Lance Stroll, Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Ferrari wade into Racing Point legality row with letter to F1 and FIA

2020 F1 season

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Ferrari has intervened in the dispute over Racing Point’s car by asking Formula 1 and the FIA to clarify a key aspect of the regulations.

A hearing will take place on Wednesday regarding the protest brought by Renault against Racing Point at the Styrian Grand Prix in June. Renault’s case centres on the design of Racing Point’s brake ducts, which it alleges are copies of those Mercedes raced on its world championship-winning 2019 car.

Ferrari, which supports Renault’s protest, has requested clarification of terms in the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations which are key to Renault’s case.

Appendix six of the regulations states “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”, and “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 […] provided that […] it retains the exclusive right to use the listed parts in Formula 1 so long as it competes in Formula 1.”

A Ferrari spokesperson told RaceFans the team has queried how Racing Point can be considered to have designed the parts in question when it has admitted they are modelled on those of the Mercedes.

This was referred to by the FIA’s head of single-seater matters, Nikolas Tombazis, in an interview during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, when he described a pre-season visit to Racing Point’s factory by the governing body’s representatives to inspect their car.

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“We were convinced by what we saw that what Racing Point had been saying as their process, of taking photographs and going to a detailed reverse-engineering from the photos, was very plausible,” said Tombazis. “I would say even more than that, just look, they showed us how they’ve done everything. And we are satisfied that was the process they had indeed followed.”

Did the FIA really overlook Racing Point’s disputed brake ducts – and will it matter?
Since lodging its original protest three weeks ago, Renault submitted further identical protests concerning the same points after the subsequent races in Hungary and Great Britain. All three protests are being considered as one.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown told RaceFans he was aware of the letter’s existence and the team shares the concerns of Renault and Ferrari.

“We support getting to the bottom of the whole Racing Point copying of the Mercedes car,” he said. “We think it is against the spirit of the rules.

“Because we don’t have details, we’re not in a position to have a view on whether it’s legal or not, because we’re not privy to any inside information. But as advertised it definitely seems like it’s against what’s intended in Formula 1.

“Therefore we’re very interested in the outcome of the Renault protest and, like Ferrari, seeking clarification on whether the FIA deems it legal. I think moving forward, it definitely shouldn’t be. But we need to address if this is deemed to be illegal and worked a loophole then, like Formula 1 has done in the past, you need to close the loopholes if you’ve missed something.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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84 comments on “Ferrari wade into Racing Point legality row with letter to F1 and FIA”

  1. “We support getting to the bottom of the whole Racing Point copying of the Mercedes car,” he said. “We think it is against the spirit of the rules.”

    But you support the copying of parts don’t you Zak? Don’t you Matthia? Because you have done it, you still do it and I’m sure you have engineers working right now to reproduce other teams innovations in the future. So, what’s the difference between a part and a subassembly, or even a system? Well, it’s impossible to draw a hard line; it’s a continuum. And that’s why the rules don’t try to do it. All RP have done is taken what is commonly and legally done by every team in the pit lane to it’s logical conclusion. The only surprise is that no-one has tried to do it before – i mean these people are engineers after all!
    It’s starting to look like an academic argument though, because (so far at least) it looks the operational shortcomings of a team that has copied a design that they have not earned might prevent them from understanding it and making effective use of it anyway. It might be a Mercedes in the PFD workspace and in the wind tunnel, but on track it’s a Racing Point.
    I’m in stitches at the hilarious invocation of ‘the spirit’ of the F1 rules (I’m picturing a beautiful, winged personification!). McLaren have been caught red-handed with actual Ferrari designs, Renault were caught with McLaren designs and Ferrari won races and 2nd place in the championship with an illegal PU last year. At least it’s more entertaining than the racing at the front…when the tyres aren’t going ‘pop’ that is (did someone find that idea in an old, discarded notepad of Bernie’s, maybe on the same page as the hosepipe idea?).

    1. The spirit of the rules is something that F1 has made a mistake not writing into the rules in the past, but it is very relevant.
      When all these rules are written there are very definite agendas to why they were needed in the first place. With the teams being involved in the rule creation they have all been privy to the spirit or intent of every rule, so when they then use a technicality or an oversight within that rule to gain an advantage that is contrary to that spirit or intent, then that is malafide … and is severely frowned upon by the law.
      If they simply added one single simple clause to their existing rules … that in all cases the spirit and intent of the law would take priority in any dispute, they could solve a lot of problems. Like the E&OE clause …

      1. I’m just picturing the Spirit of the Rules looking into the Racing Point garage. She has disappointment and…yes…tears in her eyes.
        The ‘spirit’ is BS. It’s codified in the rules or its not, and if it’s not there’s a reason it’s not there. There are very good reasons why no attempt is made to ban copying from other teams.

        1. Paul Duggan – what is being called ‘the spirit of the rules’ is known in legal circles as ‘purposive construction’ and is finding more favour in the Courts; particularly in areas where folks are wont to ‘bend’ the rules – tax for example.

    2. Still there is a difference between developing something with the same concept as other competitors and outright carbon-copy it with photographs, which I feel is not “designing” anymore but merely “reproducing”.

      Racing Point probably doesn’t have the “exclusive rights” on those parts anyways so their point is still valid.

      1. It is not the copying that is the problem. That is part of F1 and racing point have just been clever about how they have gone about it. Photos do not however give you all the info you need and aero design work would still have been needed in order to convert the photos into working parts. However, if the internal parts like the brake ducts are copied then that could not have been done from photos and they would have to have been produced from mercedes designs that were either given to them or stolen from them. That is the problem here not the copying by photos.

        1. RedPillPusher
          4th August 2020, 20:07

          They legally had the 2019 Mercedes brake ducts though so they would of known the design. If the are carbon copy of every measurement then it makes sense they are illegal, but if they look similar even if very similar, they should be allowed. They can’t be expected to forcibly forget the design of a component they were legally allowed to use last year.

      2. @spoutnik Photograph copying has, itself, been happening for at least 2 decades, with various degrees of success. There is a lot of precedent to show it is both legal, and within the rules.

        The question is whether IP got exchanged in the process of making the car work, which would be forbidden.

    3. I won’t say illegal PU but a gray area PU as it’s clear Ferrari did something but the FLA can prove it black on white. So they made a deal if that is the correct way i let you decide.

      1. It was illegal.
        Those wins last year? Cheated.
        Vettel’s petulance at losing the Canadian GP after an earned penalty while driving a car that was only competetive because it was illegal? Laughable.

    4. Malcolm Snook
      4th August 2020, 9:05

      Very good points!

  2. It’s all a storm in a thimble. In the four races this year the pink mercs have recorded 1 DNS, 1 x 9th, 2 x 7ths, 2 x 6ths, and a 4th place. Hardly great results using a real Mercedes power unit. It takes much more than copying the surface shape of a car to replicate its performance.

    1. @greenflag Indeed! Either it’s a not-so-good copy or maybe even last years’ Mercedes would struggle equally if teams have improved, or a bit both? Also I can’t help but think that their lineup doesn’t help much currently.

      And let’s not forget the army of engineers Mercedes has to handle all aspects of the car, even in the race. I know about the 80 people restrictions in races, but didn’t hear anything about the staff they have in their remote control race rooms. Just looking at the DAS system shows how far they push in every aspects. Clearly is not just the car but also engineering, operations, and drivers (and endless money).

      In the meantime I wouldn’t write them off just yet as the car showed massive pace at some point, if they can get their act together they could bag some nice results. With such a short season though it will be difficult for them to nail it.

    2. There’s a bigger picture going forward. We’re not just talking about RP here, it’s a discussion on where design copyright lies within F1 and it’s a pretty important one.

      1. Copying has existed in motor racing since the inventions of pencils and cameras. Where to draw the line, to coin a pun?

        1. Copying yes. But given developments in 3d scanning and even developments around AI in design software perhaps times are slightly different to times when everyone worked like Adrian Newey.

          1. And yet there is the irony that Newey himself has admitted to sometimes copying other teams (the 2012 Sauber was one he admitted to taking quite a few bits from, especially the Coanda exhaust).

        2. Michael Ward
          4th August 2020, 5:58

          Copying concepts has happened since forever, but wholesale reproduction of an entire car… I can’t think of many examples in the past.

          Where to draw the line, right there, ban the wholesale reproduction of a competitor’s car.

          In my opinion, and seemingly what Ferrari are questioning, the rules already say you have to design the car yourself.
          You have to own the Intellectual Property of the design, You can’t buy the IP, You can’t sell your IP, You can’t give your IP even inadvertently.
          These rules were put in to specifically stop Toro Rosso using the previous years Redbull cars.
          So Racing Point using the previous years Mercedes cars would be against the rules, and if you reproduce a design, exactly, from photos you still don’t own the IP, outside of F1 you would be sued and lose.

          So if F1’s rules specifically refer to the IP of another team, and exact reproductions of designs infringes on IP, I can’t see how Racing Point could justify cloning a Mercedes design.

          I’m not a lawyer, just a fan of F1, and there is more at play than what’s written in a rule, it’s how F1 chooses to Interpret it too, and F1 could determine that this is ok and legal, but not without consequences.

          Sometimes F1 disputes leave the FIA jurasditicion and go to court. With millions of dollars on the line, can the FIA really be sure that Renault, Racing Point or another team won’t appeal the ruling in court? If they do, would a judge accept that a copied design is new IP when there are existing rulings confirming the opposite? I don’t think so.

          I’m really interested in how this is handled by the FIA and what they decide, because this ruling could change the entire way some teams go about existing in F1, for good or ill.

          1. I don’t know about some of these claims, Michael Ward. I’m not a lawyer either, so I’m not claiming any special knowledge. But here is what I see.

            I believe it has long been widely accepted that one team can take pictures of another team’s cars and work out their own solutions based on that info. Why else would teams resort to blocking their cars before the season or having everyone in the garage when they take the engine cover off? Now we can dispute whether this is “okay” or “right” or whatever, but it seems to be an accepted practice at this point.

            If I can take a picture of parts 0000 – 1000 and copy them, what’s the difference between that and copying the next thousand or ten thousand from photos or scans? If that’s all RP has done, and I do not know what all they have done so that “if” is doing a lot of heavy lifting in this sentence, then I personally think they have done nothing wrong.

            The issue for me comes in if Merc and RP are sharing info privately. Because then Merc gets to influence the championship order by pulling RP up to challenge Ferrari and RB. I think if you want to share info across teams, it becomes public.

            My answer is that car info becomes public every few months. You want an advantage? Great, everyone will know how to build it in 2mos, for example. Or after each race. There are too many restrictions and design confinements baked into the rules to allow a team that has found an advantage to milk that for 7-8 years. I am a Merc fan, and I’m not saying that they made their 2014 car and then never did anything again. I’m saying they built amazing cars/power units to start this era, and have had performance margin since then that has allowed them to exploit other areas. I don’t hate them, just like I didn’t hate RBR or Ferrari before them. But things need to change.

            And this, to me is a symptom of the broken system, and one that can be remedied with sensible rules changes rather than disputed in courts.

          2. RedPillPusher
            4th August 2020, 20:19

            Where to draw the line, right there, ban the wholesale reproduction of a competitor’s car.

            You would need to define what wholesale reproduction is. The Racing Point car is known to have differences from the 2019 Mercedes so it is not technically an exact carbon copy. This can be seen from simple photos comparisions so there are probably many small differences as well.

        3. Well, that is exactly what the teams are now asking of the FIA @greenflag, to define where the line actually lies.

          Since RP showed what apparently can be done technically, it is important to define the limits of what is considered “taking inspiration” and full out copying of anothers’ design.
          Since the onus is on the team to prove they did the design itself (as required per the rules), it makes the FIA be the gatekeeper there.

          I agree with the teams it is important to define that line, or we will get copies of Mercedeses and Red Bulls for quite a few teams from 2023 onwards (the earliest option to actually copy a design now.)

    3. QUOTE: “Green Flag (@greenflag)
      3rd August 2020, 21:41

      It’s all a storm in a thimble. In the four races this year the pink mercs have recorded 1 DNS, 1 x 9th, 2 x 7ths, 2 x 6ths, and a 4th place. Hardly great results using a real Mercedes power unit. It takes much more than copying the surface shape of a car to replicate its performance.”

      THATS A LOT OF POINTS AND TENS OF MILLIONS OF $$$$…. IN TERMS OF PERFORMANCE BONUS’S AND FURURE SPONSERSHIP, LET ALONE EQUITY VALUE OF THE TEAM’S VALUE.

      ITS ALL ABOUT $$$$ !
      SIMPLE.

  3. “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 […] provided that […] it retains the exclusive right to use the listed parts in Formula 1 so long as it competes in Formula 1.”

    That wording seems to suggest that even if the parts were used last year, and were sold to RP before they became listed parts for 2020, those parts will remain exclusively Mercedes IP for as long as they are competing in F1, & RP cannot use them.
    That eliminates the timeline technicality Dieter and others mentioned at the beginning of the protests.

    1. alternatively it could be meant for the more straightforward case of selling a team all in parts,staff,inventory and rights and allowing the new owner to actually use what it bought in competition Dale

      1. That’s not what the clause says … it says that whoever designed the part has it’s “exclusive use” as long as they are competing in F1, irrespective of whether or not they manufacture it in house or through a supplier … not to decide who gets to use it, even after it is no longer useful to them.

        1. RP have already said of the ducts ‘We designed them once. We can do it again if we need to’. I think they have a complete set of design data that they’ve reverse engineered. I’d be surprised if they haven’t. Shame for them that they can’t clone Lewis or Max.

          1. They did try to clone Max, but cloning is very difficult and Lance is what popped out.

    2. @dale & @bosyber, This same wording is what I believe creates a loop-hole. I imagine the difference between your point of view and mine is why Ferrari wants clarification. Please, consider the following scenario and let me know if you agree with the logic:

      Mercedes designs brake ducts, they hold the exclusive right to the intellectual property (IP) for as long as they are racing in Formula 1. Mercedes redesigns brake ducts and now have two designs to which they exclusive own the IP for as long as they are racing in Formula 1. Merceds sell the IP for the first design to Racing Point and from that day stop using that design. Now, Racing Point owns the exlcusive rights to that IP for as long as they are racing in Formula 1. As long as that was done before the deadline in which Racing Point needs to have owned the IP, then—it is possible—they are in the clear.

      1. If RP reverse engineered them like they did the other listed parts those contortions aren’t necessary. Merc don’t need to stop using their nose just to make RP’s rev eng’d job legal!

      2. @jmwalley I think that Dale’s point is that whether Mercedes want to sell the IP or not, they’re actually forbidden from doing so with the brake ducts. Whether that is retrospective or not is then the question. I think that it probably should be though – the rules on listed parts haven’t changed, it’s just that the part itself is now a listed part, and all of the existing rules about listed parts (specifically the ones that you have to design your own listed parts, and you can’t use the IP of another team to do so) should apply.

      3. @jmwalley The problem is “Merced[e]s sell the IP for the first design to Racing Point”. That is a transfer of “the exclusive right to use the listed part”. Such an action is forbidden “so long as it [Mercedes (the original IP owner)] competes in Formula 1”.

        If Mercedes was not competing in F1, the 2020 constructor’s standings would look rather different.

        Because of this, the scenario you described would be a clear breach of the rules.

  4. Oh Ferrari, of all the teams you need to keep your mouth shut.

    1. You’d think, wouldn’t you? In truth they might just be pushing to have clarity on exactly how far Hass and AR can ‘copy’ their car. Should they ever produce something that’s really worth copying again.

      1. Exactly – depending on the outcome of the ruling, Ferrari could in theory triple their resources by pooling with Haas and AR, and in doing so they could massively increase their capacity to develop their car. And because they’re Ferrari, they would still be able to afford the best drivers (and they would probably farm out their junior drivers to the other two teams), so even if all three teams were running the same car they could be assured that the Ferrari would be the quickest, either because they have the quickest drivers, or because their juniors in the other teams would know what was good for them in terms of their careers, and would be careful not to outshine the main team too much (and if they showed that they were better than the incumbents, they would probably find themselves in a red car at the next opportunity).

    2. @ivan-vinitskyy

      Agree 100%. Ferrari complaining about another team going ‘against the spirit of the rules’ is a joke. Ferrari don’t even care about the rules, and in fact, they breach the rules in a blatant manner, get caught cheating, and then sign shady agreements with the FIA to protect their ‘reputation’.

      What’s even funnier is that Haas copied the 2017 Ferrari in 2018, exactly like how Racing Point copied the Mercedes this season. People seem to forget that Haas was running 4th and 5th in the first race of the season, and were looking quicker than every car in the midfield as well. I’m surprised Ferrari didn’t see that as being ‘against the spirit of the rules’ as well.

      Ferrari are pathetic it. It’s a new low for them to complain about Racing Point while pretending to take a moral high ground. It absolutely baffles me how they’re the most popular racing team of all time… to me they’re the eternal laughing stock of the paddock.

      1. @todfod I don’t think Ferrari were caught blatantly cheating or they would have been punished. Was it not that they were suspected of a wrongdoing but that they (FIA) couldn’t prove Ferrari were actually cheating? Hence the unique agreement? I’m not looking to defend Ferrari to the nth degree here, but suffice it to say if they were actually blatantly cheating and still got an agreement and no punishment (other than they can’t use their trick anymore) then your issue should be wholly with the FIA not Ferrari.

        However, this is a separate issue (the RP one) and has nothing to do with whatever Ferrari may have done in the past. And are they ‘complaining’ or just joining others in asking for clarity on the RP copying Mercedes issue?

        When Haas bought Ferrari’s whole back end there was much scrutiny and debate about that too, so Ferrari has been there done that and got the T-shirt when it comes to being put under the microscope wrt pushing the envelope on the ‘customer car’ or ‘copied car’ file.

        As I said above, I don’t see them complaining so much as just asking for clarity, nor do I see them taking some moral high ground stance. They can stand there all day long and claim the Haas thing was scrutinized and settled, as was the issue over their fuel flow trick. Otherwise, see FIA not Ferrari for your own complaints.

        1. @robbie

          It’s futile to get in to the discussion of Ferraris engine fiasco.. You’ll reply with there’s no solid evidence and I’ll say their engine deficit this year is proof enough. Let’s save ourselves the trouble of that argument.

          As I said above, I don’t see them complaining so much as just asking for clarity,

          If they wanted clarity maybe they should have avoided the ‘against the spirit of the rules’ comment… It’s a bit rich and hypocritical coming from Ferrari.

          1. @todfod I agree the Ferrari ‘engine fiasco’ as you call it is a whole debate on it’s own. And I don’t claim ‘no solid evidence’ at all. I agree that their lack of power now gives strong evidence and a ‘non-legal’ proof shall we say, that something was going on. A visual proof. That’s as plain as day.

            However, what I do claim is there was not solid enough evidence to provide proof, or else there would have been much greater repercussions. Since there were not greater repercussions and instead was a binding document over intellectual property, either Ferrari didn’t actually get caught cheating in the most technical of terms that would have been necessary in order to level that charge, or the FIA has done an illegal coverup. Ferrari bent the rules but did not break them enough, ie. had a solid enough interpretation of the rules to make for a strong argument, and yet FIA had enough to go by to at least get them to stop using their trick.

            As to your last paragraph, it is not Ferrari who are invoking the ‘spirit of the rules’ concept, it is Zak Brown.

  5. LOL, the same team that entered a confidential settlement with the FIA. Ferrari were caught cheating and were handed a slap on the wrist, now they want to beat up on another team.

    1. The difference is there are 2 sides to ferrari; the car building commercial side and the F1 team. The engine debate, can be argued, that the technology in it is owned by the engine manufacturer of it and they own the IP of that tech. This clarification is from the F1 team side asking what are/is the rules on designing a car. For next year we know that development is reduced, so Ferrari might be testing the water to see if this is indeed allowed to build their own “copy” for next year as a stop gap measure. Which a lot of teams might feel is worth persuing if it turns out that this is ok.

  6. How close in design are they? I mean can they just slightly change them and they will be legal? Who decides what a copy actually is?

    1. If they can show that they have design data that they own and it goes from scratch to the final part without using any non-publicly available Merc data (excludes photos) it doesn’t matter. No-one has to decide what’s a copy. Call it a copy if you want but it’s a legal copy, so… it doesn’t matter.

      1. No-one has to decide what’s a copy. Call it a copy if you want but it’s a legal copy, so… it doesn’t matter.

        Pretty sure any juge in courts would disagree. Just remember the Rich Energy case:

        https://www.racefans.net/2019/05/14/haas-sponsor-rich-energy-copied-logo-from-whyte-bikes-court-rules/

        1. Sorry, but what are you talking about? That was trademark infringement. We are not talking about TMed or patented (again; for good reasons) material here. There is nothing that makes this illegal in any sense.

      2. The big problem is how much copying is legal and how much is not will always be a subjective case that is hard to put in writing unless it’s a straight up copy paste. Teams copy each other all the time but usually never to the same extent as RP has. It is a very difficult line to draw in writing especially if RP proved that they reversed engineered it from photos alone and had their own design files to boot.

    2. I can’t really see any satisfactory way of policing, or even stipulate rules that completely prevent one competitor from copying another. So in my opinion they shouldn’t try, it will only be a mess. Considering how detailed the technical rules are, teams must be allowed to find the same solutions. Trying to control how they do that is just silly in my opinion. There is no distinct line between happening to come up with the same design, designing things that are similar, or full out copying someone else. Not so that it can be completely proven in all cases anyway.
      It will be very interesting to see how this all turns out. Personally I hope, in combination with the budget cap, that they realize they can let go of many of the technical restrictions (put in place to control costs) which in turn would allow teams to actually find different solutions. If over time one solution turns out to be dominant anyway, what’s wrong with everybody doing that, copy or not? It is as it has always been; teams will converge over the stretch of a rules era, then the rules change and the cycle starts over.

      1. Have to agree Robert , well put.

    3. It looks like a Mercedes but if you see the results underthe body it’s a Rp car still. Did they improve yes but it’s hardly the 2019 Mercedes otherwise they would have podiums every race.

  7. Ah, relax already.
    In 2022 you will all copy the same stock parts for identical 20 cars on the grid. Enjoy the freedom you have now.

  8. “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

    1. I thought borrow? ;)

  9. Ferrari are just hoping that they get to see the actual design of brake ducts so they too can copy them. Bet you they won’t be satisfied with any secret settlement.

  10. Not really surprised that Ferrari are seeking clarification given that Haas would probably love to buy the previous years Ferrari – oops make that “reverse engineer last years car from photos” and Ferrari may want to help with that legally if the stewards find everything above board.

    For those that are saying “if it was a copy of the Mercedes it should be doing better” it would be worth noting that every year the new cars are significantly faster than the previous years so I’d expect the RP car, even as a fully purchased chassis, to be marginally slower that the current crop. Many years ago the lower end teams used to purchase their chassis from other teams at the end of a season just to be able to bring a car to the grid in the next season and they were never all that competitive such is the nature of F1 and its annual progression.

    I suspect the outcome of this protest might have ramifications well into the future – if its dismissed, it potentially could open up a whole new path for midfield and lower teams where they’ll lower their costs by starting with the previous years chassis of one of the top teams. Even for 2022 – it’s conceivable that they’ll start with a discarded version from another team’s design.

    1. it would be worth noting that every year the new cars are significantly faster than the previous years

      @dbradock Ferrari have managed to break that trend this year.

      1. @bernasaurus thanks for that – laughed so much I nearly choked on my scotch.

        I completely overlooked our friends at Ferrari that can pretty much stuff everything

  11. With Ferrari on the side of Renault does this mean Haas are moving to Merc as their ‘legal’ parts supplier?

    1. @jimmi-cynic I don’t think that Ferrari are on the side of Renault per se – I think they want to know just how much development work they can share with Haas and AR (and how much of Haas and AR’s resources they can then use to develop their own car).

      1. Good points. Not racing points… but still good. ;-)

    2. @jimmi-cynic I’m pretty sure Haas wished that they had Mercedes parts at the moment. ;)

  12. Just allow each team to sell their car to two other teams and be done with it.

    It’s cheaper, easier and puts to bed this cheating rubbish.

    1. That sounds a good idea. I can’t but help suspect that’s what Fiat-Chrysler already do. I guess in part I don’t object to Renault protesting Racing Point’s car, but really, when Ferrari protest that means either the other competitor is a very blatant worse cheat than what they should do, or that other team are well ahead of them.

  13. Brake ducts seems to be the thing they are focusing here as it is a Listed Part, but other parts of the car seems to be okay then?

    Also, didnt RP send the design to FIA pre-season to validate? I know the stewards are considered separate referees in practice but seems weird they didn’t clarify them now since the FIA will issue technical clarifications from time to time on stuff.

    1. It may also be that those teams think it is the easiest part that they can test for it’s legality.

      1. That and the technicality of the break-ducts last year being allowed to be sold and not this year, most likely.

  14. There’s nothing new about copying in F1. It’s just a shame that Alan Henry isn’t here anymore. He had to testify in the High Court that his first response on seeing the Arrows A1 was “F me, it’s a Shadow”.

    Ha ha, “spirit of the rules” would be naive from someone outside of F1, but from an insider it’s condescending.

    You can guarantee that every Principal complaining about RP is just getting the excuses lined up for their boss. Renault & Ferrari are massively under-performing.

    1. Ah yes Not George, all of us with long F1 memories love that story of dear old AH. Just one thing though, it was actually the other way round, because even though it was Arrows who ended up in legal bother for copying the Shadow, the Arrows copy was unveiled to the world before the Shadow original, and so AH’s words were in fact “F me, it’s an Arrows”. (For everyone scratching their heads at this point about how the copy could be unveiled before the original, Shadow’s top personnel had decamped en masse to form the new Arrows team, including the designer Tony Southgate who took his designs for the latest Shadow with him…) And one last small clarification, the Arrows copy wasn’t the A1, which was a different car they rushed out when the Shadow copy was outlawed. The Shadow copy was the FA1… which is appropriate additional letter when you think of AH’s comment :)

      1. Just to clarify as I don’t think it was clear on my original reply, AH said “F me, it’s an Arrows” on seeing the Shadow at its launch.

        1. And on re-reading, I *still* don’t think I expressed myself entirely clearly when describing the FA1 as “the Shadow copy”. By that, I mean the Arrows FA1 which was a copy of the Shadow. I don’t mean the Shadow original which looked like the Arrows. Yes, it was a complicated old affair, that one!

    2. Not George, it was the Arrows FA1 which was a copy of the Shadow DN9 – it was the case that staff such as Southgate walked out of Shadow with copies of the original design and then relied on the fact that it would take time for the courts to rule that it was a copy based on stolen design data for them to design a replacement, which was the A1.

      That said, the A1 did still take a fairly hefty amount of inspiration from the FA1, so it could be said to have been a knock off of the Shadow DN9 (though not, strictly speaking, a complete copy).

  15. This is only a problem because they are a fast.

    A decent copy of second greatest F1 car of all time, is fast thr next year? No sheit Sherlock.

  16. 2019 – RACING POINT (RP)

    2020 – TRACING POINT (TP)

    2021 – ASTON MARTIN (TPAM)

    2022 – ASTON MARTIN (AM)

    LOL !!!

  17. The Real point is there are NO cross ownership rules between Teams Ownership.

    EG Toto has ownership in Aston Martin, with Daddy Stroll, who owns RP. + Williams, at least.

    EG Toto with his relationship with Jean Todt, and Stroll, has more weight than Liberty or FIA.

    Mercedes has Patent protection (UK) no doubt, but does not enforce that upon RP……. a third party cannot act against patent infringement.

    Liberty is take F1 to the lowest cost level, for their own $$$ desires. They do not care about F1 history, at all.

    Toto desires badly to be a Billionaire, Daddy Stroll will help him….

    They all WIN.

    F1 loses.

    1. I’m sorry, but you don’t know what you are talking about. Mercedes will not have patented any aspect of its F1 car and nor will any other team in the pit lane. They are not protected from copying in any way. F1 tech moves too fast to go through the lengthy process of patent approval and anyway, as soon as someone did patent something it would get banned since closing off development avenues is anti-competitive. The idea that Toto and Merc could prevent RP doing what they’ve done is just wrong.

  18. Coincidences or not?
    – Toto Wolff saying in 2015 that smaller teams have approached Mercedes for customer cars
    – Toto Wolff making a personal investment in Aston Martin which is set to have its own team in F1

    1. AML (the car company) merely swaps title sponsorship from RBR to (what is currently known as) RP, @pinakghosh.

      But it could be a smart move as many people think they go from mere sponsorship to running a team.

  19. I remember the 1987 Ferrari was dubbed the McWilliams because it was so much like the Williams FW11 at the front and the McLaren MP4/2 at the back.

    1. Patrick P, that seems a bit of a stretch given that there were some rather marked differences in design between the two – for example, the F1/87 had a pull rod front suspension system when the FW11 had a push rod layout (hence why the FW11’s monocoque also has some rather noticeable bulges where they’ve had to strengthen the chassis to mount the push rod). OK, the two cars have a vaguely similar nose shape (a rather pointed nosecone), but they don’t really look that much like each other.

  20. Part of the problem is that the car they’ve duplicated is so good it still has an advantage over the rest of the field, despite being a year old. It may not be able to extract quite the performance of the original but its close enough to be quite strong. They just don’t seem to know how to maximise its potential, but then they wouldn’t – it’s not theirs.

    They own the IP to a copy, and they’ve been pretty open that it’s a copy – so I’m not sure how they can claim to be a constructor that designed their own car when they openly admit they didn’t. If duplicating a car like this is considered absolutely legal then there’s nothing stopping Red Bull & Alphatauri turning up with the same car, or Haas/Alfa Romeo arriving with a direct replica of the Ferrari. You’ve allowed customer cars in by the back door.

    1. They own the IP to a copy

      I think that is technically not possible.
      But I think that is exactly what you’re saying here, @rocketpanda.
      You can become economical and physical owner of a copy, but you don’t become IP owner of the original design.

      1. It is what I’m saying, and what I think Ferrari are getting at. It’s like someone that paints a duplicate of a painting – they don’t own the rights to the original work, only the copy – and even that’s a shaky argument. They certainly shouldn’t be allowed to profit or garner success with something that is by their own admission a duplication.

      2. @rocketpanda To me, that they have openly admitted to the car being a copy is not admitting that the whole car is a copy through and through…hence the concept that they reverse-engineered the car. They openly admit that through photography (and no doubt the highest def and even AI in use) they duplicated that which they could see from the outside. Presumably under the skin the car looks unquestionably to be of their own making with the exception of the pu of course. And the rear suspension and the gearbox which all customer teams of other makers pu’s use. Do they use identical steering wheels, for example? Easy enough to check from on boards and as of this moment I have not.

        So based on that I don’t think they have “allowed customer cars in by the back door.” I don’t think RP has started a trend. A copy will never beat an original. A copy is never going to get a team great accolades nor fill them with pride like being originators does. A copy of anything other than the winning Merc would be a waste of time, and even then it is a guarantee of never winning the titles against the originator, and that is generally not what sponsors sign up for…to be subservient. And since copies of dominant Mercs will never win other than by a fluke, a copy of a Red Bull or a Ferrari certainly wouldn’t win, so why bother? I also think that the phenomenon we’ve had in recent years that really was highlighted moreso when Haas entered and bought Ferrari’s whole back end, which stirred debate, was borne of the highly expensive and complex hybrid era of pu(s) as opposed to plain old ICE(s), and should be a less necessary option financially with the wholly new F1 that is around the corner.

    2. If duplicating a car like this is considered absolutely legal then there’s nothing stopping Red Bull & Alphatauri turning up with the same car, or Haas/Alfa Romeo arriving with a direct replica of the Ferrari. You’ve allowed customer cars in by the back door.

      Well, sort of but not. AlphaTauri, for instance, can’t turn up at the start of a season with the same car as RedBull. They could however turn up with a car that looks like last years RedBull, that is an important difference. Neither can they turn up with actually last years RedBull, only something that looks like it, even if it really looks like it. They are not allowed to develop a car together with another team, but it’s insane to not allow teams to look at each others cars while they are racing together.

  21. I think it’s a waste to continue argue what RP has done. They are competitive with a small budget and the sport is better for it. Copying another team has always been a part of the sport but no one has ever been this blatant about it. At least they aren’t trying to hide it.
    And it is plausible that RP could figure out something very close to the Mercedes internals based just on outer photos and extensive data on how the car should run under different scenarios which they can test repeatedly in a wind tunnel until they get the desired result.

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