Former team boss claims Aston Martin is going nowhere under Stroll

Former team boss claims Aston Martin is going nowhere under Stroll

Former F1 team manager Colin Kolles has slammed Lawrence Stroll’s leadership at Aston Martin, claiming the Silverstone-based company is “going nowhere” fast. Kolles originally commanded the same outfit currently owned by Stroll.

In the summer of 2018, Stroll rescued the former as Force India, sparing the team and its loyal employees from extinction.

But, right from the start, the fashion mogul, who has demonstrated his commercial acumen, has stated his desire to turn the mid-field competitor into a “very competitive” and winning F1 juggernaut.

Last year, Stroll laid out a five-year strategy for achieving those lofty goals, with a huge investment in a new manufacturing, the employment of key employees, and the Canadian billionaire’s unwavering support serving as the backbone of Aston’s success.

But, aside from the green sheen of its vehicles, the team’s luster is muted so far, a lack of radiance Kolles attributes to Stroll’s management style.

“You have a team owner who thinks he is the team boss, who knows everything better and thinks he should put his son up front with all his might,” said the former Midland and Spyker managing director and HRT team boss, speaking to German broadcaster Sport1.

“The fish always stinks from the head. I can see the racing team going nowhere.”

“As long as Mr. Whitmarsh is in charge and Mr. Stroll doesn’t see that he should be staying at home and only giving budgetary guidelines and letting people work who know their stuff and get the right people to lead the team, it’s never going to work.”

With its AMR22 new-generation vehicle performing in the lower rung of F1’s midfield in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia during the last rounds of 2021, Aston Martin has gone four races without a top-ten finish.

Aston Martin is presently tied for last place in Formula One’s Constructor standings with Williams, the team with which Lance Stroll debuted in 2017.

His father, who also funded a rigorous Williams testing program for his son ahead of his F1 debut, lavishly paid for the 23-year-old Canadian’s seat with the Grove-based business.

But Stroll Sr’s involvement with the British team went beyond that of a benefactor, with the billionaire believed to have played a key role in persuading deputy-team principal Claire Williams to fire veteran technical director Pat Symonds and replace him with then-Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe, a move that set the stage for Williams’ disastrous and long-lasting decline.

Great F1 teams don’t happen by chance, but Stroll’s ability to recruit crucial talent was called into doubt again after the arrival at Aston last year of Martin Whitmarsh, a former top McLaren driver.

Although the Briton’s skills were unquestioned, his appointment as Group CEO of Aston Martin Performance Technologies weakened the authority of long-serving team head Otmar Szafnauer.

After leading Team Silverstone through thick and thin for more than a decade, the American left Aston Martin at the start of the year. Alpine, on the other hand, quickly recognized and put to good use Szafnauer’s solid managerial skills, which were free of controversy and bother.

“Everybody’s got an owner, and everyone’s got a boss,” said Szafnauer ahead of the start of the 2022 season.

“So that bit of it isn’t difficult. But the owner and boss that I had before [Force India team owner Vijay Mallya] didn’t micromanage at all, completely left me to it.”

“When you have two Popes, it’s just not right.”

Former BMW motorsport president Mike Krack replaced Szafnauer at Aston Martin, an appointment that didn’t impress former F1 driver and current DTM boss Gerhard Berger, who observed firsthand the German’s successes – or lack thereof – in his series.

“Let’s see what can be done, but when I watched what was done in DTM, I just don’t see the way forward for Aston Martin with him,” a candid Berger told the media last month in Bahrain.

Only time will tell whether Stroll’s leadership at Aston Martin is fruitful or futile.

For some, it’s still early, and Stroll’s strategy must be given time to work. The indicators of a resounding failure, on the other hand, are already written all over Kolles’ crew.

“If someone thinks they’ll get into Formula 1 and be in the front ranks overnight, then it won’t work that quickly,” concluded the Romanian.

“You have to have a plan. You could have had the plan that new rules would come in 2022 and work on them.

“However, Mr Stroll decided a few years ago that it should now be done quickly, no matter what the cost.

“I used to tell (investors) if you take a million of any currency and throw it on a fire, the money will burn up just as quickly as in Formula 1 if you don’t know what you’re doing.

“And that is the case that is happening at Aston Martin.”

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