FIA making moves to stop car copying in 2021

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes Racing Point PA

Toto Wolff has insisted that Mercedes’ plans to increase their stake in Aston Martin to 20% will make no difference to either company’s Formula 1 team.

The FIA has confirmed that there will be “amendments” made to the 2021 sporting regulations to stop car copying becoming the norm.

The issue has been thrust under the spotlight following Racing Point’s brush with the laws.

Following a series of Renault protests, Racing Point has been deducted 15 points, fined 400,000 Euros, and were reprimanded for two races after their brake ducts were deemed illegal by the FIA.

A rule change between the 2019 and 2020 seasons meant that the process of how Racing Point got the Mercedes-inspired brake ducts onto their cars was illegal, but the parts themselves were fully legal.

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

Racing Point has designed an RP20 that is very similar to the Mercedes W10 thanks to plenty of images of the car and successful reverse-engineering.

But from 2021 the FIA will make some changes to the sporting regulations to stop this happening in the final year of the current rules.

“We do plan with very short notice to introduce some amendments to the 2021 sporting regulations that will prevent this becoming the norm,” said Nikolas Tombazis, the FIA’s head of single-seater matters.

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

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

“Copying has been taking place in Formula 1 for a long time.

“People take photos and sometimes reverse engineer them and make similar concepts. In some areas, [they are] even identical concepts or closely identical as other teams.

“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.”

Tombazis did clarify though that Racing Point would not be expected to scrap their approach and start again.

“We will be providing guidance about that, as well as the ruling and the wording itself over the next weeks,” he said.

“We want to give a very strong message to teams that they should not be starting doing that now for next year’s car, because that will simply not be allowed.

“It will be of course accepted that team’s, whatever they have now in the 2019/2020 cars, they are not supposed to delete it or start afresh because that is never how it works.”

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