With former Red Bull head of aerodynamics Dan Fallows as its technical director, Aston Martin rolled out a 2023 challenger that looked conceptually similar to last year's Red Bull.
Pre-season testing confirmed that Aston had hit its ambitious aero targets with the AMR23, and in the Bahrain race Fernando Alonso passed Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes and Carlos Sainz's Ferrari to take third on his first race weekend with the Silverstone outfit.
It led to Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko commenting that it was nice to see “three Red Bulls on the podium” and team principal Horner also made a reference to the Aston's resemblance to its own cars.
When asked if he regretted letting Fallows leave for Aston Martin, Horner said: “No, because we have a wonderful team.
“Everything has to evolve, nothing stands still. I think it is flattering to see the resemblance of that car to ours, so it was great to see the three of them on the podium.”
According to Horner Aston Martin's huge rate of improvement – after finishing the 2022 season in seventh – shows that breaking into the top three is no longer an impossible task for F1's midfield.
“I think it demonstrates to all of the teams that it is possible,” he explained. “They have obviously done a good job over the winter, and they say imitation is the biggest form of flattery and it is good to see the old car going so well!
“I think the operating windows of these cars is very narrow and every team in the top three looks like it has developed its own theme.
“One team has adopted our theme and it made a gain, so I guess at one point it is going to converge and that can happen during a season.”
Horner felt Aston was the second-fastest team in Bahrain behind the dominant Red Bulls of winner Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, and said he enjoyed watching Alonso overtake Hamilton and Sainz.
“They looked very strong in the race,” he added. “It was enjoyable to see Fernando up there and it gives the 40-somethings hope that there is life in the old boy yet.
“He raced very well; he is still so competitive and the Aston looks a good car.”