Andy Green, Technical Director for Racing Point, has announced that in 2020 they have only been able to show “glimpses” of what the RP20, their 2020 Challenger for the F1 season, is capable of. Many people have labelled this beast as a pink Mercedes and as such its performance on race weekends has been consistently met with a protest by Renault. Now it appears, following news published by Auto Motor und Sport, that the foundation for such a protest came from revelations provided by a former Racing Point employee.
The verdict in the brake duct dispute between Racing Point and Renault is expected this week but that will be just the beginning.
As has become known, Racing Point had the brake ducts of the 2019 Mercedes as a template already and the FIA knew about it as stated by Racing Point Technical Director Andy Green:
“They [The FIA] did comment on how similar they [the brake ducts] were to the Mercedes and we commented on why they were so similar: because we purchased the brake ducts in 2019.”
At this stage the lines of legality and ethics appear to blur because brake ducts were a non-listed part in 2019 but this changed in 2020 and so from then every team had to design them. However, Racing Point bought the W10 version of brake ducts from Mercedes in 2019 and then the Silverstone based racing outfit designed the RP20 brake ducts based on legally acquired data which had been legally purchased in 2019. Basically, the team could not unsee the knowledge which they had required legally so of course it would influence the direction of their 2020 F1 Challenger.
The report into the case reads that: ‘In the paddock, it is said that Renault received a tip from an ex-Racing Point employee. They changed camp in winter,’. As dramatic as this sounds, the alleged whistleblower will likely only come to the surface when this matter faces the Court of Appeals – as the report states: ‘If they exist, they will likely only play the key witnesses before an Appeals court with a civil judge.’
Such an outcome is inevitable as no matter how the argument ends this will not be the end of the matter.
When the case goes to the FIA Court of Appeals after the first judgment, then will come the real discussion as to how much copying is permitted. However, Andy Green is clear in his belief of what the decision should be:
“The protest should be dismissed,” Green said. “We followed the rules and used drawings and data to show why the brake vents of the two cars are so similar.”
Of course, following the performance of Lance Stroll on Sunday (coming home in 9th) and Nico Hulkenberg’s clutch issue (resulting in a DNS) the RP20 looks as far from being a pink Mercedes as can be and Andy Green is aware they are struggling:
“I'd say for lots of different reasons, we would admit that things haven't gone our way and we have made mistakes in the first few races,” said Green when asked by publication Motorsport.com on the issue after Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
“And we're underperforming [at Silverstone], but again, for something that I think is out of our control, with respect to losing a driver and having to change our weekend around…It's not something that you can really point the finger at. And just lots, lots of little things haven't quite gone our way. And we've seen glimpses of what the car's capable of doing, and we just understand that it is very difficult to keep it there at its peak. And we have to work incredibly hard to do that. So I think that's, that's a lot of the problem. I don't think we're the only ones up and down.”
As up and down as Racing Point’s performance may be, any eventual points deduction would put them far down in the Formula One Constructors’ table - but such discussion is a long way off.
In the meantime, with the 70th Anniversary of Formula One Grand Prix approaching this weekend so too will yet another Renault Sport protest at the end of it.
Following the conclusion of this whole affair, whenever that may be, one cannot help but predict that the real loser in this will be the sport of Formula One and that is the last thing the pinnacle of motorsport needs.