Óscar Maya Belchí |
Madrid (EFE).- The Saudi oil company Aramco promotes the Aston Martin brand that Fernando Alonso drives in the F1 World Championship. An investment of 647 million euros. And a car that amazes in pre-season tests. Dealers in Madrid sell cars from this high-end firm for more than 200,000 euros. At the moment, the middle class is already asking for caps and shirts from the Asturian pilot. The number 33, the victory that Alonso pursues, is in fashion.
When Alonso and Aston Martin made their relationship official from this season on August 1, 2022, the British team occupied the ninth -out of ten- position in the F1 constructor classification.
A surprise announcement, after the withdrawal of the German Sebastian Vettel, which caused gains of 400,000 euros in social brand value -return derived from the impact of publications on social networks- for Aston Martin, according to the company specialized in this type of measurements, MVP.
Seven months later, Aston Martin has become one of the teams to consider for the 2023 season that starts in Bahrain. A circuit in which during the tests they were, according to data from F1 itself, 2.371 seconds faster than in the same scenario a year earlier.
A progress that Alonso himself, after acknowledging that it is only the preseason, pondered in a public appearance.
“On the last day, in our race simulation, we were slightly faster than Ferrari,” said the Asturian driver, two-time F1 world champion in 2005 and 2006. And the Italians were second in the constructors’ championship last season.
Lawrence Stroll and Saudi capital
These are the first green shoots of a project that was born in 2018 when the F1 Force India team entered bankruptcy mid-season. Canadian tycoon Lawrence Stroll bought the team, paid off his debt, placed his son Lance as a driver and began laying the foundation for what the team is today.
The definitive step was the acquisition of 18.3% of the Aston Martin car brand.
He also took advantage of the moment of difficulty that the British company was going through and repeated the operation; also making sure that they allowed him to put the name of Aston Martin to the extinct Force India that at that time was called Racing Point.
An operation that made Aston Martin rise 25% on the stock market.
Lawrence Stroll, a reference character in the F1 ‘paddock’, amassed his fortune with different investments in luxury clothing brands and is passionate about cars.
In his garage sleeps the Ferrari 250 GT0, the most expensive car in the world, of which there are limited units, after being auctioned for 45.3 million euros in 2021. And it is that Stroll’s assets, according to Forbes, is 2,944 million euro.
For this reason, he has made his passion his great investment. In a project to which it would not have been possible to attract Fernando Alonso without Saudi Arabia’s commitment to Aston Martin.
The British brand’s main sponsor is the Saudi oil company Aramco, which also sponsors F1. An association that has gone from being a mere sponsorship to being involved, through investment, in the brand’s ambitious project.
“The partnership reflects Aramco’s commitment to the vision, determination and capabilities of Aston Martin’s management and competition team to drive continuous progress and achieve success in F1,” Talal Al-Marri, director, told EFE. general public affairs for Aramco.
Company managed by the government Saudi Arabia, the country from which the Public Investment Fund (PIF), led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, bought 16.7% of Aston Martin in July 2022 in addition to providing a capital injection of 647 million euros, according to specialized media. Movement that had, once again, a good impact on the stock market, since the shares of the British brand rose 20%.
Thus, the Saudi country is the second largest shareholder of an Aston Martin that has changed its paradigm and increasingly brings together more brands.
His car is full of sponsorships in an F1 that is trading on the rise. In addition to its two main partners, they have 24 other brands that have wanted to associate with Aston Martin. A bank, a crane company, sunglasses, insurance, social networks… the project arouses interest.
Better facilities, better goals
However, success does not come only through financial investment. For this reason, Lawrence Stroll’s ambitious goal of “winning” goes through the team’s new facilities. From Northamptonshire to Silverstone -the nerve center of F1-, with 35,000 square meters of surface area 26 kilometers away in the United Kingdom.
New factory, new wind tunnel – they currently use the Mercedes one and it is a key element to analyze the improvements of the car before taking them out on the track – and state-of-the-art facilities – hand in hand with its ‘tittle partner’ Cognizant, a technology company- .
Operational since mid-2023, Aston Martin has invested some $225 million in it, according to the planned plan announced by the team.
The plan -“The mission”, as this stage of Fernando Alonso is known on social networks- is to win in the medium term, although what was seen in the Bahrain tests have made the “33” or “How what 33?” in reference to the number of victories that Alonso would have if he wins again, it becomes a world trend.
Alonso’s fan phenomenon
According to Google Trends, a tool designed to capture user search patterns, “33” reached a peak of 96 out of 100 on the first day of preseason in which Fernando Alonso came second. A maximum that surpassed “How what 33?”, with 100 out of 100 a day later.
On Twitter, both were trending during and after the tests. And that the number 33 reflected in the F1 world champion trophy shared by the official account of the contest itself was the final impulse for fans who hope to remember past times, and better ones.
An interest that transcends the virtual world. In one of the main dealerships of the brand in Madrid, the one that supplied him with one of the cars that he was awarded to the Spanish driver for his signing, they have noticed the impulse caused by the figure of Fernando Alonso.
“I have noticed that many people come in asking about merchandising, I receive five or six calls a day… people recognize us more. Also this ‘merchandising’ is to give away to customers who buy cars”, they assure EFE from the Tayre dealership.
Some brand products ranging from shirts with the number ’14’ and the surname Alonso as if it were a footballer, to caps, coats, sweatshirts… Also from Lance Stroll, his partner, but the Asturian is the claim that appears when You enter the team’s website.
Of course, in the sale of cars, which widely exceed 200,000 euros, the effect will begin to take shape when the competition begins this weekend.
“It is still early. Yes, I think that it can arouse more interest from people and that they know us and put us more on the radar of possible buyers of this type of car, but it is soon. I think that if the results are good and podiums are achieved, it can be seen in sales”, they point out from the dealership in Madrid.
Some results that will start counting from this weekend, but the bases are set. A visible face like Fernando Alonso that increases the value of the brand, signings of elite engineers from Red Bull -Dan Fallows- and Mercedes -Eric Blandin-, new facilities and different sources of income. The mission takes shape.