Wolff has never seen such a leap forward in F1 when describing Aston Martin’s progress over the winter. The Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff believes Aston Martin’s progress in Formula One this year has been made possible by former Red Bull employee Dan Fallows in an apparent effort to deflect the discussion away from the real reasons behind the story of success.
After the Bahrain Grand Prix won by Max Verstappen, Toto Wolff was quick to say that Red Bull is “on another planet” at the start of the season, but the Austrian was equally concerned by the spectacular progress made by the Aston Martin team, which took its first podium thanks to Fernando Alonso’s third place.
Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished fifth and seventh respectively in Bahrain on Sunday, with Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin separating the two men.
When asked by OE24 how he thinks Mercedes’ client team has been able to make such a big step forward between 2022 and this season, the Austrian said, “They hired a guy from Red Bull [Dan Fallows, ed.] who managed to make the car two seconds faster.”
“A year ago they were 17th and 19th in qualifying [in Bahrain]. We knew Alonso was strong and motivated, but even Lance Stroll went ahead with two broken wrists and a broken toe. It just shows how good the car is, I’ve never seen such a leap in Formula 1,” he added.
Former Red Bull apprentice to Adrian Newey
Aston Martin announced in 2021 that Fallows would be joining the team as technical director, but Red Bull – where Fallows was chief aerodynamic engineer – did not want to see one of its engineers leave for the competition and so Fallows’ departure ended in a court case.
The case was heard in the High Court of England and Wales and the initial hearing on 17 December 2021 was in Red Bull’s favour.
However, the two parties reached an amicable settlement, which means that Dan Fallows could join the Aston Martin team in 2022, albeit slightly later than originally planned.
Wolff pushes Fallows discussion as the reason for the success
After the Bahrain Grand Prix, the first round of the 2023 calendar, the Mercedes team is in third place in the constructors’ championship, seven points behind Aston Martin. The German manufacturer declared that the team needs a dramatic rethink with its W14 car, meanwhile Hamilton threw them under the bus in the media last weekend.
Indeed, this website had been given notice by a whistleblower during the filming day that the W14 car was bad, despite what was written in the press at the time. It is dubious just how much resource Mercedes will have left within the rules of the budget cap to bring about a B spec W14 car into the fight and give Lewis Hamilton and George Russell the chance to win Grand Prix.
It is perhaps this reason why Wolff is keen to push the Dan Fallows idea behind Aston’s rapid successes?
Aston Martin ‘cheating’ claim
Last year, this website was contacted by a source within Aston Martin suggesting that tactics were being used to negate the budget cap, we duly reported on this in January this year. Former Aston Martin team boss Otmar Szafnauer who moved this year to Alpine Renault, also suggested this loophole in the regulations on two occasions now this year.
This ‘cheating’ loophole would allow teams to carry out development work outside the sport’s budget cap, corroborating the situation our source claims is occurring in Silverstone.
One might be able to put two and two together, and get an answer that looks like a 41 year old driver achieving a podium on team debut, and his much less talented team mate with significant hand and foot injuries beating a factory Mercedes?
Our source within Aston Martin describes a system put in place to negate the budget cap by having AMR employees paid by different companies outside the racing team.
“168 members of AMRF1 staff were moved over to a company called Formtech,” says the insider,
…they are all still in the same jobs wearing AMR uniform with all the job perks and bonuses but not on AMR F1 budget. They also all received a £5000 “bonus” which was paid at the end of October 2021, another £5000 will be paid at the end of October 2022 to anyone who has stayed on for the 12 months.”
“Fast forward to 2022 more staff were moved again but this time to “Aston Martin GP Services Limited” again same job roles etc etc but without the £5000 “bonus”…” claims the disgruntled employee of Aston Martin,
“In total this is around 200 people doing the exact same jobs, wearing the AMR F1 green uniform, the only difference is the bank account they’re paid from…”
If this is endemic within the Formula 1 establishment, it is difficult to see how the FIA and FOM would successfully police it, and puts a big question mark over the effectiveness of the budget cap going forward and might explain how Fernando Alonso was so fast in Bahrain for the season opener.
Another team source has corroborated such tactics as an ‘open secret’ and is being used by all the biggest teams as a means to negate the budget cap.
Time will tell just how radical the B spec W14 is, and might also promote further questions as to how Mercedes would have afforded it.
Tbh, this whole “cost savings to make f1 more affordable” has only hurt the middle class employees.
Either making them take pay cuts or eliminating their jobs. Whilst drivers and “key personnel” get pay raises since their positions are exempt… and while team values have doubled, tripled or in Williams case ten fold increased.
And sponsorship money has increased considerably.
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