The FIA says it investigated Aston Martin as a result of its latest car upgrade closely resembling Red Bull’s design, but found no wrongdoing.
Aston Martin has introduced a heavily revised AMR22 at the Spanish Grand Prix, with the sidepod design and rear bodywork a departure from its previous concept and extremely similar to Red Bull’s RB18. One technical director told RACER it was “frustrating” to see such an update and pointed to the recruitment of multiple personnel from Red Bull recently — including former head of aerodynamics Dan Fallows — but the FIA says it has already looked into any potential breach of regulations and cleared Aston Martin.
“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 read. “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.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told the BBC he can accept copying as long as no former employees have taken any of Red Bull’s intellectual property with them.
“Copying is the biggest form of flattery,” Horner said. “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 have moved over the winter period, and what you can’t control is what they take in their heads.
“But what would be of grave concern to us would be if any IP had in any way changed hands. That is where we rely on the FIA to do their job — they research, they have all the access and we will be relying on them heavily to ensure that no Red Bull IP has found its way into that car.”