Aston Martin had to use different doors when sharing Mercedes’ wind tunnel

The extreme measures used by the Mercedes F1 team to ensure confidentiality when Aston Martin were sharing their wind tunnel have been revealed. 
Lance Stroll (CDN) Aston Marti
Lance Stroll (CDN) Aston Marti

Construction of Aston Martin’s new state-of-the-art wind tunnel at their Silverstone base has now been completed, but while it was being built, the team shared Mercedes’ facilities. 

The collaboration between teams has faced increased scrutiny in recent years, with the FIA introducing new regulations to prevent ‘copycat cars’ following the ‘Pink Mercedes’ controversy that engulfed Aston Martin under their former Racing Point guise in 2020. 

Aston Martin’s performance director Tom McCullough has detailed the lengths Mercedes went to when their customer team was sharing their wind tunnel. 

“The FIA are pretty strict and do a lot of inspections and all that stuff,” McCullough is quoted by 

“Dominic Harlow [head of F1 technical audit for the governing body] comes and visits the teams.

“But for us with Mercedes, it is absolutely shut down to one, open to the other. 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.”

Yuki Tsunoda (JPN) AlphaTauri AT04 and Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB19 at the start of the race. Formula 1 World
Yuki Tsunoda (JPN) AlphaTauri AT04 and Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing…

The closer alliance between Red Bull and sister outfit AlphaTauri has raised eyebrows up and down the paddock in recent months, particularly given the dramatic late-season improvements made by the latter. 

On the collaboration that exists between the two Red Bull-owned teams, McCullough said: “Obviously, the regulations have changed over the years.

“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 [AlphaTauri-Red Bull dynamic] 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’ [gearbox, front and rear suspension] 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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