Aston Martin could make a return to mainstream motor racing as early as next year, the Warwickshire carmaker’s chairman confirmed yesterday.
David Richards, who took over the iconic British company from Ford in 2007 with financial backing from Investment Dar of Kuwait, said in Bahrain he was considering a return to Formula One next year.
But Mr Richards, who previously headed the Benetton and BAR F1 teams and who owns Banbury automotive engineering specialist Prodrive, said it would depend on the FIA government body imposing a £30?million a year spending cap on teams.
“We are very serious about entering Formula One in 2010 providing that it is commercially viable and there is the potential to be fully competitive.” Mr Richards said.
“On the commercial side we would want a situation where the sort of budget you would need to be competitive would be sensible. And we would expect to see a reasonable return on our investment in the longer term.
“We would also want the rules to be such that they provide the potential for us to be fully competitive. We would not want to be in Formula One just to make up the numbers.”
Aston Martin has been absent from the Grand Prix circuit since 1960 but its cars once attracted motor racing legends such as Stirling Moss, Peter Collins, Roy Salvadori and Maurice Trintignant.
Under Mr Richards’ leadership the company has made a successful return to sports car racing with back-to-back wins in the classic Le Mans 24 Hour race.
Prodrive, who ran Subaru’s world rally team until the manufacturer pulled out this season, had been due to enter Formula One in 2008 but withdrew due to uncertainty over future regulations.
Mr Richards yesterday said that gave him a headstart on planning, with the earlier project and key personnel ready to be “switched back on”.
A radical overhaul aimed at helping F1 survive the global recession is expected to see a spending cap of £30?million imposed by the sport’s governing body from next year.
Some teams competed with budgets of more than £300?million last season. In exchange, teams would be granted greater technical freedom.
Mr Richards said there was “the basis for a real revolution in the sport” that would reward teams with the most ingenious engineers and best organisation rather than the most money.