GAYDON, ENGLAND - For the past six years the task of controlling the pace of the Formula One field following on-track incidents has been given to a Mercedes-AMG GT sports car. But from 2021, Aston Martin will be responsible for the sport’s Official Safety and Medical cars.
Taking up the Safety Car role will be a specially-equipped Aston Martin Vantage sports car, while the new DBX SUV will serve as F1’s Official Medial Car - once again with South African racing driver Alan van der Merwe behind the wheel.
More power from AMG V8 engine
Incidentally, both cars are powered by Mercedes-AMG twin-turbo V8 engines through a tie-up that also recently saw the German carmaker increase its stake in Aston Martin to 20 percent.
The Aston Martin Vantage Safety Car has been given a bit more power to cope with the demands of leading the F1 field around the track following incidents or in bad weather - given that the race cars’ tyre temperatures can drop when running at sub-optimal speeds. To that end, the 4-litre twin-turbo V8 has been given an extra 18kW, bringing the tally to 393kW, while maximum torque remains the same at 685Nm. Aston Martin has also tinkered with the transmission to give the driver a better sense of directness, precision and control through upshifts and downshifts, while the suspension and underbody have been modified to increase structural stiffness.
The aerodynamics have been optimised too, with a new vaned grille and redesigned front splitter creating an additional 60kg of downforce at 200km/h.
The vehicle will be driven by the FIA’s appointed driver, Bernd Mayländer, who has been at the helm of F1’s Safety Cars for the last 20 years.
Medical Car driven by a South African
The F1 Medical car will also once again be driven by South African racing driver Alan van der Merwe. Van der Merwe was lauded for his role in rescuing F1 driver Romain Grosjean from a fiery wreck at the Bahrain Grand Prix last November.
The Aston Martin DBX Medical Car will be distinguished by its prominent FIA livery and roof-mounted LED light bar, while the interior is distinguished by four new sport bucket seats, each equipped with six-point safety harnesses. As with the Safety Car, two screens have been mounted onto the dashboard to provide live race footage. An additional screen is used to read live biometric data delivered via technology in the drivers’ gloves, which in the event of an accident, provides critical information on their condition.
You’ll get to see the new Astons in action from the first pre-season tests in Bahrain on March 12-14. The actual F1 calendar kicks off on March 28, also in Bahrain.