And then it happened. Toto Wolff put pen to paper in acquiring a stake of British luxury carmaker, Aston Martin.
Though his acquisition is only worth 1%, it's worth noting that Wolff forked out an estimated R871-million! Phew, can you imagine all the Astons you could buy with that money!
It's been speculated for several months now that Wolff and Racing Point owner, Lawrence Stroll, were in talks regarding Wolff's involvement at Aston Martin. While Wolff frantically denied it, where there’s usually a bit of smoke, there must also be a fire.
Stroll and Aston Martin
Towards the latter stages of 2019, news of Lawrence Stroll's interest in Aston Martin came about. Stroll, a Canadian billionaire who made his money through fashion, acquired a majority stake in the flailing British automaker at the start of 2020.
It was announced shortly after that Stroll's Formula 1 team Racing Point will don the Aston Martin name in 2021. Just what the team will be known as remains to be seen, but 'Aston Martin Racing Point' or 'Racing Point Aston Martin' could be on the cards. Perhaps even renaming the team to Aston Martin.
Aston Martin is a major title sponsor for the Red Bull Racing team, but it is believed that the deal with Stroll will not affect their relationship – at least for now. But Aston Martin has a part-sharing agreement with Mercedes-AMG, who supplies the engines for Aston’s newest road cars. AMG power for the fabled automaker? Sounds like a match made in heaven.
2020 Aston Martin Vantage. Image: Instagram / Aston Martin Lagonda
Where does Wolff fit in?
Toto Wolff has been a pretty significant figure in the F1 paddock for the last decade. Before moving to Mercedes, he was part of the Williams team and a crucial cog of the team’s last victory at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix.
His talents were identified by Daimler, Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, who lured him over to the big German team. In the years since, Wolff has led the Mercedes to every championship since 2014.
Stroll, a close friend and associate of Wolff’s, knows this and began talks that led to the 1% acquisition. Now, Wolff could jump ship and head Stroll’s team in 2021, but he did make it clear that he is with Mercedes, at least, for the short term. However, a few months ago, Wolff also did say that he has no interest in Aston Martin…
Toto Wolff. Image: TeamTalk
Ah, the big question: What will happen with Lewis Hamilton?
Wolff and Hamilton have been together since 2013, and together, they've won every championship, bar 2016; when Hamilton's team mate, Nico Rosberg, won the drivers’ championship. Still, it’s a winning partnership between these two personalities, and it does make one wonder what will happen to Hamilton if Wolff should jump ship to Aston Martin next year.
The thing is, Hamilton is out of contract at the end of 2020, and he will be free to sign for any team if he so wishes. If Wolff makes the switch, Hamilton will likely join him and see out the remaining years of his F1 career at Racing Point Aston Martin.
Also counting in the team's favour is their close-knit relationship with the Mercedes team. During pre-season testing for the 2020 season, Racing Point looked like the next-best team after Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull, which led many to believe that they might be a force to be reckoned with. Their car, however, is an almost carbon copy of Merc's 2019 car, which undoubtedly helped improve their performance.
Racing Point is also an engine customer of Mercedes-AMG's, which means that they are powered by the same engine that does duty in the factory team’s car. In short, Racing Point is in a prime position to make headway into the championship scene this year and perhaps even in 2021 - if all the chips fall into place.
Lewis Hamilton. Image: TeamTalk
What are those chips?
From a car perspective, Racing Point is primed to benefit from Mercedes’ technical know-how. The team, as we've seen with the 2020 car, is allowed to tap into what Merc has on offer and use it to their advantage. That’s point number one.
Rumours are going around that Toto Wolff and Daimler’s new bosses are not sitting around the same campfire. The strife could have been a big motivator for his decision to buy the 1% stake in Aston Martin, with the subsequent idea being that he takes up a role at the refurbished F1 team in 2021. Though Wolff is still with Mercedes for the 'short term', that could be code for 'until the end of 2020.'
Lastly, it would be stupid of Hamilton to leave Mercedes while he's on the verge of rewriting history. But it could just be that Racing Point could give him the same opportunities in 2021 or 2022 for the latest. And with his friend and boss Wolff possibly moving ship, he might do the unimaginable and sign with Stroll’s team.
It's a long shot, and speculation will be rife towards the end of the year, but Lawrence Stroll certainly has the F1 championships in his views. And Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton could be the keys to achieving that goal.Canadian billionaire and Racing Point owner, Lawrence Stroll. Image: Team Talk