Dan Fallows' decision to switch from Red Bull to Aston Martin proved to be a high-profile move. Having been in his new role for six months, the Technical Director has opened up about the challenge posed by the job, as well as what led him to leave behind a title-winning team.
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Dan Fallows has given an insight into the reasons behind his high-profile move from Red Bull to Aston Martin, where he has taken up the role of Technical Director.
It was announced in the summer of 2021 that Fallows would leave the Milton Keynes-based squad – where he had worked in the aerodynamics department since 2016 before being promoted to Head of Aerodynamics in 2014 – at the conclusion of the season.
There then followed a legal battle regarding Fallows’ departure from Red Bull which attracted much attention in the media. However, a deal was reached in January allowing Fallows to join Aston Martin in April 2022.
Reflecting on the situation now, the Briton admits that the spotlight on the situation was something he found “embarrassing”.
“It’s really embarrassing, especially when you’ve got friends sending messages with links to articles about you,” Fallows said in an interview as part of Aston Martin’s UNDERCUT series.
“I’ve never really been interested in this sort of thing – I’m not in it for the publicity. All I’m interested in is making fast cars.”
Why did Fallows leave Red Bull for Aston Martin?
Fallows was part of the Red Bull team during their championship-winning era between 2010 and 2013, as well as witnessing wins for the likes of Max Verstappen in the years that followed.
Aston Martin, meanwhile, have found themselves some way off the front of the pack in recent times. It is the nature of this challenge, though, that appealed to Fallows.
When asked why he left Red Bull behind, he explained: “I wanted a new challenge. The most rewarding times in my career have been when I’m presented with a challenge, and I’ve gone on to overcome that challenge.
“It’s not just the challenge, though, it’s the opportunity to be part of something that goes from being something modest to something spectacular. There’s serious ambition at Aston Martin F1 – from Lawrence Stroll at the very top, right the way through the entire team.
“So, to be asked to join the team on its journey, but also given the resources that I have, is incredibly exciting.
“It’s incredibly exciting when someone puts that level of faith in you, when they’re essentially saying, ‘Here’s a Formula 1 team, turn it into what you want, get the people you want, run it how you want, make it successful – make your mark.’
“I took on this challenge because I felt that things could be done differently. It’s not about doing things the Red Bull way, or the Mercedes way, or the Ferrari way. It’s about coming up with a better way – the Aston Martin way.
“If you stay in the same place and you’re successful, you’re going to carry on doing the same thing – and that becomes kind of boring.”
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Gardening leave offered time to reflect, says Fallows
Following his decision to leave Red Bull, Fallows was put on gardening leave by the team for nine months. He admits that it proved to be an opportunity to look back on what he had achieved in his time with the squad.
“I used the time to reflect on the eight years I was head of the aero department at Red Bull – the mistakes I made; the things I did well; the things I tried that worked; the things I tried that didn’t work,” he said.
“And I established what I wanted to be like as technical leader: how I would present myself; how I wanted people to perceive me; what sort of people I wanted around me; how I wanted the technical teams to work.
“By the time I arrived at Aston Martin F1, I had a clear idea of how I wanted things to operate, how people in the team should interact with each other, communicate and so on.”
Similarities between Red Bull and Aston Martin
Since joining Aston Martin, Fallows has noticed some aspects of the project that have reminded him of Red Bull’s early days.
“One of the most exciting parts of the Red Bull journey was when the team evolved from Jaguar,” he reflected.
“A small team with a very limited budget suddenly had significantly more budget, more resource, and more technical strength right at the top of the organisation.
“Watching the team grow, being part of that growth, being part of the success, even making mistakes along the way and learning from them, it was incredibly exciting.
“What’s happening at Aston Martin F1 right now feels very similar to what happened at Red Bull then.”
Fallows: Aston Martin journey has been fascinating
Fallows has shared some positive words about his experiences at Aston Martin so far, where he has been particularly impressed by the strong team atmosphere.
“It’s been a fascinating journey so far and I’ve only been here several months,” he explained.
“The most striking thing for me is that Aston Martin F1 still feels like a race team – everyone is very supportive of each other.
“When a team grows significantly in a very short amount of time, it can become unwieldy and departments don’t talk to each other properly. But the lines of communication are very simple and clear here – we need to make sure we don’t lose that.
“The high quality of the people that we have at Aston Martin F1 has really impressed me. The engineering talent really is at the level that it needs to be – great ideas, really good creativity.
“All that’s been not quite there is a unified clarity of purpose – and that’s what I hope to help bring. It’s all about having an eye on what you’re trying to achieve on the racetrack, right from the outset of designing the car.”
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