Red Bull boss Christian Horner praised Aston Martin’s remarkable climb up the Formula One order this year, saying that it is a compliment to how close the team’s design looks to his own.
Fernando Alonso’s podium finish in Bahrain confirmed the huge steps forward made by Aston Martin, who finished seventh last season. The Silverstone-based team now looks to be at least third fastest on merit.
Team owner Lawrence Stroll can name Alonso as his biggest signing of the last 12 months, but he also spent big to bring technical director Dan Fallows across from Red Bull last year and has also splashed out on a state-of-the-art team headquarters, set to open later this year, to achieve his aim of making the team title contenders.
When asked if he was surprised to see Aston Martin bridge the gap to the top three so quickly, Horner said: “I think it demonstrates to all the teams that it’s possible. So they’ve obviously done a good job over the winter.”
“They say imitation is the biggest form of flattery and it’s good to see the old car going so well.”
Asked if he regretted letting Fallows go, Horner replied: “Well, no, because I think we have a wonderful team and everything has to evolve. Nothing stands still.
“It’s flattering to see the resemblance of that car to ours so it was great to see the three of them on the podium.”
The implication the Aston Martin looks similar to Red Bull’s car is nothing new — many observed similar when the team unveiled its car ahead of the season. It is also common for designs to converge around the benchmark team in any rules cycle and Red Bull is the clear benchmark for this generation of car.
Car design concepts were a big talking point in Bahrain, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitting after the season’s first qualifying session that the team needed to ditch its own concept for something more competitive.
Horner said he would not be surprised if Mercedes and Ferrari followed the lead of Aston Martin at some stage this year.
He said: “I think that the operating windows of these cars are very narrow and every team in the top three looks like its developed its own theme and one team have adopted our theme and have made a gain so at some point it is going to converge and that can happen within a season.”