Aston Martin was on top of the world in 1959 — the team took on the best, from Ferrari, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar. Despite such tough opposition the small British crew won the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as the World Sportscar Championship.
With Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby at the wheel they beat off bigger and more powerful crews and cars, and the three-liter straight-six-engined DBR1 that took the team to the top etched itself a hallowed place in the history of Newport Pagnell. For the following year, Aston Martin dreamt even bigger. The next stop was Grand Prix racing.
In order to compete in a single-seater, open-wheeler series with the big dogs from Ferrari, Maserati, Lotus, Cooper, Vanwall, BRM, and Porsche, Aston Martin needed a new car and a hot young prospect at the wheel. Enter Jim Clark, regarded by many to be one of the greatest racing drivers of all time, and the Aston Martin DBR4. If only…
Even though Jimmy was signed on to drive the car in 1960 the young Scot didn’t even get to so much as turn a wheel in anger, because every time a Grand Prix came up his car wasn’t ready. When a car was made ready the drive was given to the team’s number one, Salvadori.
And when he had a chance to fly Aston Martin’s flag in racing’s top-tier, the DBR4 was either slow or unreliable, or both.
Its five-race record stands at zero poles, zero wins, zero podiums, and zero fastest laps.
Aston Martin learnt its lesson, went back to sportscar racing with its tail between its legs, and hasn’t been seen on an F1 grid since. Unless you count the logos on Red Bull’s F1 cars this coming season…
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