Aston Martin has announced the latest development in its expanding motorsport programme - from 2025, it will field at least one Hypercar in the top class of the World Endurance Championship and IMSA.
After Lawrence Stroll brought the Aston Martin brand to the top of the single-seater ladder in 2021, he has now reached his hand into the highest category of sportscar racing - continuing the impressive investment project he is undertaking.
While it expands the portfolio of Aston Martin's racing activities, it can provide its Formula 1 team with a solution to a problem it is facing - a problem that will only become more difficult to solve as time ticks by.
The Silverstone-based outfit’s outstanding start to the current F1 campaign turned heads, with Fernando Alonso scoring six podiums in the opening eight races.
The Spaniard has continued to star for Aston Martin in the races that have followed, while team-mate Lance Stroll lacked pace in comparison.
A large deficit has been consistent between the two, and it seems likely to cost Aston Martin fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, with McLaren rapidly closing in amid its strong development programme this year.
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Stroll’s chance elsewhere
Throughout his F1 career, Stroll has been in the limelight regarding his F1 eligibility. Although the Canadian has shown impressive flashes at times (peaking with his pole position lap at Turkey in 2020), his lack of consistency has never been more costly than this year.
Stroll, who secured the F3 Euro championship on his way up the ladder, sees his position strengthened by virtue of his father owning the team and likely faces easier contract negotiations than many of his peers.
But questions have consistently followed his career - and a switch to the Hypercar programme will be the perfect way to bring a gratifying conclusion to a roller-coaster F1 ride.
Motorsport success outside of F1 can be pure bliss - you only need to look at ex-F1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi's Le Mans victory with Ferrari earlier this year to realise that there is potential to etch yourself into history away from motorsport's most popular category.
Stroll has fallen short at Aston Martin this year, but there is no reason why he couldn’t pick up reserve driving duties with the F1 squad alongside a potential Hypercar role and use several years of F1 experience to boost the team from the background.
Alonso’s retirement plan
Alonso has showcased that being 42 years of age hasn’t slowed down his F1 abilities, having displayed his qualities on multiple occasions this year.
But the questions will not disappear as the Spaniard gets older. Aston Martin will have a decision to make at the end of next year when Alonso, who will be halfway towards 44 years old, sees his contract expire.
The natural position to take would be to offer him a spot in its Hypercar programme. A proven winner of the World Endurance Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans, Alonso would be able to sign himself to a high pedigree of racing without the commitments that go hand-in-hand with F1.
His experience in the endurance field and within the Aston Martin family would make him a natural fit for the team that will take on manufacturers such as Toyota, Ferrari, Porsche and BMW in two years’ time.
It is not a question of Alonso lacking F1 abilities - it is more about Aston Martin suiting up for the arrival of new regulations from 2026, which will signal the start of a fresh era for the sport and the team.
Aston Martin’s new direction
Aston Martin’s future in F1 looks exciting. It has established a brand new state-of-the-art facility at Silverstone, the headquarters of its progressing F1 programme.
The new technical regulations threaten to shake up the grid with vast differences being installed in both the aerodynamic rules and the engine departments.
The power unit regulations that are focused on improved sustainability and an increase in electrical output were enough to entice Honda back to F1, which has had an on-off relationship with the sport in recent years.
The Japanese manufacturer will form ties with Aston Martin when the new era starts and as F1 steers into a new direction, so too can the team with its driver line-up.
Should Alonso's departure be confirmed, the team will need a strong, experienced pair of hands to steer its ship forward, mirroring the role undertaken by Alonso and Sebastian Vettel before him.
F1’s grid has a number of candidates with many contracts expiring at the end of next year - but perhaps no one will have an appeal like Carlos Sainz.
The Spaniard is no stranger to stepping into big shoes - he’s replaced Alonso once before when the two-time World Champion briefly left F1 and McLaren at the end of 2018.
He also was called on to step in for the vacancy left behind at Ferrari by Vettel, who joined Aston Martin in 2021.
Sainz has been on a hot streak of late after a somewhat difficult start to life at Ferrari, and with team-mate Charles Leclerc reasserting his commitment to the team on multiple occasions, it seems more likely that Sainz will leave Ferrari before the Monégasque.
Alexander Albon, too, could be a healthy option with the 27-year-old having gained experience in a leadership role at Williams to go alongside the strong batch of performances he has emitted this year.
Regarding the second seat, the obvious candidate is Yuki Tsunoda - the Japanese driver has driven to a high standard this year and has shown great improvement from his first two seasons in F1.
In addition, it would satisfy Honda and make for a neat pair of hands at the wheel of the second car.
With a flurry of Red Bull junior drivers sitting in the wings [including Liam Lawson, who has impressed during his substitute stint this season], Tsunoda could well find himself out of the AlphaTauri squad regardless next year.
An ever-expanding motorsport project can often provide unwanted headaches - but should Aston Martin play its cards right, it has a chance to satisfy all parties involved.