It barely took one race in the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship for the first championship controversy to arise. After Max Verstappen’s victory with Red Bull, the Austrian team’s advisor Helmut Marko set off alarm bells by accusing Aston Martin of plagiarism.
“Today we had three Red Bulls on the podium, only the last one (in third position) with a different engine,” ironized the former driver in dialogue with Servus TV, alluding to the podium in Bahrain, in which the first two places went to Red Bull (Verstappen and Perez) and the third to Fernando Alonso.
Checo Pérez echoed these statements at the post-race press conference: “It’s nice to see three Red Bulls on the podium,” he joked while his teammate laughed under his breath.
Undoubtedly, the last F1 champions started their psychological race with what they believe will be their main rival to beat in this tournament. After the preseason and the first official presentation of the cars on the track, Red Bull understands that the AMR23 has many similarities with its RB19 and is due to a particular reason.
For this season, in addition to hiring the experienced Spanish driver, Aston Martin managed to secure the arrival of Dan Fallows, one of the seven engineers from the Austrian team. The latter, however, carries Red Bull in his DNA after spending 16 years in its workshops and being the main apprentice of Adrian Newey, considered the best designer of all time in F1.
Fallows, who was once the head of Red Bull’s aerodynamics department, had now become Aston Martin’s technical director and was the main architect when designing the British team’s new single-seater.
“Comparing the two cars, the Aston Martin is the most similar to the Red Bull. There are reasons for that to be the case. It’s not just Dan Fallows who moved to Aston Martin, but also other employees. They have a good memory,” Marko added, leaving a cloak of suspicion: “It’s true. What Fallows had in his head cannot be erased. Copying the approach is allowed, but can you copy in such detail without having documentation of our car?”
Max Verstappen, meanwhile, chose to be more subtle in his statements but maintained the same line, “They’ve hired a lot of good people, so I guess they can only get better. For this year, it’s hard to say if they will compete for the World Championship, but race wins are definitely on the table.“
It’s worth noting that Aston Martin’s improvement from one year to the next was truly astonishing. One example to demonstrate this was the speed change from 2022 to the 2023 Bahrain GP, which was cut to 2.4 seconds.
In addition to Fallows, Aston Martin has other top engineers on the team, including Andrew Alessi (current head of technical operations), Eric Blandin (former Mercedes engineer), Luca Furbatto (ex-Alfa Romero), and Tom McCullough.