The F1 Beyond The Grid podcast features Emanuele Pirro and Lawrence Stroll as its latest guests where they talk about different topics.
The beginning of the F1 Beyond the Grid podcast see Pirro talk about drivers being categorised as Formula One drivers and other drivers. He then talks about his connections with Marlboro and how they helped him in lesser formulae. Goes on to mention how he almost drove for Brabham in 1985.
He then talks about his career in Touring Cars, his time at McLaren as test driver and how he was head-hunted by Ferrari, but turned it down. Then talks about his F1 career at Benetton and Scuderia Italia, moving on to the five Le Mans victories and how he was proud of this success from a team viewpoint.
He also believes Audi would be successful if and when they enter Formula One. The focal part of the Podcast sees him talk about being a driver Steward, where he reflects on his first meeting with Jean Todt. They started in 2010 in their respective roles. He felt that the established Stewards would not really respect them as he felt they (drivers) were always viewed as privileged people and it might trigger jealousy from same.
However, he then advises it was immediately something that worked very well. He noted that the existing Stewards felt that they (drivers) were complimentary to their knowledge. He said that there was a lot of legal knowledge to learn, better analysis. He feels he has grown up a lot and feels it has been more challenging and interesting than he thought it would be at first.
He also advises it takes a lot of knowledge and experience to make a judgement call in the heat of the moment in the middle of a Grand Prix. He goes on to give an example of the first year of the process and he was sure he was right about something and three others had another idea and he then felt he was wrong as they were more experienced.
However, he was in fact correct. He goes on to say that in future that if he felt he was right, he would insist he was. He continues to say that there is such as good situation between Stewards and F1 Drivers that one does not have to insist and just has to present the case from the Drivers side into a specific episode. He states it is not a case of convincing but just present the way you see it and that it is really a work in harmony.
Tries to think in a very deep way about the job and decision making process. He says that even some former drivers who are working as commentators see it differently and when he discusses with them after, they realise how deep thinking he was about the situations he is involved in. He advised that like everything, being a Steward requires experience, says he is very dedicated to it as he thinks about same every day and takes it very very seriously.
He says what helps him in the process is that he has no sympathy but has a sporting attitude, gives an example of the Rome derby where he follows AS Roma but if Lazio win and play better he is ok with that. He admits to liking some drivers more than others but states that this never impedes or influences his decision. Goes on to say it is easy to treat the drivers equally as it does not affect him much whether he likes or dislikes the drivers.
Pirro then opened up about Canada 2019 and the influence of social media, especially how the decision was treated – whether it was the Ferrari/Sebastian Vettel fans and or Mercedes/Lewis Hamilton side. He admits it got very unpleasant after and influenced his perception and views of Social Media. He says in light of that race, his relationship with Social Media is now different.
He advises Social Media has enhanced peoples ability to complain and express their frustration and without the knowledge to analyse certain issues. What frustrated him was that the Canada 2019 incident was a straightforward situation and yet there was a lot of disharmony towards him. He says he never got to sit down and talk with Vettel about the incident. At the same time he had nothing but praise for the German and holds him in regard.
To conclude, he has no regrets about how his Motor Sport career went and would not change anything. He is very proud of his two sons who are both engineers in Motor Sport. Also believes they could have made it in the Sport. Says he enjoyed his time and loved every minute of his career in the sport.
The F1 Beyond The Grid podcast sees Stroll go back to the 2020 Turkish GP with Lance taking Pole Position and the end of race result saw Sergio Perez take second place in the race in their Racing Point guise. He says memories of this still put a smile on his face when he thinks back. He goes on to say that he does not feel you can measure financial achievements with personal achievements particularly when it is an offspring.
In short, he was more proud of Lance for the Pole than of his own successes. He goes on to talk about how good Lance was in all the junior categories he raced in and spoke about his successes in those series and his 2020 season and the bad luck he encountered that season. He also reckons a driver is only as good as the car. As a parent, he was terrified when Lance crashed massively at Mugello last season.
He spoke also about Romain Grosjean’s crash and Lance’s crash with Daniil Kvyat at Bahrain 2020, going on to say it never gets easier as a parent. He considers that Lance has to work harder as he is the “bosses son”. He hasn’t considered putting him in another team as things stand, as he discussed about his “nightmarish” start with Williams. He says all the drivers and not just Lance have worked very hard to get to this level.
He says it was quite a coup for him to sign Vettel and that he knew about Lawrence’s passion and plans for the F1 team when they became Aston Martin in terms of recruiting (over 250 new people) and ambitions and future plans. He reckons that it’s a journey that will take several years and the German wanted to be part of it and at the forefront of it, hopefully for years to come. He also speaks very highly of Vettel as a special guy and a true ambassador for the sport.
He and Vettel share the same ambition and plans, reckons he is enjoying more than his time at Aston Martin than at Ferrari in terms of pressure. Also, he believes that people in the F1 paddock reckon Aston Martin will be the next big thing in Formula One in terms of vibe. These are also the feelings of Vettel. He talks of his “five year plan” being on schedule; recruitment, best tools and processes to fight for titles, Aston Martin campus which will be state of the art and had been commenced before Covid.
He shares that overall it is a team process. He feels Aston Martin do not have to win a World Title for now, but have to be contending for same and that winning a title would be awesome but they need to be fighting for success each weekend. He speaks of his passion for the business and talks about his successful track record of winning. He wants to create a team capable of winning each weekend. Formula One for him is a business and not a sport. He agrees it is still a sport for 2 hours on a Sunday afternoon but is still a business.
In short it is both and he agrees that F1 is unlike any other business. Reflecting back, Lawrence says it wasn’t a boyhood dream to own a team. It only became a reality when Force India entered administration. He feels the field is now more level with the budget cap and if Force India had been “tooling around” in ninth or 10th place, he would never had bought them. The fact that Force India were punching above their weight in fourth place greatly impressed him.
He talks about being very determined and passionate, has other family businesses not though in terms of size or scale like F1. He goes on to talk about Aston Martin Lagonda and his very clear plans for where he wants them in 5 years time. Says F1 is now working for him in terms of stats from around the world. They have also taken huge steps with their road car company. He talks about the road car company being on the same path as the F1 team in terms of direction and ambition.
Going back in time, he reveals his first contact with Formula One in the early ‘90s with Lotus, advising the Paddock was a lot smaller back then. He was approached by Peter Wright and Peter Collins to be a clothing sponsor but as the team were near the back of the grid, he became a small minority shareholder. He chose F1 due to his automotive passion and to expand his brand – Tommy Hilfiger – globally. He always been a car nut which came from growing up as a little boy.
He briefly spoke then about his own racing career which was quite successful too. In his own words: “We had some fun”. He would also love to do some racing with Lance, sharing a car advising if they had the time, it would be unbelievable. He goes back to talking about his time with Lotus (1991). It was very happy times but if not competitive, pressure starts to set in. He goes on to talk about his clothing deal with Ferrari which came about through Bernie Ecclestone.
He says he became great friends with Michael Schumacher and speaks tremendously highly of him. He talks about road cars including his own personal car collection, where he added about having driven Historic Le Mans. He says despite being so rich, he has to work as he is passionate about what he does. He feels he works harder now than 30 years ago and is enjoying it as much but in a different way.
He then spoke about recruiting Martin Whitmarsh, talking about the factory construction once more and the culture at McLaren during the Whitmarsh era. He spoke about having an Engineering and Technology business to supply services within their expertise to other industries. He does not compare himself to the Red Bull/Jaguar takeover in 2003. He still feels it is all about team-work and not just one person when Adrian Newey (Red Bull ) is mentioned.
He C=continues to talk about their 5 year plan and how much they need their new facilities including Wind Tunnel. He concludes to say he would love to win a race as Aston Martin and the World Championship with them also owing to his relationship with the brand now and it would be his greatest achievement if it happens.
Here’s the podcast: https://audioboom.com/posts/7959070-lawrence-stroll-s-aston-masterplan
The story was written by Neil Farrell
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