First non-Mercedes to be Safety Car since 1996
Modified Vantage and DBXs will work to help keep drivers safe
Things are going to look different this year at the front and back of the Formula 1 starting grid. Aston Martin has joined the official safety car team with a DBX as the medical car and a special Vantage setting the pace.
The Aston Martin Vantage will be used as safety car this year, joining Mercedes-AMG for the first time and become the first vehicle other than a Merc to be Safety Car since 1996. The car will not be a standard Vantage, instead seeing some modifications to make sure it’s up to the task of letting F1 cars drive quickly enough to keep their tires working during caution periods.
It gains 24 hp from the 4.0L twin-turbo V8 giving it a total of 528 hp and 505 lb-ft of torque. That torque peak is unchanged, but Aston says it arrives over a wider range of revs. The gearbox is tweaked as well, Aston says it “has a better sense of directness, precision, and control through upshifts and downshifts,” all likely appreciated for 20-year F1 safety car pilot Bernd Mayländer. Downforce modifications add 60 kg at 200 km/h and the suspension, steering and dampers have all been tweaked for the track.
What we love most, though, is that paint job. This is one mean-looking safety car, equipped to look like the Aston Martin Cognizant team car, but with highlights for visibility, more radio antennas, and loads of LED caution lights.
The Aston Martin DBX that will be the medical car gets the same engine but making its standard 542 hp and 516 lb-ft. In the back will be a medical bag, fire extinguishers, and more of the safety kit that helped save Romain Grosjean from his fiery crash in Bahrain last year.
Aston’s two additions to the fleet will first be seen during the pre-season test next weekend in Bahrain, then will be used at the season’s open race at the same circuit at the end of the month.