Fernando Alonso issues perfect response to Toto Wolff and Christian Horner digs | F1 | Sport

Fernando Alonso has delivered a telling response to Toto Wolff and Christian Horner as tension ramps up between the teams. Alonso seemed to claim Mercedes and Red Bull had copied Aston Martin’s concept rather than the other around.

It comes after the two team bosses fired accusations at the British manufacturer ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. After securing a front-row start for Sunday’s race, Alonso explained: “I don’t think, you know, two Red Bulls are on the first row tomorrow. I think they are very different.

“Red Bull said that the cars were the same, but they are very different. And also Toto said that the cars were the same: the Mercedes and the Aston because we share 50 per cent of the car or something like that.

“But it seems that everyone is an Aston Martin now.” When questioned about the AMR23 in Bahrain, Horner stressed that “imitation is the biggest form of flattery”.

He even joked it was “good to see the old car going so well” in a dig at Aston Martin’s decision to follow Red Bull’s sidepod design. Sergio Perez also poked fun at the team, admitting there were “three Red Bulls” on the podium in Sakhir.

Helmut Marko backtracked on his comments ahead of the race in Jeddah, suggesting the squad had never intended to call out wrongdoing. He said: “That’s not meant to be an accusation either. Those are just joking remarks. If you look in the field, the Aston Martin is the car most similar to the Red Bull.”

Wolff has also got weighed into the debate as he suggested Aston Martin’s concepts stemmed from the Silver Arrows. The Austrian noted similarities with the engine, gearbox and rear suspension and noted that the model was designed in their wind tunnel.

Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack has refused to get drawn into a battle over the issue for the rest of 2023. Ahead of round two, he commented: “I mean, we always decided we will not go into any war of words.”

Alonso will start P2 for in Saudi Arabia after benefiting from reliability issues which plagued Max Verstappen. A 10-place grid penalty for Charles Leclerc also promoted the Spaniard who was initially third fastest in Q3.

Team-mate Lance Stroll matched Sergio Perez’s eventual pole lap in sector one and two but lost time after an error at turn 22.