Otmar Szafnauer, Hungaroring, 2020

Racing Point’s response to Renault protest due in three weeks

2020 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Racing Point will supply its response to Renault’s protest against their car in three weeks’ time, the team’s CEO has said.

The team’s finishing positions in last week’s Styrian Grand Prix, and the points it scored, remain provisional following Renault’s protest over the legality of the car’s brake ducts.

Racing Point CEO Otmar Szafnaeur said the team had been braced for a protest since the championship’s abandoned season-opening race four months ago.

“There were rumours of a potential protest in Australia so our expectations were that something would happen,” said Szafnauer in today’s FIA press conference. “We now have to put together the evidence to show that we’re completely legal. I think we have three weeks to do that and that’s exactly what we’re working on now.”

There is therefore unlikely to be any development in the matter before the fifth round of the championship, the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone, on August 9th.

Racing Point, Melbourne, 2020
Analysis: Why Racing Point is under protest by Renault – and the loophole which could clear them
Renault’s protest concerns whether Racing Point’s car, which is closely based on last year’s Mercedes, is their own design to the extent the rules require. It has questioned whether aspects of its rivals’ design, specifically the brake ducts, could match the Mercedes as closely as they do based solely on photography of the parts.

Asked whether he is confident the FIA will run a “bulletproof” investigation, Szafnauer said: “I think the process is bulletproof. We’ll provide all the evidence that was asked of us.

“I think the the outcome will be bulletproof as well. Which is quite nice because there are things that camera can’t see, especially the internal surfaces of a brake duct for example that we completely designed and developed ourselves and then when you compare the two parts by the FIA, they’ll absolutely know that the brake ducts are unique and our IP [intellectual property] and designed by us.”

Renault executive director Marcin Budkowski said the team focused its protest on Racing Point’s brake ducts partly because of the difficulty of copying them from photographs alone.

“Brake ducts are essential performance differentiators in today’s Formula 1 cars,” he explained. “They are not only there to cool the brakes, they are an essential aerodynamic device at the front and at the rear in terms of extracting aero performance over there. And they are also essential in controlling the tyre temperatures and we know that tyre temperatures are fairly important in Formula 1 nowadays. So that’s that’s one of the reasons.

“The other reasons, as Otmar touched on, is there are surfaces that are visible to the eye and to the cameras of the numerous photographers that go up and down the pit lane. There’s also surfaces that are impossible to see from outside. It would be difficult to copy them from pictures.”

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Budkowski hopes the protest will also focus attention on how far Formula 1 is prepared to allow teams to copy each other’s cars.

Budkowski explained Renault’s reasons for protest
“For us it’s important to clarify what is permissible and what isn’t for the event we protested, for the rest of the season, for the next season. But also what Formula 1 we want the future. What is the model we want?

“Do we want to model where we have 10 teams independently fighting each other? Especially the context of fair sport: A more equal distribution of funds, the cost caps, all teams eventually coming to a similar level of spending – maybe not straight away but with time.

“We think there’s a great opportunity, together with the ’22 technical regulations, the cars being able to follow each other, overtake each other, some better racing. We think there’s a great opportunity for the sport to have 10 teams fighting on equal terms.

“And for us, it’s important to clarify what kind of level of exchange is permissible. Is it permissible to get geometries from another team and use them on your car or not? Because we don’t think that’s the right model for F1 in the future. So it’s really beyond the protest, beyond this race, it’s what kind of model we want for the future of F1.”

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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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7 comments on “Racing Point’s response to Renault protest due in three weeks”

  1. Why can’t vettel just retire, he is going to take Perez’s seat who deserves it a lot more then vettel. Dude underperformed at ferrari and now is going to go to another top team with a slow teammate to try to make the casuals think he is faster then he actually is.

    1. It’d be a real kick in the teeth for Perez if they dropped him at the very moment all his hard work over the years seems about to pay off.

      I don’t see the appeal for Aston Martin with Vettel. A former but disillusioned would champion is not a good fit for them.

  2. So from the comments on this from McLaren, and Renault, it almost seems like, a bit similar to the Red Bull protest of DAS, they do not fully expect this to actually declare the Racing Point cars illegal, but mostly want to set a line, and get that debate about how far you can go in copying other cars (also about increasing amount of listed parts? Might involve HAAS and Alpha Tauribit at some point too).

    I do think it is a bit tricky, because so far RP have shown that it is a better way than what Ferrari have been doing this winter in an effort to get to the front of the grid. So if takinig ideas/concepts of aero over to that extent is not allowed (and also looking at Red Bull again being second best, but not clearly a real WDC, let alone WCC challenger), then how are teams to compete if only one of them gets it right, but the others can then only take a bit from that, because otherwise they ‘copied’.

  3. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    17th July 2020, 15:44

    Funny thing about all of this is remembering Force India making a huge fuss over the Haas/Toro Rosso model and how essentially duplicating parts from a parent team didn’t make them a proper constructor and could potentially lead to grids of identical cars, and then only a few years later and a change of ownership the same team rolls up with the most perfect duplication of a ‘parent’ car.

    I’d agree that the Renault protest is less about catching Racing Point out and more about closing a loophole and enforcing what constitutes as a constructor moving forwards. Which really is an important point, as if wholesale duplication of an existing and winning design to the smallest detail is allowed then why spend millions developing your own design that can barely fight for the top 10? Spending your money duplicating last year’s winner seems a far more profitable – and successful – pathway. But I wouldn’t say it’s a good one.

  4. If what you do is righteous, you’ve got nothing to hide. A response in 3 weeks time? Why taking so long?

    1. And why hurry?

  5. Why is everyone so concerned about copying?
    Technical regulations will already make all cars identical in 2022 with zero deviation allowed.

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