Policing copying rules ‘very complicated’

Date published: August 21 2020

McLaren technical director James Key thinks the FIA face a difficult job in “policing” the copying rules going forwards after the Racing Point controversy

McLaren technical director James Key thinks the FIA face a difficult job in “policing” the copying rules going forwards after the Racing Point controversy.

Found guilty of breaching F1’s sporting regulations for the design of their rear brake ducts being too similar to last year’s World Championship-winning Mercedes, Racing Point were punished with a 15-point deduction and 400,000 euros fine.

They maintain they have done nothing wrong and have appealed the verdict while Renault, who launched the original protest, and Ferrari, have also appealed based on their opinion that the sanctions are too lenient.

McLaren also initially signalled an intent to join Renault and Ferrari in appealing before deciding not to follow it up.

But their technical chief Key thinks there will now need to be much consideration from the FIA about how to define a copy and how to go about policing the issue.

McLaren technical director James Key

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“The devil is all in the detail,” Key told Motorsport.com. “It needs a lot of thinking about how to police this. It never used to be an issue when a team was prepared to share a bit of information like this as non-listed parts have come in.

“It’s become easier to have access to information, otherwise you wouldn’t have had it, and I guess based around there being allowances for supplying some parts of teams.

“Anything else needs to be extremely well policed and the bits that are transferred don’t come with a lot of other information which is very easy, easy to do, just from a technical point of view.

“It’s a very complicated question. I couldn’t propose what the policing framework should look like but it does definitely need a lot of attention.”

FIA head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis has confirmed changes will be made to the 2021 regulations to prevent car copying, saying he did not want it to “become the normal in Formula 1”.

Key was pleased with that announcement and said: “The FIA, together with Formula 1, clearly put out some clarification of how they wanted to see Formula 1 in the future, especially when it comes to what’s allowed when it comes to copying cars.

“It’s an important clarification for us as an independent team. Looking back on the last 12 months, everything that was happening, it’s clear that it’s important for the sport because it’s a complex sport where you can’t get away with not being within the rules.

“That’s very important for the entire sport, simply to make sure everyone is competing on a level playing field and according to the same regulations. I think the FIA is doing a great job there.”

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