Aston Martin’s chief technical officer, Andy Green, has denied any notion that his team stole intellectual property from Red Bull to inform the current design of their AMR22.
Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll have managed just six points between them in 2022 after a troubling opening five rounds of the year, and there were rumours all the way back in March that they had newly designed sidepods ready to improve their miserable fortunes.
All of their points have arrived in the last two rounds, and the previous rumours were verified as the British team arrived in Barcelona with all-new sidepods and venturi tunnels in a bid to find consistent point-scoring performance.
However, when the cars were rolled into the pit lane on Thursday, everyone instantly noticed that the new sidepods looked largely the same as the ones that have guided Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to three wins.
The striking new spec coincides with Dan Fallows’ departure from Red Bull to Aston Martin, but team principal Christian Horner speculated that it might not be a “coincidence,” warning Aston Martin that it is a “criminal offence” to take another team’s data.
Adviser Dr Helmut Marko struggles to see how, given that Fallows was not even working at Red Bull for a period prior to his move to Silverstone, he could simply have worked on the design purely from memory.
“It’s not just Dan Fallows, there is evidence that data was downloaded. Dan Fallows was on paid vacation,” he told Sky Germany.
“What he has in his head… copying is not prohibited in the approach. But can you copy without documents and then make such a detailed copy of our car?”
These accusations are strong, but Green reminded the Austrian that the FIA did take a look at Aston Martin’s workings on their new design, and found nothing illegal about it.
“I don’t know what these accusations are that Red Bull are talking about. All I can say is that at no stage did we ever receive any data from any team or anyone,” he said.
“The FIA came in and did a thorough investigation, examined all the data leading up in the history of this car, they interviewed all the people involved and concluded that it was completely independent development.
“To that point where you were talking about potential employees, this car was conceived in the middle of last year as a dual route with the launch car, and the majority of the releases were made before anybody from Red Bull even turned up.
“So I think the accusations are very wide of the mark.”
After they were cleared of contravening any regulations by the governing body, Green does not understand why the accusations from Red Bull are still at large.
“[I’m] disappointed, especially with the fact that the FIA has done a statement in respect to the car,” he explained.
“They have come in and looked and then declared that it’s all legitimate independent work.
“They’re the ones who see all the data, they’re the ones who not just for us but for all the teams, they’re the only ones who can make the judgement, and by regulation they’re obliged to make a judgment on it.
“For me, that’s the end of it.”
After the rumours two months ago that the British team had another car ready, and the fact that they had started developing their current sidepods last year, Green flips the script and reveals that he was surprised when Red Bull revealed their car in February.
“If you look at the development of the car that is sitting out there right now, you’ll see that this has all happened towards the end of last year before we’ve seen anybody,” he added.
“We were on a dual path and it came as a shock, but also a surprise, that Red Bull came out with a similar concept, as well.
“But I think that just reinforced our feeling at the time that, of the two paths that that we had open to us, we’d gone the wrong way. And I think that was confirmation of that.”
The new spec did not do much for Aston Martin’s performance during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix, as Vettel qualified 16th ahead of 18th-placed Stroll.