Abiteboul not ruling out pink Mercedes protest

Date published: July 4 2020 - Michelle Foster

Cyril Abiteboul not ruling out pink Mercedes protest

Renault won’t protest Racing Point’s pink Mercedes in Austria but Cyril Abiteboul has hinted he may do so down the line.

Racing Point’s RP20, a car that draws heavily from Mercedes’ 2019 W10, made its debut at a grand prix weekend in Friday’s practice for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez was third quickest, 0.641s behind FP2 pace-setter Lewis Hamilton, while his team-mate Lance Stroll was seventh.

Renault drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon were fifth and 11th on the opening day of the 2020 championship.

With Renault having threatened to protest the RP20 ever since it first hit the track in testing, Abiteboul was asked for his thoughts on a protest after Friday’s action.

The Renault F1 managing director stated that for now Renault won’t protest as Formula 1 and getting racing is more important.

That, though, doesn’t mean Renault won’t protest next weekend or the weekend after.

“It’s an old debate, the debate about customer cars,” the Frenchman told the media.

“Racing Point has been able to push that to an extreme this year.

“I think it will be interesting to see the lap time, because there has been lots of speculation based on winter testing. And as we all know that is very difficult to say anything from winter tests.

“First, this week is back to racing.

“We will finally have an idea of the respective competitiveness and if Racing Point complies with the regulations then they have nothing to worry about obviously.

“But again, back to racing is the priority number one for this weekend.”

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Racing Point has always maintained that its car is legal and that the FIA agrees.

Technical director Andrew Green told Motorsport.com back in March that “when the car launched, we talked to the FIA about it, the FIA came round to the factory and looked at what we’d done and the designs of the car.

“They even took the design data from Mercedes for last year’s car and checked it against ours. They did a thorough check.

“And they are completely happy that the car that we’ve got on track has been designed by us.

“It may have some similarities to the Mercedes, but it’s just similar. It’s not the same. And so there is no protest there.”

Renault could perhaps learn a lesson from Red Bull Racing and Mercedes.

Introducing DAS in pre-season testing, Mercedes insisted that the FIA had given it the green light and that there was nothing to protest.

Red Bull went ahead with one anyway on Friday in Austria and lost.

The Austrian stewards declared that DAS, as Mercedes had said it was, is part of the steering and not the suspension.

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