Did the FIA really overlook Racing Point’s disputed brake ducts – and will it matter?


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Does Racing Point, who stand accused by Renault of breaching Formula 1’s ‘listed parts’ regulations by copying brake ducts from its major hardware supplier Mercedes F1, have a ‘Plan B’ in the event the team is found guilty?

Asked directly by RaceFans on Sunday evening whether, team boss Otmar Szafnauer was adamant that there had been no breaches.

“It’s impossible for them to be illegal,” he stated emphatically. “Brake ducts take a long time to design and make; they’re very, very complicated, and we have 886 individual drawings for our brake ducts.”

Thus, he said, Racing Point has no back-up option, simply as he doesn’t consider one to be necessary. “We have no concerns whatsoever. Our brake ducts are legal, we ran them last weekend, we ran them again this weekend, and we’ll be running them again at Silverstone.”

Szafnauer indicated the pink team could spring a surprise on the stewards yet. “I have all the information of how we designed and developed them,” he said. “The rest of the world doesn’t [know] yet because we haven’t disclosed that to the stewards.

2019 Mercedes brake duct
The protest concerns Mercedes’ 2019 brake duct design
“We had disclosed it to the FIA and the FIA were satisfied that what we had done was absolutely legal. However, that’s not how [F1’s] judicial system works. It’s the stewards who have the right and the power to rule. So now we’ve got to inform the stewards as well.”

Szafnauer was referring to an inspection of its facilities undertaken by the FIA in February after pre-season paddock innuendo about ‘Tracing Point’ and their ‘pink Mercedes’, particularly as the team admitted copying last year’s championship-winning Mercedes W10.

“It takes a little bit of time because when the FIA came to us to investigate how we designed and developed the car, including the brake ducts,” a clearly frustrated Szafnauer said.

“They came to the factory, spent two days there, interviewed people looked at all our drawings, looked at the design and development process, what we did in the tunnel and CFD, how we got to where we got, and they were satisfied.”

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However the FIA last week admitted to examining the team’s processes, but not individual components, including those contentious ducts. “We did go to the Racing Point, and we primarily focused on the rest of the car, not the brake ducts, fortunately or unfortunately,” FIA single-seater delegate Nikolas Tombazis said in Hungary.

Nikolas Tombazis, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Using CAD imagery “would be blatantly illegal” – Tombazis
“Obviously the rest of the car was extremely similar [to the Mercedes],” he said. “The rest of the car was ‘listed’ both last year and this year, so there was no excuses in any shape or form if the rest of the car had been somehow obtained through [computer aided design] information.

“That,” he emphasises, “would be blatantly illegal.”

That sentence is the crux of the matter. If the team copied listed parts off Mercedes – with or without the German team’s express permission, whether via photographs or other external methods – then all is above board. If, though, classified information changed hands, whether by arrangement or underhand methods (think the 2007 Ferrari/McLaren ‘Spygate’ scandal), then Racing Point and possibly even Mercedes could face serious sanctions.

However Tombazis does not believe that there will be “a huge debate” about whether the Racing Point copied Mercedes. “I think the debate will be about whether what happened is in breach of the regulations or not. I don’t think we need to be detectives. I think we need to be more philosophers or lawyers, but not detectives.”

He opined that a designer “never ever starts with a clean sheet of paper”, while stressing his words were those of an engineer and not delivered in an official capacity. By implication, he believes engineers cannot simply forget what they previously saw.

As outlined previously when we revealed the potential loophole, brake ducts were previously ‘unlisted parts’ (and could thus freely be sourced from outside vendors, including other teams), which status changed to ‘listed’ from this season.

Thus a key question is whether Racing Point designed their 2020 ducts themselves from ‘memory’, or received outside data, and if so, whether the ‘spirit’ of the provisions of Appendix 6 of the 2020 Sporting Regulations, which governs the use of ‘listed parts’, can be applied retrospectively.

The applicable articles state, amongst others, that:

“The obligation to design and use Listed Parts shall not prevent a competitor from Outsourcing the design and/or manufacture of any Listed Parts to a third party (including an Associate of such competitor) provided

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“It retains the exclusive right to use the Listed Parts in Formula 1 so long as it competes in Formula 1, and

Racing Point’s performance has stunned its rivals
“In the case of the Outsourcing of manufacture such third party shall not be a competitor, 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.”

Mercedes motorsport CEO Toto Wolff echoed the FIA delegate’s sentiments on Sunday. “I don’t think it will be a debate trying to play the detective and find what happened, the debate will be more from a regulation point of view whether [Racing Point] followed the right process,” he said. Of course, cynics will cry, he would say that given his team is at the very least an implicated party, and could ultimately be called upon to testify.

In response to a question on Saturday concerning Sebastian Vettel’s future, Wolff denied personal links to Racing Point, stating: “My shareholding in [Aston Martin] is not related at all to the [Racing Point] Formula 1 racing team.” Others may not see it that way.

Wolff is a close friend and travelling companion of Racing Point boss and Aston Martin chairman (and shareholder) Lawrence Stroll; Wolff recently acquired a $9 million stake in Aston Martin, which in turn has a five-year deal to title-sponsor Racing Point from 2021, when this year’s basic car designs are mandated. Mercedes, too, is a minority shareholder in Aston Martin, so there are double links.

Lawrence Stroll, Racing Point, Hungaroring, 2020
Lawrence Stroll’s team will become Aston Martin next year
Any race successes will obviously rub off on the main car brand. Why else would Stroll, brand builder par excellence, so publicly link the two? Thus Wolff’s personal stake is linked to the race team’s fortunes. Regardless of how it is spun there are potential conflicts of interest, with a ‘re-engineered Mercedes’, as Wolff calls the cloned car, being the root cause of that conflict.

Brake ducts were previously ‘non-listed parts’ – in other words, parts that could be legally traded or shared between teams. However, the FIA World Motorsport Council’s decision of June 14th 2019, aimed at eliminating the open sourcing of a crucial component that has major aerodynamic effects, altered that status.

Thus, observing the ‘spirit’ of the written word should be a crucial consideration in any verdict, but that constituent has gradually given way to ruthless exploitation of regulations in proportion to the increasing costs of success in the sport. Why else did Racing Point blatantly copy – as it admits it did – certain elements of F1’s dominant design; why else did Ferrari need to reach a secret agreement with the FIA?

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However, the consequences of whatever verdict – which is, as Tombazis stated last weekend, is likely to hinge as much on philosophy as on letters of the law – are likely to be massive either way: Should Racing Point be found legal in every respect, the sport can expect two categories of cars on future grids, namely originals and direct copies, down to the tiniest aerodynamic details within hidden components.

Wolff praised Racing Point’s approach
“[The protest] is about whether smaller teams should be allowed to be supplied parts by bigger teams for less R&D and the bigger teams to make some business out of it or should everyone develop their own chassis and R&D, which as a consequence would probably mean there is a two-tier society even with a cost cap,” Wolff acknowledged.

However, the Austrian hit back at criticism from the midfield about ‘re-engineered’ cars: “All the complaining we heard last year that the smaller teams [not being] able to compete for pole positions, for podiums and race wins is being, how do you say, shown it’s absurd because Racing Point is right up there, faster in some corners than we are and it’s a good challenge to see that,” he said.

“I have no doubt that Racing Point will be a hard nut to crack on some of the circuits for us as well. So, take the right decisions and deploy your resources where you think they are well deployed and I think you can have a quick car.”

“I am happy there is a process in place that will clarify those regulations and make it transparent for all stakeholders, what the FIA and FOM wish to happen in the future, and then we move on from that,” Wolff concluded.

But, ironically, Mercedes’ performance in qualifying that same day gave the lie to those comments. Lewis Hamilton’s pole lap was almost a second faster than the opposition, led by the Mercedes Approved Used Car of Lance Stroll. The gap over one of F1’s shortest laps was, in fact, the largest between a Mercedes and a ‘competitor’ in over 100 races despite the pink car’s ‘pedigree’.

This suggests that far from solving F1’s gap problem, ‘clone cars’ will not be able to challenge – even if permitted to do so in terms of hardware supply agreements – their suppliers (or source of inspiration, as the case may be), and that Ferrari and Red Bull simply underperformed in Hungary. Indeed, post-qualifying comments from both those teams bear that out and underscored by the ongoing dilemma Ferrari finds itself in.

Indeed, during the same media briefing, Wolff stated that his team’s superiority was at least in part down to engine development they had been forced into due to Ferrari’s power advantage prior to its downturn after a clarification was issued by the FIA last October and the subsequent secret settlement entered into between Maranello and Paris. At the time Wolff had led criticism of the deal.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2020
Mercedes left their rivals behind in Hungary
“There’s a clear regulation on power units,” he said last weekend. “There have been clarifications in Austin, what is allowed to do or not, which were important, but nothing that was in any way surprising because if you comply to the regulations that was anyway clear,” he said.

“I think the irony of the story is that we were pushed by some of our competitors to absolutely new levels,” he added, clearly referencing his rivals in red. “It brought us to almost burnout last year, to develop and innovate in a way to be competitive on track. I think we made a substantial jump in performance from 2019 to 2020. Because we needed to last year, and that is a little bit ironic for me.”

Ultimately whatever binding verdict is handed down once all due legal processes have been followed will define the word ‘constructor’. At the core of F1 lies the Concorde Agreement, which outlines the obligations of all parties, including the sport’s revenue structures – which are (currently) distributed only to those teams who satisfy the definition of that key word.

Hence the philosophical question: Should teams that contract scores of photographers to snap gazillions of shots of the competition each weekend, then base their cloned cars entirely on such digital images, qualify for the same revenue shares as constructors who employ hundreds of engineers to originate their own designs? Why not simply rename F1 and get done with it? Aston Martin GP1 Team anyone?


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59 comments on “Did the FIA really overlook Racing Point’s disputed brake ducts – and will it matter?”

  1. Here’s the rub, the team is run by Stroll and can do whatever they want as they are literally the only new money coming in to F1. F1 is dead if they say “we don’t like your rules” and decide to drop out.

    1. G (@unklegsif)
      22nd July 2020, 13:18

      Having purchased an F1 team to be the marketing force behind a newly acquired high end sports car manufacturer, Stroll and his colleagues are NOT going to disappear from F1 any time soon


    2. Well you just showed how little you understand what’s going on …

      1. G (@unklegsif)
        22nd July 2020, 22:16

        And what, prey tell, inside information do you have?

        1. For starters I have information on how the comments section works.
          Look at the ‘tree’ … see my comment was a reply to the initial comment not yours … otherwise it would have branched out from yours.

          Basics, & if you can’t join those dots then F1 politics is waaay out of your league.

          1. Perhaps you could just answer the question, rather than being a smart-ass.

  2. Whatever Racing Point might have done is really just a logical progression of the trend started some 15 years ago by Red Bull and Toro Rosso, then adopted by Honda and Super Aguri, and more recently explored by Ferrari and Haas.

    1. “Whatever Racing Point might have done is really just a logical progression of the trend started some 15 years ago by Red Bull”
      No, it’s not.
      Had that been the case, Mercedes would 100% own RP and use it as a feeder team. No team alliance is more transparent than the RBR/TR (AT) alliance, hence no protests from rival teams.
      RP (pretends to) operate(s) as an independent manufacturer whose aim it is to win the WCC.
      TR/AT is a dependent manufacturer whose aim it is to produce drivers for the RBR team.
      See the difference?

      1. Yes, but in spite of the differences in ownership structure the idea remains the same: Take as much as you can from the other car to save money and improve performance. I’m am not saying its’ wrong (or right) all I am saying is that prior to RBR/STR there were no issues in regard to this. Of course, there was the Tyrrell 009 lookalike of Lotus 78, but let’s not go there…

        1. Isn’t this listed parts list created because of Toro Rosso? One of their first cars (car which gave Vettel his 1st victory?) was pure copy of RBR? After that, Toro Rosso have been following copy-ban so no one can’t complain.

          1. Loko, it was a combination of Toro Rosso and Super Aguri, both of which were using cars which were copies of the previous years car, or using parts that were direct copies of those produced by the parent team.

            For one example, see the case that Spyker brought against Red Bull and Toro Rosso, where the only difference in some of the design drawings was whether they had a Red Bull Racing or Toro Rosso logo on them.

    2. What RBR and STR dit was nothing new. Briatore did the same with Ligier, and even before that, there were teams that blatantly copy other cars, without the sattelite-team.

      It’s only a problem now, because the car is so good. It’s highly unlikely that a team creates a copy of a car that works exactly as good.

      1. It’s a good point. that 1995 ligier was so, so similar to the Benetton (from the same season) but I only remember it being a minor story. Racing point have just copied (or been aided in copying) a car that was unbelievably good last year, to the point that it’s better than many of this year’s cars.

        1. The primary reason the copy looks so good is not because of how good the original was but because the other top teams went backwards and Ferrari have taken their customers back with them. The idea that RP stole a march of the entire field bar their patrons by copying is not the real story. As before, with STR, super aguri, et al., copying is only a relatively cheap way to stay off the back rows. RP could not know that Ferrari and RBR would be totally lost. I suspect that both of them will find some speed this year and put RP back to finishing around 6th at best. And then people will point and laugh and say copying is a waste of time.

          1. But McAllen improved from last year and RP is faster than them too

  3. To me this was a completely logical business decision. Under financial pressure and with fairly new and ever evolving technologies in hand, Racing Point had a clear and obvious path to follow.
    I’ve seen pics of both ducts from an F1 app article and they are different. As different as Alpha Tauri to RedBull and Ferrari to Haas which were also shown.

    To me this is ultimately a symptom of a woefully bad financial structure left to us by previous agreements. Hopefully under new financial restraints we’ll get back to a formula that is more individually creative and a better representation of F1 in a historical context.

  4. I still don’t see this starting a trend. As I see it, and of course I could easily be wrong, if as has been mentioned here, and as Max said last weekend, a copied car will never be able to beat an original car, then most would rather try to build their own cars, and do, and generally always have for the most part, engines aside. Copying is not new and nothing has prevented teams from doing this in the past, other than perhaps pride of being originators, and not wanting to relegate themselves to never beating the originators if they copy.

    What I ponder is this. To me the only car worth copying is the Mercedes for obvious reasons. But if even a Merc powered photocopy will never beat the works team, how would a Ferrari, Renault, or Honda powered team possibly make a car designed for a Merc pu, work better than the works Mercedes, or even better than a Mercedes powered photocopy?

    Then there’s the fact that next year they all have to build their own cars, so if a copying trend is to happen I suppose the thinking is that would be from 2023 onwards? No for me I have no concern that RP have started a trend.

    1. Interesting comment @robbie, I agree with a lot of what you say.

      On the 2nd part ‘how can anyone then win against Mercedes’ I would say, especially in the case of Ferrari, and Red Bull/Honda, but also McLaren (next year a Mercedes powered team), and of course Renault, at least in principle: make better choices and execute them better than Mercedes – with the budget cap, that’s something that in theory at least should be possible.

      Though at the moment it looks like that’s impossible because on all visible/measurable fronts of competition, as Mercedes seems to have made the best choices, including in how to keep the team operating such that it can remain that way, in the end, as they are doing it without big cheats to get there (as far as we know, apart from one thing: bigger budget than most on the grid, but not Ferrari, not enough to be relevant in case of Red Bull), ie. they are just better for now, which to some extent is what you’d want to be winning (again caveat budget, and long lasting advantage from that). Some of that is taking in concepts they, and others, use and integrating, then improving them for use on your car (this is something I think RP/FI have been doing for years with a lot of success, and that’s why they could do their 2020 car this way with hope of success), some of that is being better at on-track operation (Red Bull are still excellent in this respect for example).

      Copying on its own will not get you a winning car, but it’s about taking an idea and running with it (or having that and a better engine/suspension/something?). Let’s see where RP go from here until the end of next year, for example. And maybe Red Bull, with the chassis being unchanged, can finally not just finish a season strongly, but also start a season on the right foot again in 2021, having sorted their current issues.

      Now, with 2022 coming, the best case would be that despite a head start in organisation for Mercedes, other teams will have an easier time getting to more optimal aero solutions than Mercedes, enough that they can peg them back. I am pretty sure that, like the 2009 Brawn double diffuser & outwash front wing & Red Bull overall car concept, there will be things teams have to adapt and rush to ‘copy/adapt’ for their own car as much as they can, or lose the year, and it might well be another than Mercedes that has some of that. Will that happen? Well, hard to not see Mercedes as a prime candidate to make good enough choices, but who knows.

  5. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    22nd July 2020, 12:53

    Personally speaking, I really don’t like what they’ve done. I can understand why they did it, and while its obviously not in the spirit of the rules there’s obviously nothing saying they can’t. But I don’t like it, it’s not their car. They didn’t design it – they designed a copy, a forgery – a brilliant approximation. I can photocopy & trace the Mona Lisa but it doesn’t make me Leonardo Da Vinci. What’s stopping everyone just copying the lead car? At that point F1 becomes a spec series because not only is it cheaper, its legal, and a quick way to decent success – and they may have great successes, but they’re hardly earnt, nor will they beat the parent team which would suit Mercedes. Then when you throw in the links between Stroll/Aston Martin to Wolff/Mercedes… it just stinks. It doesn’t feel right at all.

    1. @rocketpanda As per my opinion above, what is stopping everyone copying the lead car? Pride. Not wanting to always lose to the originator. Not being able to make a Ferrari, Honda, or Renault powered photocopy work any better than a Mercedes powered photocopy, as I see it. What is stopping them is the logical need to design their own if they want to carry any hope of winning in a meaningful way towards Championships, which will not happen in a copy car. Being faster at the odd corner, if in fact that is the case, does not make for a season long dual for the titles.

      1. Adam (@rocketpanda)
        22nd July 2020, 14:12

        You really think pride is going to stop them? If the choice is keeping your pride and self respect or staying in buisness and making money, I think ‘pride’ will go out the window very fast. Can’t see Red Bull and Ferrari doing it, but everyone else? Absolutley!

        For ‘midfield’ teams this is an amazing opportunity. Rather than spend millions to chase 10th they can copy the overwhelming frontrunner and rake in the constructors championship money for a fraction of the cost. They don’t need to win championships or races at all – just be competitive enough to make a return and be fast enough to pick up the pieces when the frontrunners fail.

        1. @rocketpanda I hear you but I just don’t see it as you are. Pride is to me one component yes, but not the sole one. I just don’t see a wave of copycats ahead, as I don’t think teams are happy to just settle for perpetual non-podiums, coasting along just so they can say they broke even. I don’t see a lot of sponsors happy to join teams that are striving for mediocrity, happy to forgo trophies. And for all that people decry the reduction of innovation in ‘their’ F1, making it more and more spec many fear, I would think a trend toward photocopying if it were to happen would not help F1 grow an audience and perhaps F1 would have to look at a rethink of the rules about this issue.

          1. Adam (@rocketpanda)
            22nd July 2020, 14:45

            Teams like Haas, Alpha Tauri, Sauber and arguably Williams as they are facing selling up all would see this as a good plan. Keeps them in buisness, gives them moderate success and exposure at an obviously reduced cost. You say it’d be striving for mediocrity but if the choice is mediocrity or last place or mediocrity or financial collapse, I see that as an easy choice.

            Also again, the Racing Point’s pace should let them pick up podiums when Red Bull and Mercedes inevitably stumble. They’ll gain trophies, but on their own don’t have the financial or technical clout to fight the ‘big guys’ for championships. So this is a tempting alternative for them and it absolutely shouldn’t be.

        2. and while its obviously not in the spirit…

          Bull crap teams copy parts off of each other all the time. When you’re saying no team operates in the spirit of the rules then maybe you’re mistaken about what the spirit of the rules is.

          I can photocopy & trace the Mona Lisa but it doesn’t make me Leonardo Da Vinci

          They didn’t photocopy or trace the car your analogy is fundamentally flawed.

          but they’re hardly earnt

          Every bit of success they get will be thoroughly earned, regardless of what the bitter know-nothings on the web think.

          For ‘midfield’ teams this is an amazing opportunity

          How is it an amazing opportunity? They’ve always been able to do this and teams copy each other all the time. The difference is it’s not as easy to do what RP have as some people like yourself here mistakenly believe.

  6. Why not simply rename F1 and get done with it? Aston Martin GP1 Team anyone?

    But this is already set in stone for 2022. Slow stock cars with minimal deviations.

    Why is there fuss now?

  7. Gavin Campbell
    22nd July 2020, 13:04

    Well other than the fact that most of the teams on the Grid have based their aerodyamics off the Red Bull philosophy. They are all at it and have been for years and years.

    No-one has copied the main Mercedes route until now (for some unknown reason) but it will be interesting to see how much RP diverge from this going forward. Currently it looks as though they aren’t fully able to optomize the car but thats to be expected with the all-new desgin implimented here but it will be interesting to see if that continues all year or they get a handle on it.

    Its one thing to simply copy the aero surfaces – especially if you have the rear end off the Mercedes and have seen the 2019 break ducts. However you have to understand what its trying to do, what its actually doing and how it interacts with the tyres, road and other surroundings.

    Full customer cars from back in the day would of been provided with some assistance in the form of seconded engineers and setup information etc.

    But this is mostly Renault under pressure because they cannot seem to get into the elite group of teams challenging for Wins and podiums. If that were the case they would have little issue with this. Personally I’m with RP on this – orginally a one year roll of the dice after an average at best 2019

    1. Well other than the fact that most of the teams on the Grid have based their aerodyamics off the Red Bull philosophy. They are all at it and have been for years and years.

      This is something I wondered about. Maybe the Merc philosophy is actually better than the RB one – certainly, we’ve seen a lot over the last few years that RB have taken a while to get the car working properly. By the end of the year, its generally been great, but taken a while to refine. And thats the RB, with money to burn – for midfield teams, with a fraction of the budget, maybe an approach that needs so much effort is a bad choice.

      The merc philosophy, low rake, maybe doesn’t need so much aero precision to get to a “reasonably good” level of performance. High rake needs the aero to be top notch not to fall apart.

      Just imagine, if Merc had made as much of a jump “forward” with their car as RB and Ferrari – we could have been getting familiar with the Candian national anthem.

  8. I wouldn’t mind to go to the extreme and make all (aerodynamic) designs available (open source) at the end of the season.
    Let the lesser teams copy the best car to see if they can compete; they still need to understand those designs and improve on them to win races (regularly).
    It will also challenge the winning team to continue to develop further.

    I know it is a bit simplistic to do as proposed above; but I’m sure a workable and still fair solution can be found.

  9. All the complaining we heard last year that the smaller teams [not being] able to compete for pole positions, for podiums and race wins is being, how do you say, shown it’s absurd because Racing Point is right up there, faster in some corners than we are and it’s a good challenge to see that,” he said.

    I think as @dieterrencken pointed out, it’s not quite as simple as that. Even if Racing Point were supplied with the exact technical drawings of last years Merc, they seem to not have been given the history behind how those drawings were developed and why they are what they are. Consequently, they have a limited understanding of how to set the car up for various conditions. They will of course learn those things during testing and races, but as we saw at the Styrian GP qualifying session, Racing Point did not know how to set the car up for wet weather and Stroll and Perez qualified 13th and 17th (Stroll started 12th due to Leclerc’s penalty).

    So simply having a copy of a race winning car, or even if they had the exact Merc from last year does not guarantee success because Racing Point don’t have the history and background with the car to understand how to set it up and maximize the performance. They will learn those things over time but it will require work.

  10. They must be fairly bemused at Brackley having been the class of the field for the past however many years yet nobody’s actively pursued their aero concept choosing to follow the Red Bull-favoured high rake concept (McLaren perhaps the exception before they poached Peter Prod).
    To see Racing Point follow their philosophy and be almost instantly out-performing the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull with it must make them chuckle, as if they’ve known something all along that the rest of the grid has dismissed and that it might only now start dawning on teams. Perhaps Merc will get a bit more respect now it’s being demonstrated to the pitlane that their dominance hasn’t been solely based on the power unit.

    1. @alec-glen Rake is only one concept and I think Mercedes has used high rakentoo. I’d be surprised if nobody has copied anything from the hybrid Mercedes and have only focused on RBR cars and philosophy.

      I don’t see them chuckling back at Brackley as RP are sitting 6th and 8th in the drivers race, and are tied 4th in the Constructors with a Ferrari team that has fallen flat on their face and if it weren’t for that RP would be even lower in both Championships. They have a third of the Constructor points that Mercedes does. And RBR scored no points in the first race. If one were to only look at the numbers one might think RP are just having a normal year for them or slightly better. Mac have improved all on their own.

      As to your last paragraph I don’t think there has been any lack of respect towards Mercedes In the pit lane, nor do I think anyone has brought their dominance down to solely the pu. We have all known since the beginning of the hybrid era it is about being a works team and integrating chassis and power unit better than everyone else and yes of course the best pu is a strong component, but nobody thinks that’s been their only advantage.

      1. @robbie Racing Point might only be 4th in the WCC, but their relative strength and the position of their drivers in both the WDC and WCC this early on in the season is unusually strong for them.

        They are currently just 1 point behind 3rd place and 15 points behind 2nd place, and they haven’t scored this many points this early on in the WCC since 2014. Perez might be 6th in the WDC, but he is currently tied on points with Albon and only 4 behind Norris – similarly, Stroll isn’t that far back either, being just 4 points behind Perez and Albon. Overall, I think they would still be not too dissatisfied with their performance – 3rd place in the WCC is still a genuine possibility on current performance, and the team hasn’t been in a position to realistically fight for a position that high up in the WCC since it was running as Jordan back in 1999.

    2. Perhaps Merc will get a bit more respect now it’s being demonstrated to the pitlane that their dominance hasn’t been solely based on the power unit

      I don’t think anyone with knowledge of F1 has ever thought that. It’s been pretty obvious since the beginning of the Hybrid era that that is not the case.

  11. I somehow fail to understand the debate here. Copying without gaining any understanding first why some things are made such, is useless as one won’t know how to develop further from that point. So making photos and studying them is a form of learning, which I’m sure every technical design team in the paddock does. If patented or copyrighted, then by law the copier needs permission before using someone else’s intellectual property and cannot claim it as his/her own. I believe none of those applies in this debate. This is a result of a “transition phase” between implementing new rules (which outlaw old ones). As long as after the rule was enforced, there was no exchange of information, there surely cannot be anything considered wrong-doing, right?

  12. I fully understand why RP chose this path. Copy the car and then learn why it works and why Mercedes made certain design decisions. If the RP engineering team are able to glean this understanding from the car they should be well placed to design their own car from “scratch”. Reverse engineering is a tried and true method of gaining knowledge and kudos to RP for putting their pride aside and taking this step.
    That being said, I don’t understand why the aerodynamic surfaces of the car are not considered listed parts.

    1. @velocityboy The problem for them is the knowledge they will have gained from this exercise can be thrown out the window as the new cars that they will have no choice but to make on their own, at least for 2022, is a whole new philosophy with ground effects dominating a largely diminished amount of wing downforce. Maybe safe to ask too, how much will they want to make their Aston Martin car a Mercedes when as it is the pu will be their’s? In 2023 will they actually be running a Mercedes photocopy, powered by Mercedes, and call it an Aston Martin? I hope not. Guess stranger things have happened though.

    2. That being said, I don’t understand why the aerodynamic surfaces of the car are not considered listed parts.

      They are as part of “Bodywork as defined in Article 1.4 of the F1 Technical Regulations and regulated by Article 3 of the F1 Technical Regulations with the exception of airboxes, engine exhausts and any prescribed bodywork geometries”.

  13. What’s the expression: if you painted all F1 cars white, people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference? Try pink and every man and his dog are up in arms.

    It could be the same design geometrically (& serve the aero purpose), but laid up slightly differently structurally & it’s “different”. Honestly, I’d just change the tolerances…

    This soap opera is avoiding the elephant in the room that there’s no racing at the front.

    There has been speculation for years about A & B teams or 8×3: do you want decent racing at the front or everyone taking the moral high road and teams being strung out (see Williams)? Personally, I loved it when Vettel won Monza in 2008 & I think a Prodrive-run McLaren would have been much more beneficial to F1 than Lotus/Manor/HRT.

    Renault need to look at their own, embarrassing performance 1st rather than faffing about with protests.

  14. The fact that RP have had to copy the Mercedes just highlights what is broken with the current formula/regs. And for me, the fact that the pink merc IS so competitive considering it has been (apparently) copied from photo’s only, sets the alarm bells off. And with the new regs being pushed back another year means that 2021 will mean we will have another year of this. The current generation of cars are way too heavy, and way too long, and the PU’s are waaaaay too expensive, I cant see how even the new aero regs will change much with the pecking order. Even in the early 2000’s the FIA made changes to stop Ferrari’s dominance (albeit only being 2 years 2002/2004). And again in 2013, to curtail the Red Bull dominance (albeit only being 2 years 2011/2013) but this time around it has been 6 years of utter dominance, and most likely 7 after next year. I think all fans of the sport (even the partizan Lewis supporters) should ask themselves a question…. How much longer will they watch the sport if Mercedes and Lewis keep winning every year? Yes it is up to the other teams to try and catch up, but Merc already had a 3 year heads start on the rest of the competition in developing these current engines (hence the threat to leave the sport in 2012 if the new v6 turbo’s weren’t implemented) and due to unlimited money Daimler can throw at R&D, how will the other teams actually manage to catch up? Even a team like Ferrari had to ‘cough’ cheat last year to reach the power output levels that Mercedes has. And yes, I know other teams have a merc engine in the back, but they dont use the same fuels/oils that Mercedes do.
    2014 to 2019 have taken 47 one-two finishes, 92 poles from 117 races, winning 86 of them. 174 podiums from a possible 234
    And looking at current form they will just keep adding to that. Not to take anything away from Lewis’s achievements, but its like the game is rigged in favour of Daimler.
    Not Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams in the 90’s and Mclaren in the 80’s ever had this kind of consistent domination over the competition without the rule makers stepping in to level the playing field.

    1. How much longer will they watch the sport if Mercedes and Lewis keep winning every year?
      Well, Quite a few don’t bother anymore already… Highlights and a few articles on the w³ are about all I can / like to spend. I certainly won’t use my savings to watch a race IRL or on pay-tv.

    2. @gubstar – and in the midst of this they determine DAS legal. It’s not ‘like the game is rigged’, it IS rigged!! Just to add on, Merc have had Pirelli in their back pocket since 2013. These are pre-paid championships, simple as that.
      It would be great if someone challenged the parity of the Merc PU as used by their customers. Rules around running with identical software and fuel and oil specs have clearly been broken.

  15. What if it’s not CAD but digital manual with accompanying pdf drawing like everytime we bought something these days?

    On serious note, it’s really concerning how Tombazis downplay the whole dispute and think that this is just a wordplay event of philosophers and lawyers.

    1. @ruliemaulana I don’t think he is downplaying the whole dispute at all. All he is saying is the debate will not be about RP copying Mercedes because that is plain as day and has been admitted by RP. And the brake ducts are obviously very very similar too. All he is saying is the debate will really surround their process for making the brake ducts, and likely the whole car, and will be about whether or not they got any help from Mercedes or this was all from photos, and it opens up the debate about how much they (F1) wants this level of copying in F1.

      For me I’m pretty sure RP nor Mercedes will have been found to have cheated as it would not be worth it for either of them.

      1. @robbie I really hope RP had all legal evidences to proof they’re not breaching the rules.

        But Tombazis is part of F1 justice system here and he admits FIA only review the outer parts of the car. He should remains neutral and restrained himself from giving opinions before he learned all the facts. Especially before steward had a chance to review the evidences.

        1. But Tombazis is part of F1 justice system

          He’s part of the rule making body, which is not the justice system (e.g. stewards), but the legislative part.

  16. Tracing Point


    1. Mercedes Approved Used Car

  17. Just allow customer cars and be done with it

    1. @hollidog No need when F1 is getting more affordable and sustainable under the new regs.

    2. I would not be mad if it became like CART where you had several chassi builders —- swift, Reynard, Lola, Penske—-and a few engine buIdlers. So you had a variety of combinations implemented at different levels of competence. A mix of engineering ability and more technical equality.

  18. This will all come down to how the FIA and Liberty want to handle this going forward.

    If the desire is to prevent copying of this level, then they will likely find enough evidence to uphold the Renault appeal.
    If the desire is to allowed year old cars and parts (effectively mostly 1 yr old customer cars), then they will likely fine enough evidence to rule in Racing Point’s favour.

    The question is how Mercedes end up caught in the middle if the finding is for Renault.

  19. Should teams that contract scores of photographers to snap gazillions of shots of the competition each weekend, then base their cloned cars entirely on such digital images, qualify for the same revenue shares as constructors who employ hundreds of engineers to originate their own designs?

    Of course they should. What Racing Point has done is done by every single team out there. I ask this question: what’s the difference between taking gazillion shots of a car and work out a better or improved solution and just copying what you see?

    It’s the same concept, an idea developed by a competitor could be improved upon or copied. Both need understanding of what the part do, and how it works, how it has to be manufacturer, and so on. It probably takes a lot more time to study a part, and define ways in which to make it work better.

    Maybe Racing Point couldn’t afford that, or they were more worried about the implications of improving a part they didn’t fully understand instead of just copying knowing the performance parameters of a tried and tested part. I guess you could gather a complete collection of pictures from every race and even check how Mercedes themselves worked improvements for certain bits. Not far from what Giorgio Piola does for several publications, really…

    It’s still a major engineering task to copy another competitor, specially when manufacturing is still your bourden. And you’re doing a hell of a lot more work than buying of-the-shelf Non-Listed Parts.

  20. Knowing the shape of something doesn’t mean you can just replicate that and you now have replicated it successfully. Most of what makes that thing successful (or not) is how it is built. Knowing the shape of the Mercedes car doesn’t mean Racing Point could just go out and make a car that shape and it would be able to survive being hitting the curbs at the Red Bull Ring. The chassis of an F1 car has to be very strong, but also very light. Knowing what the outside looks like doesn’t tell you what the inside is like, what it is made of, which bits go where, or how the bits are joined together.
    From what we’re told a brake duct isn’t about the outside, it is about the inside. So, after 885 failures Racing Point, on their 886th attempt came up with a brake duct that happens to be shaped like the one on the W10.

  21. This one will be very interesting to see hot it plays out because of the precedence it will set. So many interesting twists and turns.

  22. This one will be very interesting to see how it plays out because of the precedence it will set. So many interesting twists and turns.

  23. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    23rd July 2020, 7:09

    Gird can’t fall below 20 cars, no new concorde agreements in place. F1 and FIA have been cornered beautifully. If found guilty, there’s likely to be a secret agreement between Stroll and the concerned authorities ($$$) just to keep him on the grid. There’s no way RP and Merc are facing serious sanctions for this.

  24. We all know that different laws apply to rich people than to poor people. This RP F1 saga is just a reflection of that.

  25. Question, the brake ducts are importsnt to aerodynamic performance and hence why the FIA decided last year to out them into listed parts.

    But that cant be the only reason the car is so good and yet it seems to be the only part in contention. That would mean there are other parts that RP copied that is totally above board, regardless of what the ruling with the brake ducts turns out to be.

    I’m also surprised Renault are the only ones that have a problem with it. Yeah there was that gear incident last year but they can’t be the only team that have an issue, regardless of the final legal outcome.

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