The FIA revealed that it had not inspected the brake ducts of the Racing Point Formula 1 car when it investigated the RP20 prior to the opening race of the season in Australia.
From its first appearance at Barcelona for winter testing, the Racing Point immediately attracted a lot of attention because of its similarities to last season’s Mercedes.
FIA Technical Manager for the car, Nikolas Tombazis, then visited the Racing Point factory, where the team showed him how it had used photographs of the 2019 Mercedes W10 to design its RP20.
But after the Styrian Grand Prix, the Renault team lodged a protest against Racing Point, as the French manufacturer’s team felt that the RP20’s brake systems were too similar to those of the 2019 Mercedes for them not to have been copied, which is strictly forbidden by regulations.
Since the beginning of the year, Racing Point has always maintained that the FIA had inspected its car before the start of the season and approved it.
However, FIA Technical Director Nikolas
has admitted that while the FIA has indeed approved the car in general, it has not specifically examined the brake ducts which are now the subject of the Renault F1 protest.
“We heard rumours from some of the teams in February, so we decided to investigate before Australia, and we went to the Racing Point factory. ” Tombazis confirmed this Friday in Budapest, quoted by AMUS.
“We concentrated mainly on the rest of the car, not on the brake system, fortunately or unfortunately.
“If the rest of the car had been somehow obtained through CAD information, this would have been clearly illegal. In fact, it would involve Mercedes and Racing Point very strongly.
“So when we went out there we looked at that, we looked at the rest of the car mainly, and we were convinced by what we saw and that what Racing Point said with their process of taking pictures and reverse engineering from the photographs was very plausible.
“I would say more than that, they showed us how they had done it all and we were convinced that it was the process they had followed.
“So in the discussion this winter, we didn’t go into the details of the brake ducts, rightly or wrongly, I’m not necessarily saying it was the right thing, in hindsight we should have gone into that, but we were looking at the whole car and the parts that had traditionally been the components listed. ”
“We certainly have opinions on air ducts, and we’re also discussing them internally because there are some difficult legal and regulatory issues to deal with.
“But Renault’s protest focuses specifically on what is the most complicated part of the problem – the front wing or the nose or the diffuser and all that, let’s just say it’s relatively easy – and that’s what we focused on mainly in February and March. ”
“If it had been found that they had received information about the diffuser, for example, then both teams, Mercedes and Racing Point, would have had some pretty serious problems, I would say. ”
Tombazis also made a point of specifying that at the moment, absolutely all the teams on the grid are copying the competitors, both the smallest and the biggest.
“We have to say goodbye to the idea that a design starts with a blank sheet of paper. Absolutely nobody starts from scratch, but draws on their own experience or the ideas of others.
“Engineers have thousands of photos of every detail of the car in their archives. The copy has always been accepted. Everybody does it, even the best teams.
“Whether we like it or not, this leads us to ask legitimate questions about how many parts and customer cars we want or don’t want.
“That’s what Renault’s protest is for. I think they’re not happy that you can use photos to build a new car, especially as Racing Point has done it.
It should be noted that no judgement in this case is expected until at least the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in a fortnight’s time, or even the Spanish Grand Prix.