Tag Archives: Aston Martin

Formula One: Turning the Red Bull Racing Aston Martin story on its head

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Amongst the #ToroHondaRenaultMcLarenRosso hype during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, news of around Aston Martin increasing its involvement in Formula One with Red Bull Racing has started to solidify. Andy Palmer, Aston Martin CEO, when quizzed on the grid by Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle confirmed the business is keeping a watching brief on 2021 engine regulations, which should they fall favourably towards independent manufacturers, could lead to increased involvement of the brand. Should this be the case Palmer confirmed Aston Martin may seek to preemptt the regulation change by enhancing their visibility with Red Bull Racing possibly from as early as 2018.

This news comes at a time in which the media are speculating Red Bull’s long-term interest in Formula One may be dwindling, which has lead some observers to suggest a change of ownership of Red Bull Racing under the guise of Aston Martin. Whilst this is entirely possible, there are, in my opinion, a few to many creative leaps being taken for this outcome to be viable.

Firstly, lets address Red Bull or more specifically Dietrich Mateschitz’s diminished interest in Formula One. Red Bull entered F1 to sell a product, this objective is the same today as it was 30 years ago. In 2016 the Red Bull achieved more than $1,000M in media coverage from through Formula One. This far exceeds any investment the brand makes into the sport. With budget caps on the horizon, the business rationale for a marketing focused business to be involved with F1 will only increase. Should a $150M budget cap be achieved, Red Bull Racing can be assured of achieving this investment through existing sponsors, and prize funds. Red Bull stand to benefit from $1000M in free advertising.

2017 saw Aston Martin return to profit for the first time in over a decade. The business has stated ambitions around going public in the coming 5 years and are focused on expanding their automotive range to increase revenues. At this time, and in the mid term they are not a business capable of sustaining any form of Formula One engine development plan. Aston Martin Racing is a completely separate business to the Aston Martin which sponsors Red Bull Racing.

Returning to Dietrich Mateschitz. A serial entrepreneurr and self made billionaire. In recent years, he has seen the likes of McLaren diversify into the production of cars, and Williams create successful businesses in the application of their technology within a commercial environment. He is aware that the technical capability of the Red Bull Racing group is under utilised, something which will only increase under a F1 budget cap.  Projects such as Newey’s America’s Cup Project and the Aston Martin Valkyrie Hypercar project show an evaluation of ways in which the team can direct resources to other projects. Could this lead to an alternative direction for Red Bull Racing?

Rather than Aston Martin becoming title sponsor of Red Bull Racing, with a view to producing a power unit under the 2021 regulations. Could Red Bull be considering buying Aston Martin, supporting them in the acceleration of their automotive expansion plans, facilitating F1 power unit development, through their partnership with AVL, and using the proven brand power of Formula One allow Dietrich Mateschitz to evolve Aston Martin into a genuine competitor to the entire Ferrari Group.

Dietrich Mateschitz acquiring Aston Martin and reshaping his position in Formula One towards a Red Bull owned Aston Martin F1 Team, from a business perspective appears entirely more feasible than a company reporting $16M profit, having committed $550M to new road cars, suddenly investing $20M per annum in title sponsorship then paying to develop  an F1 engine.

All that being said, Red Bull, through offering half stories and snippets of information continue to dominate F1 news despite being unable to challenge for a world championship. The business continues to offer a master class in media manipulation. As in 2014, when F1 news was dominated by stories of Red Bull looking set to quit Formula One, Red Bull have an ability to create their own news to ensure they dominate the F1 headlines between the races.

Finally, despite quotes to the contrary, Red Bull Racing are very well aware that the best chance they have of securing a return to a championship challenging position is with a fully funded manufacturer. Talk of Aston Martin, in my opinion, is nothing more than a negotiating tactic around the terms under which the Volkswagen Group will enter Formula One.

Credit to Sean Bull for the fantastic livery creation supporting this article. 

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Formula One: CONFIRMED – Red Bull Racing Aston Martin Partnership

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Red Bull Racing have confirmed a multi year technical partnership with Aston Martin. To celebrate the partnership between Aston Martin, Red Bull Racing and Red Bull Advanced Technologies, the RB12s will carry the iconic Aston Martin wings logo throughout the 2016 season, making their debut at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne. Branding can be seen on the sidepod (pictured) nosecone and on the arms of drivers overalls.

British luxury brand Aston Martin and Formula One team Red Bull Racing are today announcing a partnership which sees Red Bull Racing’s Chief Technical Officer, Adrian Newey and Aston Martin’s Chief Creative Officer, Marek Reichman collaborate to produce a ground-breaking Aston Martin hypercar.

Codenamed Project ‘AM-RB 001’, the new hypercar will represent the ultimate blend of cutting edge F1TM technology with Aston Martin’s signature sports car design. The combined talents of Newey, widely noted as the most successful Formula One designer of all time, and Reichman, Aston Martin’s design chief since 2005, are set to produce the ultimate hypercar.

Combining the strongest elements of Red Bull Racing, Red Bull Advanced Technologies and Aston Martin, this new Innovation Partnership unites the world’s best aerodynamicists, composite experts and manufacturing masters. All the parties offer different elite capabilities and the combination of all of those skills, ensuring that Project ‘AM-RB 001’ promises to be an exciting prospect for customers and enthusiasts around the world

Aston Martin CEO Dr Andy Palmer said: “Formula One offers the ultimate global stage to build wider awareness of the Aston Martin brand. However, this partnership will deliver even more than that when the hypercar that Aston Martin and Adrian Newey are in the process of developing hits the road.

“Between Q by Aston Martin Advanced, Red Bull Advanced Technologies and project partner AF Racing AG, we are going to create a car that will excite and stir the imaginations of the car designers of the future and a global audience of sports car “These are exciting times for Aston Martin and arriving hot on the heels of our DB11 launch earlier this month, this new partnership underlines that our brand really is racing again.

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner said of the new partnership: “This is a very exciting project for everyone at Red Bull Racing. Through this Innovation Partnership the iconic Aston Martin logo will return to grand prix racing for the first time since 1960, and Red Bull Advanced Technologies, led by Adrian, will be harnessing our Formula One DNA to produce the ultimate of all road cars. It’s an incredible project which also realises a dream and vision long held by Adrian to design a road car. We are very much looking forward to what I’m certain will be a successful partnership.”

Having an illustrious Formula One career spanning nearly 30 years, and as the designer of ten World Championship winning Formula One cars, the partnership represents a new challenge for Red Bull Racing’s Adrian Newey.

“From the age of six I have had two goals in life – to be involved in the design of racing cars, and to be involved in the design of a super car.” Newey commented. “Whilst the former ambition went on to form my career to date, the latter has always bubbled away, resulting in countless sketches and doodles over the years.

“The opportunity to now develop and realise those ideas whilst working with Marek and his colleagues from Aston Martin is tremendously exciting.  It allows us to translate the technology we have developed in F1 into a new arena.”

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For your chance to win Red Bull Racing Merchandise click here

Formula One: Opinion – One too many?

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As  Formula One prepares for the Brazilian Grand Prix a story that won’t go away is that of the Sahara Force India F1 Team rebranding as the Aston Martin Racing F1 Team with extensive, possibly title sponsorship, from Johnnie Walker in 2016.

To the dreamy eyed motorsport fan, myself included, the prospect of seeing the Aston Martin name in Formula One is fantastic. That being said the performance objectives Aston Martin may have for the partnership will have to be kept in check. The Silverstone based team have achieved great things on a limited budget for a number of years, but realistically making further steps up the grid will not happen overnight, even if the team were to receive sizable capital investment any plan for the Aston Martin brand to win in Formula One would have to form part of a longer term commitment. Will the Aston Martin marketers be satisfied with an image of the plucky underdog?

Beyond a possible team rebrand, the suggested commercial deals also raise a number of questions. The Force India team was originally intended to act as a platform for Vijay Mallya to promote, in addition to his airline, United Breweries and United Spirits (UBUS) through the brands Kingfisher, Whyte and Mackay, and Royal Challenge. Following the economic challenges Vijay Mallya and his companies have faced in recent years, ownership of the UBUS companies has exchanged hands. Initially Diageo (parent company of Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff) bought a sizable shareholding in the UBUS business. This change in ownership was reflected in the Force India livery with the addition of Smirnoff branding on the car. However, earlier this year as part of a consolidation strategy Diageo sold its shares in the UBUS business to Heineken. With Diageo’s Smirnoff remaining on the car alongside Kingfisher and Royal Challenge, this in effect means that the Force India team carries branding for two of the world’s largest alcohol companies. A situation that is unlikely to continue into the 2016 season irrespective of any Aston Martin rebrand.

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Further mudding the water, or wine, is the recently extended agreement Force India have with the Mexican wine producer Cavell’s. Whilst it can be argued that wine, spirits, and beer are not direct competitors they ultimately target the same consumers. Since signing Sergio Perez Force India have devoted their marketing efforts to developing a substantial Mexican sponsorship portfolio, significantly beyond partnerships brokered through the Slim family (Telmex) This strategic focus on Mexico again leads me to question the likelihood of an Aston Martin rebrand with Johnnie Walker. The team won’t look to terminate commercial sponsorships, but do all these deals meet with the branding demands Aston Martin may place on the team?

One possible theory around the Johnnie Walker rumours could in fact be team ownership. Vijay Mallya’s financial troubles have been long and well reported, it is possible he agreed to offer a silent shareholding in the team to Diageo when they first bought into the UBUS business? Diageo shareholding in the team would explain any desire to consolidate existing F1 partnerships into a single team and bring Aston Martin to the party as a premium brand to support a premium product in Johnnie Walker.

Vijay Mallya’s comments over the Mexican GP weekend that the Force India name has served its purpose and perhaps the time is right to change is sound, with the now Heineken owned Kingfisher and Royal Challenge likely to fall off livery in 2016 and Roy Sahara’s difficulties not reaching any conclusion in the near future beyond Vijay Mallya himself there is very little Indian influence left in the team.

One thing is for sure the Silverstone based team will look different in 2016, will they “Keep Walking” with Johnnie Walker and Aston Martin? Time will tell, but as ever with these stories there is much to this than a paint job and a few stickers.