Aston Martin has released renders of its state-of-the-art new Formula 1 campus at Silverstone following the ground-breaking ceremony, with executive chairman Lawrence Stroll stressing the long-term nature of the project by saying “we’ll be Aston Martin forever”.
The new Aston Martin Formula 1 campus is being built on an expanded version of the site across the road from Silverstone’s main entrance. The team first moved there in its Jordan guise ahead of the 1992 season and has continued to be based there through its subsequent incarnations as Midland, Spyker, Force India, Racing Point and now Aston Martin.
A ceremonial ground-breaking was held at the site on Monday with Stroll and JCB chairman Lord Bamford in attendance to mark the start of a building project that Stroll says will cost “between £150[million] and £200million”.
Work is starting on the new main building, which will contain the design office among other departments and will take 18 months to complete. The second building will contain the new state-of-the-art windtunnel and will take 36 months to complete.
Staff will be moved out of the current main building once the new one is complete. It will be replaced with a third building that will contain a wellness centre, auditorium, simulator and heritage facility.
Stroll stressed that he and Aston Martin are in it for the long term and that the new facility will fuse the historic identify of the team, and the Aston Martin brand.
“It’s pulling from the past of these, at the time when I bought It, 400 great people who have clearly managed to punch above their weight for three years in a row with significantly less resources – financial or personnel,” said Stroll when asked about what he referred to as the DNA and culture of the team the new campus has been designed to match.
“In addition, it’s instilling that we are now Aston Martin, we will be forever, so it is instilling the culture and the DNA from Aston Martin to this great historical past. So it’s a combination of a coming together of both.
“Also, architecturally speaking, it will be designed as an Aston Martin inspired building, not the names you’ve mentioned of the past. We are Aston Martin today, so the feeling, the colours, the smell, the lighting, will reflect our Aston Martin corporate identity.”
The new windtunnel means this is the first time that the team has had its own on-site windtunnel, with its current one based in nearby Brackley.
The windtunnel will feature a steel-belt rolling-road system and state-of-the-art flow-imaging section area and is expected to significantly increase its rate of aerodynamic development.
Although there have been discussions about F1 outlawing the use of windtunnels in 2030, Stroll believes that the investment in the windtunnel, which he described as “an expensive proposition”, is essential. He also believes that the mooted windtunnel ban is unlikely to be greenlit.
“No-one knows what the future will be with windtunnels past 2030 at this point, but we believe it is a worthy investment,” said Stroll of the windtunnel, the commissioning of which is expected in the third quarter of 2023.
“We will have seven or eight years to be able to use it before any decision is made.
“I personally don’t think windtunnels will disappear. I don’t think it will be safe for F1 to all be designed by only CFD. I think rational minds will come to that.
“But if it is seven years, at least we will have seven years.”
The Aston Martin campus is the first brand new F1 factory facility to be built since McLaren’s MTC (pictured below) opened in 2004.
Stroll believes that the approach Aston Martin is the reverse of McLaren’s approach given the form and function of the building is entirely dictated by the challenges of modern F1.
“MTC was designed at time when it was seen to be fit for purpose, but as time has gone by, it’s encountered difficulties,” said Stroll.
“This is the reverse of what Ron Dennis did with Norman Foster. This is a factory, a campus fit for purpose to match the DNA and culture of ourselves, of our history.
“It’s to be able to be efficient, to be streamlined, to have everyone sat side by side under one roof. This is taking into consideration the new financial regulations, and also taking into consideration where we believe the sport will be going in the future.
“We can build more if we want, we can shrink by moving people closer together. This is a building that will represent our image, our culture and DNA.”
Stroll believes that despite the years of underinvestment prior to his acquisition of the team in 2018, it is now in the ideal place to meet the challenges of F1’s cost-cap era.
While F1’s biggest teams must downsize and restructure, Aston Martin is able to build up to the cost cap with a purpose-built factory. And it will have the capacity and flexibility to house up to 1000 staff.
“On the downside, we’re a few years behind, because of COVID-19, to build this building, it was the intent to have this building in place today,” said Stroll.
“But I truly do believe we’re in a better state than the very large teams that have to downsize, which is demotivational – you don’t know who’s the next one about to lose their job where we’re looking to add hundreds of people to our headcount.
“So yes, I think we’re in a sweet spot.”
Stroll explained there are also plans to add “as Aston Martin performance technology component” and “Aston Martin performance manufacturing component” on the site.
However, Aston Martin’s road car design offices will continue to be based in its headquarters in Gaydon in Warwickshire.