Aston Martin's return to Formula One won't just come with a pair of racers on the grid. Vehicles from Gaydon will also be taking the role of safety car and medical car: the Vantage and DBX, respectively. Notably, this marks the first non-Mercedes official F1 Safety Car since 1996 but it should be noted that the Vantage uses essentially the same engine found in the Mercedes-AMG GT which has served as the racing series' Safety Car in one form or another since 2015. Oh, and Aston Martin CEO Tobias Moers was previously the head of Mercedes-AMG up until he joined Aston in August of last year. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.
In any case, to make sure it can keep a reasonable pace in front of an entire grid of the world's most advanced racing machines, Aston has graced its most powerful Vantage with 24 more horsepower out of the aforementioned AMG-sourced, 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V8 for a total of 528 horses along with "significant chassis and aerodynamic improvements." The engine's peak torque of 505 pound-feet is the same as the regular road car but is available for more of the time here while transmission tuning has been revised. Zero to 60 mph is accomplished in 3.5 seconds.
The Vantage Safety Car also features an ultra-wide Vaned grille and new front splitter that produces 132 pounds of additional downforce (343 pounds total) at 124 mph over the regular Vantage. Suspension, steering, and dampers have been modified while underbody bracing has been improved for a more rigid front-end. Robust cooling—key for a car that will go straight from full track pace to pitlane idle on the regular—has been developed out of things learned from the company's multi-championship-winning Vantage GT4 racer. Of course, it's outfitted with all of the lights, cameras, and screens necessary to support a full F1 event.
Meanwhile, the DBX was chosen for medical car duty due to it likely being the only Aston with enough cargo room for the requisite large medical bag, defibrillator, two fire extinguishers, and burn kit. The five leather-lined chairs in the street DBX have been replaced with four bucket seats—one for the driver, one for F1's Medical Response Coordinator Dr. Ian Roberts, one local doctor, and one for any racing drivers who may or may not need a lift back to the pits. One key modification is a screen that can monitor live biometric data taken from race drivers' gloves.
Both painted the same Aston Martin Racing Green as the cars Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll will be driving this year, Formula One's new, British safety and medical cars' first weekend on the job will be at pre-season testing in Bahrain March 12 to 14.
Update: Monday, March 8, 2021 12:03 p.m. ET: To clarify, the Vantage won’t be replacing the Mercedes-AMG GT as Formula One's Safety Car but will instead split duties with it across this year's 23-race calendar.
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