Bickering over pink copycats from Racing Point: F1-soap over clone car

The Formula 1 teams not only compete against each other on the track, but also in back rooms. What’s more, where grand prixs are still soporific, things get tough behind the scenes.

This season the ‘clone car’ of renstal Racing Point. The team is said to have copied parts of last year’s successful Mercedes. The penalty (400,000 euros and fifteen World Championship points deducted) has been handed out, but the legal joust may continue for months to come.

‘Middle butter’

So the bickering is the ‘pink Mercedes’ of mid-motor Racing Point. In that word ‘small engine’ is the crux of the story: this season the British race stable scores high with a car that looks very much like the dominant Mercedes from 2019. Also under ‘bodywork’.

Logical that even Ferrari joins the protest initiated by Renault. After all, the ‘pink panthers’ snatch valuable World Cup points away from the nose of this year’s red Italian brigade

That could save millions of euros in prize money at the end of this year, but according to Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto that is not the stakes of the fight. “We want to know where we stand. We want clarity. That’s important for the future of our sport.”

Confidential information

Binotto states that it is impossible to clone an F1 car by photography alone. He thus suggests that someone has helped Racing Point with confidential information. “This is about intellectual property and we are sensitive about that. It’s not possible for someone to just put an entire car on the copier. We’re appealing because there are too many question marks.”

It’s neither the first nor the last conflict in Formula 1. The history of the royal class of motor racing is full of quarrels about looking up or exceeding the limits of the regulations. There is a big difference: the time that investors and car manufacturers were eager to start an F1 team is years behind us.

Hose pit

The ten remaining race stables need each other to survive, but are also rivals. Both sportingly and financially, with a view to the prize pool and the distribution of television revenues. It explains the endless bickering. The ten can’t compete with and without each other. They form a veritable snake pit. The corona crisis makes the atmosphere extra vicious. Everyone is in survival mode.

It is typically Formula 1 that two race stables withdraw their intention to take legal action against Racing Point at the last minute: McLaren and Williams.

“We brought this up because we didn’t have time to get to the bottom of it during the race weekends. We saw a lot of contradictions, which we didn’t understand. Now we do,” Brown says. Conversations with the FIA motor sport federation have cleared the air, he says. “They don’t like this stuff either and they want a solution.”

“What matters to us is that F1 is a championship for constructors. It has always been that way. We want to make sure it stays that way. I trust the FIA will solve this. I respect that Renault and Ferrari are going through with it, but for us it’s the end of the story.”

Renault continues until the hole. A matter of principles, says team boss Cyril Abiteboul. “We are the driving force behind this process. I don’t want to rush relations, but we’re looking for answers to key questions”, says the Frenchman.

Renault will continue until the hole

“I haven’t received any useful answers yet. This should be a World Cup for manufacturers who independently design an F1 car. With crystal clear rules. That’s all we’re after. I have the impression the FIA is going to intervene, but we’re not going to sit back.”

‘Disqualification for Racing Point’

Abiteboul understands nothing of the penalty imposed on Racing Point. “We were expecting a solid penalty, like disqualification. All points gone. And what did they get? A one-time penalty, fifteen World Championship points deduction for the team and a reprimand after the grand prixs. So after every race, a slap on the fingers, but no other penalty? That’s hard to explain. Also to the fans…”

It is noteworthy that not only Renault and Ferrari take legal action, but also the alleged copycat itself: Racing Point. “We want to clear our name. We haven’t done anything wrong and we’ve been open all the time”, team boss Otmar Szafnauer explains.

Real constructor

Racing Point is not a cunning copier according to Szafnauer. “We have five hundred employees. Much less than other teams because we don’t make everything in-house. For example, we buy our gearboxes from Mercedes, but we’re just a real manufacturer. We were like Jordan, we were when we were called Force India. And we’re still like Racing Point.”