Aston Martin is set to share safety car duties with Mercedes at Formula 1 races from next year. Mercedes has exclusively provided the official F1 safety car since 1996, starting out originally with a Mercedes-AMG C36 and currently using a Mercedes-AMG GT R.
While the German manufacturer has been fully committed up until now, discussions are underway about a revised deal for 2021, when a new Concorde Agreement comes in. Although it is understood that no final decision has been made, sources have revealed that it is looking increasingly likely that Mercedes will step back from being the sole safety car supplier.
It will continue to play a major role – which will include providing F1’s medical car – but talks are ongoing about a revised arrangement that will likely result in the safety car responsibilities being shared with Aston Martin. Such a change of deal, that could see the safety car use split evenly between the two manufacturers across the season, would help share the financial burden between the two companies as F1 expands to a 23-race schedule.
A deal has been made for Aston Martin to supply the safety and medical cars at 12 of the planned 23 races next season. A reliable source said that the existing Mercedes safety and medical cars will not be scrapped and they will feature at 11 of the races, with Aston Martin taking preference for which weekends they will supply their cars for.
It is understood that the decision will be dictated by markets, with Aston Martin expected to pick countries where they have bigger interests, while Mercedes would supply races like the Brazilian Grand Prix where Aston Martin have a smaller market share.
It is believed the Aston safety car will be a Vantage. Racefans understands the medical car at races where Aston Martin supply the cars will be a DBX, which uses the same four-litre V8 engine as the current AMG GT R cars. The Daimler group, which owns Mercedes Benz, recently took a 20% shareholding in Aston Martin.
Mercedes and Aston Martin have become increasingly close over the past 12 months, having reached deals on shareholding agreements and closer technical cooperation.
It was recently announced that Mercedes will increase its stake in Aston Martin to 20%, while also giving access to a range of its technologies – including powertrain and electric/electronic architecture.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff also has a private shareholding in Aston Martin, and is close friend with owner Lawrence Stroll.
Next year, Aston Martin is returning to F1 with its own works team, as it takes over the naming rights for the Racing Point outfit. Stroll wants to use the marketing benefits of the series to help boost Aston Martin’s road car sales as it embarks on an ambitious renewal of its operations following some difficult years.
The current Mercedes safety car is the fastest in the sport’s history, having been upgraded from the start of the 2018 season. Its 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo engine produces 585hp and it can reach a top speed of 198mph. The safety car is driven by Bernd Maylander. The Mercedes medical car is an AMG C 63 S Estate, which is driven by Alan van der Merwe.