Racing Point hit with 15-point deduction over brake ducts
Racing Point driver Nico Hulkenberg during a practice session at the 70th Anniversary Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit, on Aug. 7, 2020. (Andrew Boyers, Pool Photo via AP)
SILVERSTONE, ENGLAND -- Racing Point was deducted 15 points in the Formula One constructors' championship and fined 400,000 euros (US$470,000) Friday for copying a Mercedes design for its brake ducts. Now a rule change is planned to hamper teams who try to reverse-engineer rivals' cars.
The stewards ruled that Mercedes was the "principal designer" of the parts, designed for the championship-winning 2019 car, and that Racing Point made only minor changes to computer design data it received from Mercedes.
Rival team Renault filed protests about the legality of the brake ducts, which were added to the "listed parts" under F1 rules for 2020. That means teams must design their own. Racing Point argued it was merely using information about the Mercedes parts to inform its own design.
Brake ducts have become increasingly elaborate in recent years as teams try to squeeze out every aerodynamic advantage they can find from the cars.
Racing Point uses customer engines from Mercedes and has admitted basing its 2020 car design on photographs of last year's Mercedes car. The similarities led to the Racing Point being nicknamed the "pink Mercedes" when it was first seen in testing ahead of the season.
The FIA, F1's governing body that sets the rules, wants to stop that happening again.
"We don't want next year to have eight or 10 Mercedes, or copies of Mercedes, on the grid, where the main skill becomes how you do this process," Niklas Tombazis, the FIA's head of single-seater matters, said in comments published on the F1 website.
"We do plan, in the very short notice, to introduce some amendment to the 2021 sporting regulations that will prevent this becoming the norm. It will prevent (teams) from using extensive parts of photos to copy whole portions of other cars in the way Racing Point has done."
Racing Point can appeal the points deduction and fine.
The points deduction drops the team from fifth to sixth in the standings, below Renault. The ruling doesn't affect the points totals for Racing Point's drivers.