New Aston Martin Vantage Shows What It Takes to Be a Formula 1 Safety Car

Whatever happened to that “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” saying? Aston Martin still believes in it, which is why it returned to Formula 1 in 2021 and also raised its game in endurance racing with the new Vantage GT3, the latter recording its first international triumph in Suzuka, Japan earlier this month.

Three years ago, the British luxury brand signed a deal with the FIA to supply the official F1 safety car (Vantage) and official F1 medical car (DBX707), splitting the races with Mercedes-AMG. All these Astons lapping the tracks have had a notable impact: race weekends increase vehicle configurations online by about 20 percent, a company spokesperson told us.

While attending the Canadian F1 Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, The Car Guide was given unique access to the pit lane and Aston Martin Aramco F1 Team’s garage, including the Vantage Safety Car and its driver, Bernd Mayländer, who had to come out on the track on several occasions during the race.

Photo: Aston Martin

The New Vantage

For the 2024 season, the new, heavily improved 2025 Vantage serves as a foundation for the F1 safety car. It benefits not only from a more rigid chassis, new adaptive dampers, recalibrated steering and a quicker-shifting 8-speed transmission, but also from a much more potent version of the twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine producing 656 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. The result is 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) acceleration in 3.4 seconds.

Impressively, the coupe required no engine modifications, no changes to its cooling system and no upgrade in braking performance to adapt it for its role as a safety car. The brakes are the optional carbon ceramic units that feature 400mm discs up front and 360mm discs in the rear.

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

The main physical differences are additional, modified underfloor aerodynamics, an extended and profiled front splitter, a downforce-enhancing new rear wing that has been specifically fitted in a bespoke position with a tuned Gurney flap, as well as Pirelli P Zero tires replacing the production model’s new Michelin Pilot Sport S 5 tires. And, of course, the body is painted in the same Racing Green colour as the Aston Martin Aramco F1 Team cars.

As former DTM racer and longtime safety car driver Bernd Mayländer told us, top speed with this new Vantage is 270 km/h, or 20 km/h faster than previously. It’s still a good 7-8 seconds slower per kilometre than F1 cars, mind you.

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

Specially Equipped for Duty

The light bar up top is a natural appendage, but it’s more for show than anything since the drivers are always informed through radio communication when the safety car is deployed on the track. Most of the required FIA equipment for safety car duties is mounted in the trunk, and overall the car is 30 kg heavier than models rolling out of the factory.

The custom centre console is fitted with switchgear to work the FIA systems, along with screens showing live lap times, the track positioning of all of the cars and a rear-view camera. By the way, you should know that the Vantage F1 Safety Car is always running on race day in order to keep those systems set and good to go at any time. A waste of fuel and emissions? Well, consider this: since the Miami Grand Prix earlier this year, 40 percent sustainable fuel has been used to power the engine. It’s part of F1’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

Oh, and one last thing: the driver and passenger sit in Pole Position seats with racing harnesses and massive side bolsters instead of the usual buckets. It’s a seriously tight fit in there, as you’d expect, and the hip points are lower in order to allow driving with a helmet.

“The Vantage is faster, more powerful and more agile despite having a wider body and wider tires than before,” Mayländer says. “We need a car that is fast and focused so we can respond quickly and safely when we receive the call for on-track deployment, and Vantage provides that.” 

Photo: Aston Martin

A couple of days before the Canadian Grand Prix, Mayländer hit Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve trying to push the car’s limits and he posted a cool clip on his Instagram account:

The Car Guide’s Gabriel Gélinas himself had the opportunity to test drive the road-going 2025 Vantage in Spain earlier this spring. Don’t miss his review, and check out the following video, too.

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