The row over permitted chassis token usage for 2021 is the reason the Racing Point brake duct judgement rumbles on despite Renault withdrawing its appeal this week.
An International Court of Appeal hearing – with both Ferrari and Racing Point itself still set to progress with their appeals – is loosely set for two weeks from now, but negotiations behind the scenes continue with both the FIA and Liberty keen to have the matter resolved without involving the FIA court.
Those negotiations are believed to revolve around any customer team upgrade from 2019 to supplied 2020 parts for next year not requiring them to spend their permitted upgrade tokens.
This potentially applies only to Racing Point (which uses the 2019 Mercedes rear end) and AlphaTauri (which uses last year’s Red Bull rear end), leaving rival teams concerned.
As reported by The Race, Racing Point’s competitors have not given up hope that the rule could be changed despite the FIA stating it would not do so of its own accord.
A letter signed by six of the teams (believed to be Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, Williams, Haas and Alfa Romeo) was recently sent to the FIA outlining their concerns.
And the recent signing of the new Concorde Agreement could potentially facilitate the reversal of the ruling of the 2020 upgrade not costing a token.
The agreement takes immediate effect and any change no longer requires unanimous agreement, but merely a ‘super majority’ among the 28 votes (split between the teams, FIA and F1).
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said at the previous race in Spain that he believed the majority of teams opposed the concession, and Ferrari is believed to be using the brake duct appeal to open up the whole issue.
Ferrari is seeking full 360-degree clarity of exactly what will be permitted and how the token usage may be differentiated between teams, and it’s not inconceivable that a deal about the tokens could be struck that would satisfy Ferrari sufficiently to drop the brake duct appeal.
Reading between the lines is a concern about just how competitive a 2021 Aston Martin-badged Racing Point could be if the radical rear suspension of this year’s Mercedes W11 is fitted.
This was described by Mercedes technical director James Allison at the W11’s launch as follows: “It’s extremely adventurous. We have put a new geometry in there that gives us more aerodynamic opportunity, and allows us to get more downforce on the car.”
The lower wishbone is swept back to an extreme degree, allowing a more powerful airflow around the diffuser.
It’s an incredible feat of engineering, given the structural challenges it posed.
Given how competitive the Racing Point already is, the fact that such a powerful upgrade would not even cost one of the tokens is giving several teams concerns.