Aston Martin embodied a licence to thrill with its glamorous, James Bond-inspired launch of its new-look Formula 1 challenger on Wednesday. 

Actress Gemma Arterton, NFL legend Tom Brady and even James Bond himself - Daniel Craig - all made an appearance alongside team owner Lawrence Stroll and high-profile new signing Sebastian Vettel in the glitzy, star-studded virtual affair to commemorate Aston Martin’s return to F1 after a six-decade-long absence. 

Aston Martin’s first F1 car in 60 years - the AMR21 - is adorned by the British manufacturer’s iconic ‘British Racing Green’ colours and was immediately appealing to the eye when it was uncovered from underneath a giant Union Jack flag. 

An update on its controversial, race-winning RP20 concept, the links to its inspiration from Mercedes were still clear to see. 

The Silverstone-based outfit’s decision to change its design philosophy and purchase year-old components from Mercedes last year meant that it was allowed to upgrade to the 2020-spec without spending any tokens, enabling it the opportunity to take advantage of the new development system introduced for 2021 amid a carryover of significant mechanical parts as part of a bid to save costs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

As such, Aston Martin has utilised the 2020-style Mercedes rear-end into its AMR21 design and used its permitted token spend on producing a new chassis. This is out-of-sequence compared to the majority of teams that are carrying-over their 2020 chassis into 2021. 

Explaining Aston Martin’s development process of its AMR21, technical director Andrew Green revealed the team’s two key focuses for 2021, which were influenced by a late aerodynamic rule change aimed at slashing downforce levels and slowing down cars for this year.  

“I think the main drive in performance is aerodynamics, so there's obviously a big push on the aerodynamic side,” Green explained. 

“The regulation change that came through late last year had a big effect on the aero performance and we spent the winter trying to try to recover the losses from the changes in the regulations. That's been a big focus. 

“We've changed the rear of the car now to the 2020 suspension as supplied by Mercedes, That was always the plan. So those are the two main areas that we've been focused on over the winter.” 

Green admitted that Aston Martin’s “biggest concern” was adopting the Mercedes rear-end into its car design, a commitment that was made long before the new aero regulations were announced.

“We had already committed to the 2020 suspension and gearbox before regulations changed, so there was concern that potentially it was going in the wrong direction,” he said. 

“But it soon became apparent that at a minimum it complemented them. It turned out to be a non-issue in the end. 

“I think what was harder was the late change to the aerodynamic regulations - that was the one that required us to react faster,” Green added. 

“None of that was planned, so like everyone else that came as a shock from the FIA. So I think that was the biggest aspect of what we were looking at over the winter, the changes that the FIA have made rather than the planned changes that we already had in place.” 

Although Aston Martin did not originally intend to continue with its Mercedes-inspired approach heading into 2021, Green is optimistic his side can make the most of F1’s decision to postpone its regulation overhaul until 2022 by learning from previous mistakes. 

“Obviously we’ve got no idea what the Mercedes have done or been doing,” Green explained. “The concept on the car is 100 percent Aston Martin and the initial direction which was set, we’re almost looking at two years ago now.

“It seems a long way behind us and we’ve learnt and an incredible amount since then. It was a challenge for the group and I think along the way we’ve done a lot of really good work but last year we also made a few mistakes as well. 

“I think we definitely learnt from those mistakes and we’ve looked to correct them for the ‘21 car, which gives us a lot of optimism for the performance of the car going forward. 

“I think all in all I’m happy with the decision we made two years ago and we’re still building on it.” 

And Green insists that any additional pressure to perform under the team’s iconic new moniker is purely self-induced and won’t have an impact on the way it operates. 

“The pressure is self-induced regardless of how we operate,” he said. 

“We’re operating within the constraints, whether they be financial or technical. Those are the constraints that we operate within and we pressure ourselves to do the absolute best we can given those restraints and the restraints have just moved. 

“We’ve got more capability now but the pressure is just self-induced. We want to do the best we possibly can and there’s no additional pressure beyond that. Everything comes from the individual.” 

The AMR21 will make its track debut today at Silverstone as part of a filming day, with Vettel and Lance Stroll sharing driving duties.

 

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