Renault withdraws Racing Point brake duct appeal
Renault has asked Formula One’s governing body FIA to withdraw their appeal against the punishment imposed on Racing Point for copying Mercedes’ brake ducts.
Racing Point has been fined €400,000 and docked fifteen points for a breach of the sporting regulations at every race since the Austrian season-opener. After they were found guilty of copying last years Mercedes brake ducts, which it dines.
Renault had joined Ferrari in protesting the stewards’ decision, seeking stricter punishment against Racing Point. But Renault has now decided against taking the matter to FIA’s International Court of Appeal, leaving Ferrari the only team still chasing the matter.
While Racing Point continues with their appeal, believing they were unfairly treated and are innocent. But, have admitted that their design was based on last years Mercedes, the will be allowed to continue competing without having to redesign the offending parts
A statement from the French manufacturer said, “Beyond the decisions, the matters at issue were vital to the integrity of Formula One, both during the current season and in the future.”
“However, intensive and constructive work between the FIA, Renault … and all Formula One stakeholders has led to concrete progress in safeguarding the originality in the sport by way of amendments to the Sporting and Technical Regulations planned for the 2021 racing season, confirming the requirements to qualify as a constructor.”
Ferrari pushing on with Racing Point appeal
Ferrari is going to continue with its appeal in the Racing Point copying scandal, according to the Press Association. Racing Point was docked 15 constructors’ points and fined £361,000 for copying parts of the Mercedes, which it denies.
As reported above, Renault has joined McLaren and Williams in withdrawing its appeal to seek further clarity over the FIA’s verdict and stricter punishment.
Despite their points’ reduction, Ferrari head into this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, two points and two places behind Racing Point in the constructors’ standings in fifth. The case will end up before the International Court of Appeal ICA as Ferrari are going ahead with the appeal.
Engine mode clamp down directive
It has emerged that the technical directive for the Italian Grand Prix forcing teams to run a single-engine mode in the race is to stop manufacturers gaining performance by claiming reliability modifications.
A technical directive which will come into force for Monza reference to Appendix 4 of the F1 sporting regulations, which covers the current power unit homologation period that runs until 2025. That section says that manufacturers can request FIA approval for upgrades “for reliability, safety, cost-saving, car installation and supply issues.”
The directive says manufacturers can request reliability fixes that are pushing the limit on performance, with for example the use of qualifying modes, rather than fixing genuine problems.
It reads, “We believe that in many cases reliability issues are inevitable consequences of running the PU outside of its reliable operational limits in some moments of an event, and such reliability requests are in fact an indirect means of allowing more of the higher performance modes to be used during the life of a PU.”
“In many cases, it is hence virtually impossible for the FIA to satisfy itself that all change requests are solely for the purposes permitted by the regulations and have no effect on performance.”
These have also been linked to Article 2.7 of the technical regulations, which relates to the duty of teams to demonstrate compliance with the rules, and Article 27.1 of the sporting regulations, which requires the driver to drive the car “alone and unaided.”
The FIA notes, “the use of PU modes (and especially ICE modes) has become an essential part of the management of the reliability vs performance of the PU over its racing life, and that it has a direct primary effect on the performance of the PU over a session, an event and over the life of the PU.”
Effectively what the FIA are trying to do is trying to force the teams to run one engine mode from the start of qualifying to the end of the race, but in effect only when a driver is running flat out.
At the moment there can be a 20% difference between fast laps and warm up / cool down laps in qualifying, the FIA want to remove that under conditions which do not include laps behind the safety car or virtual safety car.
The changes also require that works and customer teams must be run in the same mode on a given weekend. There will be some allowances given depending on the age and mileage of the unit, but if new units are introduced this weekend they will be subject to the Monza rules/
In an extra concession to reliability, teams can change modes during a race if they encounter a problem. However, they must inform the FIA “without delay,” and be able to demonstrate that something specific went wrong.
Teams are not allowed to plan such moves in an attempt to extend the life of an engine.
“difficult” Spa return for Leclerc
Charles Leclerc says returning to the Belgian Grand Prix will be “difficult” a year on from the death of Anthoine Hubert. The Frenchman was killed in the F2 feature race when his car was hit side-on at high-speed at the exit of Raidillon.
The accident, which also left Juan Manuel Correa with serious injuries, overshadowed last years race with a number of young drivers who had grown up with and knew Hubert well.
For Leclerc especially, who went on to secure his maiden F1 triumph the day after Hubert’s accident, heading back to the Belgian venue will not be especially easy. In Ferrari’s preview for this weekend, he said, “The Spa-Francorchamps circuit has a special place in my heart.”
“While it is here that I took my first win, it is also where we lost our friend Anthoine last year. It will be difficult to return to this track and he will be in our thoughts all weekend.”
Pierre Gasly, another close friend of Hubert, has no doubts that everyone will F1 will spend time this weekend reflecting on Hubert. He added, “This year, returning to Belgium will also be a sad moment because it is just one year ago that Anthoine lost his life after that terrible accident in the F2 race in Spa.”
“I had known him since I was seven years old in karting, we were in the same school together organised by the French motorsport federation.” Gasly echoed a growing thought that the paddock will think back to the events of last year.
Carlos Sainz added, “As we go to Spa again this year, we’ll take the time to remember Anthoine, who sadly passed away there last year. He was an exciting young talent that was taken from us too soon, and we’ll always remember him wherever we race, but even more in Spa.”
Lando Norris added: “The whole racing community was shocked and saddened by what happened, and he’ll be in our thoughts as we go racing again this year.”
Electrical issue caused Leclerc’s Barcelona retirement
Ferrari says it has found the electrical issue which caused Charles Leclerc’s retirement from the Spanish Grand Prix. The Monacan had been looking to score decent points in Barcelona before his engine cut out after hitting a kerb in the final sector causing him to spin.
While Leclerc was able to get back to the pits and have his seat belts re-tightened after not expecting to rejoin the race, Ferrari opted to retire the car, later citing an electrical issue as the cause of his retirement. The team announced on Wednesday that it has identified the cause.
Ferrari head of power unit Enrico Gualtieri, told Motorsport.com, “In this first part of the season we have seen the championship pretty much divided into two groups: on the one hand, three drivers who seem to be uncatchable and on the other, another ten or so all within a few tenths.”
“In Barcelona, we paid a high price for a lack of reliability, and in fact, we have now identified the problem with the electronic control unit that caused Charles’ retirement. But we also suffered from not maximising our qualifying performance, which put us in a difficult situation in the race.”
Gualtieri also said the team are aware of the current issues Ferrari faces and the main aim is to ensure the team gets the most out of the car. Leclerc is also free to take a new control electronics element for his power unit for Belgium without receiving a penalty, as he is still within the season limit of two parts.
Ferrari has struggled this season with straight-line speed which has lead to the team dropping into the midfield. Leclerc took his maiden Grand Prix victory in the Belgian Grand Prix last year but is braced for a far tougher race this weekend.
He added, “In terms of expectations, it will be tougher for us in terms of performance this time around as we do not have the same level of competitiveness as we did in 2019. However, we have seen that anything can happen at this track, especially with the unpredictable weather.”
Cutting costs was key for Haas’s future
Haas team principal Gunther Steiner says the push to cut costs and level the playing field were key to staying in Formula One. Team owner Gene Haas admitted he is only interested in remaining in F1 if he saw a chance of being competitive.
Haas had suggested that a drop in form could be enough to make him decide not to commit his team to F1 for another five years. He told Motorsport.com earlier in the year, before the Coronavirus pandemic took hold, “I’m just kind of waiting to see how this season starts off. If we have another bad year, then it would not be that favourable [to stay]”
Despite the team’s difficult start to the season, Liberty Media confirmed that all teams had signed up to the new F1 Concorde Agreement, which will keep it in the sport for at least the next five years.
Steiner said that while F1 remained expensive to do for a private owner like Haas, the budget cap and a more equal payment of commercial rights income for smaller teams meant it made sense to stick around.
Saying, “I guess Gene (Haas) looked at it and Formula 1’s still a very good tool for getting his brand name, Haas Automation, out in the world. It works – otherwise, he wouldn’t be doing it. He loves the sport as well.”
“Even if it is a big financial commitment, with the new regulations coming in, it should make the playing field more even and the commercial aspects better for the smaller teams, so as a result he has decided to continue.”
For Steiner it means that he needs to make the team competitive, saying they have a team which works well at the moment. But says the new arrangements should over time level the field.
Haas hasn’t yet decided where to invest its developments for 2020, partly due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and the fact these cars will largely be carried over to 2021.
Steiner added, “We need to understand this car, the VF-20, and build on that. We can try to iron out the issues we have this year for a better 2021.”