Christian Horner could not resist a light-hearted dig at Aston Martin as they joined Red Bull on the first podium of F1 2023 in Bahrain.
With Aston Martin intent on becoming a title challenger in the coming years, the team knew it was important to take a positive step in 2023, but few expected them to be mixing it up with Ferrari and Mercedes at the season-opener in Bahrain.
But that is exactly what happened, Fernando Alonso pulling overtakes on Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on his way to a P3 finish, meaning he joined the Red Bull drivers on the podium, Max Verstappen having won with ease as Sergio Perez claimed P2.
Aston Martin have been on a major recruitment drive and one of their key captures was Dan Fallows, Red Bull’s former aero chief who took over as Aston Martin technical director.
And already the AMR23, which follows a similar concept to Red Bull’s double title-winning RB18 of 2022, is serving the team extremely well.
Formula 1 has tried to create a scenario through the new Technical Regulations, wind tunnel time sliding scale and budget cap, whereby midfield teams should be able to close the gap to the traditional top three of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.
And now, Horner says Aston Martin have proven that it is possible, so is glad to see their RB18 has a new lease on life, so to speak. Plenty of sarcasm detected.
“I think it demonstrates to all the teams that it’s possible,” he told media in Bahrain.
“So, they’ve obviously done a good job over the winter. They say imitation is the biggest form of flattery, and it’s good to see the old car going so well.”
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But in all seriousness, is Horner now feeling any regret over Fallow’s exit? It cannot be ignored just how far Aston Martin have come so quickly.
The answer though is no, Horner saying that “everything has to evolve” in Formula 1, and Red Bull appear to be doing that to devastating effect.
Asked if he is regretting Fallows leaving, Horner replied: “No, because I think we have a wonderful team and everything has to evolve, nothing stands still.
“And I think that it’s flattering to see the resemblance of that car to ours, so it was great to see the three of them on the podium.”
And it is safe to say that Alonso was loving it, the 41-year-old having taken the gamble on Aston Martin which already is paying off handsomely, as he continues to prove that age is merely a number.
“It was enjoyable to see Fernando up there, it gives the 40 somethings hope that there’s life in the old boy yet and and he raced very well,” said Horner. “I mean, he’s still so competitive.”
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher