Formula 1’s governing body gave the green light to Aston Martin’s revised car at the Spanish Grand Prix on Friday after world champion Max Verstappen’s team Red Bull suspected their design had been copied.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner had expressed concern that his team’s intellectual property had found its way to rivals, in breach of rules banning so-called “reverse engineering”. The ruling FIA said it had carried out a “routine pre-event legality check” of Aston Martin’s planned aero upgrade.
He said it became apparent in the process that “a number of features” of the car resembled those of a competitor and an investigation was carried out to verify compliance with the rules. “The investigation…confirmed that no wrongdoing had been committed and therefore the FIA considers Aston Martin’s aerodynamic improvements to be compliant,” she added.
The FIA said the rules allow designs to be influenced by others, as has always been the case. Red Bull, which is battling Ferrari for both championships while Mercedes-powered Aston Martin is ninth out of 10 teams after a difficult start to the season, noted the FIA’s decision “with interest”.
Aston Martin, owned by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, has big ambitions and has recruited big name names from other teams including Red Bull. Among them is technical director Dan Fallows, the former head of aerodynamics for Red Bull who started at the Silverstone factory last month.
“Copying is the greatest form of flattery,” Horner told the BBC ahead of the FIA statement. “It’s quite difficult to ask your team to create a very close clone of our car and of course a few people have moved during the winter period, and what you can’t control is what they take in their head…
“What would concern us most would be if any intellectual property had changed hands in any way. This is where we rely on the FIA to do its job…”
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