Mercedes made the Aston Martin Formula 1 team use separate doors to access its wind tunnel to ensure absolute confidentiality while they were using the same facility.

Inter-team collaboration became a major talking point at the end of the 2023 season amid concerns from rivals regarding the close working relationship between sister squads Red Bull and AlphaTauri.

An aggressive late run of upgrades lifted AlphaTauri from last to eighth in the points, with the FIA moving to confirm both were respecting rules governing parts and intellectual property sharing.

This followed AlphaTauri switching to use the Red Bull wind tunnel ahead of the 2022 season. Meanwhile, Aston Martin has recently completed the construction of its own wind tunnel, having previously used the facility of power unit supplier Mercedes.

Explaining how that relationship was managed, Aston Martin performance director Tom McCullough noted that even separate access doors were needed to ensure confidentiality.

Asked by Motorsport.com to reveal the preventative measures required, he said: “The FIA are pretty strict and do a lot of inspections and all that stuff. Dominic Harlow [head of F1 technical audit for the governing body] comes and visits the teams.

Mercedes Formula 1 factory UK

“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.”

Addressing the relationship between the Red Bull outfits, 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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