At the start of the 1920s, the dream of Grand Prix racing in Europe came true when co-founder Lionel Martin was introduced to Count Louis Zborowski. The wealthy Zborowski would commission two race cars and the plan was to compete in the 1922 Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) event. With Zborowski's close friend and fellow racer Clive Gallop involved, not to mention his useful Peugeot links, Aston Martin was raring to go. But rather than the Tourist Trophy, chassis TT1 and TT2 were readied for the 2-litre French Grand Prix in July at Strasbourg. Zborowski drove TT1, while Clive Gallop piloted TT2. A lack of power and hurried preparation meant both cars retired with engine issues, but the Grand Prix story had begun and podiums arrived in the following years. The death of Zborowski in 1924 would sadly end Aston Martin’s first foray into top-tier motorsport.
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This is a brand that has already had huge success in top-level motorsport. Now we have an opportunity to write a new page in the history books.
Grand Prix debut
St John Ratcliffe Stewart Horsfall would build on the Aston Martin legacy in the 1940s. A successful stockbroker, following an incredible stint working for MI5 during the war, he became part of the Aston Martin family and helped with development and testing, as well as racing as a privateer. Jock raced a 1936 Aston Martin 2.0-litre sports car on the 1946 Belgian Sports Car Grand Prix road course in Brussels, taking a surprise win ahead of more contemporary Frazer Nash, BMW and Alvis cars. In 1949, he took second in class and fourth overall in the Spa 24 Hours as a privateer, driving every minute at the wheel of an Aston Martin Speed Model. Sadly, Horsfall was killed weeks later in the BRDC Trophy race at Silverstone. His legacy lives on through the annual St. John Horsfall Memorial Trophy race, organised by the Aston Martin Owners’ Club.
Formula One Arrival
The 1950s were an exciting time for Aston Martin. In 1955, company owner Sir David Brown launched a plan to create cars that would take on the best in both the World Sportscar Championship and the Formula One World Championship. The DBR4 was born. It began testing in 1957 before making its debut at the 1959 BRDC International Trophy event, run to Formula One rules, at Silverstone in May. Two cars competed and car #1, driven by Le Mans 24 Hours winner Roy Salvadori, came in second behind Jack Brabham. Despite being driven by some of the star names of the era, Salvadori and Carroll Shelby among them, the front-engined DBR4 was out of step with the new mid-engined competition. A successor, the DBR5, had a disappointing start, leading Aston Martin to exit Formula One in 1960.
The New Era
The latest chapter in the illustrious story of Aston Martin has begun: the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team. After over 60 years away, Aston Martin returns to the Formula One World Championship. With both a rich heritage and a fresh perspective, bringing new energy to the sport with a determination to shake up the order and compete at the sharp end, the team is already charging towards the grid for the 2021 campaign.