'New factory will make Aston Martin F1 title contenders within 5 years'


"Money talks very loud doesn't it?" says Lawrence Stroll as he reveals plans for the new £150-£200m Aston Martin factory — part of his plan to make the team F1 contenders within 3-5 years

Aston Martin F1 factory digital image

Lawrence Stroll has made no secret of his ambitious plans for the Aston Martin marque in Formula 1, and his stated intention is to make it a World Championship contender within the timeframe of “three to five years.”

Hiring Sebastian Vettel and headhunting top engineering names from up and down the pitlane were among the early signs that the Canadian billionaire means business.

On Tuesday he revealed the first detailed images of the next big step in his campaign – an impressive new base that will be like no other in the sport, and which Stroll says represents an investment on his part of £150-200m.

Through its various iterations the team now known as Aston has been based at the site across the road from Silverstone first acquired by Eddie Jordan in the early nineties. Even with its previously limited resources the team outgrew the facility long ago, and recent expansion of the headcount under Stroll has seen staff housed in portable cabins.

From the day he purchased the team in the summer of 2018 Stroll made it clear that he would give it a new home, and the adjoining land was quickly acquired. Plans were then shaped around the requirements of the new F1 financial regulations and budget cap, and then a Covid-induced delay allowed time for further refinement.

Three buildings of new Aston Martin factory rendered

Three buildings make up the new factory; one housing a wind tunnel

Forget the word “factory” – the team’s new Silverstone base will be a campus, with not one but three main buildings at its heart, one of them a wind tunnel. Work on the first commenced a couple of months ago, and there was an official ground-breaking ceremony last week.

“When I bought the team, a little over three years ago this past summer, one of the very apparent obvious improvements that needed to be made was our facilities,” says Stroll. “This team amazingly has been operating out of the same facilities dating back to Eddie Jordan.

“Somehow, it’s expanded, I don’t know how it’s been able to grow from the 200 to the 500 people we have in there today, but it’s still there.

“The people are fitting, in clearly not the most advantageous, and not the ultimate working conditions, you want to have. Very impressive how we’ve been able to do what we’re doing with what we have.”

Jordan F1 factory in 2002

Current factory dates back to the Jordan days — seen in 2002


Stroll is adamant that simply adapting the present facility was never going to be good enough: “The current factory would have really been difficult, we’re right now adding these temporary offices, little buildings that you put down on the ground to house the constantly growing workforce we have.

“The communication isn’t the best because everybody is located all around various parts of the factory. So the improvement in communications in research and development, in design, it was a necessity. We could not continue to grow to the headcount I want to grow to with the existing premises. Not possible. Full stop.”

As first formulated in 2018 the original plan was for one new building, with the older facility kept as a sort of back-up.

“Prior to Covid, I acquired the land just adjoining and surrounding our current building of about another 30 acres, directly in front of the entrance to Silverstone.

“And we received planning permission, just prior to Covid in order to build what was originally going to be one building – the main building of approximately 200,000 square feet, to house design, manufacturing, the drawing office, etcetera.”

Breaking ground on the new Aston Martin F1 factory

Stroll breaks ground at Silverstone alongside team principal Otmar Szafnauer (left) and Anthony Bamford (centre), fellow team investor and sponsor through his JCB firm

The Covid delay changed those plans, and Stroll opted to include a wind tunnel on site. Latterly the team has been renting time in the Mercedes facility in nearby Brackley. It was a big call, and has added greatly to the costs.

“In that interim period, we realised that in order to fulfil my ambitions of fighting for World Championships in the few years down the road to come, that we really should be having our own wind tunnel as well. A very expensive proposition.”

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It’s also a bold investment given that there’s a proposal that wind tunnels will be banned from F1 from 2030, obliging teams to rely on the ever-improving field of computational fluid dynamics. Stroll is willing to take the risk.

“No one knows what the future will be with wind tunnels past 2030 at this point, but we believe it’s a worthy investment that we’ll have seven or eight years to be able to use it before any decision is made.

“I personally don’t think wind tunnels will disappear. I don’t think it’ll be safe for F1 to all be designed by only CFD. I think rational minds have come to that. But if it’s seven years, at least we’ll have seven years.”

Rendered image of new Aston Martin F1 factory

Old factory will be demolished and repalced with a wellness centre that will also house cars from previous seasons

Once the team has moved into the new main building the current factory, which originally was going to switched to alternative uses, will be demolished. It will ne replaced with a multi-use facility, which Stroll describes as “a state-of-the-art wellness centre, cafeteria, simulator, and will house our heritage cars and be able to entertain guests. We’re also going to have a bit of an auditorium/convention centre in this building.”

Stroll makes it clear that when the three elements are completed the new facility, which will total 400,000 square feet, will be the best of any team on the current grid.

“It will be an inspiring and empowering place to work, design, manufacture and hopefully win.”

It’s a bold but perfectly valid claim. The bases of the teams we now know as Mercedes and Red Bull date back to their respective nineties roots as BAR and Stewart respectively, albeit with some expansion and updating along the way. Even the spectacular McLaren Technology Centre in Woking is nearly 20 years old.

“It will be the only one currently fit for purpose with the financial regulations taken into consideration,” says Stroll. “It will also be the first 5G factory, be completely sustainable, it will be a true smart factory in every sense of the word. This is really following suit in line with our aggressive and ambitious recruitment drive.

“Here we will be able to have the headcount that we so desperately want and need, again to fulfil my ambitions to fighting for World Championships.

“And it will be an inspiring and empowering place in which to work, design, manufacture and hopefully win.

“There’s been nothing like it ever before in automotive, whether F1 or any other [area], certainly not in racing. That shows my belief in the team. It confirms my ambitions. And it confirms my belief in F1, because this is really an investment as well in F1.”

McLaren Technology Centre

Aston Martin’s new factory more utilitarian than McLaren Technology Centre


You might think this is all sounding a bit like the MTC, which Ron Dennis moulded to reflect his personality – and which was famously soon outgrown by the racing team it houses. Stroll insists that the Aston base is being built for practicality, rather than vanity.

“This is the reverse of what Ron Dennis did with Norman Foster with the McLaren Technology Centre. This is a factory, a campus, again fit for purpose to match the DNA and the culture of ourselves, of our history, of our purpose. What it’s been built for is to be able to be efficient, to be streamlined, to again have everybody sitting side-by-side under one roof.

“And 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.

“So we can build more bays if we want, we can shrink not by shrinking the size of the building, but moving people closer together. But this is a building that will truly represent our image, our culture and our DNA.”

He insists that it won’t be Aston in name only: “It’s instilling we are now Aston Martin, and will be forever. It is instilling the culture and the DNA from Aston Martin to this great historical past. Also architecturally speaking, it will be designed as an Aston Martin-inspired building. So the feeling, the colours, the smell, the lighting, the what have you will reflect our Aston Martin corporate identity.”

Lawrence Stroll on the site of the new Aston Martin F1 factory

“Money talks very loud, doesn’t it?” says Stroll

With fortuitous timing as noted Stroll and his management team have been able to target their plans around the budget cap levels mandated by the F1 financial regulations.

In other words they now know what a realistic headcount target is for the coming seasons, they know how those numbers will be spread around the various departments, and they were able to fine tune the design to suit. In contrast after expanding over the years Mercedes and Red Bull are furiously downscaling to meet the cap requirements.

“On the downside we’re a few years behind because of Covid to build this building,” says Stroll. “It was the intent to have this building in place today. But I truly do believe we’re in a better state than the very large teams that have to downsize, which is demotivational.

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“You don’t know who’s the next one about to lose their job, etc, etc, where we’re looking to add hundreds of people to our head count. So yes, I think we’re in a sweet spot.”

The new building won’t just house F1 personnel – there will be folk involved in cutting edge projects like the Valkyrie who can benefit from rubbing shoulders with the racing team.

“We’re going to have various businesses in here,” says Stroll. “We’ll have the F1 team as we know it today, we’re also going to add an Aston Martin performance technology component to this business, we’re going to add an Aston Martin performance manufacturing component to this business, that we currently don’t have today.

“And of course, we’re going to have all the wind tunnel and the personnel to go with that that we don’t have today. Total headcount, I cannot tell you, because we have not finished our plans.

“This is a process that’s going to take two and in some cases three years after we replace the existing building. But just headcount of staff, I’d say comfortably, we’ll be able to fit a thousand.”

Lance Stroll behind Valtteri Bottas at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix

Factory is essential to overhauling Mercedes, says Stroll

Even with a budget cap reining in the big spenders of F1, Stroll’s plans reflect a significant investment, one that proves that he means business.

“I think money always talks very loud, doesn’t it? It will continue to. We all know about the budget cap. We also are all very realistic of all the exclusions not included in the budget cap. For us this campus, this facility, was long overdue, again, Covid cost us two years, otherwise it would already be completed, or close to completion.

“But in order to compete to win, which is what I am here for, this tool is 100% needed. What you need to win is you need the right leadership and vision, which I believe I bring. You need the finances to be able to afford it. You need the best people in the industry. And you need to give them the best tools and processes.

“None of my predecessors have my history or track record or the success that I’ve had”

“Well, this is delivering the tools and the processes – and we already have a lot of great people – in order to recruit the ones we don’t have, and give them my guidance, our senior management team’s guidance and leadership, in order to fulfil all of our dreams.”

The Silverstone team has had a rocky history at times, but it has survived the Jordan, Midland, Spyker, Force India and Racing Point eras, with some loyal staff members staying for the whole ride. Other owners have come and gone, but Stroll insists that he is here for the long haul.

“Now, this is a long-term investment, and no offence to any of my predecessors, none of them have my history or track record or the success that I’ve had. I’m clearly passionate about this, this is a great business opportunity. I see F1 as a business, the value of each individual team significantly appreciating in the years to come.

“Not any different than any other sports assets. If you look at a soccer club, or football, whatever you call it, an NFL football team, 10 years ago an NFL football team was worth a billion dollars today, you can’t buy a franchise for less than $4-5bn.

“So this is a long-term plan. This is something I plan on being involved with. I’m still a young man, I believe I am at least, for many, many years to come. You don’t make this kind of investment and plan to retreat in any way, shape or form.”