Motor racing-Aston Martin boss Stroll has big plans for F1 team and brand

Alan Baldwin

Lawrence Stroll is new to Formula One team ownership but when he says he is in it to win it with Aston Martin, and believes he can, he speaks as someone who has been around the sport for decades.

The Canadian billionaire, who made his fortune in fashion, told Reuters the introduction of a budget cap this season and a fairer distribution of revenues could make the dream come true.

“If (F1 owners) Liberty had not brought in the rules of the new budget cap, and the new cash distribution, I would never have made the investment and acquired a Formula One team,” he said.

“With this new budget cap, it makes these teams profitable. We’re all playing on a level playing field, it’s not that two or three teams are outspending and therefore more competitive.”

Stroll, 61, bought the financially failing Force India team in 2018 and replaced it with Racing Point, who finished fourth last year but won a race and would have been third without a points deduction.

They are now competing as Aston Martin, the sportscar maker of which he is also executive chairman and significant shareholder.

He is not expecting overnight success but nor does he contemplate failure.

“Like every other business I’ve owned, I’m here to win,” he declared.

Stroll’s son Lance, 22, races for Aston Martin and it would be easy to see the team as simply a vehicle acquired to further his career. That, however, ignores the older Stroll’s track record.

Thrilled by Canadian hero and Ferrari favourite Gilles Villenueve, Stroll arrived in Paris in the 1980s as owner of Ralph Lauren Europe. A friend was a shareholder in a team and one thing led to another.

In 1990 Stroll sponsored Team Lotus with his Tommy Hilfiger and Pepe Jeans clothing brands.

“I thought it checked the boxes on my passion but also made sense,” he said. “It was a year or two after I acquired Tommy Hilfiger so a very good way to give brand recognition.”

He later became a significant minority shareholder but sold out after a disagreement.

With Hilfiger booming in America, Stroll sought to drive the brand’s expansion in Europe and teamed up with Ferrari. Michael Schumacher was one of the drivers in a team run by current FIA president Jean Todt.

In 2000 Stroll also bought Quebec’s Mont Tremblant circuit, which hosted F1 in 1968 and 1970.

A big fan of the Ferrari brand, Stroll sees Aston Martin as “the greatest British iconic luxury performance brand in the world.

“Of course there are similarities (with Ferrari), we make the most beautiful and technologically advanced sportscars and we have a Formula One team,” he said.

“But this is about building Aston Martin. We have an Aston Martin plan, we don’t look at our competitors for that plan, we have our own vision and our own model that we are going to be building and I think will be better than anyone else’s out there.”

Stroll said he planned flagship brand stores in four or five major countries.

“There’s many things that contribute to a company’s finances. One of them is creating an image and having a halo and a trickle down effect over the whole brand,” he said.

“Will it contribute to the company selling more road cars? Absolutely yes.”

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