Racing Point fined and lose 15 points after Renault protest upheld
Rear brake ducts on RP20 found to be too closely-resemble the ones on last year’s Mercedes, which Racing Point didn’t run in 2019
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 07/08/20 4:33pm
Racing Point have been deducted 15 points and fined €400,000 (£361,000) after Renault won their protest over the team's 2020 car.
In a huge development on the eve of F1's 70th Anniversary GP this weekend, stewards upheld Renault's three separate protests against the RP20 and ruled Racing Point had contravened sporting regulations over the way they designed their car's rear brake ducts owing to the similarity to those on last year's Mercedes.
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Racing Point have had 15 points taken away from their total in the Constructors' Championship - dropping them from fifth to sixth, behind Renault - and fined €200,000 for each car they ran at at last month's Styrian GP, the race where Renault first lodged its protest.
The Silverstone-based team were reprimanded for the subsequent two events where the car was used, Hungary and Britain. They are able to continue running the car in the same specification from this weekend at Silverstone, however, as the car did not contravene the technical regulations.
Revised constructors' standings: Top six
|1) Mercedes||146 points|
|2) Red Bull||78 points|
|3) McLaren||51 points|
|4) Ferrari||43 points|
|5) Renault||32 points|
|6) Racing Point||27 points|
Racing Point had been confident FIA stewards would find in their favour and had insisted their brake ducts were inside the regulations. They now have 24 hours to consider whether they want to appeal the ruling.
Team boss Otmar Szafnauer told Sky F1: "The good news from the judgement is that the car is completely legal from a technical perspective so we can continue to run the brake ducts, it's just a matter of process in the sporting regulations.
"Other teams have done exactly the same, probably even more than what we did, so it's a bit bewildering. However, we now have to decide if our punishment is one that we should appeal."
What was the controversy about and what did stewards rule?
Racing Point's 2020 car caused controversy among its midfield rivals from almost the moment it was launched and hit the track in February owing to its resemblance to the title-winning 2019 Mercedes, the W10.
Although the 'copying' of rival cars - from digital photographs, for instance - and the reverse-engineering of parts is not illegal in F1, and Racing Point openly admitted the RP20 was based on the W10, teams have to design certain 'listed parts' wholly themselves.
Renaut's protest had centred squarely on the Racing Point's brake ducts.
These were not 'listed' in 2019 - meaning they could be acquired from other teams - but now are 'listed' for 2020, meaning teams have to run their own designs.
In a complex and lengthy 14-page verdict document issued by the FIA ahead of Practice One, stewards said Racing Point had fallen foul of sporting regulations regarding the design of the RP20's rear brake ducts as they had not raced them in 2019.
"If Racing Point had asked the FIA at the time (September‐ November 2019) if it could use the CAD models of the Mercedes W10 RBDs as the basis for the RP20's RBDs, the FIA would have said definitely not," read the verdict.
The verdict went on to say: "Since the RP20 RBDs were not run on the RP19 in 2019 and since the Stewards believe that the design effort expended by Racing Point in adapting the RBDs originally designed by Mercedes for the W10 pales in comparison to the significance of the original Mercedes work, the Stewards conclude that the principal designer of the RP20 RBDs was Mercedes, not Racing Point.
"It is accepted that it was perfectly lawful for Racing Point to obtain the CAD models for the Mercedes W10 BDs in 2018 (because BDs were not LPs at the time). But Racing Point knew when it developed the RP20 BDs that those parts would be LPs in the 2020 Championship.
"It, therefore, knew then that the BDs for the RP20 had to be 'designed by it,' and so could not be designed using the CAD models for the Mercedes W10 BDs."