Guenther Steiner, Haas, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Claims Racing Point built a Mercedes clone show “you have to think before you talk” – Steiner

2020 F1 season

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Two of Racing Point’s rivals have said the team has done nothing wrong by creating a car which closely resembles last year’s Mercedes.

[smr2020test]But one of them, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner, said Racing Point’s management had previously criticised his team for adopting a similar approach with Ferrari.

Haas courted controversy when it entered Formula 1 in 2016 with a car which fully exploited regulations which allowed it to obtain some parts from another team. Racing Point, which was known as Force India at the time, were among the teams who raised concerns over Haas’s approach.

Asked whether he felt vindicated by their rivals apparently adopting a similar approach with Mercedes, Steiner said: “Sometimes you have to think before you talk, I would say.

“Because maybe one day it’s your turn and then you cannot go against [it]. Because we all know they complained quite heavily a few years ago and now it’s going full circle.”

Steiner believes Racing Point has used last year’s championship-winning Mercedes W10 as the inspiration for its new RP20 because they already use some Mercedes hardware including their power unit and gearbox.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019
Mercedes W10
Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Racing Point RP20

But he does not believe they have broken any rules. “What’s wrong with it?” asked Steiner. “The regulations are quite clear.

“I would put it like this: They use a lot of Mercedes parts in their car, so why would they go and copy Red Bull? It’s the same with us, we buy a lot of parts from Ferrari, so which car are we going to copy? I guess a Ferrari.

[f1tv2020testb]”I mean, if you would copy a Toro Rosso or a Red Bull we would be pretty stupid because we tried to invent something which isn’t there. So I think they are just doing what we are doing, just trying to get the best out of it and use that model.”

Teams may obtain some parts from rivals but are required to hold the intellectual property rights to other components, referred to in the rules as ‘listed parts’.

AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost, whose team uses parts sourced from Red Bull Technologies which also supplies Red Bull, offered a similar view on the situation. He said Racing Point “went into the same direction of the development and they have came up to similar solutions” as Mercedes, but have done “everything within the regulations”.

“There’s a co-operation as we know between Racing Point and Mercedes,” he said. “They have the rear end, they have the rear suspension, I don’t know how much they have from the front suspension. And from the aerodynamic point of view normally this is listed parts.”

Tost said it is inevitable that, as the technical regulations have been largely unchanged during the off-season, teams would converge on similar designs.

“There is no regulation change, therefore the teams copy other teams. That’s not new in Formula 1. This is since I know Formula 1.

“The advantage a team which creates something new has is about three or four races and then the others catch up because they copy it. They have the photographers in the garage and take all the photos and then the other teams look to it and then they go in the same direction.

“The key point is that you understand the philosophy as well. Because just to make the front wing and the nose similar doesn’t mean that the complete aerodynamics is working like in another team. You must really understand how the floor works, how the bargeboard are working, how the diffuser is working.”

Sergio Perez was third-quickest for Racing Point today, behind the two Mercedes drivers. “It looks they have a very fast car,” Tost admitted.

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19 comments on “Claims Racing Point built a Mercedes clone show “you have to think before you talk” – Steiner”

  1. Willem Cecchi (@)
    19th February 2020, 21:19

    1 Less model for the boys and girls at Codemasters to worry about for the F1 2021 game.

    1. hahahhaha

    2. @willemcecchi You mean F1 2020.

  2. …but are required to hold the intellectual property rights to other components, referred to in the rules as ‘listed parts’.

    I guess this means despite the similarity in appearance between the RP20 and the W10, Racing Point designed the parts they weren’t allowed to purchase from Mercedes.

  3. Haas and Alpha actually should raise some questions about it, and so should the rest of the field. It’s true that Haas and Alpha buy parts from Ferrari and Red Bull, but they still have to make all listed parts themselves.

    This RP20 just looks like a pink W10 in every way possible. Every details that was on last year’s Mercedes seems to be there down to brake ducts and those are a clear violation of the rules. Practically every part matches in size, shape and profile, even down to the openings in the nosecone for ventilation. This is not ‘inspiration’ from the Merc aero, its not even a copy, its the same design.

    Racing Point have done exactly what everyone feared Haas would be doing when they started doing these kinds of builds back in 2016 and the worst part of it they were one of the biggest moaners back then.

    This is very dodgy, but I wonder when the opposition will launch their complaints with the FIA about it. My guess: When this car is highly competitive and is easily best of the rest. After all the W10 was one hell of a machine.

    1. @force-maikel I think you are overthinking it and not hearing what Steiner is saying. It would seem there will be no lasting complaints of much weight, given RP are following the rules and designing and making their own listed parts. I doubt Mercedes has handed them the blueprints to their whole 2019 car which is why Steiner is saying it is still up to RP to make everything work together as well as Mercedes, and as we know, that is way easier said than done. You cite a fear of what Haas did, and now RP is doing the same, yet what exactly did the Ferrari help guarantee Haas? They’re nowhere near figuring out how Ferrari puts their pu and suspension and floor to work to do what it does, obviously. So why are you so convinced suddenly RP is going to be ‘highly competitive’ and ‘best of the rest?’ Here’s the answer…they won’t….however, if they somehow do what you fear, then kudos to them for doing an amazing job within the regs.

    2. @force-maikel

      I really don’t think Haas is in a position to do any enquiries or complain about anything. They started this trend in 2018, and as Steiner mentioned, there were teams then who tried fighting this whole copycat philosophy (Racing point included).

      It just seems like Racing point said if you can’t fight them.. Then join them. I’m disappointed that Racing point went down this route, especially considering that Haas is struggling over the past 2 seasons because their engineers just copied solutions and thus don’t have a complete understanding of the car. However, I do think teams like Racing point and Alpha tauri will be better at executing this model as they have more qualified designers and engineers in their squad than Haas, who outsourced that core function to Dallara.

      1. Haas didn’t start the trend… people complained when Sauber made a Ferrari copy back in 2004 I think it was, around that time, and then toro rosso was doing similar for many years… Some lower teams even used other cars chassis from previous years, like the Super aguri car.

  4. If the design can be copied from photographs and visual analysis as opposed to getting the blueprints and CAD data, then I guess it’s legal?

    I think it’s the similar thing with automakers that can tear down a rental car and copy everything. Nothing illegal about it. How can it ever be enforced?

    1. @gitanes It’s legal as long as it’s not an exact copy, some things must be different. The Japanese were infamous for it. The Datsun 240/260Zs and the 1600/180B had a rear suspension remarkably similar to the 68 2800 BMW. If you look at the 4 & six cylinder engines of any Nissan/Datsun/Sunny from the same era and you would be forgiven for thinking you had opened the bonnet of an Austin 1800.

  5. This goes on all the time in Indycar

    1. and it makes for better racing!

      1. kpcart

        and it makes for better racing!

        If Indycar is so exciting why has it failed in every country it has tried to expand to? Could it be that essentially it’s just the one car painted in oh I don’t know 20 or so different colours/liveries with what a choice of two power plants I think?
        Also it’s incredibly artificial in the way it counts overtakes, since when is passing someone while they’re in the pits a legitimate overtake? The way they use the safety car to bunch up the field if in their opinion it becomes to strung out is just pathetic.

    2. RocketTankski, it doesn’t really happen because IndyCar is a spec formula, so the number of parts that the teams can modify is intentionally limited.

  6. Williams should be doing what Racing Point is doing with their Mercedes connection.
    Alfa Romeo should be doing what Hass is doing with their Ferrari connection.
    I suspect these 2 teams are being left behind and will be 9th and 10th in constructors this year.

    Renault needs to invest more in F1 to win again, and that would help McLaren out too.
    It really is a 2 tier formula.

    1. kpcart
      Bit late now.

  7. Stephen Higgins
    20th February 2020, 8:34

    Remember when Super Agruri rant the previous year’s Honda ??

  8. Let’s assume for a sec that RP did build a copycat W10. Legal issues aside, it makes me wonder if Racing Point is having confidence problems.

    Only the motorsport-illiterate would react to a story about one team ‘cloning’ the best team’s car and conclude that the copycat car 1) is as good as the original and 2) will therefore achieve similar levels of success. For the rest of us, it just seems like an unusual thing to do.

    Even if RP’s replication efforts were successful in reproducing all of Mercedes’ aero success, there’s still a long way to go before you can really call the car a ‘clone’.

  9. That’s a little different. The Super Aguri had a Honda engine and an Arrows chassis, both of which were paid for. Over the years it has been quite common for lower budget teams to buy from manufacturers and other teams.

    If I understand correctly, it’s being alleged that Racing Point designed their 2020 car by using Mercedes’ 2019 car as their template. No purchase.

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