Renault’s protest against Racing Point’s RP20 brake ducts is set to be heard by the FIA Steward’s as early as this Thursday.
So why does Renault’s protest focus only on the RP20’s brake ducts? One might suggest because in isolation the brake ducts are a soft target, ie. when one compares published photos of Mercedes 2019 brake ducts and the RP20 brake ducts they look, at least to the untrained eye, to be identical. If the Stewards judge Racing Points RP20 Brake ducts to be substantially identical to Mercedes 2019 F1 car, that’s a clear breach of the FIA’s “Listed Parts” Appendix 6 Sporting Regulations. Game set and match point, as they say.
Several competitors team principal’s, including Red Bull’s Christian Horner, have been pointedly referring to Racing Point’s 2020 car as the “Pink Mercedes” ever since the RP20’s impressive performance was first seen during pre-season testing at Barcelona. Horner and others contend that the RP20 is simply a clone of last years all-conquering Mercedes F1 car, and as such its in breach of the FIA’s Appendix 6 Sporting Regulations.
Concern amongst several of Racing Point’s competitors about the RP20’s similarity to last years Mercedes F1 car ramped up significantly when the RP20 showed its true pace in the season opener 2 weeks. However, there seems little doubt that Sergio Perez startling race pace, as shown in his outstanding recovery from his lowly 17th grid position, also saw him set several new fastest laps on his way to making an unsuccessful last-minute dive on Alex Albon for 4th place, sealed Renaults resolve.
Renault’s executive director Marcin Budkowski told media “To be honest, we were planning to do it [protest] in Melbourne, and didn’t have the opportunity to do it in Melbourne, and the reasons why we didn’t do it last week were more related to the fact took a lot of a lot of good work from the FIA and F1 to reconvene everybody at a race. And I think we wanted to respect this, and we applaud the work that they’ve done”.
“I think we know a lot of teams have contributed to it, the protest, and we just thought it wasn’t it wasn’t the right thing to do but we did it at the second race because again, there was the opportunity to do it. That’s really the reason for waiting, but it’s something we spotted in Barcelona during testing.”
Budkowski said, “Basically we contend that the brake ducts front and rear that are used on the Racing Point are effectively a Mercedes design, and so have been designed by another competitor, which is in breach of the sporting regulations, more precisely Appendix 6, and therefore we protested the cars because of that”.
“First of all brake ducts are a listed part, because they are a performance differentiator as they’re an aerodynamically sensitive component. And they are also pretty crucial in controlling tyre temperatures, which we know is a fairly major performance differentiator in F1. And they are regulated by Appendix 6, so we believe that these geometries in use in the Racing Point are effectively the exact design of Mercedes from last year, potentially with some minor modifications to adapt them to the Racing Point, or some minor evolutions, but it’s not a Racing Point design.
“So it’s not their intellectual property. And that’s explicitly banned in the regulations”.