Concerns have been raised by rival teams over the ever-increasing ties between Red Bull and AlphaTauri after the sudden improvements made by the sister outfit towards the end of the 2023 season.
As part of a wider revamp of the AlphaTauri squad ahead of 2024, which will include a name change, the team will forge an even closer alliance with the Red Bull senior team.
This will include taking more parts from Red Bull, something which has raised eyebrows among rival teams who want to ensure the partnership is above board.
F1’s regulations feature a strict list of parts that may be shared between teams. Certain key areas, such as the bodywork, can’t be outsourced.
While the FIA has downplayed specific concerns relating to Red Bull and AlphaTauri, F1’s governing body is set to clampdown on the matter.
“We check teams that are in close proximity to each other a lot more closely than we check completely independent teams, exactly to make sure this thing doesn't happen. That is a concern,” the FIA’s single-seater chief Nikolas Tombazis is quoted by Motorsport.com.
“It has been a concern not only between the two teams mentioned, but also among other pairs of teams.
“We believe that AlphaTauri specifically does have quite different aerodynamic solutions to the other company, and we don't think there's any sign of any direct collaboration.
“Clearly, they are working hard and they have made a step forward. But I don't think it can be said it's due to collaboration.
“That said, collaboration, or making sure that no such thing happens, is one of the tricky parts of policing teams.
“We do need to audit and make sure that all of these teams are well segregated and so on. And we will be issuing some further guidances quite soon to just provide further information to the teams about how they can convince us none of that is happening.
“We're not underestimating the challenge and it is one of the difficulties we have.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner recently insisted that what his team are doing with AlphaTauri is “an awfully long way from a ‘Pink Mercedes’”, referencing the controversy involving Racing Point in 2020.
Tombazis stressed the FIA has seen nothing to worry about regarding how Red Bull and AlphaTauri work together and said the issue goes beyond teams who openly collaborate.
“The main incentive for two teams to collaborate isn't whether they exchange components or whether they even share a wind tunnel,” he explained.
“You can have two teams collaborating, one is in the UK, and one is in Argentina, and if two teams wants to communicate against regulations, have Zoom calls and have the engineers chat with each other, that is quite feasible.
“We don't watch people's day-to-day movements, and nor is it our intention to do so. These pairs of teams get more frequently criticised for collaboration just because they have common ownership or whatever, but it is not the only pair of teams that could collaborate. You could have two independent teams who decide to mutually gain by helping each other.
"I don't think that's happening, but I'm just saying that our tools to prevent this happening don't need to be just linked to physical components that are sold by one team to the other.”