Racing Point says its Mercedes-inspired car is a “very big risk” for the team

2020 F1 season

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Racing Point technical director Andrew Green says the team’s new car reflects its decision to follow Mercedes’ design principles and is a “very big risk” for the team.

The new RP20 attracted attention when it debuted yesterday due to its outward similarity to last year’s Mercedes. Green said the new car represents a change in philosophy for the team.

“What we have seen is a change from where we were last year,” he said. “It’s a conscious decision.

“Through about the middle of last year, we saw where the RP19 was developing to and where it was going, it wasn’t making the gains that we were hoping for. And I think it was clear that if we carried on the route we were going we were going to end up a best where we finished the championship last year. And to us, that just wasn’t going to be acceptable.

“We have one more year left in these regulations, I think there’s time to try something new, to take a risk, and I think we’ve taken a very, very big risk with what we’ve done with the car.”

Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya
Racing Point beat its best 2019 time two hours into testing
Racing Point uses Mercedes’ current power unit, 2019-specification gearbox and some other parts as permitted by the rules. Green explained that led them to follow Mercedes’ design lead, having previously followed similar principles to rivals Red Bull.

“It made sense to do what we’ve done, which is to take the underlying architecture that we’ve had from MGP [Mercedes Grand Prix] – we’ve been using that gearbox for quite a while, we’re a year behind with the gearbox, always have been – trying to develop in the last few years the ‘Red Bull philosophy’, the high-rake philosophy, which lots of people have emulated up and down the pit lane, became increasingly difficult with the gearbox that we have from MGP.

“They are a different philosophy, a lower-rake philosophy than anyone on the grid. And it’s difficult to try and shoehorn and develop around a different philosophy from the underlying architecture that you have.

“So it was a question that we posed ourselves: What should we do? Should we move across and try and develop a car to a different philosophy? And it seemed obvious running a 2019 gearbox, the same gearbox as they ran last year, we’ve got the Mercedes power unit and we’ve also got a few outboard suspension components that we had from MGP supply as well last year, no big change.

“We decided to take a risk and that risk was effectively to tear up what we’ve done in the past few years and start again from scratch from what we could see of what MGP have been doing.”

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Green insisted Racing Point have “the same view as everyone else has got, there’s nothing special in the information that we’ve got, all we’ve got is what we see” and they do not receive other information from Mercedes which could put them in breach of the rules.

The new car beat the team’s quickest lap time from pre-season testing in the first two hours of yesterday’s test. But Green said he isn’t sure yet whether the change will deliver. “It’s a big risk,” he said. “I don’t know whether it’s going to pay off. We’ll have to see.”

While some rivals have called the Racing Point a ‘pink Mercedes’, Green says they are doing nothing different to what other teams have in the past.

“I don’t think what we’ve done is particularly new as far as taking a team’s concept and doing and it ourselves, that’s been prolific in Formula 1 since the very first days.

“I don’t think that’s anything new at all. Teams have done it and teams will continue to do it. Think back from double diffusers to blown diffusers to coanda exhausts, people take concepts and they turn them into their own. And we’ve done exactly the same.”

“My question would really be why hasn’t anyone else done this before? It seems when we look at it and we look back on it, we think ‘crikey this is something that maybe we should have done earlier’.”

Racing Point has only been able to make such a dramatic change in its car design because of the investment in the team since it was bought by Lawrence Stroll in mid-2018.

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

“Unfortunately we didn’t have the resources earlier,” said Green. “We didn’t have the people, we didn’t have the funding to do this sort of project before. Now we have, we decided to do it, give it one year.”

“We’re a small team,” he added. “We’re only 400-plus people, we’re not 1,000-plus people. We’ve got to cut our cloth to suit and I think to us as a small team we definitely want to be more in the ‘fast followers’ category than the ‘pioneering cutting edge’ category, which is where the big teams have got the resources to do that.”

With new technical regulations arriving in 2021, Racing Point had less to lose by gambling on a major change in its car design, Green added.

“It’s all going to get thrown away anyway at the end of this year. With all the new regulations in 2021 the risk of having to go back again was zero because there is no going back. It all changes in 2021, a completely different set of regulations that.

“If you’re worried about cars looking the same, then you might want to look at 2021 regulations because they will all look the same and everyone is going to converge to a solution very, very quickly next year because areas of freedom are going to be so restrictive.”

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Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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  • 19 comments on “Racing Point says its Mercedes-inspired car is a “very big risk” for the team”

    1. As long as the racing is closer and it’s within the regulations, fine by me.

      1. I know it’s against the spirit of the F1 WCC, @eljueta, but I’ve been watching F2 and F3 and F3 Asian and it’s wonderful to know that all the cars are more-or-less the same and it’s the drivers that are making the difference. I somehow wish it was like that in F1 too, although that would make the championship a completely different kettle of fish.

        1. Start watching Indycar

    2. Their reasoning for going Mercedes car philosophy makes sense, i just wished Williams had gone down the same route too.

      My opinion is, the ‘hate’ or negativity RP is receiving is based out of fear of the success of the W10. It’s tough enough right now competing with the 2 Mercedes cars, now Imagine fighting 4 Mercedes cars for podiums on a regular (2 pink ones). It can be demoralising to say the least.

      1. @lums however, as usual, people are going way overboard in their reactions. Because for all intents and purposes, this will NOT be a Mercedes car. Sure they buy non-listed parts, like Haas has been doing for a few years off Ferrari. Sure they try to copy whatever they can on the Mercedes, like Haas has been doing.

        Anyone seen Haas winning races or mixing it for podiums? No?

        Of course not. You can try to make it follow the same design philosophy, it can even very much look like yesteryear’s car. But there’s a lot more to Ferrari’s and Mercedes performance than how it looks like. You have to get everything into detail, have it working perfectly together. Then you have to get the chassis together, any mechanical trickery underneath. Those are BIG parts of car performance. And that’s where it falls apart for the smaller teams.

        This car is not a W10. It looks like it.
        And even if it was, which it isn’t, it still wouldn’t be fighting for podium. The top 3 will be quite a bit faster than they were last year anyway.

        1. For me, it’s not a problem that they are doing what they are doing but it makes any success they have a bit tainted. A big part of F1 is designing your own car – it’s what sets F1 apart from series like Indycar. If you buy half the car off the shelf, you’re not a proper F1 team in my view.

          As a marketing exercise it makes perfect sense though. Get to the front of the grid however you can – sponsors don’t care about how much effort you put in, only how much you’re shown on TV.

          1. @petebaldwin I don’t quite agree with that. They buy non-listed parts, which are not where performance is coming from. For the rest they just look at Mercedes design philosophy and try to bring it to their own car. I see no issues with that and I don’t see why any success would be tainted.

            They still have to make everything work, they have to create the chassis, they have to put in the hours in the windtunnel, studying data, etc etc.

            Teams look at other teams all the time, copy stuff all the time. Part and parcel for F1.

            1. I don’t believe they’ve simply looked at the Mercedes and tried their “design philosophy.” I also don’t believe they could have created a car that is that similar without assistance. Therefore in my personal view, any success they have is due to the car they have bought.

            2. @petebaldwin so what do you think they did? Mercedes didn’t give them blueprints, that would be a clear contravention to the rules and they stand to lose a lot more than they could gain from that.

              That leaves two possibilities: either RP copied what they could, or they stole blueprints.

              I don’t see why it would be hard to create a car that is “that” similar. If you zoom in there are lots of differences still. Heck just look at the sidepods head-on and there’s no more than a similarity of the shape because the intake geometry is completely different. And there’s way more of that.

              Again: what they have BOUGHT are non-listed parts that do not contribute a lot to performance. The reason people are tripping over themselves is what they see in terms of aero and those are dinstinctly NOT non-listed parts, hence by definition they are not bought parts.

      2. My opinion is, the ‘hate’ or negativity RP is receiving is based out of fear of the success of the W10.

        Exactly.

      3. So we’re writing the season off a month before the first weekend? I’m sure it’s really sensible, remembering how Ferrari enjoyed the titles many were guaranteeing them after the last year’s testing.

        Racing Point is a bubble that’s gonna burst after other teams show some quali runs. It’s incredible how people draw conclusions after a day and a half of testing when literally no one made proper runs, but that’s just the rule of the modern times – be quick to judge everything and then laugh at the fools whose opinion you shared just a second ago. Racing Point’s pace was not better than McLaren’s and Renault’s, on the same compound they were four tenths down and the only point of difference was Perez, doing his best lap on softer compound. Suggesting they will magically leapfrog Ferrari and Red Bull only on the basis of these facts is…an intelectual laziness, to put it nicely.

    3. I think the key point is that it helps free up in-season development resources towards the 2021 car.

    4. How is regular podiums for #3 and #4 Mercedes 2019 not a major success for Racing Point?

      Williams should take note.

      I often thought how good would it be if schematics for championship winning car should be made avaliable to all of the other teams at the end of the season.

      Then if someone wants to copy most recent championship winner, they can go ahead and do it properly free of charge.

      That would balance out performances, and if you want to win next year, you need to produce an even better car on your own.

    5. it’s a very big risk, indeed, but only because it was no one else, but ‘Melting Point’ that criticised Haas’ business model so much in the past, mocking them as ‘replica of Ferrari’… Now they just look like a bunch of weasels, first claiming they built their own car from a scratch, couple of hours later admitting it was ‘inspired’, and now they’re trying to undermine it as some kind of risk. Be well, pinkies…

    6. they risk beating Ferrari.

      1. … and Redbull.

    7. A Toyota MR2 with a Ferrari 355 bodykit on it looks “similar” to a Ferrari 355, but it sure as hell doesn’t drive like a Ferrari 355. There’s lots more to going fast that just what the car looks like

    8. For a small team, it would be hard to keep round the year development. So while results may come early, it may not sustain.

    9. It looks like they have a distinctly in-wash front wing with much different profile to the MB. I think that your front wing determines your aero concept all the way back, so it can’t be a carbon copy.

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