Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Renault protest Racing Point after Styrian Grand Prix

2020 Styrian Grand Prix

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Renault has lodged a protest against the two Racing Point cars driven by Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll in the Styrian Grand Prix.

Representatives of Racing Point have been summoned to appear before the stewards at 7:20pm local time.

“We confirm that Renault DP World F1 Team has submitted a request to the stewards of the event for clarification on the legality of the Racing Point RP20,” said Renault in a statement. “We have no further comment on this matter until the stewards have arrived at a decision.”

The protest concerns Racing Point’s compliance with rules which state teams must design their own cars. The RP20 was dubbed a ‘pink Mercedes’ by the team’s rivals when it first appearance in pre-season testing owing to its obvious similarity to last year’s championship-winning car. Racing Point is a Mercedes customer team and uses its power unit and gearbox.

Renault allege Racing Point have contravened rules which state teams must hold the intellectual property for all ‘listed parts’ on their cars. According to the stewards, they have protested Renault for violating articles 2.1 and 3.2, plus appendix 6 paragraphs 1, 2(a) and 2(c) of the FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations during the race.

The rules state “a competitor shall, in respect of the listed parts to be used in its cars in Formula 1, only use listed parts which are designed by it.”

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The team must “retain the exclusive right to use the listed parts in Formula 1 so long as it competes in Formula 1” and “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.”

Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Is any team prepared to resist the ‘rise of the clones’?
The performance of the Racing Points and their finishing positions are likely to have attracted the attention of Renault. Perez rose from 17th on the grid to challenge Alexander Albon for fourth place by the end of the race, prompting Red Bull team principal Christian Horner to state all teams should beware the pinks cars’ pace.

Following his collision with Albon, Perez finished sixth ahead of team mate Stroll. They were followed by Daniel Ricciardo, the only Renault driver to finish.

It will be the second time in eight races Racing Point and Renault have faced each other in the stewards’ room over a technical dispute. Last year both of Renault’s cars were disqualified from the Japanese Grand Prix following a protest by Racing Point.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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47 comments on “Renault protest Racing Point after Styrian Grand Prix”

  1. The roles have reversed from Suzuka, LOL.

  2. This is Renault protesting the pink Mercedes.
    Appendix 6 of the Sporting Regulations is about the constructor using Listed Parts which are designed by it.

    1. Yes that’s a good point @x1znet, sort of seems for that article they would have to involve Mercedes too.

      Have to say that on the whole I find it unlikely that Racing Point haven’t made sure they can point to their own design path to come up with this car. Especially if it would be really a Tracing from Merc. designs rather than from photo analysis, I am sure they’d have ‘parallel construction’ or something, but even if it is done a fully legal way, that surely must have documentation across all design stages. So, sceptic of this protest going far, it would be a step well over spygate if it were to.

      1. Just copying the car could explain why the experience with adapting the setup ( like in the rain) is so difficult.
        They do not understand some choices Merc made without knowing why they were made.
        The copied car works best in the situation they took the copy and every new instance will needs a lot of work and understanding. In the rest of this year RP will slip away i think if it really is a “carbon copy”.

        1. I was thinking the same yesterday, erikje. They couldn’t heat the rain tyres because they don’t know how the design affects them. Having said that I’m sure they took all measures to avoid any problems during an investigation. They will allly and do things like this to go around the new budget cap.

      2. During the race some of the commentators were talking about this. From memory one of the said something along the lines that an overlay of the two chassis designs shows they are different.

  3. *facepalm*

    I don’t think they will have any success.
    Especially not after the 2nd race of the season…
    “Oh, we just thought that we don’t like RP’s cars, we want to protest them”

    And this is the team, which awaits Alonso’s return.

    Glad Ricciardo leaves them!

  4. What goes around comes around. This protest may be even more exiting than the race itself.

  5. Go home and cry Abiteboul.

  6. Second race weekend, second protest.

    I thought the FIA had already check RP out in this respect and were satisfied?
    Or is it the same as DAS, where it’s only legal once the legality has been tested?

    Either way, both protests leave a bad taste – especially since the FIA expressed their happiness in both cases.

    1. @sham At least red bull protested DAS before it had raced

    2. I’m not surprised to hear someone is protesting Racing Point’s car. I’m also expecting the Stewards to say it is legal.

  7. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    12th July 2020, 18:29

    F2 protests against Ferrari for using their cars.

    1. Sham likes this

  8. What is wrong with them looking at a car that works and basing their car off of that? That seems smart to me, it’s not like Merc will have given them the blueprints, they’d have had to reverse engineer it, understand how each tiny bit works in relation to the rest of the car, get everything right.

    1. Nothing. Nothing is wrong with it. It’s kinda how formula one has always been albeit usually more subtle. Imagine if cooper protested that all the other manufacturers copied their rear engine design or Lotus barred anyone else from exploring ground effect. Any successful design is going to lead to general convergence. Racing Point has pulled a master stroke if you ask me and I’m never going to complain about a more competitive field in Formula One. Isn’t that what everyone has been wanting to see? And if Renault has a problem with it, build a better car and beat them!

      1. I’m new to F1 and this comment has made the most sense to me.

  9. F1oSaurus (@)
    12th July 2020, 18:31

    Racing Point claimed they modeled their design after the Mercedes rather than simply getting the plans to their design. You’d assume they have some proof of that.

    Besides the copied original car was grey and the Racing Point one is pink. Clearly not the same :)

    1. I wonder how they can prove not having the blueprints though

      1. One way of proving you did design the car yourself is to show the mistakes. For example you might consider designing the front suspension one way, and then after a while realise that there’s a better way of doing it.

      2. they already have though. The fia have already visited the racing point factory and the Mercedes factory and were happy with what they seen. I doubt anyone will be able to prove racing point and Mercedes worked together.

      3. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        13th July 2020, 7:55

        Logic dictates you cant prove a false negative. They don’t have to prove they didn’t have illegal help from Mercedes, someone else has to prove they did.

        Innocent until proven guilty. The RP car wasn’t designed by a 4 year old with pink crayons. This we know, but we can’t prove it!

  10. Dirty protest from sore losers. Why not last week?

    1. Now they have Alonso coming.

      I think they are contractually obliged now to lodge protests and do everything to get higher results.

    2. @djdaveyp87 they gain more this time around for trying to get Racing Point disqualified if possible, as both cars finished ahead of a Renault this time around (so Ricciardo would be moved up to 6th, whereas Ocon would have only been moved up to 7th).

  11. To copy from one source is “plagiarism” , to copy from multiple sources, that’s “research”.
    At the very least, they should have re-sculpted the nose. At least make it look better.
    Commentary during the race alluded to the FIA having studied the design of the RP and the Merc, and agreed that they were sufficiently different.
    Let the games begin.

  12. Renault are so salty and toxic right now.

    1. Too many meetings with Horner.

    2. Of course they are.
      They are being reunited with Alonso.

      They are like magnets. Toxic magnets.

    3. Haha…just wait until next year!

  13. What on earth is this? Why now, and not last race? What took them a week for this?

  14. Reverse engineering isn’t illegal and has been done extensively in the past with things like the F-Duct, Double diffuser and now DAS.

    Just because the end result looks similar, and of course it does, doesn’t mean it wasn’t designed entirely without assistance by Mercedes and thus, in the regulations is not illegal.

    The timing too is just sour grapes by Renault. It should be tossed out.

  15. The performance of the Racing Points and their finishing positions are likely to have attracted the attention of Renault.

    I mean, Renault were always gonna protest Racing Point, but only when it was gonna be “worthwhile”. Why protest last week when the result wasn’t great, when you could wait until more points were at stake.

    1. as far as I’m concerned if Renault didn’t make a protest at last weeks race they shouldn’t be allowed to now. It seems ridiculous. Nothing has changed on the racing point car from last week

  16. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    12th July 2020, 18:57

    While I agree that the pace of the Pink Mercedes/Tracing Points are quite scary, I’m not really sure what can be done about it. Even if Mercedes hypothetically helped them develop this car there’s unlikely to be any solid proof and if they developed it by studying photos/elaborating on shared parts then what rule did they break? There’s surely nothing in the rules that states you can’t come to an F1 race with a car that blatantly copies last year’s winning car?

    I think it’s a bit of a rubbish thing to do, even if I appreciate the ingenuity of copying it so well has granted such an incredible turn of pace. Does beg the question why none of the other teams have attempted this before, especially Williams given like Tracing Point they’re using the same engines.

  17. This is what Stroll Sr always wanted since Williams. It’s hard to believe Mercedes haven’t discussed it with FIA. If Racing Point using Merc’s intellectual property, then both teams should be banned.

    Also, if Ferrari can settle dispute under the table, why not others?

    1. And why on Earth should Mercedes be banned?

      Even if they sold the designs, even if the gave them freely… it is only RP, who must prove their ownership of intellectual rights.

      Mercedes is free to do whatever they wish with their designs. They can even post it online for everyone to see.

    2. Agreed, the only guys who can add more salt into this issue is the Williams garage, they know more about Lawrence Stroll. They can make extra money by blackmailing him.

  18. It’s fashionable to just disregard Renault and call sour grapes, however someone needs to compare methodically how close some of the bodywork is to last year’s Mercedes. If it’s down to the mm, then presumably we might have a Spygate on our hands, but more likely someone has used video footage to reconstruct the geometry. Indeed, photogrammetry is a well developed technique for this purpose.

    The thing is, the original copyright holder would usually be the one protesting (Spygate for example), but in this instance Mercedes probably don’t care. This will be complicated.

  19. Does anyone have any reasonable idea when this may get ruled on? I can’t see how the stewards could rule on this without extensive testimony from both sides plus other interested parties, especially as some of the evidence and documentation will not be in-situ.

    RP could easily say that to come up with a defence they would need days/weeks to do this, although in reality they probably have a pre-prepared file ready for inspection but it depends on the specific rule I suppose.

  20. Part of me thinks this should be thrown out on the basis that this is clearly done in ‘bad faith’. If there was a genuine grievance then a protest should have been made at the earliest opportunity (like Red Bull with DAS) rather than be saved for maximum exploitation and advantage. It is not like Renault can say that this was the first they knew of this.

  21. Torro Rosso *cough* *cough*

  22. Buying every part you can from Mercedes. Then copying every other part you think you can get away may be both clever and effective. But it shouldn’t be allowed. If it’s legal then shame on the FIA. It isn’t in the sprit of what Formula 1 is, and in the long term will cause harm.

  23. Sameer Cader (@)
    13th July 2020, 3:19

    Just sour grapes and a bit of payback for Suzuka as well

  24. It is pretty bad when this years car (Renault) can’t beat last years car .(Mercedes)

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