F1 2020: Racing Point fined, lose points after Renault protest upheld

Formula One team Racing Point will be docked 15 championship points after a complaint from rivals Renault that it had copied elements from Mercedes’ world championship-winning 2019 car was upheld, the FIA said Friday.

Racing Point will lose 7.5 points for each of its two cars participating in the 2020 season.

It means that ahead of Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone, Renault move up to fifth place in the manufacturers’ standings on 32 points and Racing Point slip to sixth, on 27 points.

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Racing Point, owned by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll and powered by Mercedes engines, has also been fined 200,000 euros per car.

The fine is worth $657,000 all up.

Racing Point can appeal the decision.

No penalties were imposed on the team’s regular drivers, the Mexican Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, the son of the team’s owner.

Renault’s case centred on the design of Racing Point’s brake ducts, which it alleged are copies of those Mercedes used on its world championship-winning 2019 car.

Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer told Skysports.com: “The good news from the judgment is that the car is completely legal from a technical perspective so we can continue to run the brake ducts, it’s just a matter of process in the sporting regulations.

“Other teams have done exactly the same, probably even more than what we did, so it’s a bit bewildering. However, we now have to decide if our punishment is one that we should appeal.”

Racing Point’s drivers Lance Stroll (L) and Sergio Perez are not in trouble.Source:AFP

Renault’s protest ruffled feathers at Racing Point earlier this year and the two teams have traded verbal barbs in the media ever since.

Racing Point called Renault’s protest “misconceived and poorly-informed” after the Styrian Grand Prix.

Renault lodged a protest with the stewards in the hours after the race against their rival’s RP20 car in what was effectively a culmination of a long-running saga since winter testing in February.

Renault said last month it had requested “clarification on the legality” of their rival’s car.

In a statement, Racing Point, who has always insisted it adhered to all F1’s regulations in the design of the RP20, said it expected the protest to be dismissed when it is heard.

“BWT Racing Point F1 Team is extremely disappointed to see its results in the Styrian Grand Prix questioned by what it considers to be a misconceived and poorly informed protest,” the statement read.

“Any and all suggestion of wrongdoing is firmly rejected and the team will take all steps necessary to ensure the correct application of the regulations to the facts.

“Prior to the start of the season, the team co-operated with the FIA and satisfactorily addressed all questions regarding the origins of the designs of the RP20.

“The team is confident that the protest will be dismissed once it has presented its response.”

F1 racetrack becomes a drive-in cinema

Dozens of people attend a drive-in cinema that began operating at the racetrack that usually hosts the Mexican Formula 1 Grand Prix, suspended this year because of the pandemic.

Renault clearly has had the last laugh.

Meanwhile, Perez has been ruled out of Sunday’s race after testing positive again for coronavirus, meaning he misses a second consecutive race.

He will replaced by German driver Nico Hulkenberg, as he was for last week’s British Grand Prix.

Racing Point said Perez, who contracted the COVID-19 after visiting his mother in Mexico following last month’s Hungarian Grand Prix, was “physically well and recovering”.

Hulkenberg, 32, made an impressive return in practice and qualifying for last Sunday’s British Grand Prix but was unable to start the race due to a power unit problem.

“I’m excited to get going again with the team at Silverstone,” said Hulkenberg.

“Last weekend, it was a real step into the unknown, having been away from the team for a few years — and driving a car I’d never driven before.

“I am ready to apply my experiences to this weekend. Racing at the same track again makes things a bit easier and the team has done a great job in helping me get up to speed.

“I think we can fight for points this weekend, which is definitely my goal. I also want to wish Checo all the best in his recovery.”

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