Brown: FIA verdict shows Racing Point’s claim over how RP20 was designed is ‘BS’

2020 70th Anniversary Grand Prix

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McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says the FIA’s verdict on Racing Point shows the team’s claim it only used photographs to copy Mercedes’ 2019 car is “BS”.

Brown previously indicated his support for Renault’s successful protest against their rivals’ brake ducts. While the FIA stewards ruled the parts conformed to the technical regulations, they found Racing Point’s design process violated its rules.

“Racing Point has been found guilty [and] I am concerned that they still have those [parts] what were deemed illegal in Austria on the race car now,” said Brown.

“I think that is confusing for the for the fans. How is something that is not legal in Austria still on the car?”

The case concerned whether Racing Point had broken the rules by basing its RP20 closely on Mercedes’ 2019 car. While the team has only been found in breach of the rules regarding its rear brake ducts, Brown believes the verdict indicates other transgressions may have occured.

“They claimed that they had copied the car via photography,” he said. “It’s clear from reading the document that that’s BS. And therefore you have to question anything else around that car.

Esteban Ocon, Renault, Silverstone, 2020
Analysis: How Renault’s Racing Point protest led the FIA to revise its rules on ‘clone cars’
“So I think this is the potentially the tip of the iceberg, the starting point of looking at what’s happened here, because I don’t think it’s healthy for the sport.”

Racing Point has been docked 15 points – though the sanction is only applied to the team, not its drivers – and fined €400,000 (£360,000).

“The constructor gets a penalty, but the drivers don’t,” Brown continued. “As teams we all compete with each other but then all the drivers compete with each other and they’re able to keep their points when drivers are fighting for the drivers championship.”

Renault has indicated it is considering an appeal over the decision and Brown said McLaren may look into joining it.

“I think it’s thrown up a lot more questions than answers and there’s new evidence that we now have been able to see. And it’s something we, too, are going to review quickly and understand the appeal process and whether that’s something that we want to potentially participate in.”

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

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24 comments on “Brown: FIA verdict shows Racing Point’s claim over how RP20 was designed is ‘BS’”

  1. ““I think that is confusing for the for the fans.”

    Not only for the fans, Zak Brown. The stewards concluded that “The BDs of the RP20 are fully compliant with all relevant technical regulations.”

    1. It just means there’s nothing wrong with them technically. But they were not designed by RP.

  2. The only thing which is Bulls here is the verdict.

    “Rule” stretched to extreme is not a proper base for decision.

    And for the rest of RP car – Brown can shut up, the car is totally fine and even visibly different. AND it has not been designed by CAD.

    1. *by CAD provided by Mercedes, and the rest of the car has never been part of any deals.

  3. In 2007 McLaren (team, cars and drivers) benefitted from the leak from the Ferrari dossier. Yet the drivers kept the points.
    That was also BS. Kimi’s WDC actually saved FIAs reputation. That year WDC was almost won by 2 drivers from a cheating team.

    1. @omarr-pepper I think you best read up on the case, as McLaren were only found and charged with possession of Ferrari documents, not of actually using the information on their cars.

      1. Fact.

      2. @robbie that is not entirely correct – as part of the agreement, the FIA did investigate a number of items on the 2007 and 2008 cars that McLaren produced where information that came through Coughlan might have been used to influence the design.

        In particular, one area where McLaren were forced to make changes was their braking system. The exact details were not revealed by the FIA in their judgement, or by any of the parties involved, but the overall conclusion was that there were components on McLaren’s 2007 car where the FIA suspected the parts were based on Ferrari’s 2007 car.

        As part of the settlement, McLaren had to agree to use a different braking system that was originally developed for their 2005 car, and then evolved for their 2006 car (i.e. that they wouldn’t use the system used on the 2007 car). It was cited as one reason why Hamilton was noted as having a number of front wheel lockups, particularly on the unloaded tyre, in 2008.

        1. @anon Hadn’t heard that, so I did some googling and couldn’t find anything on it. I’d be really interested if you have something to refer to on this.

          1. @robbie If I remember correctly after the FIA handed McLaren the punishment they did they also insisted that McLaren allow an independent company to look at the designs for the 2008 car to confirm nothing that could have come from the Ferrari documents was on it.

            That results on that investigation were that McLaren were planning to introduce a quick shift brake bias adjuster on the 2008 car which was very similar to the system that Ferrari had pioneered & been using since 2004/05. As a result Mclaren were forced to take that system off the 2008 car & run a more standard brake bias adjustment system (A knob drivers turned left/right) until they developed a new quick adjust system that was a certain amount different to what was on the Ferrari.

            It’s referenced here although at the time some of the specifics were kept confidential.

          2. For reference the quick shift brake bias adjust was a lever that allowed drivers to quickly alter the brake bias by pre-determined amounts. If you watch Schumacher onboard footage from 2005/06 for instance you will see him making changes at almost every corner.

            You will see it on this pole lap of Michael’s from Imola 2006.

          3. @gt-racer Good stuff. Thanks for that. I guess I can still say I was right that they weren’t literally or technically charged with using Ferrari info, but there are shades of grey to it and they indeed were using some of the info nonetheless.

          4. @robbie part of it comes from an article that Racecar Engineering ran on the F2007, which mentioned that Ferrari had a system on the rear brakes that would allow a variable application of force (starting off softly and then gradually increasing the braking force).

            Their interpretation of that was that Ferrari probably wanted to use that system to gradually shift the brake bias rearwards during the braking phase, perhaps because of a rearward shift in aerodynamic balance that would come from the teams finding tricks to reduce the amount of downforce, and drag, that was produced by the rear wing on the straights.

            At the start of the braking phase, therefore, the centre of pressure would be further forwards, but as the speed reduced and the rear wing was moved back to generate more downforce, the centre of pressure would shift rearwards. The problem there is that you would want the braking bias to be further forwards to match the aerodynamic centre of pressure at the start of the braking phase, but it would then need to shift backwards to prevent the front wheels locking as the centre of pressure shifted rearwards and the front tyres were unloaded.

            There are e-mails from De La Rosa where he mentions that system, and the information in that e-mail was linked to information that came via Coughlan. They then mention that McLaren developed their own version of that system – now, whilst it used a valve to modulate the brake pressure, rather than a spring based system that Ferrari used, the concept of modulating the brake pressure in that fashion was inspired by information coming from the F2007 and thus McLaren came to an agreement not to incorporate it into their 2008 car.

          5. @anon Good stuff, thanks.

  4. I have to agree that the ruling creates more questions than answers ultimately, and if Racing Point find themselves at the front of the mid-field consistently, I predict we’ll have a season of -protests.

  5. I agree with Zak Brown on the conundrum that the team has been docked 15 points but the drivers not. Oh I get that the drivers aren’t the ones to be blamed for breaching the sporting regulation on the brake ducts, but still, the Constructor points are identical to the combination of both the team’s drivers points, so it seems like it takes a bit of gymnastics to take from one but not the other. And it would seem the drivers benefitted from brake ducts that should have been designed otherwise.

    For me the most glaring oddity when it comes to points happened in 97. After Schumacher whacked JV and lost the WDC they stripped him of his second place standing in the WDC. It is like he didn’t compete that year as he had no standing. Yet, he got to keep his wins and poles. How does a driver have no standing in the WDC and yet get to keep his wins and poles. No points in the standings, but wins and poles in the record books. Put another way, aside from having to do community service, MS was really not penalized at all. Who would care if they were stripped of their standing (unless it was from number 1) if at the same time they got to keep their wins and poles in the F1 history books? He had lost the WDC anyway, so why would stripping him of a losing position in the standings hurt him?

    As LH surpasses MS’s records, those records include a season where MS was stripped of his second place standing in 97. And that had nothing to do with Ferrari. All on MS. He wasn’t an ‘innocent bystander’ like one could argue Stroll and Perez are.

    1. Calm down. Villeneuve was never going to pull that dive bomb off. Schumacher completely out drove Villeneuve in 97. He won the championship. Get over Schumacher. Hamilton spent the Abu Dhabi race in 2016 trying to cause Rosberg to crash.

      1. Lol actually JV did pull it off, and won. Your speculation on his move had MS not hit him is irrelevant. My comment is about MS’s penalty for trying to take JV out with a sudden jerk of his steering wheel to the right and right into JV’s sidepod. As to LH in Abu Dhabi 2016, you’re the first one I‘ve heard say he was trying to get NR to crash. He was actually trying to back him up into traffic so he would be passed and relegated to fewer points. So perhaps it is you that should calm down.

    2. No points in the standings, but wins and poles in the record books. Put another way, aside from having to do community service, MS was really not penalized at all.

      I am sure Michael Schumacher was allowed to keep his points as well. In every F1 statistics book and web page his total sum of points (1566) includes those 78 points from 1997.

      1. @bulgarian I’m sure you’re right but it still makes no sense to me. No standing but 78 points. As I said above, no real penalty at all.

  6. F1 loves drama and it surely can ignite and engage the fans. However, this saga might be having the opposite effect…..

  7. Why couldn’t RP chose the ‘Ferrari lets keep it a secret’ deal?

  8. Remember that the FIA receive funds from the drivers based on their points score to continue to have a superlicense. So the more points the drivers have, the more money the FIA is paid.

    That said, if you’re only deducting a limited number of points, how would you arrive at a reasonable way of deducting these from the driver? I guess a ratio of total points scored against the penalty handed out would make it the most fair, but hardly an easy thing to explain to casual followers of the sport.

    I wonder how they arrived at 15 points to be deducted and to allow them to continue to race illegal parts? What if they went on to win a race or two as a result of this? Its a dangerous precedent to set such a lenient penalty. What if the team in question were winning races at everyone elses expense?

  9. Must be like walking a tightrope whether or not to join a protest that could further implicate your 2021 engine supplier …

    Perhaps leave the protest to Renault, but (along with Williams) go above Toto’s head to the Mercedes board & request a Mercedes Benz internal investigation into how Toto and the AMG team seemed to be helping one of their competitors gain unfair advantage over them.

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