great names of the past, so it is fun to be part of their return,” Vettel said at the team’s online launch Wednesday. “I have not driven the car yet, obviously, but I think it looks great. I am really looking forward to getting it out on the track.”

He will race alongside Canadian driver Lance Stroll, whose father, Lawrence, owns the team after completing a nearly $1 billion takeover last April.

The Silverstone-based team was rebranded from Racing Point to Aston Martin, and Sergio Perez – who drove consistently well and won one race last season – was replaced by the 33-year-old Vettel.

It will be Vettel’s fourth F1 team after starting with Toro Rosso before winning four straight titles with Red Bull from 2010-13 and then joining Ferrari. He fell short of delivering the title the Italian manufacturer so craves, finishing runner-up behind Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton despite leading the championship at the halfway stage in 2017 and ’18.

“Even though I have raced for four Formula One teams and for many years, starting a new season with a new team still gives me a sense of excitement,” the veteran German driver said. “As a driver, I have always kept my eye on the competition and this team has consistently impressed me with what they have been able to do without the biggest of budgets. So, when (they) approached me last year, and explained what their ambitions were, I was immediately very motivated to join the team.”

When the 22-year-old Stroll and Vettel take to the grid in the AMR21 car at the season-opening GP in Bahrain on March 28, it will be the first time Aston Martin will have been on the grid since Roy Salvadori and Maurice Trintignant lined up for the 1960 British GP.

“Aston Martin returning to Formula One after an absence of 61 years will have a powerful effect on the sport, the media and the fans, commanding global attention,” Lawrence Stroll said. “We now have the pieces in place, the people and the partners, to make real progress. I firmly believe we have the perfect blend of experience and youth in Sebastian and Lance.”

They will get to grips with the car at preseason testing in Bahrain from March 12-14.

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

0 Comments

Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.