Renault may be joined by F1 rivals if protest launched over Racing Point
Renault is considering whether to appeal the sanction imposed on Racing Point over the brake duct furore and may yet be joined by a number of its Formula 1 rivals.
Racing Point has been docked 15 constructors' points and fined €400,000 for the illegal design of the brake ducts currently on its RP20.
In an unusual judgment, while the parts themselves are not illegal and can continue to be used for the remainder of the season, the team is therefore not in contravention of the technical regulations, which could have resulted in a far more severe penalty, including exclusion from the championship.
Instead, the team has been penalised over the design process, and that it used CAD models and other data for the Mercedes W10 brake ducts to help develop what is this season a listed part, which has been designed in-house. Last season, the part was non-listed and purchased by the team from Mercedes.
In this instance, Racing Point has broken the sporting regulations, and so more of a sporting penalty has been applied.
Appreciably, Renault is now considering its options ahead of a deadline to launch an appeal of 9.30amUK, Saturday, August 8.
“Because it’s complex and we need to balance carefully the interests of the sport and also the consistency of the sanction, we are looking whether or not we will appeal the sanction, not obviously the decision," said Abiteboul.
“It’s a sporting regulation, but it really is a technical matter that ends up being placed in the sporting regulation. We will consider that matter, bearing in mind that the advantage obviously obtained will keep on going for the season, and it’s very much an advantage.
"I think we need to recognise that what Racing Point has done, based on a car that has such an advantage over everyone else on the grid, has been a shock in the system, has been a disruption."
McLaren boss Zak Brown has described Racing Point's 'design-by-photography' claim as "BS", as outlined in the stewards' findings, and feels there is a case to push for a more significant penalty, particularly with the parts continuing to be used.
"How it [the brake ducts] arrived on the car has been deemed illegal," said Brown, "so I think that needs to be clarified and cleaned up for the future, that you can breach a sporting regulation but be clear of the technical regulation, and it continues on.
"They were docked because of the unfair competitive advantage that they had in Austria [where the first protest was launched after the Styrian Grand Prix] but aren't they still carrying that unfair advantage this weekend? It's confusing and that's why it needs to be cleared up.
"Therefore, you have to question anything else around that car, so I think this is potentially the tip of the iceberg, the starting point of looking at what's happened here because I don't think it's healthy for the sport, the constructor gets a penalty, but the drivers don't.
"I'm sure the FIA will look into it further. We now know the brake ducts are illegal, but how do we know the balance of the car isn't?
"So I think it's thrown up a lot more questions than answers and there is new evidence we have been able to see. It's something we are going to review quickly and understand the process and whether that's something we want to potentially participate in."
Claire Williams echoed Brown's remarks, suggesting her team would also weigh up its options as to whether to participate in a possible appeal.
"Whether I agree personally, or the team, that the reprimand is appropriate, or the sanctions they've put in place are appropriate, I'll bite my tongue on that," said deputy team principal Williams.
"We all need a little bit of time to fully compute the outcome of it and to decide whether we will take it any further forwards.
"The one confusing thing is this discrepancy between the sporting and the technical and you can run effectively what has been deemed an illegal part, that has been put on a race car because it was in effect copied from another team to a degree. To me, that isn't right.
"It's confusing for the fans to have that, to see how a car that has been in breach of the regulations can still be allowed to run those parts doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
"The fact they are allowed to continue to race has much broader implications on teams further down the grid when it comes to prize-fund money when it comes to the order of the championship, and I'm not sure I agree with that."
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto simply added: "Is the penalty sufficient or not? I think we need to go through the 14 pages [of the stewards' verdict] carefully. As Ferrari, we will be very careful in understanding and deciding what are the next steps."
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