Aston Martin: Copying Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes won’t get us anywhere

Fernando Alonso leaning over Aston Martin car. Abu Dhabi November 2022. Credit: Alamy
Fernando Alonso leaning over Aston Martin car. Abu Dhabi November 2022. Credit: Alamy

Aston Martin won’t join the fight for race wins nor the World Championship titles if they “just replicate” what their rivals are doing.

That’s the opinion of technical director Dan Fallows.

The Silverstone-based team last won a grand prix in 2020, Sergio Perez taking the chequered flag at the Sakhir race.

That season the team raced a pink Mercedes, the RP20 drawing heavily from Mercedes’ 2019 championship-winning W10, so much so that Renault protested the car.

The protest was upheld as the RP20 was found to be using illegal brake ducts with the intellectual property for those belonging to Mercedes. The team was fined €400,000 and docked 15 constructors points.

Two years later, with the team racing under the Aston Martin moniker, questions were again raised about the car when the team debuted Red Bull-esque bodywork at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The FIA, having banned reverse engineering car designs after 2020, cleared them of any wrongdoing.

“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,” motorsport’s governing body said in a statement.

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While that put a pin in speculation that Aston Martin, having signed Fallows from Red Bull, had copied another team’s design, the Briton himself believes copying is not the way forward.

Not when it comes to the design of the car nor the manner in which a team achieves success.

“The important thing for us is to make sure that we don’t just replicate what our competitors are doing,” Fallows told the media including PlanetF1 following a tour of the new Aston Martin factory.

“We don’t believe that’s going to help us overtake the likes of Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari.

“We have to develop our own way of doing things and that does take time, but we’ve got a hugely ambitious group of people.”

He added: “One of the things about seeing the new factory come together is it demonstrates this momentum, this vision, this wish to accelerate the process of moving up the grid and get into a winning situation.

“That’s what’s really going to help us get there is this passion, this motivation, and this belief that we will get there eventually.”

Investing, committing, Aston Martin just need time

A team known during its time as Force India, even Jordan, of punching above its weight, Aston Martin now have buckets of money but very little success to show for it.

Lawrence Stroll and his consortium bought the team back in 2018 with 2020 their most successful season under his leadership. That year the team finished P4 in the Constructors’ Championship after which it was rebranded Aston Martin.

But even with Stroll’s leadership and the signing of a World Champion in Sebastian Vettel, the results didn’t come in 2021 and it was even worse in 2022 when the team didn’t even reach the podium.

While it is clear that Aston Martin has the money to fight at the front, as David Coulthard recently warned Michael Andretti, it takes more than money to reach the sharp end of the F1 grid.

“To enter the sport is one thing,” the former F1 driver told PlanetF1.com, “to be successful takes a lot of time, a lot of commitment and a lot of human resources. So money is not enough.”

Stroll is doing the investing, the committing and has bulked up the human resources side of it. Now, alas, he just needs time…

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