Both Renault cars have been disqualified from the Japanese Grand Prix following a protest by Racing Point.
Racing Point alleged Renault was using a pre-set automated brake bias system that breached regulations, and submitted a 12-page document in protest after the race in Suzuka. The FIA deemed the protest admissible, and conducted a detailed analysis of the sealed FIA standard electronic control unit and steering wheel of the car.
After further submissions from both Racing Point and Renault, the FIA Technical Department carried out an analysis of Renault’s software and data and held a further hearing via teleconference on Wednesday. While parts of the findings remain confidential to protect Renault IP, the stewards found that the system is not pre-set, lap distance-dependent as alleged, but still constitutes a driver aid and therefore breaches the sporting regulations.
“The stewards conclude that while Renault used innovative solutions to exploit certain ambiguities in the Technical Regulations and other supporting documents, their system does not breach any current Technical Regulation,” the stewards decision read.
“However, although legal under the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations, as noted above, the stewards find the Renault system constitutes a driver aid and is, therefore, not in complacent with Article 27.1 FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, which requires the driver to drive the car alone and unaided.
“The brake balance adjustment system in question acts as a driver aid, by saving the driver from having to make a number of adjustments during a lap. The stewards note that there is a clear distinction between this system and one which provides actual feedback control, which would be a substitute for driver skills or reflexes. Nevertheless, it is still an aid and, therefore, contravenes Article 27.1 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.”
As a result, both cars have been disqualified from the results of the race, with Daniel Ricciardo losing sixth place and Nico Hulkenberg excluded from 10th. Charles Leclerc now moves up to sixth place ahead of Pierre Gasly, Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and Daniil Kvyat.
All parties have the right to appeal the decision until 10am CDT – local time at the Mexican Grand Prix – on Thursday.
The revised race classification does not change the result of the constructors’ championship, although it does weaken Renault’s grip on fifth in the standings, with Toro Rosso and Racing Point now respectively just six and 10 points behind.