Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has clarified that he was not accusing Aston Martin of any wrongdoing with their AMR23.
In recent times Aston Martin have been on a major recruitment drive as they look to force their way to the front of the pecking order in Formula 1, and one of the key signings was Dan Fallows, who went from Red Bull aero chief to Aston Martin technical director.
But, while Aston Martin have been making the kind of appointments needed to become a threat at the front in the years to come, few expected them to make much a profound jump from 2022 to 2023.
At the F1 2023 season opener in Bahrain, Aston Martin had arguably the second-fastest car on race day behind Red Bull, with Fernando Alonso passing both Mercedes drivers and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on his way to a P3 finish.
With Red Bull’s Max Verstappen having dominated the race and his team-mate Sergio Perez claiming P2, that started the banter from Red Bull’s camp.
Believing that the AMR23 looks visually very similar to the 2022 Red Bull RB18, team boss Christian Horner joked that it was “good to see the old car going so well.”
Perez quipped that three Red Bull drivers were on the podium, and later, when he, Verstappen and Alonso headed for the press conference, remarked “we are all Red Bull drivers!”
Marko did not miss out on the fun either, joking that Aston Martin’s former Red Bull crew “‘obviously have a good memory”, though later appeared to make the matter more serious when he questioned whether Aston Martin could have created that AMR23 without “having documentation of our car”.
Marko though has now moved to confirm that he was not meaning this as an allegation against Aston Martin, and that it was simply more of the light-hearted banter.
Asked by Formel1.de whether there are strong indications that data followed the former Red Bull staff to Aston Martin, Marko replied: “No, not at all. And that’s not meant to be an accusation either.
“Those are just joking remarks. If you look in the field, the Aston Martin is the car most similar to the Red Bull.”
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At first it could be said that the banter brought some colour to the new season, but quite quickly with Marko, Horner and Perez all involved, while Aston Martin did not bite back, it started to feel a little unfair on the Aston Martin squad.
2022 marked the start of a brand new regulatory era in Formula 1, so it is natural that teams would in some way follow the trail blazed by teams who made the best start with these ground effect challengers, and that was Red Bull.
And adding Fallows’ move into the mix, it would have seemed rather bizarre if the AMR23 had have shared precious little similarities to the dominant RB18.
Red Bull themselves had predicted that more cars would be looking something like theirs or Ferrari’s in terms of design in F1 2023, those two teams having led the way in 2022, and this indeed has proven true.
Aston Martin joining the picture around the front of the grid is a welcome addition, and if Red Bull continue to dominate out front, then more scraps between Aston Martin, Ferrari and Mercedes behind will really help make F1 2023 a season of must-watch action.