Racing Point deducted 15 points and fined heavily as Renault protest into car legality upheld
Racing Point have been deducted 15 world championship points and fined €400,000 after FIA stewards upheld Renault’s protest about the legality of the design of the team’s RP20 car.
Racing Point raised eyebrows at Barcelona testing when they unveiled a car that looked remarkably similar to last year’s championship-winning Mercedes. The team – who take an engine as well as several parts, including the suspension, from Mercedes as per the rules –admitted taking inspiration from the car, but consistently insisted what they had done is within the rules.
After the Styrian, Hungarian and British Grands Prix, Renault lodged a protest with the stewards, alleging that Racing Point’s brake ducts had been directly copied from the 2019 Mercedes.
And on Friday in Silverstone, the stewards delivered their verdict, upholding Renault’s protest.
Racing Point were fined €200,000 for fielding Sergio Perez’s car in Styria and the same amount for fielding Lance Stroll’s. They were also deducted 7.5 world championship points per car - though Perez and Stroll keep their drivers' championship points. Protests for the Hungarian and British Grands Prix were also upheld, with Racing Point reprimanded for using their car in both events.
What did the stewards find?
In a 14-page document issued at Silverstone, the FIA stewards outlined in detail why Renault’s protest had been upheld. The crux of the matter focused on when the new rules around listed parts were applied, Racing Point arguing that the new sporting regulations only came into force a day before FP1 in Austria.
The stewards rejected that notion, and said that while the team’s current front brake duct design was acceptable given it was an evolution of the team’s 2019 design – conceived using CAD drawings of the brake ducts on Mercedes’ W10 car, when such a practice was allowed by the regulations – the team’s 2020 rear brake ducts must be considered Mercedes’ designs.
This is because although they were designed using the same materials, Racing Point were not refining a component that had already been incorporated into the DNA of the RP19. Instead, they were – in the stewards’ eyes - introducing a completely new component for the RP20, which it knew was now classified as a listed part.
What happens next?
Despite the ruling, Racing Point will continue to use the brake ducts going forward, starting with this weekend's 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. This is because the stewards acknowledged that it was not realistic to expect Racing Point to "re‐design or re‐engineer the BDs in a way that would effectively require them to 'unlearn' what they already know."
The team are currently digesting the findings of the investigation before deciding whether or not to appeal the decision, in line with Article 15 of the International Sporting Code.
Speaking to F1.com soon after Racing Point Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer said his initial reaction is the decision was "unfair".