Christian Horner is not ruling out further action in regards to the similarities between Aston Martin's updated AMR22 and the Red Bull RB18. The topic became a key talking point during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, with the upgrades on Aston Martin's car drawing comparisons to certain aspects of the Red Bull, particularly in terms of the sidepods and engine cover. Following this, the FIA confirmed that they had carried out an investigation due to some of the AMR22's new features resembling "those of another competitor", and the team were ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing. There have still been questions and comments from Red Bull since, though. In an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com , team boss Horner explains why they are continuing to take the issue "very seriously".
Horner raises concerns over IP
"I think it's common practice that people move from team to team," Horner explained. "But of course, it relies on the fact that no IP [Intellectual Property] has been transferred. We have systems that allow us to protect and check our data, we have partners that we work with that enable us to do that. "So, the next stage for us is obviously to ensure that our IP hasn't been breached in any way."
The Racing Point controversy of 2020
The Aston Martin team found themselves at the centre of a similar controversy in 2020. In their former guise as Racing Point, the outfit's car was seen by some as bearing similarities to the Mercedes. This was initially approved by the FIA, but protests from rivals including Renault prompted a further investigation, which resulted in the squad being docked 15 Constructors’ points and fined €400,000 for illegally copying the rear brake ducts of the Silver Arrows' car. However, Horner feels that there are differences between the two situations. "I think the difference with their last copy is [that] they had a willing participant," he claimed. "Mercedes had no issue with Racing Point copying their car, and the relationship between Toto [Wolff] and Lawrence [Stroll] facilitated that. "There is no commercial relationship between our teams, so therefore it's something that we take very seriously."
Impact on AlphaTauri relationship
The team that Red Bull have the closest relationship with is obviously their sister outfit, AlphaTauri. "One could understand the fact to say that we have two teams under common ownership, yet our sister team is nowhere near as close in its design philosophy, despite taking a common componentry that's allowed, compared to a rival team," Horner said. "So that would inevitably raise questions, as I'm sure it will up and down the pit lane."
What will happen next?
When asked whether he expects the matter to go any further, Horner explained: "I think the FIA have made their position clear. "We'll conduct our own internal investigation, and go from there." Looking back at the Racing Point situation – where action was taken following Renault's protests – Horner admits that he cannot say whether this would happen again. "I can't speak for the other teams," the Team Principal explained. The priority, Horner says, is for the team to conduct their own internal investigation first.