Driving on Road and Track in the Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition

This Porsche 911 GT3 competitor is not even close. The F1 Edition offers a Vantage with the wick turned up, and instead of getting a custom engine, with the option to have a roll cage, and track-focused sticky tires, the F1 Edition has a Vantage. Tobias Moers, former Mercedes-AMG boss, tasked his engineers to make the Vantage turn 15 seconds faster around the Nurburgring. But, crucially, without using the traditional shortcut of throwing power and sticky rubber at the equation. And, the Vantage is still firm enough for public roads. Aston Martin achieved this by increasing the front structural stiffness, rear spring rate and changing the dampers to improve vertical control. This makes for a more track-focused, sharper setup. Rear dampers are 10% stiffer and software modifications to the electronic limited-slip rear differential keep the tail in line. The twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 has been given a little more power. Maximum output was increased from 503 to 527 horsepower. However, torque is unchanged at 505lb-ft.

The eight-speed auto transmission is unchanged as before. However, it has faster upshifts which eliminate the standard Vantage’s exhaust crackles. It also features a smoother, less flashy swapping of cogs. Although the changes aren’t as fast as a dual-clutch, they are still quick and smooth for a torque converter automatic. Long, fixed-position paddles are located behind the steering wheel to allow you to control the Vantage’s ‘box manually. They have a tactile, positive feel and provide a pleasant, tactile experience.

The wheel diameter has been increased from 20 to 21 inches. The F1 Edition rims have Pirelli rubber that was specifically made for the car. However, they are designed to be a little more track-oriented than a standard tire.

Aston claims that the aero accouterments, which include a splitter and skirts, provide positive downforce at the front as well as at the rear. This creates 200kg more downforce than the standard car at its top speed of 195mph. In 3.5 seconds, the sprint to 62mph (100 km/h) is complete.

You can peek inside to see the familiar Vantage cabin. However, the interior features more Alcantara on the steering wheels, seats, and door panels. There is also contrast stitching, lime-green highlights, and an F1 logo at one end of the center console. The buttons are scattered all over the dashboard, and the 8-inch Mercedes-sourced infotainment system lacks touch sensitivity. This is not the only place where the F1 Edition falls short.

Caffeine and Machine is middle-England’s Stratford-upon-Avon. This cafe and bed-and-breakfast have quickly become a mecca for car lovers. The F1 Edition quickly makes itself distinct from the regular Vantage. It does not have any notable differences in its soundtrack or power. However, it offers a stiffer, more focused ride and retains its comfort. The Vantage is more welcoming than a Porsche 911 GT3. This car is known for its stiffness, but it is only used as a Sunday morning treat. The ride is firm but comfortable as I drive east on the scenic roads to Silverstone’s Stowe Complex.

Stowe, located inside the main GP circuit is a technical layout that Aston Martin uses for testing, media duties, and experience days. I find a Valkyrie hypercar, with laptops attached, in a pit garage. In a corner, a pair of Goldfinger Edition DB5s is hidden. The track is then mys, and I can keep it for as long as you like. It’s all about the Valkyrie.

I select Track Mode for the suspension and drivetrain via two buttons on the steering wheel. I then head out onto a circuit that I have never been to before in a car that I had only just stepped into an hour ago. Although my first laps were not spectacular, I soon realize that the Aston can do more than I’m asking it to. The regular car’s lairy nature is kept under control, and the F1 Edition exudes a level that is not found in its smaller siblings.

This example has carbon-ceramic brakes that reduce Aston’s top speed from 115mph down to 40mph. The car also feels more stable on Stowe’s uneven and bumpy roads. Although grip and traction are excellent, I am reminded every now and again by the occasional flash of the stability control lights that I’m not alone here. Even at 90mph, the Vantage’s occasional flash is enough to tell me that it will dance if granted permission. However, it doesn’t feel quite as tail-happy or sexy as the regular model. This Vantage is a more controlled, tethered affair that is designed to minimize lap times and maximize drift angle.

The turbocharged engine is just as powerful as ever and the soundtrack is almost identical to that of the Vantage Roadster I drove earlier this year. The coupe’s closed roof means that the exhaust is less clear, but it still delivers a satisfying performance of V8 burble, accompanied by crackles and pops from the exhaust. This is especially true in Sport+ or Track modes.

The F1 Edition leaves Silverstone with the impression that it feels like a mid-generation Vantage facelift. These changes won’t make Aston’s smallest car a Porsche GT3 competitor with limited on-road comfort. They improve the car’s track abilities, particularly in terms of traction, composure, and speed, but don’t alter what was already a comfortable cruiser. Between track days, I can see myself driving the F1 Edition a lot.

I am impressed by the Vantage F1 Edition on the return trip to Caffeine & Machine.

Some may dismiss the F1 badges as a marketing stunt. It really isn’t. It’s not overwhelming. The wing and aero kit fit the Vantage well (in my opinion), and the suspension and chassis tweaks feel great.

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The Vantage F1 is a series production car. It can be ordered as a Coupe or Roadster. I don’t think it would surprise me if future sales split equally between the F1 Edition and regular models.