It’s late, and I’m tired but this must be published sooner rather than later – Having read one of the best F1 resources, Auto Motor und Sport, the German Formula 1 website has just published a very interesting article highlighting the Renault F1 team’s latest scam.
I will not go into the detail of the allegation too much, other than the fact that rival mid-field team Racing Point have lodged a complaint to the FIA citing that the Renault F1 team do seem to be using a brake bias system that could be illegal.
Racing Point claimed that the system could be used to set a pre-determined lap distance- dependent brake balance system which requires the driver to drive the car unaided.
Renault argued that they did not use it and that the brake balance seen on the dashboard may change due to the operation of a specific Renault based system that was supplied in a supplementary document to the FIA.
The steward’s findings were that although Renault did not breach any current technical regulations, it was deemed that the system was a driver aid and therefore illegal under the rules.
Due to the late hour of this article, I’ve simply translated the German text below from the original Auto Motor und Sport article here.
If you wish to see the said video evidence, please use the video player below.
GoPro video unmasks Renault
By Auto Motor und Sport
Racing Point denies that a defector has put the team on trial to protest against Renault. Rather, the story goes back to Renault’s first exit with the R.S.19 in Barcelona. There a Go-Pro on Daniel Ricciardo’s helmet provided suspicious images.
Renault has waived an appeal against the disqualification at the GP Japan. Reason: There is no additional evidence that could exonerate Renault. In addition, it is known that an appeal against a decision by the sports stewards would statistically have little chance of success.
So why bother again with something that could harm the team’s image? To get to the heart of the matter. None of the suspicions expressed by Racing Point proved to be relevant. Renault did not violate any of the rules of the Technical Regulations.
Nevertheless, they are guilty. During the investigation, another system was apparently discovered for controlling the braking force on the rear axle, of which Racing Point knew nothing, but which could be described in the broadest sense as a driving aid. Renault is thus violating section 27.1 of the Sports Act, which requires that only the driver steers the car.
Racing Point Team Manager Andy Stevenson makes it clear that the protest did not include a detailed explanation of how Renault tricked the rules: “That’s not our job. We have raised our suspicions and listed them. After that, the blame lies with Renault. You have to explain to the sports stewards why everything is legal.”
Perez problem reminds Racing Point of the video
Renault assumed that a defector had given Racing Point the decisive tip. This is also mentioned in the FIA’s reasoning. Racing Point denies this, probably to protect the engineer who changed sides. According to the claimant, the story has a completely different background.
The first suspicion was made by Racing Point engineers when a video of the shakedown of the Renault R.S.19 in Barcelona appeared on YouTube. During the filming day, a GoPro camera was mounted on Daniel Ricciardo’s helmet. And it delivered razor-sharp images from the display on the steering wheel.
Clearly, Ricciardo did not adjust the brake balance once during the lap. The corresponding switch is located on the left under the display. On the screen, however, you can clearly see that the percentage value for the “brake balance” changes in the upper left corner of the display. This depends on the position on the track.
At first, things came to nothing. But when in Sergio Perez’s car at the British GP in a collision with Nico Hülkenberg the switch for the brake force adjustment broke and the Mexican had to drive the whole race with one setting, the engineers remembered those strange shots from Ricciardo’s helmet camera.
Racing Point makes request to FIA
According to Racing Point, after a more detailed analysis of the Renault system, a dossier was then prepared to automate the brake balance adjustment so that such a system could be used in the event of an emergency.
The team sent a request to the FIA as to whether such a device was legal. When the technical stewards rejected the proposal after the Singapore GP, Racing Point decided to take action against the system used by Renault. The collection of evidence stretched as far as the GP Japan. They didn’t just want to make a commotion, but to provide a well-founded explanation for the protest.
Racing Point engineers then latched into the on-board camera shots of Nico Hülkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo and recorded the moments in which the amount of brake force distribution on the display changed without the driver turning the switch.
It was found that the distribution of braking power was always the same on all laps. Even when driving into the parc fermé. When asked what Racing Point thinks the rotary switch for the brake balance on the steering wheel should do, the only answer is: “Perhaps the drivers can overwrite the automated system with it.
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