Helmut Marko’s dig at Aston Martin’s former Red Bull crew who ‘obviously have a good memory’

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso smiling on the podium with their champagne bottles. Bahrain March 2023

Race winner Max Verstappen and third placed Fernando Alonso smiling on the podium with their champagne bottles. Bahrain March 2023

As Fernando Alonso lived up to pre-season hype with a third-placed finish on his Aston Martin debut, joining Red Bull on the podium, Helmut Marko has had something to say.

In the past two years a number of Red Bull staff have made the switch to Aston Martin with former head of aerodynamics Dan Fallows taking up the role of technical director while ex-Red Bull designer Andrew Alessi was signed as the team’s head of technical operations.

With Aston Martin debuting a car dubbed the ‘green Red Bull’ at last season’s Spanish Grand Prix, Red Bull asked questions while also launching an internal investigation to find any possible IP leak.

The FIA cleared Aston Martin of any wrongdoing but, as Christian Horner put it, what’s already in a person’s head cannot be deleted.

This season’s Aston Martin is once again very Red Bull-esque in its design, but unlike last year’s AMR22, it’s also up there in pace too.

Aston Martin began the 2023 championship with a podium result, Alonso joining Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez on the Bahrain podium as he brought his AMR23 across the line in third place.

Marko had something to say.

“If you compare the cars, the Aston Martin is most similar to our Red Bull,” he told Sky Deutschland. “There’s a reason for that.

“Not only did Fallows change, but also some other employees and they obviously have a good memory.”

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Onus is on Aston Martin to maintain a strong development path

While the AMR23 has clearly shown itself to be fast out of the blocks, Lance Stroll sixth in Sunday’s race, the “crucial question” according to Ralf Schumacher is can they keep up in F1’s development war.

Last season the AMR22 was one of the most improved cars in the back half of the championship with Aston Martin needing to put in a similar performance if they want to stay near the front of the pack.

But while Schumacher’s impressed with the team’s performance, he reckons Red Bull still have an edge over the rest of the field.

“They [Red Bull] have learned over the years and have grown together without compromise,” said the former F1 driver. “Verstappen is the most complete racing driver in the field.

“The crucial question will be how well Aston Martin is able to further develop the car in the budget cap?

“Fernando is certainly helpful with his experience but I think Red Bull still has a few things up their sleeve.”

The German reckons Sebastian Vettel may be rueing his decision to retire.

“I think so,” he said. “On the other hand, he will be happy to be home, not having the stress. It wasn’t always that easy in the team either.

“But of course it is the wish of every driver to celebrate the start of the season like this.”

‘Fernando drives as if he were 25 years old again’

Schumacher’s fellow Sky Sport commentators were also full of praise for Alonso’s individual performance on the night as the Spaniard first passed George Russell on the track and then fought and beat Lewis Hamilton before finally taking Carlos Sainz to grab P3.

“Fernando drives as if he were 25 years old again – gigantic,” said Nico Rosberg. “The speed he showed in the race and then the overtaking manoeuvres (…) with Lewis.

“Insane. You really don’t overtake at this point. Fernando was on the limit. It was brilliant.”

Timo Glock added: “I really liked how he offered great overtaking manoeuvres with his aggressive driving style. You could see it in his eyes. I think with we will have a lot of fun with him this year.”