F1 clamps down on reverse engineering

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez Racing Point

Sergio Perez Racing Point

The World Motor Sport Council has ratified changes to the 2021 technical regulations that will prevent teams from reverse engineering rivals’ designs.

This year Racing Point courted controversy when it debuted a pink Mercedes, the RP20 based heavily on Mercedes’ title-winning W10.

The Silverstone-based team has insisted all along that the car is entirely their design having only used photographs of the W10.

Renault, however, protested the car’s brake ducts, which were found to have been Mercedes IP, leading to a fine and the loss of 15 championship points.

Renault and Ferrari appealed the ruling but later withdrew their appeals when the FIA insisted that it would take steps to prevent teams from reverse engineering other team’s designs.

The FIA’s head of single seaters, Nikolas Tombazis, made the announcement in August.

“This will prevent teams from using extensive part of photos to copy whole portions of other cars in the way that Racing Point has done,” he said.

“Copying has been taking place in Formula One for a long time. People take photos and sometimes reverse engineer them and make similar concepts. We do not think this can stop in the future completely.

“But what we do think is that Racing Point took this to another level. They clearly decided to apply this philosophy for the whole car.”

Those rule changes were approved by the WMSC on Friday.

The FIA said in a statement: ‘The World Motor Sport Council approved changes to the 2021 Technical Regulations that will prevent the extensive use of reverse engineering of rival designs for the design of a car’s aerodynamic surfaces.’

Sergio Perez Racing Point aerial

Get your hands on the official Racing Point 2020 collection via the Formula 1 store

The FIA also announced changes to the super licence points scoring system.

Instead of having to score a minimum of 40 points over the course of three years, that has been extended to four years due to the pandemic.

‘In the wake of the current global situation, the window in which drivers will be allowed to score Super Licence points has been extended from three to four years,’ read the statement.

‘The highest number of points accumulated in any three years of a four-year period that includes 2020 will be taken into account.

‘Drivers who did not gather the required 40 Super Licence points due to circumstances out of their control or reasons of force majeure will have the opportunity for their case to be considered by the FIA.

‘Drivers must have scored a minimum of 30 points and consistently demonstrated outstanding driving ability in single-seater cars to be able to apply under this new regulation.’

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