The FIA have cleared Aston Martin of wrongdoing but Red Bull have accused their counterparts of copying, and have questioned the roles of high-profile former employees who jumped ship and swapped teams.

“It is no coincidence that a few individuals that have transferred from Red Bull to Aston Martin over the winter and during the early part of the season,” team principal Horner, who was spotted with a green can of the Red Bull energy to mock Aston Martin’s car, told Sky Sports. 

“It was brought to our attention actually by the FIA earlier this week who said: ‘There is a car that looks remarkably like your car, can we have a list of your levers?’ 

“Of course that immediately raises alarm bells.”

How have Aston Martin emerged with a similar car to F1 rivals Red Bull?

Dan Fallows, formerly Red Bull’s head of aerodynamics, was among those to switch to Aston Martin.

“What is permissible, we see it up and down the paddock, where individuals move from team to team after a garden leave period, what they take in their head, that’s fair game,” said Horner.

“That’s their knowledge. What isn’t fair and what is totally unacceptable is if there has been any transfer of IP.”

Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko told Sky Germany “there is evidence that data was downloaded”.

Horner, asked about evidence, told Sky: “Well 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.

“We will have an internal investigation. We have got our own software protection, we know exactly software is looked at and where it is controlled. But it is the job of the regulator, the FIA, because they have the access, and we rely very heavily on them to make sure that there has been no transfer of IP and no abuse of that. So it’s very much their job to police that.

“The look of [the Red Bull car] wasn’t even realised until a month ago, so the work [on Aston Martin’s car] started well before that. The updates weren’t even seen by that point, so you haven’t reversed engineered it from a picture because it didn’t exist on our car. 

“What we want to ensure that the IP hasn’t been transferred in any way between one organisation and another, because that would be very much a breach of the rules.

“We will work with the FIA but, as the regulators, it is down to them. In reality, this is about the precedent that it sets. It’s not necessarily an issue for us unless Aston Martin start beating us. But for the teams in the midfield, it could have a material effect on them. The biggest thing that we want to ensure that our IP is protected and hasn’t been abused.”

Horner said about the FIA finding no wrongdoing: “They’ve said that they are accepting of the timeline and what Aston Martin have presented. Of course, if any evidence of foul play comes to light, it becomes a different issue.”

Aston Martin's team principal Mike Krack told Sky Sports: “We have been clear, transparent, open. We have been given the green light.”

What did the FIA decide?

“Both teams collaborated fully with the FIA in this investigation and provided all the relevant information,” an FIA statement read. 

“The investigation, which involved CAD checks and a detailed analysis of the development process adopted by Aston Martin, confirmed that no wrongdoing had been committed, and therefore the FIA considers that the Aston Martin aerodynamic upgrades are compliant.

“Article 17.3 specifically defines and prohibits “Reverse Engineering”, i.e. the digital process of converting photographs (or other data) to CAD models, and prohibits IP transfer between teams, but equally, this Article permits car designs getting influenced by those of competitors, as has always been the case in Formula 1. 

“In the analysis we carried out we confirmed that the processes followed by Aston Martin were consistent with this Article’s requirements.”