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Sunday Snippets: Developments at Aston Martin, Alonso, and PU Power Plays

In this edition RacingNews365 Editorial Director reveals developments in F1’s tech spin-off sectors, praises Fernando Alonso’s political nous and discusses why it is no surprise that team bosses are sounding out power unit partners.

Change at Aston Martin

Over the years it’s been vogue for Formula 1 teams to create technology spin-offs to exploit the intellectual properties they amass via their research and development activities. Many of these never see the light of day, not because they are flawed, but simply because they do not meet the regulations. Others are used but subsequently banned and thus sit ‘on the shelf’ awaiting transfer to non-F1 applications. The first such operation was McLaren Applied Technologies, which supplied expertise to companies in the medical, telecom, solar and aerospace industries, with Williams Advanced Engineering focussing primarily on electric and zero-carbon vehicle technologies although its expertise has been applied in refrigeration and healthcare sectors. Both divisions were, though, sold off after their parent entities were forced to downsize. Still linked to their founders are Red Bull Advanced Technologies (RBAT), which conceived Aston Martin’s Valkyrie hypercar and is currently developing the RB17 revealed here , and Mercedes Applies Science, best known for cycling and America’s Cup yachting exploits on behalf of team shareholder INEOS. Note: RBAT is not to be confused with Red Bull Technologies, which provides engineering services to Red Bull’s two F1 teams. The latest F1 team to create a tech spin off is Aston Martin Performance Technologies - possibly as a result of the eye-watering bills it received from RBAT for Valkyrie - after Martin Whitmarsh, who previously headed McLaren including MAT, joined the team as CEO. RacingNews365.com can reveal that the F1 team’s former Chief Technical Officer Andrew Green will oversee the nut and bolts of AMPT. "Andrew’s primary focus is now on broader Group activities, namely Aston Martin Performance Technologies, with the objective to utilise Andrew’s extensive knowledge to expand and diversify our business into more non-F1, commercial activity," a team spokesperson confirmed last week. That Green, who worked absolute wonders on tuppenny budgets when the team was known as Force India, was easing out (or eased out?) of F1 became clear after the high-profile (and controversial) recruitment of Dan Fallows from Red Bull as Technical Director, followed by the appointment of Mercedes F1 Chief Aerodynamicist Eric Blandin in a similar role. Fallows has since been the team’s outward technical 'face'. Cars designed by Green’s engineering department scored six podiums and twice finished fourth in the Constructors’ Championship despite limited budgets and facilities under colourful team boss Vijay Mallya.

Lance Stroll World Champion?

Fernando Alonso raised eyebrows when he last week suggested Lance Stroll, his team-mate at Aston Martin F1 Team and son of Chairman Lawrence, was a potential world champion. "He has the speed, and he has the talent. He has shown it many times, especially in wet conditions," the 2005/6 World Champion said. If anything, the comments prove the Spaniard has lost none of his political nous: After all, there is nothing wrong with starting the season in favour with the team owner by praising his son; then if - as expected - Alonso beats the Canadian he looks very good by shading the 24-year-old ‘potential world champion’ at age 41. Finally, if Alonso gets beaten, he points to his 'told you so' predictions. Its win-win-win for him…

PU2026 Shuffles

There were brief scurries of excitement last week when it emerged that McLaren’s Zak Brown (allegedly) had discussions with Honda over a potential 2026 partnership with the company given their acrimonious 2017 split and was then subsequently seen touring Red Bull Powertrain’s building. RacingNews365.com can also reveal that the Californian has also been in preliminary discussions with Cadillac should the General Motors brand enter F1 in 2026. None of these talks should be a surprise; indeed, a real shocker would be were he (and all other team bosses) NOT actively checking out their options for the new power unit era. As outlined in last week’s Sunday Snippets , no fewer than six PU suppliers have registered for 2026, with Cadillac potentially the seventh brand, possibly in partnership with Alpine or Honda. Given the FIA is currently evaluating the granting of entrant licences to at least two new teams, that equals up to seven PU suppliers servicing 12 teams - an average of less than two teams per PU supplier. The supply process is outlined in Appendix 5 and is dependent upon the number of new teams and PU suppliers – but it means that the likes of Mercedes (which currently supplies its own team plus three, including McLaren) and Ferrari (plus two) will need to reduce their commitments. Honda loses Red Bull and AlphaTauri which switch to Ford-badged RBPT units. Thus the entire team/PU dynamic will change. Clearly Brown was checking out options. Not doing so would a serious dereliction of duty as team CEO, and there are no doubts he and his peers will be ramping up such talks this year given less than two seasons remain before they start work on their 2026 cars – the designs of which will be dictated by the 50/50 split between internal combustion and hybrid power units.

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