The legality of ‘The Pink Mercedes’

Taking inspiration from other teams and their designs is nothing new in formula 1. It’s been happening for decades. One team has a clever idea and other teams vet the innovation, try it out and determine if it works on their car. Perhaps no time was ever more ripe than the past two decades which have been heavily reliant on aerodynamic design elements.

While most teams would admit this is to be expected in F1, but something was different during the pre-season testing for the 2020 season. A customer of Mercedes engines, Racing Point, showed up with a car that looked remarkably similar to their partners Mercedes W10 which won the title in 2019. The car was given the nickname “the pink Mercedes”.

The FIA did make a visit to the Racing Point factory according to a report at Autosport and they deemed the car legit. The article quotes Racing Point technical director Andre Green:

“We don’t really know what the ground is that they are thinking of protesting about,” he said.

“When the car launched, we talked to the FIA about it, the FIA came round to the factory and looked at what we’d done and the designs of the car.

“They even took the design data from Mercedes for last year’s car and checked it against ours. They did a thorough check.

“And they are completely happy that the car that we’ve got on track has been designed by us.

“It may have some similarities to the Mercedes, but it’s just similar. It’s not the same. And so there is no protest there.

“They can shout and scream as much as they want, but I think what they’re actually shouting and screaming about is the fact that they’ve missed a trick.

“And that’s what they’re upset about.”

There is a compelling argument in the article made by Green. This is the first card designed from white paper since the team was taken over by new owner, Lawrence Stroll, and the directive was quite a bit different than previous years.

“There was no obligation to carry over a single thing in 2020, where there always had been huge pressure up until that point to carry over a significant percentage of the car – depending on the sort of financial situation we were in,”

In a nut shell, When the team was on life support financially, it had to evolve the previous season’s car and this year, they were able to take a complete and comprehensively fresh look at the design. Given they use Mercedes engines and gearboxes, designing a car to work well with those components makes sense. Logically you would take a few design cues from the team who supplied the gearboxes and engines.

Before the 2020 season got mugged by the global COVID-19 virus, some teams were threatening legal action against Racing Point for making a carbon copy of a Mercedes. Time will tell if they still intend to do that.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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This isn’t the same FIA that once overlooked such blatant copies like the 1995 Benetton and its identical twin Ligier or the last year Toyota against its Xerox mastered Ferrari?


To be honest, if you take a broad “pull the camera back” view, every F1 car looks the same. The differences are only in the tiniest of details that not everyone can see.


Completely agree. Everyone wants closer racing. The best way to do that is to make the cars closer to each other (design wise). Hence why there is a strict set of rules by which to design the cars.