McLaren ‘not happy’ with token loophole

Date published: July 28 2020

Lando Norris up close McLaren.jpg

Andreas Seidl is “not happy” that Racing Point will have a free token next season while McLaren has to use one of theirs to fit its new engine.

Next season the Formula 1 teams will only be permitted to develop limited parts of their cars after they voted in favour of continuing with this year’s car in next year’s championship in order to cut costs.

The teams will each be handed two development tokens to upgrade their cars between this season and next season.

McLaren has to use one of those to alter its MCL35 to fit the Mercedes engine that it will be running next season, leaving the Woking team with just one token for performance.

In sharp contrast other teams, such as Racing Point and AlphaTauri, are getting to update their cars without using a token as both receive year-old parts from other teams, Mercedes and Red Bull respectively.

Gearboxes and rear suspension are among the parts that require a token spend to be updated for 2021, but that does not apply to teams that use year-old gearboxes and rear suspension.

Instead any team using a 2019 gearbox and rear suspension in this year’s championship, but wishes to update to the 2020 equivalent next season, “this change will be acceptable without the use of any tokens” reads Article 22.8.5b.

Seidl isn’t impressed.

“We’re also not happy with that ruling, because for us, it simply is not logical,” the McLaren team boss told Motorsport.com.

“If you compare it with our situation, we’ve had a contract in place since quite some time that we are doing the switch from the Renault power unit to the Mercedes power unit.

“We have to accept that in the end the two tokens each team has available, we have to use for that, which we were happy to accept that compromise.

“If you compare that with another team, getting an upgrade from ’19 to ’20, [a] gearbox for example or suspension bits, being able to do that token-free just doesn’t make sense.

“But that’s something we bring up again with some other teams to the FIA. It’s simply down to the FIA to comment on this.”

Seidl says teams are still in talks with the FIA regarding the loophole.

“That has been and still is a permanent dialogue that we’re in,” he said.

“Obviously there’s still a lot of work ongoing together with the FIA in terms of finalising details of the regulations. That’s where we are in at the moment.

“I think within these discussions I think it is simply important to bring this topic on the table again as well.”

Mattia Binotto, Ferrari team principal

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto agrees that the loophole needs to be closed.

“The only point we are still debating, I think we are not fully happy that there are teams that eventually can upgrade their entire package from a 2019 to a 2020 package,” he said.

“That I believe would be unfair, because the season with two tokens is similar for everybody.

“We’ve got only two tokens and everybody should be limited to that one.”

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