James Bond's cherished Aston Martins are coming in from the cold and focused on world domination – in Formula One that is.
No more slapping their name on the side of a Red Bull and hoping for the best.
007’s boys will be putting out their own works team in 2021 as the controversial Racing Point operation morphs once again under the banner of the famous British car marque.
But as the transition takes place there are few things that might have had the world’s most famous spy choking on his refrigerated olive and calling for M.
Naturally, the cars will sport Aston Martin’s famous British racing green. But it will be accompanied by large splashes of pink thanks to Austrian title sponsors BWT. A very un-Bond like hue.
And the man responsible for the regeneration of a venerated British institution is 61-year-old Ferrari fanatic Lawrence Stroll.
If they had met, 007 would doubtless have checked for his Walther PPK because the Canadian billionaire bears more than a passing resemblance to one of his more fiendish opponents, super villain Emilio Largo.
Stroll certainly has the exotic lifestyle living between homes in London, Martinique, Geneva and Westmount.
His car collection has a cherished Ford GTO, some McLarens and a fleet of Ferraris including a $27.5 million 275 NART bought at auction, one of only 10 in the world.
Then there’s Mont-Tremblant, the former GP venue outside Montreal he acquired 20 years ago (no doubt with hopes of staging a GP one day).
It looks like a piercing piece of business penetration to weave together an F1 team and a car company.
But Stroll, worth an estimated $2.6bn, said it happened by accident when he approached Aston Martin to sponsor his team.
He stepped in at the head of a consortium who invested $263m as Aston Martin threatened to go bust for the eighth time.
And it looks like a match made in heaven. Aston Martin are racing nobility stretching back to the 1920s and their history includes GP involvement before F1 existed and quixotic DB fans like Count Louis Zborowski and racer turned spy St John Horsfall.
Gallery: Abu Dhabi GP practice
And also priceless exposure with no less than four Aston Martins appearing in the latest Bond movie, No Time to Die; doubtless the new SUV offroader, so crucial to their survival and the 180mph, $110,000 DBX superbike unveiled this week.
It’s an interesting change of focus for the billionaire who made his money in the Canadian fashion industry turning Hilfiger, among others, from a $25m company to a $1.8bn global presence.
If it all works out, the organisation he has put together in two years could become the motoring buy of the century.
Of course it’s not a new road; he is traveling in the footsteps of Ferrari, Lotus, McLaren and to some extent Mercedes.
But his gamble looked to be working out when Racing Point scored their maiden victory at last Sunday's Sakhir Grand Prix to lay winning foundations for the new partnership.
In a very Fleming-like twist the victory was engineered by Sergio Perez who helped saved the team from closure two years ago only to find himself unceremoniously axed for 2021.
And there has been no lack of drama with both the team’s drivers catching covid-19 and a legal wrangle over a deal to share Mercedes parts.
With Stroll’s financial clout the team is going from strength to strength and can no longer claim to be an impecunious fringe player.
His private jet was used to rush car parts from England otherwise Racing Point might not have been able to contest the Bahrain race they eventually won.
But that doesn’t mean Stoll’s Midas Touch is being abused. “The team has about 400 people, a fraction of the other teams but have punched above their weight for a long time and are doing it again now,” he said.
He has careful expansion plans but with F1’s new $145m budget cap coming in other teams are being forced to contract from 1200 staff so it seems the sport is coming his way.
In another neat piece of business he has cemented a deal to use the Mercedes wind tunnel and, like the road cars company, is expected to confirm next February they will continue to use the renowned German engine, even if it is rebranded.
The icing on the cake came in September with the signing of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel to head the team.
Aston Martin, it seems, are going places and the story is likely to be a real page turner that even James Bond would enjoy.