Formula 1

886 reasons Racing Point is sure it’s innocent

Jul 23 2020
By Scott Mitchell

Racing Point Formula 1 boss Otmar Szafnauer says it is “impossible” for his team’s brake ducts to be illegal as there are “886 individual drawings” to prove it.

Renault has lodged protests at each of the last two F1 grands prix as it believes Racing Point has illegally used Mercedes information to produce parts of its 2020 car.

The Racing Point RP20 is a ‘copy’ of the 2019 Mercedes’ aerodynamic philosophy but it has always insisted this has been done fairly using photographic resources any other team could have employed.

Renault has targeted the brake ducts because last year it was a non-Listed Part, which meant Racing Point could purchase and use Mercedes’ 2019 brake ducts without concern.

But this year brake ducts became a Listed Part, which means they need to be designed by the team itself and the team has to have exclusive rights to use that intellectual property in F1.

A ruling has to be made by the FIA on whether Racing Point has used Mercedes information to design its 2020 part and if that is actually a problem if it took place in 2019.

But Szafnauer insists “we have no concerns whatsoever, our brake ducts are legal” and emphasised he believes it is “impossible” for that not to be the case.

“The brake ducts take a long time to design and make,” he said. “They’re very, very complicated, we have 886 individual drawings for our brake ducts.”

Szafnauer was on the defensive after the Hungarian Grand Prix as mounting scrutiny from rivals’ over its 2020 design, which has had a strong start to the season.

He said that if the decision goes against the team, which he doubts will happen, “for sure we’ll appeal”.

But he reiterated that: “Our brake ducts are legal so we didn’t contravene any sporting or technical regulations of the brake duct, or any other part of the car for that matter.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Hungarian Grand Prix Preparation Day Budapest, Hungary

A verdict could be made before next week’s British Grand Prix and is expected by the second Silvestone race at the latest, with the matter expected to be completely settled – including handling any appeals – by the week after the Spanish Grand Prix.

Szafnauer said he was frustrated because he has all the evidence proving the brake ducts’ legality “and the rest of the world doesn’t yet because we have to disclose that to the stewards”.

He also pointed to Racing Point cooperating with the FIA before the start of the season over checks how the team had gone about adopting the Mercedes’ aerodynamic design.

Szafnauer said the FIA “were satisfied that what we had done was absolutely legal”, although the FIA did not specifically check the brake ducts in that analysis, as it was focusing on the general practice.

In any case, Szafnauer accepts that a green light from the FIA technical department is not 100% binding because “that’s not how the judicial system works” – teams are then responsible for making sure their cars do conform to legality on race weekends, which the stewards have jurisdiction over.

Szafnauer said: “When the FIA came to us to investigate how we designed and developed, including our brake ducts, they came to the factory, spent two days there, interviewed people, looked over all of our drawings, looked at the design and development process, what we did in the tunnel, the CFD, how we got to where we got and they were satisfied.

“With the stewards you can’t do that, you have got to bring the data to them and then also explain through words on a piece of paper and drawings what you’ve done.

“It takes a little bit longer so the only reason I’m frustrated is I know what we’ve done and why it’s legal. It wasn’t a loophole or anything.

“It’s just frustrating when I know we’re legal and I get all these questions about ‘well, what happens if you lose’. It’s frustrating.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Budapest, Hungary

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