Steiner wants clarification on whether Mercedes broke rules

2020 70th Anniversary Grand Prix

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Haas team principal Guenther Steiner rejected claims his team’s brake ducts could be considered illegal in light of the FIA stewards’ ruling against Racing Point.

Racing Point were fined €400,000 and deducted 15 points yesterday after the stewards found they broke the rules by basing their rear brake ducts on a design they obtained from Mercedes last year.

Steiner said Racing Point CEO Otmar Steiner and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff were wrong to claim their co-operation was similar to Haas’s arrangement with Ferrari.

While Haas has previously run Ferrari brake ducts, Steiner said they stopped doing so this year following a change in the rules which required all teams to design their own.

“If they know which brake ducts we are running they would have protested us I guess,” said Steiner.

“I continue to say it – go and ask the FIA what we did if you want a clarification if we are clear with our brake ducts. Because Ferrari would not sell us brake ducts after the rules were changed – by no means.”

The stewards’ verdict noted Racing Point received a set of 2019 brake ducts from Mercedes on January 6th, 2020. They ruled it “does not constitute a breach of the regulations worthy of censure.”

“There was a lot of conversations going on with the FIA about what is legal and what is not,” Steiner continued. “We ran brake ducts last year from Ferrari, yes, but when the rules changed we adapted to the rules.

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“We employed more people to design the brake ducts because we didn’t design them before ourselves, obviously, so we needed more people. If Toto and Otmar want to pick the bill up for that one they can volunteer. I can show them that, everything.

Esteban Ocon, Renault, Silverstone, 2020
Analysis: How Renault’s Racing Point protest led the FIA to revise its rules on ‘clone cars’
“I think they are talking… I’m not saying out of way because they keep on saying that word themselves. So I think it’s a little bit ‘oh, look at them’. They can look at us. We are fine. I’m chilled. It’s not nice to be accused of things we haven’t done. If they want to protest us, feel free.”

Steiner said he was “not surprised” at Wolff’s strongly-worded responses over the case and other matters to the media recently. “They apparently gave data to Racing Point which is not allowed. Ferrari would never give us data, that’s what I said before, for the brake ducts last year for the ’20 car, because it is not allowed to. So for sure, he is trying to defend the case. He’s just doing his job.”

If Mercedes did break the rules “there should be problems for them” said Steiner. “But first [we] have to see if they did. Therefore at the court of appeal we’ll hopefully find that one out in a little bit more detail than the stewards did yesterday.”

While Steiner admitted he found the sentence on Racing Point “strange”, Haas has not joined the teams who are protesting the verdict.

“There is three big teams protesting, three teams with a lot of money,” Steiner explained in response to a question from RaceFans. “This costs time, money and resources.

“In the end if you’re going in as a small team, if the big teams protest, they will have so much more ammunition to do it than we do. We considered should we go along with that but then we decided it doesn’t make any sense. We would just be a ‘me too’. It doesn’t give us any more strength to the case if we appeal as well.”

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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...
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49 comments on “Steiner wants clarification on whether Mercedes broke rules”

  1. Mercedes didn’t break any rules by supplying whatever to RP.
    There was and is no restriction about braking ducts being sold in 2018 and 2019, what exactly they did.

    Shipping or delivery date of whatever is totally irrelevant.

    1. BTW. Everyone knows it was Haas which exploited loopholes to an extreme.

      They did everything according to the regulations at the time, so did Mercedes.

    2. Jan 6 2020. Ie after rule changed. Read properly. And since Ferrari in protesting it means Mercdes screwed. Full stop

    3. Toto himself stated they gave the cad drawing for the rear ducts to RP.
      So why do you miss that important part of the story.
      Everyone knew its impossible to develop the internals of a brake duct by looking at pictures form the outside. So the CAD drawings filled the hole in their knowledge. Trying to create confusion they purposely talk about front and back ducts in interviews. I am afraid its only the tip of an iceberg of information leaked ( by the wind tunnel use?) on purpose of “by accident” to RP.

    4. Well, if Mercedes knew (and they should have known, since RP used their own rear BD for years, due to having a different aero concept with higher rake) that the parts were only used to copy them for the 2020 car, that would actually imply Mercedes too for supplying that data going against the rules (listed parts cannot be gotten from other teams, nor can a team share those designs with other teams) @dallein

  2. I really expect this whole copygate drama to twist and bite Mercedes in the “rear end” at some point, they are actively involved as the facilitators. Let’s see how this story unfolds.

    1. Nonsense.
      They were fully entitled to sell braking system in 2018-2019.

      There’s no story of any rules being broken.

      Someone doesn’t like that some physical devices (which can’t even be used) have been delivered on Jan 6th… they can just shut up and move on.

      There’s no story here.

    2. Mercedes will not go down without a fight if any of this ‘copy’ stain touches them. They will most likely re-open the FIA/Ferrari secret engine agreement and all will be fought in the mud. It’s gonna be a nasty year if the FIA fails to handle this properly.

      1. They will most likely re-open the FIA/Ferrari secret engine agreement and all will be fought in the mud

        They already tried but that not only didn’t work against the FIA but Wolff ended up having a slap from his boss Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius.

        1. Bruno Verrari
          8th August 2020, 23:45

          Exactly so!

        2. Case closed by FIA. You need to know no case ever been reopened in F1 sport.

          Mercedes Board already slapped Wolf couple days ago and FYI they pulling out F1 by 2021. So Totto can stick his name instead.

      2. You sound triggered …

    3. Of course Mercedes were the facilitators. Nobody is denying that, not even Mercedes. We know Racing Point received CADs from Mercedes, the ruling by the FIA clearly states that fact.

      I wonder why Haas has never received any data from Ferrari. I had assumed that teams buying parts manufacture them in part themselves, instead of having the supplying team manufacture them. As the FIA ruling states Racing Point built their front brake ducts from Mercedes CADs in 2018-2019, which was legal.

      Is Steiner talking nonsense (again)?

      1. Teams buy gearboxes, suspensions and engines. Do you think they build them according to specs/CAD provided by the manufacturer or that they receive the part.

        I would suspect that usual way of doing business is if you buy brake ducts from Ferrari, Ferrari builds them and ships them over to you. Perhaps they provide the aero data to properly simulate it, but I doubt they provide you the means to manufacture the parts.

        1. Well, we know from Racing Point that they built the brake ducts themselves.

          It would be interesting to know how other teams do it. I can see benefits in doing it either way.

      2. Facilitators of what?!?!
        They sold brake ducts in 2018-2019.

        The didn’t facilitate anything, except what has been allowed in 2018-2019

        End of story.

        1. So defensive … so deaf to what everyone else is saying.
          Bias blockage is a terrible affliction.

      3. Haas doesn’t need data from Ferrari. That’s Dallara’s job. ‘Redesign’ the Ferrari parts.

        Hilarious that Steiner complaining about RP/Merc legalities. Is there a code word at Haas for irony?

        1. Good catch, I didn’t think of that.

        2. Dallara only builds the chassis.

  3. Racing Point received a set of 2019 brake ducts from Mercedes on January 6th, 2020

    Huh? Is there any words from Mercedes or Racing Point about this?

    1. Why should there be?
      They didn’t hide this info (stewards know about it from them, btw)

      Delivery of whatever physical device sold in 2018-2019 is not a breach. Even stewards noted this.

      1. My understanding is RP did not run Mercedes 2019 Rear Brake ducts in 2019, so why deliver them in January 2020?

      2. While it wasn’t illegal for Racing Point to buy some Mercedes 2019 W10 rear brake ducts in January, 2020, it was illegal to fit them to their copy of the W10, the RP20. It was also illegal for Racing Point to make W10 rear brake ducts using schematics or plans obtained from Mercedes. The only thing that was legal (sorry, I don’t know what the new rule is) was to obtain photos of the W10 brake ducts and to then reverse engineer them.
        I think Ferrari’s approach was much better, in that they simply refused to give Haas any data, pictures, schematics, parts, etc, but told them to go and build their own.

    2. It is not really of interest, it is more or less just a delayed shipment. Racing Point had already received the same brake ducts and brake duct designs, so no new information was transferred.

      Theoretically the FIA could have fined Mercedes a few Euro for the late shipment, but that would have achieved nothing.

      1. That’s no how rules work.
        They delivered after the rule was active.

    3. Yeah toto wolff spoke about it yesterday. Racing points brake ducts weren’t going to be ready for testing so Mercedes supplied them for racing point to use during testing.

      1. @adam
        Sure….”weren’t going to be ready for testing”……lol.

        1. What other reasons can you think of?

        2. Lol as much as you like.
          During pre-season test you can test whatever you like. Even jet engine.

          Fact – current brake ducts of RP are different to Mercedes.

          1. Fact – current brake ducts of RP are different to Mercedes.

            not according to the pictures of both cars that float around.

  4. @ruliemaulana seems they’re being very quiet about it. But it did happen according to the report, it’s not speculation and they’re not denying it. There’s a lot of breaking rules that is unusually going unpunished. No multi million dollar fine or disqualification that are the usual precedents.

    I get the impression the FIA has lost the ability to properly and fairly govern. More chaos to come?

    1. Nothing to talk here about.
      The shipping can occur at any time after sale.

      End of story

      1. You’re trying so hard to sell this … your feelings must really be hurt by the realization that Mercedes have been behaving unethically. Not that it’s news to the rest of us … but fanboyism can dull the senses.

      2. Nope the rule was active from 1 January.. after that date every delivery is illegal when used on a car or used to copy.
        Its not a own design by then.

  5. meanwhile haas use brake ducts that are almost identical to ferrari’s brake ducts but im sure that was just a coincidence….

  6. @adam
    “almost identical” or “identical” makes quite a difference.
    Men are almost identical to women.

    1. RP doesn’t have “identical” brake ducts.
      By your logic they have “almost identical”

      I.e. you can’t install brake ducts from Mercedes to RP

      1. @dallein

        Steiner said they didnt use ferrari parts for 2020 cars anymore because they were forbidden :) lol really, so they were using older car parts but out of courtesy, they destroyed all the data/knowledge from ferrari, and completely like brand newly designed new parts… Like RB team never ever shared anything with AT’s this year car, and they actually dont even know eachother, like they would not even sell eachother their dirty pants…

        the actual ruling should have stated clearly either a: nothing used from any previous years, or b: just cant clone the 2020, this debate of legality would not have been discussed now… not a or b at the same the time, because when a is in action, some other teams are going into this circus very much!

        FIA’s rule is ambiguous and not a clear cut rule, opens doors to whole lot of cans for interpretation…

        Now, i hope they really go to a real court and not some pretend circus, and get this over with once and for all… This is getting way boring and annoying… Teams are working harder in politics than with their own cars/shortcomings… or they are just trying to cover up their failures by trying to find excuses and active subjects to divert attention away from their miserable preparations… after 6 years, noone really produced something to really challenge a merc… we saw some sparks with ferrari, but now everyone know where those sparks were coming… (cough cheating that never been proven, but state of ferrari is worse than fia’s silly ruling at the season start)

        if any teams should be busy with, they should open ferrari case, and maybe many more teams will benefit from this since it is way too obvious what was going on in those past 3 years, some teams could have really benefited financially…

  7. There was a period when you bought some products you got a few schematics. Some companies still do that. Others want you to always come back to them for any repairs or modifications.

  8. Iskandar Mazlan
    8th August 2020, 23:56

    I guess MB argument is .. Purchase Order received before 31st Dec 2019 .. delivery on 6th Jan 2020.

  9. Hemingway (@)
    9th August 2020, 0:33

    This wouldn’t be the first illegal thing Mercedes have done. Wouldn’t surprise me if they get some points deducted

    1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
      9th August 2020, 4:31

      If Mercedes start from 0 points from this weekend onwards, they’ll still win the constructors come season end

  10. This is probably leading to some questions being asked to Toto by his bosses.

    Maybe Toto will be needing a new job next year.

    1. already in the stars..

  11. None of this makes a lick of sense. Szafnauer was extremely confident and precise in his interview this morning. If his claim is accurate that they’ve never installed brake ducts from Mercedes and have always designed their own, using the Mercedes’ Cad files as a starting point, how do they penalize them for that? That’s legal any way you look at it. I don’t see how Szafnauer could make those claims unless he knew he could back it up.

    What kind of investigation did the FIA do? Who did they send to check things over during the preseason who gave it the okay?

    1. FIA will end up with egg on their face. Legally, I think RP has exploited the rules to perfection. The designs were shared by Mercedes when they were legal. RP cannot unlearn what they have learnt already and they would have only made minor iterations to the design as they would be the much more efficient than designing from scratch.

      So, they are complaint with the rules in terms of designing and manufacturing their own brake ducts. It would have been a problem only if Mercedes shared the 2020 design which they have not. Frankly, FIA seems to be out of their depth.

    2. designed their own, using the Mercedes’ Cad files as a starting point,

      that’s where it is going wrong. You are not allowed to share information about listed parts. Merc did something illegal and so did RP.
      End or story.. but that is not how FIA works.

  12. “received a set” . Not ORDERED a set. Jan 6 is the return from the Xmas / New Year holiday. The goods where therefore ORDERED in 2019 and DISPATCHED in 2019. Case closed and HAAS should concentrate more about being last in the field with a corporate supplier that cheats for real and then pays of the judge to hide the evidence, than trying to point fingers here.

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