Between the waltz of the CEOs, the financial losses and the bad results of the Formula 1 team, the British brand is sinking into crisis. Its owner, Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, has just appointed a new boss to try to save the manufacturer, but at 76 years of age, will former Ferrari managing director Amadeo Felisa be able to avoid the worst?
How far will Aston Martin sink? That’s the question one might ask, given the disastrous results and the change of managers in recent times. The legendary brand from Gaydon is suffering in the first quarter, posting a loss of more than 131 million euros. That’s a lot for just three months, which suggests that 2022 is going to be a tough year in financial terms. This obviously does not bode well for the F1 team of which this website has reported on frequently this year as a team in utter disarray.
But as bad news usually comes in clusters, Aston is seeing its top executives jump ship. Tobias Moers, the CEO recruited to AMG in 2020 announced his departure earlier this year. Officially, it was the brand’s majority shareholder, Lawrence Stroll, who wanted him to leave. Allegedly it was Stroll who suggested that Moers was too authoritarian. Except that the departing German has since been keen to set the record straight. In his opinion, Stroll is a despot who wants to decide everything himself, and prevents his teams to do their job. The mood is reportedly bad in the road car business as it is in the F1 team.
This game of “who said what” testifies in any case to the oppressive atmosphere that reigns at Gaydon and that the results of the Formula 1 team do not help. The car driven by Lance Stroll, the owner’s son, is at the bottom of the standings, while rumours persist of a future partnership between the team and Audi, which wants to come to F1, and at worst of a total buy-out, which would mean Aston’s withdrawal from the sport.
That said, this news could only improve the manufacturer’s finances, as the sports department is a drain, but it would further demotivate the company’s 3,000 employees.
But in the midst of this flood of bad news, the brand announced this week, on Twitter, the recruitment for the position of CEO, which has been vacant for three months. The man who won the job is none other than Amedeo Felisa. And Stroll, in defence of his new protégé, pointed to Felisa’s CV and his career in the service of Ferrari road cars.
Except that the main shareholder does not specify in his flattering presentation that the man is now 76 years old, that he left Maranello 7 years ago and that since then he has been content with a role as “special advisor” to the Chinese FAW on the development of electric cars. It is not certain, therefore, that Felisa has ‘all the weapons’ to resist the hold of the omnipotent Stroll and can run the company on his own.
However, the mission that has been entrusted to the new CEO is clear: the total electrification of Aston, scheduled for 2030. He will be a fossil at the age of 84 years by then, and it is not known whether he will still be in office. In any case, the Rapid E, the long-awaited car, may finally see the light of day in the Felisa era. On condition that Stroll gives it the means to develop, if the Canadian billionaire for whom the car is far from being the main source of income, does not decide one day to stop the Aston adventure and sell his shares.
Many conditions and uncertainties for one of the most legendary brands in the history of the automobile. And even if its brand image is intact, it could well disappear for good one day soon if the fiasco continues.