• Aston Martin F1 impressed all its competitors at the first Grand Prix of the season, in Bahrain, rising to 3rd and 6th places.
  • At the end of the race, some were surprised by the similarities between the Aston Martin and the Red Bull, criticisms already appeared during winter testing.
  • Beyond taking inspiration from the RB18, Aston Martin has mainly progressed by recruiting from other teams and better structuring the team while waiting for the delivery of their new factory.

After a surprise 99th podium last week for the first Grand Prix of the Formula 1 season, will Fernando Alonso pass the symbolic 100 mark this weekend for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday (18pm)? What was only a sweet dream is about to become reality as Aston Martin F1 Team, the team of Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, Aston Martin F1 Team, founded on the foundations of Racing Point, created the surprise two weeks ago in Bahrain. With Fernando Alonso in third place, and his teammate and son of the owner, Lance Stroll, in sixth place. Enough to supplant Ferrari and Mercedes, relegated to the foot of the podium.

An incredible performance when you remember that Aston Martin finished in 7th place in the constructors' category last season, without any podium. "Such an increase is quite rare, which is why it must be reported. Obviously we are impressed, it is never easy to bounce back like this in modern Formula 1, we can only say congratulations for what they have done, "says 20 Minutes, Eric Boullier, former team boss.

"I'm happy to see three Red Bulls on the podium."

But as soon as the post-race press conference, the first critics, barely disguised, began to flow. "I'm happy to see three Red Bulls on the podium," smiled the driver of the brand with the winged bull, Sergio Perez. These accusations of copying the Red Bull had also begun to emerge as early as winter testing, at the end of February.

"The Aston Martin looks like a Red Bull because Aston Martin has recovered half of the employees in Red Bull's aerodynamics department. So of course they built the same car and painted it green," said Franz Tost, boss of the AlphaTauri team, owned by Red Bull. Starting with Dan Fallows, Red Bull's chief aerodynamicist who has since left for the Greens. Helmut Marko, one of Red Bull's pundits, was keen to water down his comments after implying that Dan Fallows had left with Red Bull's plans: "No, not at all, it's not supposed to be an accusation. These are just humorous comments, because if you look at the grid, the Aston Martin is the car that most resembles us. »

Dan Fallows, a fundamental transfer

For Eric Boullier, the arrival of the former Red Bull aerodynamicist is one of the explanations for Aston Martin's good performance, but not the only one. "He's imbued with the Red Bull spirit so he's bringing a new method. But we also had to decide to change the aero concept and I can only take my hat off to the teams who were able to integrate these methods, this concept, and make it work," he insists.

Especially since Aston Martin is powered by Mercedes and parts of their single-seater are provided by the German manufacturer, Red Bull's main competitor with very different concepts. It is difficult, therefore, to accuse them of having fully copied the Red Bull of 2022, unlike Racing Point in 2020, and their "pink Mercedes", for which the team had received 15 penalty points for using the same brake scoops as that of the German team.

Structuring and new plant

It is rather on the side of the working method and the structuring of the team that we must look, and the enormous work undertaken since the transition from Racing Point to Aston Martin. "The team is well structured, it is growing with a certain managerial experience. They put the means and a traceability of the future is put in place with the construction of a factory. They reassure their staff, and give them the means and the desire to do well. Copying or inventing are not the same thing, but we must already start by doing what the best do. They had the balls to do it, and they did it well, so bravo," said the former boss of Renault, Lotus and McLaren.

Toto Wolff, the boss of Mercedes, directly competed by Aston Martin for the 2nd and 3rd places in the ranking, but also engine manufacturer and supplier of certain parts and incidentally holder of shares of Aston Martin, joins the analysis of Eric Boullier. "It's one thing that the two cars are alike, but afterwards, in the design and manufacture of the car, it's not just a copy as it can be said. If they have a car that works it's because of the good work that the team is doing, you can't say it's just because it's the same as Red Bull. There's a lot of work behind it," he said, a handsome player.

A surprise, but no excitement

But even on the side of Aston Martin, we admit to being surprised by this incredible performance, to the point of thinking "a mistake" when realizing that the performance data of their car "exceeded the objectives", that is to say those of the RB18, during winter testing. Since then, they prefer to leave criticism and accusations aside, to continue to focus on their performance. "This is a very good step that we have taken. But after the first race of the year, I think it's too early to draw conclusions about our fitness. We have to wait three or four races to really see how big the step has been taken. But we can say that we did one," said Mike Krack, the boss of Aston Martin after the Bahrain race.

It remains to be seen if Aston Martin will be able to repeat this feat of climbing to the podium, thanks to a good development of their car during the season. But with the introduction of the cap budget, Eric Boullier believes "that they can hold their place". "A few years ago, during the arms race I would have been tempted to say that they were going to fall into line, but today it's different," he warns. With a driver of Alonso's quality, not to mention his motivation, a quality and well-structured team, the construction of a new factory and motivated teams, everything seems to align on Aston Martin's side.

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  • Fernando Alonso