Nico Hulkenberg, Racing Point, Silverstone, 2020

Most F1 teams want FIA to stop ‘Tracing Point’-style copies – Brown

2020 British Grand Prix

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Most Formula 1 teams want the FIA to outlaw the approach Racing Point has taken to designing its 2020 car, according to McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown.

Racing Point has made no secret of the fact its RP20 is closely based on last year’s Mercedes. Renault has lodged two protests with the FIA concerning the design of the car’s brake ducts.

But whether or not that protest is upheld, Brown says most teams want to ensure future regulations prevent similar copying.

“I think the majority of the teams don’t like what they’re seeing with ‘Copy Point’/’Tracing Point’/’Racing Point’, whatever you want to call them,” said Brown yesterday.

“Whether it’s legal or not, I think we’ll have to see how the FIA responds to the protest. Putting aside the legality or not, because we don’t know, I think it’s outside the spirit of what we all think Formula 1 is and has been.”

Racing Point have gone much further than other teams have in the past in modelling their car on last year’s Mercedes, said Brown.

“Yes, there’s always been a degree of copying, looking at what that person’s doing on the front wing or a double diffuser, and I think that’s part of the sport. But it’s certainly been taken to the extreme this time where they’ve effectively admitted they’ve replicated someone else’s race car.

“I don’t believe that’s what Formula 1 is about. There’s other forms of racing where you have spec racing or two or three different chassis. I think that’s not the DNA of Formula 1.”

Brown does not expect the issue will go away if the stewards rule in favour of Racing Point.

“I think what’s important is in the short term we get clarified what’s happened, is that appropriate or not? But regardless of that outcome, I think if we all agree, which I think the majority of us do, that’s not what Formula 1 should be like moving forward, then we need to make sure we write regulations that stop whatever has happened from happening again.”

Some have suggested ‘B teams’, ‘customer cars’ or similar should be permitted on the understanding the teams who run them should not receive as much prize money as full constructors. But Brown is against this: “Not only [would] we have a two-tier system on track, you have a two-tier system off track,” he said. “And then I think Formula 1 loses its identity.

The FIA is expected to rule on Renault’s protest later this week.

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19 comments on “Most F1 teams want FIA to stop ‘Tracing Point’-style copies – Brown”

  1. Extensive and eventually successful copying without help from the original manufacturer is a joke!

  2. I may be one of the few in favour of customer cars – to a degree.

    A purchased car must never be able to score manufacturers championship points, for example.

    I doubt any manufacturers would sell their current cars to a competitor, so they would always be slightly behind. You might end up with a current Merc tub with a current Merc engine – but suspension that was less advanced and less developed aero for example. Maybe the floor they sold to customers would be less advanced. Whatever, that would be up to them.

    Would make the grid fuller at sensible budget levels, and the team could always prove itself by development.

    1. If you make it two separate championships, a constructor championship and a customer championship. Then that could prove to be a solution. Because the way it is now, McLaren and Renault are getting screwed. If RP is in front of them because of buying a car (I don’t believe the copying story one bit), then okay, but they shouldn’t get more price money than the ones who’ve build their own car and shouldn’t be in the same league to begin with.

  3. I have no problem with copied aero

    My issue lies in the fact the everything else On that car is actually made by Mercedes and that must stop

    Listed parts should be extended to everything bar engine & gear box

    They may have copied the aero but that car was over 1.5 seconds slower than Merc yesterday so clearly you can replicate Performance by copying, even when 99% of that car was delivered to them in boxes from Mercedes

    It’s the 99% genuine parts that must be stopped, not the 1% they copied. How can you claim to be a manufacturer when all you do is self-assemble and add the outer bodywork???

    1. Your percentages are way off.

      1. Yes your correct… it’s more like 99.999% Merc & 0.001% RP but I thought I’d round up

        That is because there are 80,000 components that make up an F1 Car and Mercedes makes everyone of them except 8

        The front wing
        The nose
        The bargeboards
        The floor
        The diffuser
        The rear wing
        The break ducts
        The engine cover

    2. Well, there was a theory that mercs quali settings were reduced in relation to the puffs of smoke, at the customer team’s.
      That could explain the tracing point loss.

  4. I’m coming around to RP’s argument: I saw a comparison of the W10 & the RP20 where the shape of the front of the monocoque and the suspension are different. I doubt anyone would have cared if they hadn’t carried over the shape of the nose.

    I used to work in design qualification/assurance, and if someone came and said they’d changed the material layup, say, then the part would need requalified i.e. it wasn’t the same design. Those brake ducts may look the same geometrically, but they may not be the same “design”.

    Silverstone is a pretty aero-dependent circuit is it not? The argument is over a car that is 1.5 seconds slower than a Mercedes and qualifies 6th. Renault were 2 tenths or so behind. Looks like a pointless distraction to me, but as DC noted in commentary, there are a lot of “tell tale t1ts” (1 just in case of net nanny). It has to be said that there are a number of teams that are doing a poor job while Mercedes are being criticised for being exceptional.

    What is slightly alarming is how chisel nosed the Ferrari, Sauber (Alfa Romeo), Haas, and Williams look in comparison to the slender McLaren, Mercedes, Renault etc. designs. The front wing, frontal area, and air flow under the car is everything.

  5. I think in today’s world order, saving money is most important.
    Not many sponsors are willing to spend money due to low revenues and market pressures.
    Even Mclaren have taken huge loans, wouldn’t know if they can survive this year and next.

    It is all the more prudent to cut costs for this year and next, Hopefully when teams have the money to spend on their research, They will.

    I’m in for more racing points, it helps the teams and drivers to be in a competitive car and provide some racing action testing driver skills rather than boring DRS overtakes

    Couldn’t agree more, request Zak Brown to shut up and provide their team a good car.

  6. DAllein (@)
    2nd August 2020, 9:00

    But wait, you already agreed 2022 regulations, with all cars being the same by default with zero deviation tolerance, and almost every part being stock.


    1. Exactly what I thought when reading Brawn’s

  7. So, Brown is advocating seeing clever things on other cars, seeing that that car is fast – and not copying it.

    I call sour grapes. His team, and others, have persisted with their own high-rake concept and now look stupid.

  8. F1 was already starting to lose its identity the moment it started to add reliability to save costs. Never actually saving any costs in the process, just moving them from one area being spent on, to another area being spent.

    Making the cars, bigger, heavier and forced to save tires, fuel, engines and gearboxes, turning a flat out sprint race into a mini Endurance event.

  9. RocketTankski
    2nd August 2020, 9:19

    But is it ok if an engineer takes tech data directly from Ferrari instead? :-)

    1. do you know that they have been punished severely for that thing? if you dont have any memories, you can read about it…

  10. Not sure what this has to do with the topic.

    But I totally agree !! :D

  11. I once cited the “spirit of the rules” when trying to get my way with something.

    It took exactly a very short time for me to be shot down. I was told the spirit of the rules have nothing to do with it…

  12. I think the whole concept of copying a complete car hasn’t even been considered by the FIA or FOM because its has been pretty much impossible to do.

    Sure teams have been copying a component or an idea for years, that’s an absolute given, but no one has copied an entire car because it’s almost impossible to do and get the same or even close to the performance of the original because there are just to many bits that aren’t clearly visible and too many parts that have a symbiotic relationship with other parts that rely on tolerances of less than 1mm

    The fact that RP have been able to (if indeed they have) has thrown up a whole new paradigm that would have never been contemplated. The FIA probably won’t worry about it at the moment because everything changes in 2022 but it’s something they may need to keep an eye on.

  13. I understand the argument that it goes against the grain of what F1 is, but copying another team’s designs has been happening for years and there only ever seems to be a fuss when the copycat car is performing well.

    Much of the noise this season has been because RP ‘hit the ground running’ and the RP20 appeared quick. But is it actually quick?

    It’s been nearly a second or more slower in qualifying than the W11 at the last two races. This is considerably more than the year on year performance gain between the W11 and W10 at each track respectively (the W10 would have occupied the second row based on last year’s times), and the RP20 is obviously fitted with this year’s power unit too which is reportedly 4-5 tenths quicker than last year’s.

    Using some dodgy mental arithmetic, that makes the RP20 chassis about 1.2 seconds slower around Silverstone than the W10 it has been copied from, all other things being equal. Should we really be that bothered?

    The only reason it’s not fighting it out for best of the rest (which is where Racing Point usually are anyway) is because Red Bull and Ferrari have been severely underwhelming so far this year. Likewise, if the McLaren or Renault were fitted with Mercedes power they’d be comfortably ahead of RP by my reckoning.

    All things considered… I don’t think the RP20, or indeed the team’s approach, is worth worrying about.

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