Aston Martin Threatens to Quit F1 Practice Session at Silverstone Amidst Sprint Race Inclusion

Published 07/01/2021, 4:29 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – April 16, 2021 Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel in action during practice REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane


F1 is just weeks away from welcoming the new version of race weekend, with the inclusion of a sprint race at the British Grand Prix. While the idea wasn’t received so positively at first, the teams did come to a consensus with F1’s ideology eventually. But apparently, not all grounds were covered during the talks.

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And now, there seems to be tension building up amidst threats from Aston Martin and several other F1 teams. The British outfit, in particular, are looking to quit one of the practice sessions in a bid to save their clutches for the sprint race.

Why? Well, Aston Martin’s sporting director, Andy Stevenson, reckoned that their clutches last only up to 300 km. Hence, with the addition of 100 km through sprint race, reliability becomes a huge risk during the rest of the weekend.

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What did Aston Martin say?

As reported by Auto Motor Und Sport, Andy revealed that their clutches require maintenance beyond 300 km. He further claimed that the team would have built a much reliable clutch during the winter break had they known sprint races were going to be a part of 2021.

These clutches were built for a different purpose. They need new washers and maintenance after 300 kilometers. If we had known what to expect before the season, we would have built different clutches,” he said.

Formula One F1 – French Grand Prix – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France – June 18, 2021 Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel during practice REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

If we had have to drive with a clutch for a whole weekend without refreshing, we cannot guarantee that it will hold up. If the FIA ​​doesn’t give in, we might have to skip a training session. That can’t be in the spirit of the inventor.”

Aston Martin did request Mercedes for their fairly new clutch model, which has the capability of running up to 700 km without much maintenance. However, the Brackley outfit denied the request, citing a shortage of units to cover both teams.

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Will more F1 teams support Aston Martin’s opinion?

Apart from Aston Martin, two other teams have already voiced out the negatives of hosting sprint races – McLaren and Alpine.

And this isn’t surprising, considering their Grand Prix points could be in jeopardy by risking over-usage of clutches. It would certainly be foolish to prioritize the sprint race, which offers three points at most, over the main race, which offers up to 25 points.

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Hence, the likelihood of more teams joining forces with Aston Martin is very much high. If and when that happens, the only possible way out for the FIA is to allow the drivers to change the clutch midway into the race weekend, which hasn’t been the case over the years in F1.

Formula One F1 – Steiermark Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Styria, Austria – June 25, 2021 Alpine’s Fernando Alonso in action during practice REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

As of now, the FIA are yet to acknowledge the teams’ request. Hence, with no response from them, the teams will be discussing with the FIA over the weekend at Austria this weekend. So, will they find a compromise out of the talks?

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Watch Story: What Are Sprint Races & Where Will They Be Held?

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Rohit Kumar

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Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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