Red Bull chief claims evidence shows Aston Martin downloaded data in F1 car copy row

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Aston Martin debuted their controversial news design in Spain on Friday.  (Getty Images)
Aston Martin debuted their controversial news design in Spain on Friday. (Getty Images)

Red Bull Racing advisor Helmut Marko claims evidence exists showing that Aston Martin have downloaded some of his team’s data to help them build a new Formula 1 car which bears an uncanny resemblance to Red Bull’s.

Aston Martin arrived in Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix earlier this week with a completely revamped version of their AMR22, which made its on-track debut during practice on Friday. The re-designed halo, sidepods, and engine cover on the Aston Martin are all very similar to the parts Red Bull have been running all season long, with their RB18 car the frontrunner at the past two grands prix in Imola and Miami.

The changes made to the Aston Martin have led to fans and pundits referring to it as the ‘Green Red Bull’, and the fact the car bears little resemblance to the version the team has been running throughout the season means accusations of copying have emerged. Motorsport governing body the FIA approved the design during an inspection earlier this week, but Red Bull released a statement on Friday in which they implied they do not consider the matter to be closed.

After practice, Red Bull team princioal Christian Horner said his team was concerned its intellectual property had been stolen.

“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.”

Now Marko, who overseees Red Bull’s young driver programme and attends race weekends, says evidence suggests that Aston Martin’s redesign has come about via the downloading of confidential Red Bull data by staff members who have switched between the teams. Staff including former head of aeroynamics Dan Fallows 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.

“Now you have to clarify how this incredible copy came about,” Marko said. “As things stand, it’s okay. Copying isn’t forbidden. But you also have to take into account that seven people were poached from us and that our chief aerodynamicist was brought to Aston Martin for a disproportionate amount of money. There are also some facts that we are investigating. We will investigate this in great detail. It’s not just Dan Fallows.

“There is evidence that data has been downloaded. It’s just the question: copying is probably not prohibited to begin with, but can you copy without documents in such a way that you can get such a detailed copy of our car?”

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