Renault launch FIA investigation of Racing Point

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Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Renault F1 Team RS20. Steiermark Grand Prix, Sunday 12th July 2020. Spielberg, Austria.

The resemblance is uncanny, at least that’s what other teams in the paddock have said about the 2020 Racing Point RP20 car. In fact, it was so uncanny that their competitors have taken o calling the car the “Pink Mercedes” and that’s because it looks very similar to the Mercedes car from 2019.

No mystery that Racing Point uses Mercedes engines and parts and owner Lawrence Stroll also bought Aston Martin which Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff invested in. Just how chummy is that relationship and could there be a possibility that Racing Point enjoyed too much intellectual property from Mercedes in designing this year’s challenger?

That was the questions coming out of winter testing and while there was no formal complaint lodged at the season’s first race in Austria, the second race at the Red Bull Ring did prompt an official protest from Renault F1 and the FIA have deemed it legitimate.

The complaint is centered on the FIA sporting regulations appendix 6 and discusses the concept of “listed parts”. This concept is how Haas F1 managed to secure much of it’s car from Ferrari. However, it also discusses what can and cannot be shared between teams in this customer/supplier format that Formula 1 is beholden.

Paragraph 1, article 2 (a) says: “A competitor shall, in respect of the Listed Parts to be used in its cars in Formula One, only use Listed Parts which are designed by it.” Article 2 (c) adds: “In the case of the Outsourcing of design, such third party shall not be a competitor or a party that directly or indirectly designs Listed Parts for any competitor.”

Renault have keyed in on the front and rear brake ducts and say they are too similar to the Mercedes W10 car from 2019. The stewards have launched a full investigation saying:

“With regards to front and rear brake ducts used on cars 11 and 18, the stewards summoned and heard from the team representatives of both teams and a representative of the FIA Technical Department.

“The stewards determined that the protest met all requirements specified in Article 13 of the FIA International Sporting Code and is, therefore, admissible.

“The FIA Technical Department representative was directed to seal and impound the relevant parts of cars 11 and 18 in preparation for conducting a detailed analysis of those pieces.

“The representative is further directed to provide a detailed report to the stewards with the findings and to include an assessment that matches those findings against the alleged infringements outlined in the protest.

“The representative is authorised in the name of the stewards to call upon such outside technical assistance, including representatives of the following teams: – Renault DP World F1 Team, BWT Racing Point F1 Team, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team – in the conduct of their assessment.

“Furthermore, the stewards ordered the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team to provide the front and rear brake air ducts of the Mercedes-AMG F1 W10 EQ Power+ used by the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team in the 2019 season to the FIA Technical Department for examination.”

Mercedes has been ensnared in this investigation too as they will have to proffer the drawings and parts for their brake ducts in order to make an evaluation. The protest was filed after the race and could impact the 6th and 7th place finish the team enjoyed in Austria on Sunday.

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Paul Kiefer

Kinda wonder if the FIA thinks that Merc’s been culpable in this situation.

charlie

No surprises here. Renault, with its great budget and technical facilities, is embarrassed by a lesser team. I agree with Craig Scarborough: it may look like a Merc on the outside, it’s all Racing Point beneath the bodywork.

Tim C

Maybe I dreamed this up, but did Racing Point already submit drawings to the FIA earlier this year and their car was deemed legal? Again, maybe I dreamed that up. Also, if a team wasn’t watching their rivals and trying to duplicate great design and successful pieces and parts, I not sure they would be doing their job. Teams have been copying other teams for decades. To me this just doesn’t seem any different. Now, if Mercedes handed over their drawings and intellectual property, then we might have an issue. However, I don’t think Mercedes would be crazy enough to… Read more »

Xean Drury

On SkyF1 they commented just before the race that the FIA looked at drawings/plans for Racing Point vs Merc 2019 and determined they are not identical. Renault should be happy they have a better car than last year’s shopping cart and work on that. But I guess stirring the pot makes good advertising.

Fabio

The sad part is that last year’s Mercedes is still faster than everyone else, other than this year’s Mercedes.

Last edited 1 month ago by Fabio
MIE

Still at least most other teams are faster than they were last year. Ferrari are the notable exception.

Xean Drury

Translation: “They did better than us. WAHHHHHHH!!!!”

Worthless Opinion

Also why does F1 have this rule? The best thing they could do to fill grids is let big teams dump last year’s junk on lesser teams. It’s cheaper for the lesser team to put the car together and would take far less staff to get it around the track adjusted right and making the right sounds. The big team recovers a bunch of development money by selling it. MotoGP does this to great effect, and we can actually see who’s a great pilot because they can embarass the factory with last year’s crap on occassion. Never mind whether the… Read more »

MIE

F1 has the rule to differentiate it from all the one make championships out there. It is the only way to stop it degenerating into a one make series. F2, F3, FFord, even CART/indycar all used to be open championships with many manufacturers, however eventually all teams realised it was more cost effective just to buy a copy of the best chassis. Now they are all one make series by regulation. While drivers can learn their trade in lower formula, there is no such apprenticeship for designers or engineers, hence the struggles some F1 teams have to develop their cars.… Read more »

Paul Kiefer

They say that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”….

….or something like that.