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Aston Martin Poaches McLaren’s Chief Test Driver

An end of an era at McLaren and a new beginning at Aston Martin

Like Valentino Balboni, Chris Goodwin became a McLaren institution. Goodwin’s test driving gave each successive McLaren a certain seal of approval that legitimized the car.

From the first MP4-12C, to the forthcoming three-seat BP23 hyper grand tourer set to debut later this year, Goodwin has had his hands on them all, which makes his move from McLaren to Aston Martin an end of an era. His shadow loomed large.

Goodwin had been with McLaren since 1997 when the legendary Ron Dennis told him that he should work as a test driver for McLaren. Chris had a fairly successful racing career, and when Dennis made his proclamation, the Brit wasn’t sure it was the right decision, but years later, Goodwin called it “the best thing I ever did.”

Twenty years later, Goodwin is starting a new chapter at Aston Martin as the expert high performance test driver. The move is a boon for Aston Martin as not only is the British marque looking to expand its footprint in the luxury and supercar market but also the hypercar segment with the Valkyrie, and who better to determine if the car is ready for customers than the man responsible for tuning the McLaren P1?

It won’t be an easy task. While Aston Martin’s Valkyrie is a hybrid hypercar like the McLaren P1, the Valkyrie uses a naturally aspirated V-12 and a body designed by Formula 1 superstar designer Adrian Newey. The car aims to employ similar dynamics to prototype Le Mans race cars—as well as a few tricks from Formula 1—to deliver an experience that’s yet to ever grace the road.

Goodwin will also be in charge of developing and honing Aston Martin’s upcoming Ferrari 488 GTB competitor, although that project is a little further down the pipeline compared to the Valkyrie.

Additionally, Aston Martin were also able to bring Simone Rizzuto into the fold. Rizzuto was previously responsible for vehicle performance testing and integration at Maserati and Alfa Romeo. Rizzuto will take on the chief engineer of vehicle dynamics at Aston Martin.

Speaking about Goodwin and Rizzuto, Aston Martin’s CEO Andy Palmer said, “I’m thrilled to have Chris and Simone’s caliber join Aston Martin’s already stellar engineering and dynamics team. Their decision is a great endorsement of our future plans, while the skills and experience they bring are second to none. As we enter the next crucial phase in the development of our growing product and powertrain portfolios, they will make an invaluable contribution in shaping an exceptional new family of Aston Martin models.”

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