Racing Point has been fined €400,000 (£356,000) and deducted 15 points from its constructors’ total after race stewards upheld Renault’s protests over the legality of its RP20 car.
Stewards found that Racing Point had used designs from last year’s Mercedes as the basis for the rear brake ducts on its RP20, which breached sporting regulations relating to listed parts, but complied with technical regulations.
The penalty was applied for running the car in the Styrian Grand Prix. The team was also reprimanded for racing in the subsequent Hungarian and British Grands Prix, but did not receive any additional penalty.
The team will not be required to redesign the brake ducts and appears free to race for the rest of the season.
A change to F1 regulations this year means that teams must now design their own brake ducts, but this did not apply last year when Mercedes shared CAD designs for the front and front and rear brake ducts of its 2019 W10 car with Racing Point.
Racing Point legally used these drawings as the basis for the front brake ducts on last season’s car but crucially opted not to do the same for the rear and opted to run its own designs.
When it came to this season, the team modified the design of the front ducts. It also took the 2019 Mercedes rear brake duct drawings and used them as the basis of this year’s design.
Renault alleged that Racing Point’s front and rear brake ducts were produced through reproduction of the designs found on the Mercedes W10 from last season, in breach of the new listed parts regulation.
Stewards rejected the complaint over the front brake ducts, saying “Their genesis as Racing Point parts began in an earlier evolution with being run on the RP19 in 2019 when Mercedes brake ducts could legitimately be used. The combination of design work done on the 2019 RP19 coupled with the necessary upgrade work to the front brake ducts…cross the quantitative threshold for design work necessary to meet the requirements for listed parts in 2020.”
However, the protest over the rear brake ducts was upheld because they were not run last year. The design modification by Racing Point “pales in comparison to the significance of the original Mercedes work,” the Stewards said.
Their judgement was that the team gained a “sporting advantage” by their use of the designs and should be penalised under the sporting regulations. Because the ducts themselves are compliant under technical regulations, they said: “It is not realistic to expect Racing Point to re-design or re-engineer the brake ducts in a way that would effectively require them to ‘unlearn’ what they already know.
“The penalty imposed is intended to penalize the potential advantage Racing Point may have accrued in the brake duct design process which resulted in the use of listed parts which were not designed by it.”
The decision can be appealed and teams have until 9.30am tomorrow morning to lodge a protest.