Aston Martin counters copying allegations, says its 'disappointed' by Red Bull

BARCELONA, Spain -- Aston Martin has hit back at Red Bull in Formula One's latest copying row, with the team's technical director Andrew Green saying he is "disappointed" by comments made by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner in the media.

Aston Martin has brought a significant update to its car at this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix which closely resembles the sidepod, floor and engine cover designs of the front-running Red Bull RB18.

Aston Martin hopes the new parts, which it claims have been in development since last year, will move it up the grid after the team made a slow start to the season with its original take on F1's new technical regulations.

Formula One's governing body, the FIA, launched an investigation into the similarities between the two cars earlier this week, but found no evidence of reverse engineering or an illegal transfer of intellectual property (IP) from Red Bull to Aston Martin.

Nevertheless, Red Bull has said it will conduct an internal investigation into the possibility of IP leaving its team illegally after a number of former employees moved to Aston Martin at the end of last year.

"We will have an internal investigation," Horner told Sky Sports on Friday. "We have got our own software protections, we know exactly what software is looked at and where that software is controlled.

"But it is the job of the regulator, the FIA, because they have the access, and we rely very much on them to ensure that there is no transfer of IP and there has been no abuse of that. So it's very much their job to police that."

He added: "I'm not going to disclose exactly where we are with certain individuals. It would be a criminal offence because IP is a team's lifeblood, it's what we invest millions of pounds into it. You wouldn't want to see that turn up in a rival's organisation. Otherwise, we may as well franchise it and be able to sell aerodynamics."

Speaking on Saturday morning, Aston Martin technical director Andrew Green said he was "disappointed" by Red Bull's reaction and claimed any suggestion that his team had acted illegally or against the regulations was incorrect.

"I don't know what these accusations are that Red Bull are flinging about," he said. "All I can see is at no stage did we ever receive any data from any team, from anyone. The FIA came in and did a thorough investigation, examined all the data, the history of the car, they interviewed all the people involved and concluded there was completely independent development, you're talking about potential employees.

"This car was conceived in the middle of last year as a dual route with the launch car, the majority of the releases were made before anybody, from Red Bull, even turned up. I think the accusations are very wide of the mark."

Green said he was surprised when he first saw Red Bull's design in pre-season testing, claiming Aston Martin had already arrived at a similar solution.

"If you look at the development of the car that is sitting out there right now you'll see that this all happened towards the end of last year before we'd seen anybody. We were on a dual path, and it came as a shock but also a surprise that Red Bull came out with a similar concept as well, but I think that just reinforced our feeling at the time that of the two paths we had open to us we'd gone the wrong way, and I think that was confirmation of that."