Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Silverstone, 2020

Racing Point given 15-point deduction and fined £360,000 as stewards uphold Renault protest

2020 British Grand Prix

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Racing Point have lost a hearing into the legality of their Formula 1 cars’ brake ducts as the FIA stewards upheld a series of protests brought by rivals Renault.

The FIA stewards handed Racing Point a deduction of 15 points and fined them €400,000 (£360,000) after finding the team in breach of the sporting regulations.

Renault brought three identical protests against Racing Point in consecutive rounds: the Styrian, Hungarian and British grands prix. Racing Point scored 34 points over the course of these races. The team’s score therefore falls from 42 points to 27, and it drops from fifth place in the teams’ championship to sixth, promoting Renault.

The points deduction is being applied to the team’s constructors championship points totals only and does not affect its drivers’ scores in their championship. The International Sporting Code states points may only be deducted from teams or drivers’ totals separately “in exceptional circumstances”, and the stewards determined this case met that standard.

The points sanction, plus fines of €200,000 per car, have been applied in response to Renault’s original protest at the Austrian Grand Prix. Racing Point has also been reprimanded for continuing to use its disputed cars at the races in Hungary and Britain.

In their verdict the stewards pointed out that while the matter is technical in nature, Racing Point had been found in breach of the sporting regulations and not the technical regulations, which is why a disqualification had not been applied.

Since the original Renault protest, the stewards have taken 26 days to rule on a complicated case which is seen as having major ramifications for Formula 1. Racing Point’s ‘pink Mercedes’ has been the target of complaints from rival teams who claim its close similarity to last year’s Mercedes goes beyond what they regulations should allow.

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Renault’s protest alleged Racing Point infringed the sporting regulations by using brake ducts which had been designed by Mercedes. Last year brake ducts were ‘listed parts’, which teams could legally acquire from rivals. But this changed for 2020: Brake ducts were redefined as ‘non-listed parts’, meaning teams must design their own.

While Racing Point legitimately obtained Mercedes’ 2019 brake ducts last year, the case hinged on whether they could continue to use them in 2020. The matter was further complicated by the fact Racing Point used Mercedes’ front brake ducts on its car in 2019, but while it also acquired the rear brake duct designs at the time, these were never used on its RP19.

As a result of this, the stewards found Racing Point’s front brake ducts were compliant with the regulations, but not the rears.

They ruled the front brake ducts the team is using this year are derived from the designs used last year, when they were obtained from Mercedes. But as the team did not race Mercedes’ rear brake ducts last year, the same argument cannot be made for its rear brake ducts. The stewards ruled Racing Point’s rear brake ducts were principally designed by Mercedes, and therefore breach the regulation requiring teams to design their own.

However, as the rear brake duct designs are compliant with the technical regulations, the stewards noted it is not realistic to expect Racing Point to re-design them. They stated the sanction is intended to penalise the potential advantage Racing Point may have gained in its design process.

Racing Point can continue to use the rear brake ducts in future races, but will continue to receive reprimands if they do. “The use of the BDs in further competitions, however, remains an infringement of the SRs,” noted the stewards, “but a penalty of reprimand seems sufficient, because the actual infringement, namely the improper development of the BDs, is sufficiently covered with the penalty assessed at the Styrian Grand Prix.”

The stewards also noted Racing Point had been co-operative with the investigation and stated the team appeared not to have set out to deliberately breach the regulations.

The hearing of the stewards was chaired by Dr Hans-Gerd Ennser, the president of Germany’s motor sport association who has over 10 years’ experience as a Formula 1 steward. The four-person panel also included FIA steward Dennis Dean, Austrian national steward Walter Jobst and British nation steward Richard Norbury.

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126 comments on “Racing Point given 15-point deduction and fined £360,000 as stewards uphold Renault protest”

  1. I didn’t see this coming as I was 100% positive they’d be fine. I’m also surprised that they only lose the points from the second Red Bull Ring race, and not also from Hungary and Silverstone 1.

    1. You’re not an orphan, a surprising amount of dismissive prejudging in the comments – made me consider that insular tendencies, in the forums here and by the British media generally, flavour FI-RP-AM stories.
      Anyway, RP’s copying was shonky and the FIA have given them a little slap and probably notice to clean up their act. Still a fair chance that Renault have a target B component… find out Sunday afternoon.

  2. This wont end here with FIA also will end up being accused in coming days.

    1. will Renault continue to protest further at following races?

      1. Given how light Penalty is Renault might drag FIA into court and even RP might accuse FIA in court as it was FIA who had signed off on designs.

        1. Chaitanya, when you read the ruling, I’m not sure Renault would want to bring the FIA into a court of law because it would require the decision by the stewards coming under increased legal scrutiny – and that might not be good for Renault, as the increased scrutiny might actually be to Racing Point’s benefits given the stewards decision might not stand up to a detailed cross examination.

          The stewards acknowledge that it was entirely legal for Racing Point to purchase the rights to those brake ducts at the time that transfer occurred, which was in 2019; their argument turns on a debate over the “purpose” of the regulations.

          The thing is, in doing so the stewards are more likely to be opening questions over the legality of quite a lot of cars – if there is anything on either the Alpha Tauri, Alfa Romeo or Haas cars that came from their parent teams before the deadline for listed parts, then those cars and their parent teams may also be on the hook. Would you be quite as delighted about seeing Red Bull’s design teams being investigated in the same manner?

          1. Incorrect.
            If no one protests the outcome, the courts cannot revisit that & must accept the ruling.
            All they can do is evaluate whether the punishment handed out was fair or too lenient as protested, and take corrective measures on that.

  3. Can Racing Point appeal on every races before international tribunal?

    1. They can, but given how lenient the penalty is, why would they. Renault might though!

      1. It’s lenient in that they are not disqualified, but 400000€ is a substantial amount of money for Racing Point.

        1. 400000 EUR is not a significant amount when compared to their budget of about a 120+ million @paeschli. It wouldn’t even pay the salaries of the engineers time they saved by using Mercedes’ design instead of coming up with their own.

          It really is a low penalty for the infringement involved. On the other hand, it does a good job of making that midfield battle more interesting, because now they really have a fight to get back into 4th with a midfield that has shown to be competative.

          I wonder, is there any consequence for being reprimanded as a team?

        2. Indeed, it’s not significant at all, it’s like if you’re a poor person who gets 15k euro salary across a year, it’s like if you get a 50 euro fine, it’s nothing.

          And I hope there are consequences for a reprimand, else it’s useless, they said they’ll keep reprimanding them but for what reason if nothing happens?

  4. I think the penalty is very light. I hope Renault will protest more parts. This can’t be the only one.

    The FIA states that they have not designed the rear brake ducts themselves. Well, they didn’t design the chassis themselves either. Copying ain’t designing, like Key mentioned.

    1. Silly.
      The chassis is totally different

    2. The penalty is light.
      Probably a clear strategy by the FIA to ensure RP don’t appeal it and this goes away quite quickly … because if it doesn’t it can get very messy.
      Renault (& others) will almost certainly appeal the penalty though.
      Expect that to happen just before the 24hour deadline. Once that has passed without a protest of the actual ruling, then the FIA can deal with the punishment protest and most likely hand down a much bigger penalty with the sporting rule verdict already set in stone.

      If RP do protest this, it could quickly balloon into a major PR nightmare for Toto, Papa Stroll, Mercedes Benz and Aston Martin … as the FIA will have no choice but to look much deeper into everything that was transferred, on who’s authority, etc.
      Some teams will push the FIA to prove they can forensically police the budget cap by following all the communication and interactions … this will become a highly public test that the FIA cannot afford to fail.

  5. 15 points? Why not deduct all points if the car used in these races was illegal? And what about the future races? Will RP use the same car or are they required to change their design or parts?

    1. Because the car was not illegal. They broke the sporting regulations, not the technical regulations.

      It’s a perfectly legal car, it just wasn’t designed by them.

      1. @minnis hence my question at the end. Are they required to redesign the car or change the parts in question?

        1. @knightameer No, they will receive a reprimand for each race that they use the parts again.
          Let’s be honest, this announcement came half an hour before FP1, they were never going to be able to redesign the brake ducts in time. Plus, how do you redesign the parts? The knowledge has already been gained, it would be nigh on impossible to redesign a brake duct without using any of the knowledge that they gained, and thankfully the FIA have recognised that.

          1. @minnis so basically RP is punished because of using these Brake ducts, but can still use them? Wow, FIA and logic don’t go hand in hand.

        2. If they continue using it they’re going to get further punishments logically. But the FIA isn’t logical it seems.

          1. Ignore that, re-read it, they can continue to use the brake ducts but if Renault protest another part of the car they can get punished again if they are found guilty. What a minefield.

  6. So the drivers loose the points as well?

    1. @emcm5517

      The points deduction is being applied to the team’s constructors championship points totals only and does not affect its drivers’ scores in their championship

  7. So they copy a car, get a slap on the hand but are told they can continue to use the copied parts and can even keep any points and price money generated during the rest of the year. Weak.

    1. @guybrushthreepwood They state in the judgement that they accept that (likely because of the condensed season & because RP did not set out to deliberately break the rules, assuming they were clear to use the 2019 rear ducts) they cannot expect RP to design and test brake ducts their own brake ducts in time.

    2. @guybrushthreepwoodm keep in mind this protest was for brake ducts, non for the whole car. Maybe now that they have set a precedent Renault will continue protesting for larger parts.

    3. This protest doesn’t say anything about ‘the whole car’, only the break-ducts @guybrushthreepwood let’s leave the hyperbole for other places.

    4. In their verdict the stewards pointed out that while the matter is technical in nature, Racing Point had been found in breach of the sporting regulations and not the technical regulations, which is why a disqualification had not been applied.

      So technical RP was in the clear but sporting not? Did the FIA not cleared RP by saying all was legal?

  8. Will Mercedes be impacted (apologies if missed when reading the article)? Are they complicit in this in a way?

    1. I don’t understand that part. Mercedes apparently handed them the design of their rear brake ducts. You’d think that makes them complicit.

      1. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
        7th August 2020, 10:59

        In 2019 Racing Point had every right to use Mercedes-designed 2019-spec rear brake ducts. It is only the fact that they opted not to use them in 2019 that has led the stewards to classify their use in 2020 as a breach.

        As below, Merc not entirely cleared regarding parts transfer of 6th Jan 2020, but the stewards clearly have no intention of issuing a sanction relating to this minor and seemingly inconsequential breach.

        1. @hammerheadgb the sporting regulations only came into force on the 2nd of July 2020, the Thursday before the first event.

          This means that it was still legal for Mercedes to supply RP with parts until that point.

          1. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
            7th August 2020, 12:15

            @gardenfella72

            No, that was Racing Point’s submission. The stewards addressed this in their ruling, that the sporting regulations for the 2020 championship were effective 1st January 2020.

            Point 13 under “The FIA Technical Department’s analysis… subheader “Background and Regulations”, and Point 2 under “Conclusions of the Stewards”

          2. @hammerheadgb even so, Merc providing a part for analysis that RP already have the CAD drawings for isn’t really a meaningful exchange of design information.

          3. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
            7th August 2020, 13:57

            @gardenfella72

            You’ve come to the exact conclusion I started with. That the parts transfer of 6th Jan 2020 was most likely a breach, but that it was minor and inconsequential because Racing Point had already had access to all the relevant data.

          4. @hammerheadgb
            Racing Point legally acquired the plans for these parts from Mercedes in 2019:

            The matter was further complicated by the fact Racing Point used Mercedes’ front brake ducts on its car in 2019, but while it also acquired the rear brake duct designs at the time, these were never used on its RP19.

            Just because RP didn’t use them in 2019, the stewards claim that they cannot be used now either.

            Either way Mercedes did nothing wrong and the claim that RP did something wrong is actually quite far fetched.

          5. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
            7th August 2020, 18:06

            @f1osaurus

            I have read the stewards’ decision and it seems very well reasoned, making clear the distinction between evolving a legal car from 2019 (as has been done at the front), and installing Mercedes IP more or less wholesale in 2020 where there was no necessity to do so (as has been done at the rear).

            Yes, of course all this exists in what was previously a grey area (blame lies with both the FIA and RP for this). The stewards have now produced a clear and reasoned interpretation which RP fall outside.

            As for Mercedes, here are some direct quotes from the Stewards’ Decision:

            “It is the opinion of the FIA that this transfer did not constitute a significant breach of the SRs.”

            “It did not significantly violate paragraph 4 of Appendix 6 because there was nothing in the transfer that had not been legitimately provided to Racing Point in 2019…”

            As I have said all along, the stewards are of the opinion that there was no significant breach, but if they were of the opinion that there was no breach, they would have said so (and they did say so insofar as the parts were not used by RP).

          6. @hammerheadgb Their story is well spun perhaps, but it’s very far fetched.

            The stewards always talk like that. It means nothing. They do it with drivers who are completely innocent of an incident too.

      2. They handed them to RP when it was legal to do so.

      3. Mercedes defence on this point would be that they shared the brake duct designs in 2019 when they were a listed part. Racing Point’s breach is to have only used them in 2020 when they were a non-listed part.

        If RP had used the rear ducts last season, they would have been in the clear.

        It’s an interesting judgement. It is not related to copying, but related to the use of a listed part and the continuing use of the same part after a rule change.

    2. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
      7th August 2020, 10:56

      Mercedes were not entirely cleared. They provided Racing Point brake duct units on 6th January 2020 (a point in time when RP should have no more need for them). The stewards’ decision suggests this may have constituted a minor breach, but that because RP previously legally had access to these parts (and the data around their design) anyway, that this act was not worthy of sanction.

      1. “Does not constitute breach” means they were cleared.

      2. Imagine the comments on here if it was Ferrari and Haas involved rather than Mercedes and Racing Point….

        1. @petebaldwin As if that Haas car isn’t a carbon copy of a Ferrari. But I guess at least they did design their own brake ducts.

    3. They will not be impacted

  9. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
    7th August 2020, 10:52

    Here is the full text of the decision:

    https://www.fia.com/news/f1-renault-protest-decision

    I have read the entire decision and though it explains perfectly what the breach is and how they have come to judge it so, it is far from clear what happens next.

    The stewards acknowledge that Racing Point’s use (and ongoing use) of the rear brake ducts is an infringement of the sporting regulations (though not the technical regs which is why it’s not an automatic DQ).

    They imposed a points penalty for the first usage but thereafter have issued reprimands for the repeat offences… is that what they plan to do for every event for the rest of the season? I can’t imagine the other teams being happy with that.

    Or is it only for the events past, in the absence of a ruling? Continued use would constitute a wilful breach and therefore an aggravation, which could lead to a further meaningful penalty.

    The stewards did state that it is not realistic to expect RP to “unlearn” what they know and re-design the parts as if they hadn’t received the 2019 Merc data (which they were broadly entitled to receive last season due to the part having different status in the rules).

    But again, that acknowledgement doesn’t stop it from being an ongoing (and now wilful) breach. I can’t see Renault or McLaren going “ah, fair cop then”.

    Clear as mud.

    1. @hammerheadgb The judgement is based on a technicality, because my guess is it was unclear whether it was a breach at the time that they did not use another teams 2019 rear ducts in 2019 then carried them over. Untested rules etc.

      My reading of the ‘acceptance’ regarding RP not designing their own ducts for the remainder of the season was be down to force majeure due to the current condensed season, limited testing & restrictions on spending – RP would have to either run with now confirmed illegal designs and be immediately protested (because F1 teams gonna F1 team) or not run their cars, reducing the field and risk collapsing the team. I guess RP will be required to use one of their 2021 development tokens to submit valid brake ducts of their own design.

    2. Thanks @hammerheadgb I do read it as being a reprimand a race that’s the plan unless RP chane their design, but indeed it seems optimistic to expect the rest of the field accepting that!

      Wonder whether RP feels regret they didn’t run the Merc. design at the rear with one car in one of the 2019 races.

      1. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
        7th August 2020, 12:19

        @bosyber

        The Styrian Grand Prix stewards do not have the power to rule on, or dictate the appropriate penalty for, future breaches.

        They may believe that they are setting a precedent that future stewards may elect to follow.

        But others may protest that an unwitting breach (as this has been characterised by the Stewards’ decision) should not be treated the same as a wilful breach (which is what it will be if Racing Point continue to run this configuration in breach of the Sporting Regulations).

    3. @hammerheadgb The complete verdict is quite well written. Basically:
      – RP used Mercedes based front brake ducts in 2019. The 2020 are merely an evolution of the ones they used in 2019. So they are their own design.
      – RP didn’t use Mercedes provided rear brake ducts in 2019. However, they used CAD of the 2019 Mercedes rear brake ducts to design their 2020 rear brake ducts. As such they didn’t ‘design’ these rear brake ducts themselves as required by the sporting regulations.
      – RP are in breach of the sporting regulations, not the technical regulations. The stewards are thus free to apply any penalty they deem appropriate. A technical regulation breach would mean DSQ.
      – The penalty applied covers the process of using CAD of the 2019 Mercedes rear brake ducts for the design of their 2020 car. It does not dispute the legality of the car: the car is perfectly legal (and can be raced as such in subsequent events). The penalty covers the advantage they’ll gain over the entire 2020 season, so no further penalties other than a reprimand will be issued at subsequent races.

      1. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
        7th August 2020, 13:19

        @paeschli

        I agree that the verdict is very well written.

        I don’t, however, believe that it settles the issue (even in the absence of an appeal).

        The car itself complies with the Technical Regulations, but Racing Point will continue to commit a fresh breach of the Sporting Regulations each time they take these rear brake ducts out onto the track. The stewards’ report refers to separate breaches at each event, and not one breach during the design process.

        I understand that the stewards have tried to penalise it more as one breach from which others consequently unavoidably arose, but legally I do not believe it will stick with the other teams.

        The Styrian Grand Prix stewards cannot decide what future events’ stewards make of future hypothetical breaches. They can attempt to set a precedent, but as discussed in my later comment, the mitigations that applied to this judgement will not necessarily apply to future breaches. (The fact that this breach is of the sporting regs and not the technical regs, means that intent becomes relevant.)

        1. These were not the Styrian GP’s stewards ruling on the matter @hammerheadgb. It was a panel installed later since the stewards in Austria referred the matter to the next ones, since they were not able to rule on the matter immediately (the same goes for Hungary and the first Silverstone race).

          You are right that every time RP uses these brake ducts that are the result of breaking the sporting rules they will infringe on the rules (i.e. the mention of them being reprimanded for every time they use these not wholly compliant parts), but based on the verdict – unless it is appealed by Renault and leads to a different outcome – the same parts won’t be penalized with more than that reprimand even if used, since the (sporting) rules breaking that led to them being as is has already happened and is penalized.

          Nothing is said about the rest of the car though. If Renault (or any other team) finds enough clues that another part is infringing on the rules, they can bring another protest and have the FIA/Stewards investigate that too. Or it might be appealed and go on.

          1. well said @bascb, it is likelry that for consistency sake every protest of this same issue will result in the same penalty, unless this panel is overruled, but the rest of the car, while probably even more difficult to find a clear and satisfying ruling, is also likely to be harder to prove issues.

            But that’s why the FIA now announced they will work on changing the rules for next year, no doubt in the hope of teams not adding more and more bits to protest over the entire season, or adding themselves to existing ones like Ferrari felt was needed.

          2. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
            7th August 2020, 18:25

            @bascb

            I have just checked and you are correct that the panel that finally heard the case, while two of the members were of the Styrian GP stewards, was differently composed. I had heard that the Hungarian and British protests were amalgamated with the initial Styrian one, and made an incorrect assumption that the Styrian stewards would therefore be the ones to hear the case once all evidence was gathered – apologies.

            Without doubt, the judgement passed regarding the legality of Racing Point’s use of the car (not sufficiently designed by them) will set a firm precedent (unless of course overturned on appeal).

            I would, however, still assert that this panel’s jurisdiction to prescribe a punishment remains restricted to the five breaches over three events upon which the panel was convened to rule. They cannot prescribe in advance the punishment for future hypothetical breaches.

            If this is thought desirable it would be for the rule-makers (the FIA themselves), not the judges (stewards), to do… if they can get it past the teams of course. Otherwise it will be down to the next panel of stewards to pass punishment as they see fit.

  10. I think this decision – whilst in line with regulations – is silly.

    I believe the rules should be changed to completely deregulate anything regarding IP and copying.

    F1 is a war – of competing technologies. In war, conflict parties can’t just complain about the enemy copying their innovations. Imagine the Iberians whining about the Romany copying their gladius.

    If anything, complete legalisation of copying speeds up innovation, and provides for entertainment as a consequence. Plus, in a sport where 80% of the outcome is determined by the car, it levels the playing field.

    I see no risk either, as it typically takes a while to copy an innovative design and therefore enables any innovator to reap the benefits of their innovation for a reasonable number of races “exclusively”, before others catch up.

    1. Completely agree… it promotes more innovation to maintain an advantage

    2. It would be silly if it referred to the front brake ducts which are clearly highly influenced, but it sounds like the rear ducts were identical. Im all for copying, but that’s a bit much in my opinion.

  11. What?
    What a mess!

    Hope RP appeals and wins

    1. Read the “decision” document.

      *facepalm*
      Stretched to the limit.

      Appeal is a must

  12. I think it’s quite a light penalty, and quite confused how their are allowed to continue using the design despite it being openly ruled as a copy now? 15 points sound a lot if you’re Williams but that Racing Point can regain that in one event, so it’s hardly much of a punishment to be honest.

    1. The big punishment for me is a reputational one. Any concept of “Racing Point did a better job than everyone else” and Toto saying “it’s great because it shows smaller teams can win things” is gone. They cheated and any success they have this season has a huge caveat on it. They really are driving a pink Mercedes. They lied and said they just looked a pictures and copied them when actually, they were given the information by Mercedes.

      There’s no way that Renault (or McLaren) will accept any loss of money due to Racing Point finishing ahead of them so there will be further appeals, protests and court cases to come.

      1. Well, the rest of the car still is not a copy,

        1. @bosyber – How do we know that? One component has been protested and found to be an exact copy. I’m sure Renault will now protest a different part following this weekend.

          Horner summed it up well – they need clarity over what is legal because if this is allowed, they can just hand the previous year’s car to Alpha Tauri and have 4 competitive cars.

          1. @petebaldwin They are pretty similar already, but then everything under the bodywork is the same already anyway, so it makes sense the cars look very similar too.

      2. They did not cheat and for sure they did not lie. They were convinced that they were within the regulations and they openly shared with FIA what they were doing. Noone here on this forum has managed to predict this outcome and I’m fairly sure RP hasn’t expected this either.

      3. @petebaldwin RP are caught on a stupid technicality. They purchased the 2019 plans legally for both front and rear, but just because they didn’t use the rear ducts on the car in 2019 they cannot use them now.

    2. My take from this is that the punishment is majorly a warning for the future and an answer to Red Bull, who said that if this type of “copying” is fine, they just might build four Red Bulls for the next year and not bother with Alpha Tauri designs.

      Also, FIA just might wait and see the reaction from Renault and others – if the rest of the teams are content with this slap on the wrist, they will simply let it go. But if other teams continue speaking up, we’ll see more individual punishments and points deductions for other car parts and designs. Remember that at present FIA was not asked for an overall judgement, but dealt with a specific complaint from Renault about a specific part. This leaves them room to react more aggressively in the future if the situation demands so.

      1. Copying the chassis is still fine. Some people may not like it but it is as of now legal.
        The brake ducts are a different matter as their status has changed between last season and this one, and that created a gray area.

  13. So if RP can keep this design, what’s stopping Renault from protesting again?

    1. Nothing but the judgement will be the same – Renault need to protest a different part of the car, this could drag on, FIA have not dealt with it well.

  14. Fudge sundaes all round!!! 🍧

    Not really surprised with this since if you threw the book at RP they aren’t going to take this lying down and it will run and run. Have a feeling that the FIA were possibly trying to pitch a penalty that is seen as sufficient by Renault so no further appeal but also not too harsh as for RP to appeal.

  15. Too much technology the fans can’t see. Why not standard chassis/wheels/brakes/suspension/fuel/lubricants and fuel, and let the teams play with engine tech (ie different cylinder amounts but same capacity) gearbox tech (ie dual clutch/cvt/amount of ratios), and aero tech with body kits. It would still be f1

    1. Given the tripping point for RP was Break ducts thatwwere legal last year but now aren’t sporting, the development is not going that way, is it!

    2. It would still be f1

      If everything apart from the engine is spec how would that still be F1?

      Would just be Indycar & i’d certainly have no interest in it. The development race, Differences between chassis, Clever thinking in designs & how teams interpret the rules is a big part of the allure of F1 to me. You lose that & it’s simply no longer F1.

      I already feel the upcoming regulation changes are far too restrictive & would hate to see them made worse.

  16. The thing I don’t understand here is that surely all designs naturally diverge to the most successful outcome? If F1 is the pinnacle of design and engineering then don’t the margins are eventually so small that they become all but indistinguishable?

    Look at wing design or the vortex creating elements behind the front wing… seems to be very divergent on extremely similar concepts…

  17. I would rather prefer to see client teams or 3 or 4 cars per team (with 2 best results to constructor championship).

    1. @regs Problem if they did that would be firstly team orders/tactics would become a much larger ‘issue’ & it would effectively end the chances of drivers getting to F1 if they are not partnered with one of the top 3-4 teams because if they each have young driver programs why would they pick a driver not linked to them.

      Having 10-13 teams running bespoke cars that all look different with different characteristics, Development ideas etc… is what F1 should be aiming for. Having more cars that are identical just makes it more like Indycar+ rather than F1 & that’s just boring.

      The differences between cars, the development race etc.. is a big part of the allure of F1 to many & part of why it is the biggest, most popular category in the sport. Take that away & turn it into Indycar+ & it would just lose it’s appeal & you certainly could no longer see it as the pinnacle of the sport.

      1. It’s not like Indycar style at all. It’s just about bringing more drivers and cars on start grid. F1 is nearly dead now. Just 10 teams. And only few drivers have access to fast cars.

  18. Wow so they lied then. They said they designed the parts using photos everyone had access to but they didn’t. They seems to have got away pretty lightly with it though! They can continue to use the illegal parts, have only lost a few points and have been fined less than Stroll has down the back of his sofa.

    It’ll be interesting to see what Renault do now as this seems to only relate to the brake ducts and if they’ve been copied from information provided by Mercedes, so will almost everything else.

    1. They did not lie. Brake ducts cannot be copied using photos and RP never claimed they did. They bought the design from Mercedes at a time when it was legal to do so.

      1. Exactly, if you read the verdict the FIA is quite happy with how open and transparent RP have been during the whole process.

    2. @petebaldwin Well they would have used photos where needed and plans where possible.

      But no, they didn’t lie:

      The stewards also noted Racing Point had been co-operative with the investigation and stated the team appeared not to have set out to deliberately breach the regulations.

      1. @f1osaurus

        They may not have deliberately set out to brake the rules and they may have bee co-operative with the investigation but they Szafnauer said the following recently:

        “We see what they are doing, we take pictures, we try to understand it, we run it in the tunnel, and we do it ourselves”

        Now we find out they were given CAD data of parts by Mercedes. Is Szafnauer suggesting they took pictures of the CAD data?

        1. @petebaldwin So how about they did both? They couldn’t copy all the parts by purchasing CAD designs, so how did they copy those other parts? By taking photo’s perhaps?

          They didn’t intend to “brake” the rules. They discussed with the FIA what they were doing. In their mind and the FIA’s mind they fully confirmed.

          It’s just repugnant to pretend they acted maliciously.

    3. I understood the same, that Racing Point had reverse engineered the brake ducts from photos. Maybe they bought some in 2019 when it was legal, but that doesn’t mean they have the right to make new ones … anyway, it seems they aren’t illegal. I think this outcome is unsatisfactory.

  19. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
    7th August 2020, 11:29

    The 3rd last paragraph of your report: “Racing Point can continue to use the rear brake ducts in future races, but will continue to receive reprimands if they do.”

    I think this interpretation is a stretch of what the stewards said; or if it isn’t, it’s certainly a stretch of what the stewards of the Styrian Grand Prix (who passed this ruling) have the power to say.

    The stewards of the Styrian Grand Prix have the power to rule on matters relating to that event, and by agreement of all parties (including Renault) were granted the power to rule on this matter as it applies to the Hungarian and British Grand Prix.

    They have no power to rule on any future protest over this matter, unless Renault agree that they should, which they will not. In my opinion Renault would be right to consider further breaches to be different in character to the previous three; the decision notes that Racing Point, to date, have believed themselves to be in full compliance, which appears to have been taken in mitigation when considering the sanctions. RP can no longer believe this.

    1. @hammerheadgb I disagree with the notion that continuing to use their rear brake ducts would be a willful breach of the regulations: the penalty covers the process of designing the part, not the use of the part. A willful breach would be to use the same process when designing a part for a new car.

      1. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
        7th August 2020, 13:24

        @paeschli

        As discussed above, Racing Point commit a breach of the Sporting Regs every time they take these rear brake ducts onto the track, even if the stewards of the Styrian Grand Prix have attempted to impose a punishment more along the lines of one meaningful breach leading unavoidably to others.

        Following the Stewards’ decision, Racing Point now know this to be the case, hence the breaches (as they are in law) are wilful.

        RP may well submit the portion of the Stewards’ Decision regarding the unreasonability of re-designing the offending part as mitigation, but this does not stop it from being a breach and it would need to be seen what the stewards of future events would decide.

        1. I mean, this is all rather theoretical – they basically have the knowledge as admitted by the stewards, cannot forget it. So the question becomes how much difference do they need to have it acknowledged that they have redesigned – basically identical in function but with a few vortex generating nubbins in a few areas that are aerodynamically null? Identical in function but everything shifted a few microns to the left/right/up.down/forward/back – you see my point, it would be incredibly easy to stick with the fundamental principle of what the air is doing, but with some key design updates that do very little except for highlight that it’s been “designed” in house.

          1. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
            7th August 2020, 18:29

            I don’t disagree that you have a very valid point regarding what they ought to do now, if they cannot continue to use what they have. But Renault and McLaren would say that this is not their problem, it is Racing Point who continue to breach the regulations.

    2. I assume in Formula One you can only be punished once for an infringement. Racing Point has been punished for their design process. Since Racing Point is not designing their brakes anew each race there will be no further breaches. A further protest would lead to nothing.

      1. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
        7th August 2020, 13:29

        @uzsjgb

        That is not correct; as noted in the Stewards’ report, Racing Point have been found guilty of five breaches of the sporting regulations (so far), and commit a fresh breach every time they use listed parts which were not designed by them.

        The Styrian Grand Prix stewards have attempted to punish them in a manner that suggests one meaningful breach from which others unavoidably arose, but they cannot bind the hands of future stewards to do the same, especially now that the mitigation of “not being aware it was illegal” which has applied to this point, must fall away.

  20. It’s a confusing lenient and hard decision all at once, with reasons for all to be happy or ready to protest, yet I get confused about using GBP in the title when the penalty was in EUR :P
    I thought the days of .co.uk were behind us.

    1. @coldfly The GBP has devaluated that much that’s it’s now worth about only as much as a euro anyway.

  21. Well glad this was the outcome very light slap on the wrist for RP they may appeal but probably best not to.

  22. Ok i get it that DSQ for the Styrian GP and the next ones was not the punishment as their car was ‘legal’ per say and didn’t break any techinacal rules.
    But that small fine and that 15-point deduction is a joke! They illegally gained knowledge from a rival, even if that rival was complicit, and they designed a car with that ‘illegal’ knowledge and they can get to keep it for the rest of the season and score points without any problem from now on since FIA basicly said “oops, we can’t turn back time, you can keep it but i’m disappointed in you Racing Point”.
    And for just 400k and an arbitrary 15-point deduction (basicly one race with a 6th+7th place…so just RP’s results from the Styrian GP +1 more point)? Ok, if that’s just the punishment, then how is FIA going to stop this ‘copying’ process from the future? I mean Red Bull could easily give the 2020 chassis to AlphaTauri and just accept a 400k fine (out of their 400million budget) and just live with the -15 points at the start of the season, which they win them back in just one race.

    On a side note, we’ve seen many times incidents where a team breaks the rules, the FIA at the time gives the green light and when the other teams catch up, FIA acts like only the team that broke the rules is guilty and them, the ones that gave the green light at that time, are innocent and they cannot be held accountable.
    I remember back in 2013 Mercedes held a secret test with the 2013 car and the 2013 tyres to gain some knowledge why their car used to destoy the Pirellis, FIA sanctioned it like it was ok and it didn’t break the rules and when the other teams caught up, they said “ok we’re going to punish Mercedes, but we’re not responsible even though we gave the green light to do it”. And they ‘punished’ Mercedes with a lenient punishment (that Mercedes originally proposed to them as ‘fair’)!
    Then it was the Ferrari-engine investigation where FIA, after it sanctioned their engine, they were unable to find what ‘trick’ Ferrari was doing with it, so they broke a deal where Ferrari wouldn’t be punished and be forced to reveal what was the ‘trick’, even if it was illegal and resulted in them taking victories. Again FIA’s negligence.
    And at last this year’s soon-to-be fiasco with the Pink Mercedes.
    I mean, i don’t know how, but there must be a way to give the teams or someone else the power to hold FIA accountable for their negligence.

    1. They gained the knowledge last year when it was legal to do so. The rules changed for this year and that has created a gray area. A proof of that is that the stewards have ruled differently regarding front and rear ducts. Since it was a gray area, and RP has been cooperating with FIA and were open about what they were doing, it is quite clear that they have been acting in good faith throughout. Hence they did not receive a stronger penalty.

    2. @blacksimus

      They illegally gained knowledge from a rival

      No, they didn’t, because they acquired that knowledge in 2019, when it was completely legal to acquire it.

      By running the Mercedes front ducts in 2019, the FIA deemed the team’s designers to have ‘learned’ the designs and, as a result, it becomes retained knowledge, because we, as humans, cannot ‘unlearn’ information. RP also acquired the design for Mercedes’ 2019 rear ducts, but they did not run them, therefore the designers did not acquire the knowledge of how they functioned ahead of this year, thus they were new to the car and covered as under the new listed part rules.

      Ergo, we have our grey area that the FIA have fundamentally admitted they didn’t legislate for properly (according to the letter of the law) nor did they pick up on it when they scrutinised the car heavily in March.

      Now we have a legal ruling on the case, were any other team to just lift previous years parts, even if their listed status was changed, then they would be sanctioned more heavily as we have a prior case. No doubt the technical regulations for 2021 will also be re-written to cover this off.

      1. gah, darn html & a lack of edit function…

      2. @optimaximal

        The team, after all, designed its car in 2019 for the 2020 season, although it admitted during the hearing to having had a transfer of parts from Mercedes on 6th January 2020. In addition, Mercedes had provided CAD models of brake ducts to Racing Point on 10 different dates between November 2018 and October 2019 – despite the ‘listing’ of brake ducts for 2020 having been ratified by the FIA World Motor Sport Council on 4th June 2019. These CAD models were used to develop the rear brake ducts.

        So their fronts ducts were ok since they were an evolution of a legal copy they raced before, but the rear ducts were an illegal copy of another teams design that were first used by RP in 2020.
        It was a design component developed through 2018-2019 by Mercedes and RP could have legally used them in 2019. But their intention to still acquire knowledge until October 2019 when back in June it was declared illegal for 2020 to do so for 2020 and also the fact they got the parts in January 2020, after the deadline, is the main deal.

        @zbs13

        Since it was a gray area, and RP has been cooperating with FIA and were open about what they were doing, it is quite clear that they have been acting in good faith throughout. Hence they did not receive a stronger penalty.

        Ok that makes sense at least and it would have been fine if it was somehow an one-time incident where they acted in good faith with FIA, took a lenient penalty and could someway change the disputed part. But even though they cooparated with FIA and they were found guilty, they still get to keep their brake ducts for the rest of the season and even after that, since they can’t unlearn the design. That design alone could give them an edge against their rivals and they could win millions in prize money from this. -15 points might be a big deal for Williams, Alfa Romeo or Haas but it is nothing for RP and the likes of Renault and McLaren, just one average weekend. But -50 points and they would regret having done that and it would discourage other teams to do the same in the future, even though FIA says they’ll try to police it harder. And 400K are also a small amount when this could win them millions in return and when the team’s budget is ~100Million.

  23. So should RP redesign these ducts and if they had a brake failure and nasty accident, that could cause immense complications for theFIA and the sport…I think having been fined, thast should be the punishment…although personally I think tbey shohld appeal…and remember the car was declared legal at the start of the season

    1. @jop452 on the current rear brake ducts, if something happens they should sew Mercedes. For new ones they, finally design themselves, they can be responsible for their own stupidities and success.

  24. The judgement is correct but the punishment is way too light. Surprised FIA/RP didn’t just sign a secret document and say “nothing to see here!”

  25. :D What kind a farse this is. So now they “paid” some cash and 15 points and can continue to race them with ‘reprimand’, what does that mean?

  26. Just when you think F1 can’t out F1 itself, it finds another level. All i’m getting from this is nothing has been cleared up at all.

  27. Are there any consequences to a reprimand, or is it a “slap on the wrist” so to speak?

  28. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    7th August 2020, 14:19

    These rules are pretty insane. They bought the design last year when it was legal and then the rules changed and they couldn’t use it but technically they owned it and therefore it was RP’s design to use in 2020 since they’d bought it in 2019 when it was legal to do so. Regardless of what Racing Point chose to do in 2019, that design was theirs and therefore they could legally apply it in 2020. So technically, there are really no grounds for a penalty.

    If the argument hinges on the fact that it was Mercedes’ design, then that’s obviously not the case as the design was Racing Point’s as of 2019. Can you penalize Renault for using their own brake duct design from 2019?

    1. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
      7th August 2020, 14:26

      @freelittlebirds

      Owning the right to use something =/= owning the design of it.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        7th August 2020, 16:15

        @hammerheadgb Actually it does, as once Racing Point has seen the design, they would have to go to extreme limits to avoid using it perhaps being unable to compete in F1. Seeing the design was legal in 2019 and therefore it’s part of Racing Point’s design.

        Racing Point can challenge the legality of all parts shared in 2019 by any other team leading to point losses for any team that carried the design from 2019. This will only benefit Red Bull and Mercedes since they are probably not using anyone’s designs but they are already safe in the points.

        1. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
          7th August 2020, 18:34

          @freelittlebirds

          I would love to see you try to argue that in a court of law.

          As I said to a previous commenter also, it’s a very valid point regarding what Racing Point ought to do if they can’t use the rear brake ducts as they are. But Renault and McLaren would argue that it’s not their problem, it’s Racing Point’s problem as they are the ones who continue to breach the regulations. (Assuming of course an appeal hearing does not rule differently.)

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            7th August 2020, 18:42

            @hammerheadgb lol, some of the greatest crimes in human history have been committed in courts :-) so yeah, I totally agree that they wouldn’t uphold it.

    2. @freelittlebirds Agreed it’s totally bizarre. But then apparently the claim that it was a redeigned part from 2019 was part of Race Point’s defense.

  29. This seems extremely lenient. If they want to set an example to other teams, strip away all of their points or exclude them completely. 15 points is nothing these days when you’ve got one of the fastest cars on the grid.

    1. @dot_com In another sense it seems extremely harsh for such a far fetched technicality.

      1. Carbon copying another teams design is not a “far-fetched technicality” @f1osaurus. It’s a really slippery slope.

        1. @dot_com That’s not what they are penalized for. They are penalized on a far fetched technicality. The article explains.

  30. So, Ferrari & Racing Point blatantly cheat according to the rules & both are let off with next to no punishment?

    1. They did not cheat.

      1. I mean Racing Point. Ferrari is a completely different matter of course.

  31. The truth comes out eventually

  32. RocketTankski
    7th August 2020, 16:50

    If Ferrari drop 15 points and pony up half a mil can they carry on using their “innovative” old engine? The speedy one. The competition could use some more competition.

  33. I guess that the trick with FIA, stewards and also the WMSC. Teams can just throw the dice and hope they get lucky.

    Like the nonsensical point that suspension is a “movable bodypart” when Ferrari was unable to create their own mass tuned damper. Or when Ferrari simply applied illegal team orders and the WMSC said “yeah that rule is silly. Lets let them off the hook then”.

    The FIA cleared the RP design. Yet not some steward accepts a weird technicality which means the design is not “owned” because it wasn’t used. Boom … penalty.

  34. If I was a steward I wouldn’t give a 15 point penalty to RP for their “illegal” rear ducts in 2020, but just declare them to be illegal for 2021 season. The car is legal for 2020!
    It is also interesting how the amount of fine was decided for this crime. Thank you, Mr. PeteBaldwin, I had a good laugh after reading your comment:
    petebaldwin (@petebaldwin)
    7th August 2020, 11:27
    They can continue to use the illegal parts, have only lost a few points and have been fined less than Stroll has down the back of his sofa.

  35. Racing Point has stated that they redesigned many aspects of the chassis as a result of what they learned using the Merc inspired brake ducts. They said that it led them to understand how why the low rake design of Merc was so effective. Changing the ducts at this point would likely require extensive redesign of the car – impossible to do this season. That may explain why the FIA was so lenient re: requiring changes this season.

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