Red Bull surprised by Aston Martin complaints

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR21

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has admitted to his surprise at learning Aston Martin could pursue legal action against the FIA.

Otmar Szafnauer, team principal of Aston Martin, stated in Imola that he would seek council with the FIA to discuss the aerodynamic rule changes introduced for 2021.

Those changes saw modifications to the floor of cars, with the general consensus that those operating to a high-rake design philosophy have not been as badly impacted.

Aston Martin employs a low-rake design, while Red Bull uses a high-rake.

“I’m slightly surprised to hear that,” Horner confessed to Sky Sports of Szafnauer’s statements regarding potential action against the FIA.

Szafnauer’s complaint is that the rules were initially introduced in the interests of safety when it appeared that the sport would carry last year’s tyres into the new season.

With that situation having changed, he argues that the basis for the rule change is no longer relevant.

He also hinted that Formula 1 had influenced the regulations, which would be a conflict of interest between the sport’s governing body and commercial rights holder.

Horner is not convinced, highlighting the fact Aston Martin (when known as Racing Point) voted in favour of the change last year.

Christian Horner

“First of all, we’ve had a sample of one [race]. Mercedes won that race with what they would classify a low-rake car,” Horner reasoned.

“They had absolutely equal, if not, maybe better tyre degradation than we had in Bahrain. They’ve looked mighty impressive here.

“But ignoring all of that, there is a process for regulations to be introduced,” he added.

“They were voted through unanimously, through the different regulations that Aston Martin or Racing Point would have had to vote for, before being passed through the Formula One Commission and the World Council.

“They were all voted through unanimously,” he emphasised.

“Now, when there was a front wing change a couple of years ago, it really hurt us.

“We voted against it, but you just have to accept it, so it would seem a little naïve to think that suddenly the rules are just going to get changed after the sample of the single race after the process has been fully followed.

“I’m struggling to get my head around that.”

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff wouldn’t be drawn on the issue, noting that Aston Martin uses customer Mercedes power units and a car that is heavily inspired by its own 2019 challenger.

However, he did agree that low-rake cars had been more heavily impacted by the 2021 aero changes.

“I think what we’ve seen in our data is that the change of regulations has harmed the low-rake cars more than the high-rake cars, but you won’t see it on every circuit,” he told Sky Sports.

“If you have your car properly balanced in the right window, which is difficult to get into, then your performance will be okay.”

Pressed on the nature of Aston Martin’s complaint, Wolff suggested the issue was not as black and white as Szafnauer perhaps views it.

“Since April [2020], there was a bunch of decisions and regulatory changes, tyres were introduced, and obviously, lots of discussion,” Wolff said.

“I think that the nuances of that is having to really come to a point to say, was there any decision that went in against a particular concept of car and was it there, and I think that needs to be looked at.”

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