Nikolas Tombazis, the FIA‘s head of single-seater racing, has said there are plans being made to alter the sporting regulations for the 2021 Formula 1 season in order to prevent any teams doing what the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team did with their car design this season.
Racing Point effectively made a clone of the 2019 championship winning W10 from the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, with their RP20 immediately on the pace during pre-season testing and during the opening handful of races.
Tombazis says the FIA are reacting to what has happened in recent days, with the Renault DP World F1 Team’s successful protest of the brake ducts of the RP20, with the idea that they can stop teams from basically copying another team’s complete car design going forward.
“We do plan with very short notice to introduce some amendments to the 2021 sporting regulations that will prevent this becoming the norm,” said Tombazis at Silverstone after the protest decision was upheld. “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.
“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.”
The new sporting regulations are set to come into play from next season, and Tombazis says this will not force Racing Point to abandon its current design that has major influences from Mercedes-Benz.
“We will be providing guidance about that, as well as the ruling and the wording itself over the next weeks,” added Tombazis. “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.”
Racing Point took Car Copying ‘To Another Level’
The decision of Racing Point to basically copy Mercedes went too far, according to Tombazis, even though it has been standard procedure throughout the years in Formula 1 for teams to copy others.
“Copying has been taking place in Formula 1 for a long time,” Tombazis continued. “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 that 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. By doing what I would call a paradigm shift: they actually use a disruption in the process that has been the norm of designing a Formula 1 car in the last 40 years.
“So one should not penalize them for that because they were 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 eight 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 normal Formula 1.”
“The regulatory framework needs to evolve with the technologies” – Cyril Abiteboul
Cyril Abiteboul, the Team Principal at Renault, welcomed the decision to close the loophole in the regulations, with his team the reason why Racing Point were investigated in the first place.
Abiteboul believes that when the regulations were written, the technologies available to teams was far less advanced, but there is a need for evolution in the regulations as the technology also evolves.
“I think we need to recognise that what Racing Point has done, based on a car that has such an advantage against anyone else on the grid, has been a shock in the system, and has been a disruption,” Abiteboul is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com
“We need to see how we deal with it. Yes, copying has been part of the story of F1. But technology has evolved so much, that it’s now possible to do things that were not possible to do before.
“The regulatory framework needs to evolve with the technologies that allow you to do some stuff that were not possible before with a level of accuracy that was not possible before.
“And we’ve been pleased with the statement from Nikolas Tombazis this morning, in parallel to the stewards, about his willingness to tackle that matter and to tackle it strongly.”