After protesting Racing Point’s results in the last three races, Renault have finally gotten their answer from the FIA investigation into the brake duct system on the pink cars. Racing Point have been found to have breached the sporting regulations and not the technical regulations with regards to how they designed their brake ducts.
Brake ducts were the one component that went from a non-listed part to a listed part in 2019 to 2020. Racing Point says the regulation isn’t clear and they had even voted for moving the duct system to a listed part position so to get bitten by this rule shows it isn’t very clear.
The team have been fined 400,000 Euros and docked 15 constructor championship points. The go-forward plan is not a complete re-design of the brake ducts but the penalty is intended to impact their prize money rewards as a punitive measure of racing the balance of the season with, effectively, Mercedes racing ducts.
“The Stewards acknowledge that since the RBDs are compliant with the 2020 FIA F1 Technical Regulations, it is not realistic to expect Racing Point to re‐design or re‐engineer the BDs in a way that would effectively require them to “unlearn” what they already know,” said the FIA.
“Therefore, the penalty imposed is intended to penalise the potential advantage Racing Point may have accrued in the BD design process which resulted in the use of LPs which were not designed by it.”
In short, Mercedes supplied CAD drawings of the brake ducts and that was allowed in 2019. The rear brake ducts the team used in 2019 were not the Mercedes design but they are this year and that is a breach of the rules as brake ducts are now listed parts.
There is a pragmatic element to the decision in that Racing Point isn’t being forced to re-design their brake ducts. The thought being that you can’t un-learn what you have learned but some believe that Renault’s upheld protest may be the first of further protests.
There are, as always, two or more sides to the story and while seeing both sides of an issue doesn’t seem very popular with the youngsters these days, let me remind you that seeing both sides illuminates, clarifies and reveals the parallax that can often occur as parties view a truth, a decision or a cause.
In this case, Racing Point was allowed to use the Mercedes brake duct design in 2019 and even if the system moved to the “listed parts” set of components, they may have found the rules confusing or at the least somewhat ambiguous as to if they could use last year’s design on this year’s car.
The complete verdict can be found here.