Red Bull concerned Aston Martin have compromised IP with controversial new car, says Christian Horner

Red Bull are not letting Aston Martin’s new car design go without a thorough investigation.

<p>The sidepods on the re-designed Aston Martin in particular are strikingly similar to the Red Bull</p>

The sidepods on the re-designed Aston Martin in particular are strikingly similar to the Red Bull

Christian Horner says that Red Bull are determined to get to the bottom of Aston Martin’s controversial new car design, after accusations of copying emerged ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend.

Aston Martin arrived at the Spanish Grand Prix with a series of upgrades to its AMR22 which have completely revamped its design. The sidepod, halo, front and rear wings, and engine cover of the Aston Martin have been completely revised in a way which means they now bear an uncanny resemblance to Red Bull’s RB18, which has won three of the opening five races of the season.

The Silverstone-based squad ran the new design for the first team during Friday practice at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, with Sebastian Vettel finishing eighth fastest at the end of the second session, significantly higher than the backmarker team had been running earlier in the season.

The re-design means the new AMR22 looks wildly different to its predecessor, but motorsport governing body the FIA approved its usage on Thursday, and Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack defended its design during practice on Friday.

“We bring upgrades all the time,” Krack told Sky Sports F1. “Sometimes they are more visible, sometimes less visible. This is another step in terms of development, we hope to bring the car forward and this will be the same for the next events.

“It was just a normal development process. We had a lot of porpoising difficulties with the other car, so we said at one point we need to change. We needed to make a little update and that’s we did. You have to ask Red Bull if they have a problem with our car. We have been open, honest and transparent.”

Immediately after the first practice session of the day, Red Bull released a statement on the matter, and mocked Aston Martin by posting a photograph of a limited edition green can of the brand’s energy drink on social media.

“Red Bull Racing have noted the FIA’s statement with interest,” the Red Bull statement read. “While imitation is the greatest form of flattery, any replication of design would obviously need to comply with the FIA’s rules around ‘Reverse Engineering’. However, should any transfer of IP have taken place that would clearly be a breach of regulations and would be a serious concern.”

After the conclusion of the Friday’s practice running, in which Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was fastest in both sessions, Red Bull team principal Horner said his team was concerned that personnel who have recently moved to Aston Martin could have compromised their intellectual porperty by taking with them data which has subsequently been used to design the re-jigged AMR22. Staff including former head of aeroynamics Dan Fallow have made the switch to Aston Martin, whose billionaire owner Lawrence Stroll has engaged in a heavy spending spree in an attempt to drag the team up the grid order.

“Immitation is the biggest form of flattery,” he told Sky Sports F1. “It’s no coincedence that we’ve had a few individuals who have transferred to Aston Martin over the winter and recent months. The FIA brought it to our attention earlier this week, which raises alarm bells. What [the staff who have gone to Aston Martin] take in their head is fair game, that’s their knowledge. What is unacceptable is if there has been any transfer of IP at all.

“I’m not going to disclose exactly where we are with certain individuals. it would be a criminal offence. IP is a team’s lifeblood. We will have an internal investigation, we have our own software protections and how that is controlled. It is the job of the regulator, the FIA, to make sure there has been no transfer of IP or abuse of that. What we want to ensure is that no IP has in any way transferred from one organisation to another, because that would be a breach of the rules. We will work with the FIA, it’s down to them. It’s not an issue for us unless Aston Martin start beating us, it’s the midfield teams who this could make a material difference to. It’s the precdent it sets. If any evidence of foul play came to light, it becomes a different issue.”

The Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona is frequently used for testing in F1 thanks to its mix of corners at different speeds, and Horner says that the car has a stronger influence than the driver here.

“The driver will always make an element of difference, but the car makes a huge difference here,” he added. “It’s quite a complex track and the driver difference is probably more limited. This is a higher downforce circuit, you can see the updates others have brought along, and it’s very, very close.”

Aston Martin has form for being inspired by other Formula 1 teams, with its 2020 car being almost identical to the 2019 championship winning Mercedes, when the team was still known as Racing Point.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in