Red Bull have ended up in court following the culmination of the controversial 2021 Formula 1 season, but it is not in a legal battle with Mercedes.
Instead, they are fighting to keep one of their former employees away from Aston Martin, at least temporarily.
Former Red Bull chief aerodynamicist Dan Fallows was offered a contract by Aston Martin earlier last year, and the deal taking him to the Silverstone-based outfit was officially announced in June. He is set to become their new technical director.
Red Bull, however, were quick to remind Fallows that he had already signed a contract with the team, stating that his six-month period could only start at the end of 2022, so he shouldn’t be allowed to start his new role at Aston Martin prior to 1 July 2023.
Red Bull are concerned that Fallows will take what he has learned from legendary designer Adrian Newey, who helped guide Red Bull to all of the nine titles they have now won.
In order to ensure that Fallows was no longer privy to sensitive information regarding the intricacies of the Red Bull car, the company took him away from the F1 department, instead deploying him to their road car project. This was so that he would be unable to pass anything on to his new employers.
Fallows says he saw this as constructive dismissal from his employers, and used this to attempt to resign with immediate effect. He claimed that the notice period was now void since it is “in restraint of trade.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner’s emails were being chased by Fallows’ lawyers, who would like to establish the circumstances in which other employees before him had departed, but the judge affirmed that every employee has differing circumstances, thus rejecting the motion.
Fallows was also at the centre of a legal battle between Red Bull and McLaren; he had tried to depart for the Woking-based team seven years ago, but was ultimately offered a new contract by his then-current employers. The two parties eventually reached a settlement.
The legal case between Red Bull and Aston Martin will continue between 25-28 January.