FIA to clamp down on car copying after Racing Point decision

Racing Point, 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix

The FIA will move to further limit what Formula 1 teams can copy from their fellow competitors after upholding Renault’s protest of Racing Point on Friday.

After siding with Renault’s claims that Racing Point illegally borrowed the design of the brake ducts on their 2020 car, the RP20, from last year’s Mercedes W10, the FIA Head of Single-Seater Matters Niklas Tombazis is now intending to give further clarification on what it means to be an independent F1 constructor.

“First of all copying has been taking place in Formula 1 for a long time, taking photos, and sometimes reverse-engineering them and make similar concepts or in some areas even identical concepts or close to identical as other teams,” he said. “We do not think this can stop in the future completely. But what we do think is Racing Point took this to another level.

“They clearly decided to adopt this philosophy for the whole car for what I would call a paradigm shift.

“They actually used a disruption in the process that has been the norm in designing a Formula 1 car for the last 40 years. One should not penalise that as they have been original in deciding to follow this approach.

“However we do not think this is what F1 should become. We don’t want next year to have 8 or 10 Mercedes, or copies of Mercedes, on the grid, where the main skill becomes how you do this process. We don’t want this to become the norm of Formula 1.”

“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 from using extensive parts of photos to copy whole portions of other cars in the way racing point has done.

“We will still accept individual components to be copied, and local areas, but we don’t want the whole car to be a fundamental copy of another car.”

Complicating matters is that F1 teams will be carrying-over their 2020 designs to the 2021 season, but Tombazis maintains a balance can be found between the governing body’s intentions and the realities present at the track.

“We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it,” he explained. “We will be providing guidance about that [copying], as well as the ruling, the wording itself, over the next weeks.

“We want to give a very strong message to teams that they should not be starting doing that for next year’s car because that will simply not be allowed. It will of course be accepted that teams, on the 2020 cars, they are not supposed to delete it or start afresh because that’s never how it works.”