Mercedes and Aston Martin went to extreme lengths to avoid crossing paths while sharing the same wind tunnel last season, it has been revealed. The Silver Arrows are currently working hard to give Lewis Hamilton a title-winning car next year, while Fernando Alonso will have high hopes of challenging for regular podium finishes with Aston Martin.
Mercedes have been supplying Aston Martin’s power units since the historic British outfit returned to the F1 grid three seasons ago. The two teams also shared a wind tunnel before Aston Martin built their own facility at their Silverstone headquarters earlier this year.
Plenty of measures were taken to ensure that paths were not crossed when the teams were using the same wind tunnel for testing at Mercedes’ base. Aston Martin performance director Tom McCullough has revealed that even separate access doors were required to guarantee the appropriate level of confidentiality.
He told Motorsport.com: “The FIA are pretty strict and do a lot of inspections and all that stuff. Dominic Harlow [head of F1 technical audit] comes and visits the teams. But for us with Mercedes, it is absolutely shut down to one, open to the other.
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“Different access doors, different people running the sessions. So, I think from a confidentiality [point of view], obviously the relationship we have with Mercedes is very robust from that side. The FIA, that’s their job to police all that.”
Inter-team collaboration became a major talking point at the end of last season amid concerns over the working relationship between Red Bull and sister team AlphaTauri. A late run of upgrades saw the latter jump from last to eighth in the Constructors’ Championship standings, with the FIA later confirming that both teams were respecting rules governing intellectual property sharing.
The two entities are set to have even closer ties from 2024 onwards, with AlphaTauri having been widely tipped to change their name to Racing Bulls next year.
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Speaking about the relationship between the two Red Bull teams, McCullough added: “The way they are at the moment, maybe as a pair of teams, they haven’t exploited that as much as the regulations allow. [The FIA] can ask to look at everything. You’ve got to be fully transparent when the FIA come in and inspect.
“They do a lot of inspections. I’m sure they’ll be all over that because I’m sure people are looking at it. On the outside, it looks as though [AlphaTauri] have done their own aero development philosophy. There’s a lot of convergence happening anyway.
“Maybe they’re just going for ‘buy everything you can do within the regulations’ and then develop along a philosophy. They’re using the same wind tunnel. They’ll probably be using the same CFD stuff. There’s a chance, therefore, that if it looks similar they can start working with it and making it more competitive.”
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