Martin Whitmarsh is a day that is always going to be synonymous with the time Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were duelling with each other at the Woking-based team. He left F1 in 2014 and now he has come back from the wilderness to join Aston Martin which is making the boldest investment in F1 since McLaren itself. He joins the team as the group CEO of its performance division as a part of owner Lawrence Stroll’s continued quest for excellence at the team. Last year, Stroll brought in 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel to the team after rebranding what was the Racing Point F1 team to Aston Martin after his consortium gained control of the Aston Martin Lagonda motorcar company, where he is executive chairman. Whitmarsh starts his new stint in F1 after a hiatus of 7 years where he was the McLaren team principal under whose tutelage Lewis Hamilton had thrived with the team till he decided to leave for Mercedes.
“I am very pleased to announce that Martin [Whitmarsh] will be joining us as Group Chief Executive Officer of the new Aston Martin Performance Technologies, from October 1st 2021. Martin will enjoy senior leadership responsibility and will assist and support me in setting the new strategic direction for Aston Martin Performance Technologies and its subsidiaries, including the crucial objective of leading the transformation of Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team into a Formula One World Championship-winning organisation within the next four to five years, and evolving it into a £1 billion business over a similar time period,” Stroll said at the announcement.
“Martin has enjoyed a long, successful and high-profile career, spanning the motorsport, automotive, aerospace, marine and renewable-energy sectors. Moreover, he is a proven winner in Formula 1. He is therefore the ideal person for the job of working with me and our senior management team to lead and inspire our workforce to future success both on and off track,” he added.
There had been rumours that Whitmarsh could join Aston Martin in some capacity, but most were centred around the road car business, but it turns out he bagged a huge role with the F1 team, a role that has been created for him. The performance division will be a new unit, something similar to McLaren technologies and Red Bull technologies where the team will be developing and applying its technical capabilities and IP as a business and it will just not operate as an R&D unit for the enhancement of performance on the race track.
Stroll has been a shrewd operator, he built a close relationship with Mercedes as well
“I am delighted to have been appointed by Lawrence [Stroll] to the position of Group Chief Executive Officer of the new Aston Martin Performance Technologies, from October 1st 2021,” Whitmarsh said upon the shock confirmation. I have known and admired Lawrence for many years, and I have always been extremely impressed by his formidable business acumen and his seemingly inexhaustible ambition,” Whitmarsh said at the appointment.
“Equally, I have always respected ‘Team Silverstone’, if I can call it that, which has often punched above its weight under its various previous incarnations, and which now has the weight with which to punch harder than ever before. Lawrence intends Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team to win Formula One World Championships, plain and simple, and I would not have joined him in that endeavour unless I was utterly convinced that it was an entirely achievable aim,” he added.
“I know what it takes to win in Formula One, and, inspired by Lawrence’s leadership and backed by the skill, passion and resolve of the workforce, I intend to do whatever I can to make sure that our team becomes the winning operation that Lawrence is determined that it should be,” Whitmarsh signalled.
Apart from the hiring of Whitmarsh, Aston Martin has raided a lot of technical talent from Red Bull. It has broken ground on a new factory which will be the first F1 facility in the UK since the McLaren technology centre and is also building its own wind tunnel with an intent to become a world championship-winning team in 5 years.
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