I am always suspicious about car manufacturers nominating a hazy racing history to justify participation in Formula One – such as Jaguar - when Ford bought the Stewart Racing Team in 2000 and changed the team name to Jaguar.
Jaguar had zero Formula One history (only sports and rally cars). It just happened to be politically-convenient for Ford to field an F1 team, when Bernie Ecclestone was putting the hard word on carmakers to get more involved.
So, I was delighted when I received this news story about Aston Martin showing its original GP car which entered the July 1922 French Grand Prix in Strasbourg.
21 July 2022 – Castellet, France: A century on from its racing debut, Aston Martin's original Grand Prix car today roared back to the French Grand Prix, for a thrilling celebratory lap.
This weekend's race sees Aston Martin mark the centenary of its maiden challenge at the 1922 French Grand Prix, with no current Formula One manufacturer enjoying such an early history of top-flight competition.
Ahead of Sunday's Grand Prix, four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel had the chance to pilot TT1 – affectionately nicknamed 'Green Pea' – around Circuit Paul Ricard, 100 years on from the storied car taking to the road circuit of Strasbourg for a 60-lap, 800 km race as one of two Aston Martin entries.
Two cars were built by founder Lionel Martin following a commission by wealthy young motor racing driver and pioneer Count Louis Zborowski, who invested £10,000 in their construction and the development of an entirely new 16-valve twin overhead cam four-cylinder race engine.
Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team driver said: "It was an incredible honour to drive this car, exactly 100 years on from it last taking to the starting line at the French Grand Prix.
This weekend, the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team will race with the original Aston Martin logo from 1913 on the nose of its cars, mirroring the marque featured on Green Pea.
The first Aston Martin Grand Prix car, featuring a 1,486cc engine unit, was good for around 55bhp at 4,200 rpm. The car – built with a body conforming to the voiturette style – weighed in at 750kg, 45kg lighter than today's AMR22 challenger.
It had a top speed of 85mph and carried two seats, one off-set, as per the Grand Prix regulations of the time, to accommodate the riding mechanic who was an essential member of the team not least because of his job to pressurise the fuel tank via a hand pump.
The experience was sufficiently exhilarating for the fledgling team, based at Abingdon Road, Kensington, to continue its Grand Prix adventures, blazing a trail for Aston Martin's future success in international motor racing.
The Green Pea, like many historic cars has at times resembled ‘grandfather’s axe’ (which had different heads and handles), with engines being changed a number of times, but it finally fell into disrepair, and lay unused until 1958 when a young Brit called Rob Murray fell in love with the car and paid an almighty £145! The car remains in his care and has been shown at Pebble Beach.
Lawrence Stroll, Executive Chairman of Aston Martin and owner of the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team, said: "Aston Martin benefits from the earliest Grand Prix history of any manufacturer currently racing in F1, and we are proud to celebrate that this weekend, 100 years on from making our debut at the French Grand Prix.
|Green Pea owner Rob Murray and wife at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance|