Renault have been stopped of their Japanese Grand Prix race results due to an FIA determination over the legality of their brake bias adjustment system that the stewards deemed as a driver aid.
According to FIA documents, an ex-Renault employee had originally brought it up and while Racing Point had no video evidence of the system, they filed the formal complaint based upon the former employees insight which was not in depth about the system. In short, a bit of a gamble / trust factor there.
In essence, the system worked via a pre-set lap distance-dependent brake bias adjustment and that this was in breach of Article 27.1 of the FIA sporting regulations.
Renault argued that the system did not use a lap-distance element which engaged it and that it was within the technical regulations. It provided the FIA with the details of the system—which was not revealed in the FIA decision document.
Interestingly the decision did agree with Renault that it was within the technical regulations but a stewards statement read:
“The brake balance adjustment system in question acts as a driver aid, by saving the driver from having to make a number of adjustments during a lap.
“The Stewards note that there is a clear distinction between this system and one which provides actual feedback control, which could be a substitute for driver skills or reflexes.
“Nevertheless, it is still an aid and, therefore, contravenes Article 27.1 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.”
The disqualification moves both Racing Point drivers into the points for the Japanese Grand Prix and tosses Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso into 10th for the final point. Charles Leclerc gains two points as well.
For Renault’s part, they offered a statement regarding the decision:
Renault F1 Team acknowledges the decision of the Stewards of the Japanese Grand Prix regarding the protest by SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team concerning the legality of Renault F1 Team’s braking system during the Japanese Grand Prix.
Despite the FIA concurring with Renault that the system was entirely legal under the FIA Technical Regulations, it was judged by the stewards that the system was in breach of the FIA Sporting Regulations regarding driver aid. Both Renault cars were disqualified from the Japanese Grand Prix and the team loses the nine points scored.
However, considering the subjectivity of the qualification of a system as a driver aid and the variability of the associated penalties in recent cases, Renault F1 Team will consider its next course of action within the timeframe laid out by the FIA.