There will be no decision on the legality of the Racing Point before the Hungarian Grand Prix, meaning the team remains open to a further protest this weekend.
Renault lodged a protest against the Racing Point front and rear brake ducts at the Styrian Grand Prix, claiming they do not comply with regulations stating teams must design — or own the exclusive use of the design of — certain listed parts themselves, given the similarity to last year’s Mercedes. The protest was deemed admissible in Austria and means the FIA Technical Department is now compiling an assessment to give to the stewards, who will then reconvene to consider the matter further.
Given the complexity of the case and the protest coming during a run of three races in a row, Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer says his team has three weeks to build its case.
“There were rumors of a potential protest in Australia so our expectations were that something might happen,” Szafnauer said. “My reaction is that now we have to put together the evidence to show that we’re completely legal and I think we have three weeks to do that — that’s exactly what we’re working on now.”
That timeline would mean there would be no final decision until the second race at Silverstone — the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix — at the earliest, but the protest only relates to the car’s state at the Styrian GP and a fresh protest would need to be lodged at each of the other races before a decision is made.
Renault executive director Marcin Budkowski says the protest is against more than Racing Point’s current car, but is a way of his team voicing its opinion that such an approach should not be legal in the sport going forward.
“For us it’s important to clarify what is permissible and what isn’t — for this season, for the event we protest and for next season — but also what Formula 1 we want in the future and the model we want,” Budkowski said.
“Do we want a model where there’s 10 teams independently fighting each other? Especially in the context of probably a fairer sport — a more equal distribution of funds, a cost cap, so all teams eventually coming to a similar level of spending, maybe not straight away but with time. So we think there’s a great opportunity, together with the 2022 technical regulations with a car being able to follow each other and overtake each other — so better racing — we think there’s a great opportunity for the sport to have 10 teams or maybe more fighting each other on equal terms.
“For us it’s important to clarify what sort of level of changes is permissible. Is it permissible to get parts and get geometries from another team and use them on your car or not? Because we don’t think that’s the right model for F1 in the future. So it’s really beyond the protest, beyond this race, it’s what kind of model we want for the future of F1.”
Much of the Racing Point appears similar to last year’s Mercedes but Budkowski says the brake ducts were targeted due to their performance influence and the fact they are a part that feature complex internals that would not be possible to copy based on observation alone.
“The main point is brake ducts are essential performance differentiators on today’s Formula 1 cars. They’re not only there to cool the brakes, they are an essential aerodynamic device — both at the front and at the rear in terms of extracting aero performance — but they also are essential in controlling the tire temperatures, and we know that tire temperatures are fairly important in Formula 1 nowadays.
“The other reason is there are surfaces that are visible to the eye and to the cameras of the numerous photographers that go up and down the pit lane, there’s also surfaces that are impossible to see from outside so that it would be difficult to copy from pictures…”