It all started in the Roaring Twenties.
For the first time in more than 60 years, Aston Martin is set to make its return to the Formula 1 grid. We knew this was coming after Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, installed as the company's new executive chairman earlier this year, reiterated the luxury brand's F1 plans.
In the build-up to what should be a bumper 2021 year, Aston Martin has shared its proud Grand Prix history, which isn't something many know about since the marque is more commonly associated with luxury sports cars such as the DB11 and DBS Superleggera, but it was always co-founder Lionel Martin's desire to see Aston Martin compete in Grand Prix racing.
In the 1920s, Martin met a young racing driver by the name of Count Louis Zborowski. Zborowski not only loved the thrill of racing but was incredibly wealthy and ended up commissioning two race cars from Aston Martin to partake in the 1922 Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy).
Thanks to Zborowski's investment, the first-ever Aston Martin Grand Prix car had a 1.5-liter, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine producing 55 horsepower. The car weighed just 1,653 pounds so could reach a top speed of 85 mph. Chassis TT1 and TT2 weren't ready in time for the 1922 Tourist Trophy, so they made their debut at the 2.0-liter French Grand Prix on 15 July 1922 at Strasbourg.
Zborowski himself drove the TT1, but both cars ran into engine trouble and retired from the race. Still, it was a big step forward for Aston Martin, and greater success followed with a second-place finish at the 1922 Grand Prix de Penya Rhin, with similar successes the following year. It would be another two decades before Aston Martin competed again, with a win at the 1946 Belgian Sports Car Grand Prix in a 1936 Aston Martin 2.0-liter sports car, followed by a second-in-class finish at the 1949 Spa 24-hour race. Each time, stockbroker St John Ratcliffe Stewart Horsfall aka 'Jock' was behind the wheel.
Moving into the 1950s, company owner Sir David Brown considered motorsport involvement to be integral to the brand's commercial success. The DBR1 won the 1959 edition of LeMans, while the DP155 marked the move over to single-seater racers. In 1959, the marque was crowned World Sportscar Champions.
Following on from the DB4 road car was the DBR4 racer, but its front-engined design was a drawback and its successor, the DRB5, didn't have a great start. Aston Martin then withdrew from single-seater motorsports in 1960.
An extended hiatus from F1 involvement followed before Aston Martin became the title sponsor and partner of Red Bull Racing in the 2010s. It's a relationship that led to the upcoming Valkyrie hypercar, which appropriately enters production next year.
"The Formula 1 grid is the right place for Aston Martin," said Lawrence Stroll as the Aston Martin F1 Team gears up for a 2021 return. "It's where this brand should be, and I know this next chapter of our racing history will be incredibly exciting for fans of Aston Martin."