By: Ashley McCubbin
After lodging three protests in a row, Renault has found results in regards to their accusations against Racing Point.
Racing Point was deducted 15 world championship points and fined €400,000 – each car taking half of the value – due to the legality of the design of the team’s car for 2020.
The 14-page document stating the full protest and penalty boiled down to the their rear brake ducts were seen to match those of Mercedes form last year, despite the team insisting they had followed the rules in designing their new ride.
The penalties against Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez stem from the protest sent in at Syria. Nothing additional came from Hungarian and British protests, except being reprimanded for utilizing the car. Despite the ruling, they are now still allowed to use the brake ducts moving forward.
The team has the opportunity to appeal the decision within 24 hours, with Racing Point Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer calling the ruling unfair.
Other teams, though, have already appealed the penalty as Ferrari and McLaren announced their intentions. Many team bosses expressed surprise over the severity, and the fact the parts can still be utilized.
“We can confirm that we have just stated our intention to appeal against this morning’s FIA Stewards’ decision regarding Racing Point,” a Ferrari spokesperson said.
“My initial reactions are Racing Point has been found guilty,” McLaren chief Zak Brown said. “I am concerned they still have those [brake ducts] that were deemed illegal in Austria, on the race car now. I think that is confusing for the fans. Regarding copying, obviously they claimed that they had copied the car via photography – it’s clear from reading the document that that’s BS. And therefore you have to question anything else around that car.
“So I think this is potentially the tip of the iceberg, the starting point of looking at what’s happened here because I don’t think it’s healthy for the sport. It’s thrown up a lot more questions than answers. It’s something we too are going to review quickly and understand the appeal process and whether that’s something that we want to potentially participate in.”
Renault Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said his team are “considering whether or not to appeal,” saying they “need to balance carefully the interest of the sport also, and the consistency of the sanction.”
“We are satisfied with the fact that the FIA and the stewards confirmed that some of these parts were in breach of the sporting regulations,” he said. “It is the sporting regulations, but it really is a technical matter that ends up being placed in the sporting regulations – but it is a technical matter.
“So we’re satisfied with that conclusion. I think that the question of sanction is open for debate. We will consider that matter bearing in mind that the advantage that was obviously obtained will keep on going for all the season and it’s a very material advantage.
“Just to put things in perspective, any team will be spending 20% of its aerodynamic testing restriction time into developing those parts so it is not small.”
FIA, meanwhile, has already announced the rules will be adjusted heading into 2021 to prevent a similar circumstance.
“First of all copying has been taking place in Formula 1 for a long time, taking photos, and sometimes reverse-engineering them and make similar concepts or in some areas even identical concepts or close to identical as other teams,” said Niklas Tombazis, the FIA’s head of single-seater matters. “We do not think this can stop in the future completely. But what we do think is Racing Point took this to another level. They clearly decided to adopt this philosophy for the whole car for what I would call a paradigm shift.
“They actually used a disruption in the process that has been the norm in designing a Formula 1 car for the last 40 years. One should not penalise that as they have been original in deciding to follow this approach.
“However we do not think this is what F1 should become. We don’t want next year to have 8 or 10 Mercedes, or copies of Mercedes, on the grid, where the main skill becomes how you do this process. We don’t want this to become the norm of Formula 1.
“We do plan, in the very short notice, to introduce some amendment to the 2021 sporting regulations that will prevent this becoming the norm. It will prevent from using extensive parts of photos to copy whole portions of other cars in the way racing point has done.”