The FIA undertook extensive checks on the updated Aston Martin car which resembled the 2022 Red Bull machine, but found no issues to disqualify them.
Circuit de Catalunya had been earmarked as a round where teams would introduce upgrades. The most significant have been Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin with the Silverstone outfit having the most significant, in more ways than one.
It’s been a challenging start to the campaign for Lawrence Stroll’s squad. Significant investment has taken place but as it stands, they presently stand ninth in the constructors’ championship with a paltry six points scored in five Grands Prix.
When the lid was lifted on their upgraded car in Barcelona, Aston Martin caused a significant stir to say the least. An all-new sidepod, engine cover, floor and rear wing which was quite similar to how the current Red Bull car is.
A routine inspection by the FIA revealed some parts did in fact resemble another competitor, namely the Red Bull R18. As a result, a further inspection took place to ensure that the car was compliant with article 17.3 of Technical Regulations with particular referral to the topic of reverse engineering and possible IP transfer which was not totally legitimate.
A further issue is around the fact that two former Red Bull team members Dan Fallows and Andrew Alessi were integral members of the Aston Martin squad now. With this in mind, Christian Horner realised that Red-Bulls intellectual property might have been compromised.
“It is quite a thing to instruct your team to come up with a very close-looking clone of our car, and, of course, a few people moved from our tea over the winter and what you can’t control what they take in their heads,” Horner was quoted in Barcelona.
It is not the first time that Aston Martin have been in trouble of sorts regarding this issue. In 2020, in their Racing Point guise, they used photos of the 2019 Mercedes to mimic the design. After which the FIA banned teams from copying designs and amusingly, the car was called the “Pink Mercedes”.
With today’s latest scenario, both teams cooperated fully with the FIA in the investigation and all necessary information was supplied. The investigation provided CAD checking as well as extensive analysis of the process undertaken by Aston Martin.
Following this investigation, the FIA confirmed Lawrence Strolls team had not committed any wrong doing. “The FIA carried out a routine pre-event legality check of the planned aerodynamic upgrade of the Aston Martin team for the 2022 FIA Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix,” a statement from the governing body stated.
“During this process, it became apparent that a number of features on the Aston Martin resembled those of another Competitor. The FIA therefore launched an investigation to check compliance with Article 17.3 of the Technical Regulations, and in particular the topic of ‘Reverse Engineering’ and potential illicit IP transfer”.
“Both teams collaborated fully with the FIA in this investigation and provided all the relevant information. The investigation, which involved CAD checks and a detailed analysis of the development process adopted by Aston Martin, confirmed that no wrongdoing had been committed, and therefore the FIA considers that the Aston Martin aerodynamic upgrades are compliant”.
“Article 17.3 specifically defines and prohibits ‘Reverse Engineering’, i.e. the digital process of converting photographs (or other data) to CAD models, and prohibits IP transfer between teams, but equally, this Article permits car designs getting influenced by those of competitors, as has always been the case in Formula 1”.
“In the analysis we carried out we confirmed that the processes followed by Aston Martin were consistent with this Article’s requirements,” the statement noted. To this Red Bull released its own statement, which stated:
“While imitation is the greatest form of flattery, any replication of design would need to comply with the FIA rules around reverse engineering. However should any transfer of IP have taken place that would clearly be a breach of regulations and that would be a serious concern.”