ASTON MARTIN FOR F1? Aston Martin CEO, Andy Palmer (pictured here), says the British marque has been approached by various teams to participate in F1. Image: AFP/ Fabrice Coffrini
LONDON, England - Aston Martin have had plenty of approaches from Formula 1 teams wanting to bring the brand back to the sport but the chances of a deal are improbable at best, chief executive Andy Palmer said on Monday (July 6).
The former Nissan executive, who joined the classic British sportscar marque in 2014, recognised the rumour mill was running wild at the 2015 British Grand Prix on Sunday's (July 5) but said there were substantial obstacles to any involvement.
F1 TOO EXPENSIVE FOR US
Palmer said: "The bottom line is that it would be very difficult for us. We as a company don't have the kind of money to go into F1 and make a decent job of it.
"Unless I thought we could be challenging Ferrari in some way, shape or form I just wouldn't contemplate doing it.
"The best I can tell you is that it's improbable. I never say never but it's improbable."
Palmer was a key figure in the deal that brought the Nissan-owned Infiniti brand to Red Bull as title partner.
READ: As it happened: 2015 British GP
Hit by ageing models and weak investment, loss-making Aston Martin delivered 4000 cars in 2014, well short of its 7300 record in 2007. The company's main shareholders are private-equity groups, Investment Dar of Kuwait and Italy's Investindustrial.
The rumour mill was fired up by a report on Saturday (July 4) that Aston Martin, who last competed in F1 in 1960, were in talks with Red Bull about becoming a brand partner with Mercedes replacing Renault as engine supplier.
Mercedes have a 5% stake in Aston Martin, the car of choice for fictional British secret agent James Bond.
Niki Lauda, non-executive chairman of the Mercedes F1 team, dismissed the report as 'rubbish' while Red Bull principal Christian Horner said his team had contracts with Renault and Infiniti to the end of in 2016.
Horner, who drives an Aston Martin for personal use, said: "Last week it was Ferrari, this week it's Aston Martin, next week who knows? What happens at the end of 2016 is purely speculative."
Palmer said he had connections around the paddock, including at Williams, another proud British brand with Mercedes engines, with whom Aston Martin are already involved on projects.
Red Bull technical head Adrian Newey is also helping Aston Martin with some aerodynamic work.
Palmer added that Aston Martin were committed to GT4, GT3 and GTE sportscar racing "and at this stage at least there is nothing else out there.
He said: "I think most of the teams in the pit lane at one moment or other since I've been here in the last nine months have approached me in some way, shape or form. Not Ferrari or McLaren, for obvious reasons."
Palmer said that while the Infiniti deal with Red Bull had worked well for that luxury marque, Aston Martin did not have any problem with brand awareness.
He said: "Everybody knows Aston Martin. I have a job to do in terms of getting us back into the conversation amongst people that cross-shop sportscars, be it McLaren, be it Ferrari or Porsche. I need to be in that conversation.
"But to get into F1, that's serious money that I don't have."
'SEX APPEAL OF JAMES BOND'
Palmer watched Sunday's race at Silverstone with the Mercedes-powered Force India team, whose co-owner Vijay Mallya is also a fan of the marque.
Mallya said: "I invited him and I told him I want to go up and see the Aston Martin factory, I'd love, actually, to buy one of their cars.
"All of us recognise it as a great marque with all of the sex appeal of James Bond and everything."
Mallya said no deal had been proposed with Aston Martin "but it could be quite interesting, actually. If it was an option, I'd certainly be very interested in discussing it."
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