SILVERSTONE, Great Britain — Racing Point co-owner Lawrence Stroll has accused rival teams of « poor sportsmanship » and dragging his team’s name « through the mud » as Formula One’s copying row intensifies.
FIA stewards fined Racing Point €400,000 and docked the team 15 points in the championship after ruling the design process of its rear brake ducts breached F1’s sporting regulations. But rather than drawing a line under the issue, the ruling has sparked a deeper row in the F1 paddock, with McLaren, Ferrari, Williams and Renault lodging their intention to appeal the decision on the grounds it is too lenient.
Racing Point has also lodged its intention to appeal the decision and is confident it will be able to clear its name at the International Court of Appeal.
On Sunday morning, Stroll, who led the consortium that bought the team midway through last year, hit out at the stewards’ decision and the reaction of the four rival teams.
« I do not often speak publicly, however I am extremely angry at any suggestion we have been underhand or have cheated — particularly those comments coming from our competitors, » he said. « I have never cheated at anything in my life. These accusations are completely unacceptable and not true. My integrity — and that of my team — are beyond question. »
He added: « Beyond the clear fact that Racing Point complied with the technical regulations, I am appalled by the way Renault, McLaren, Ferrari and Williams have taken this opportunity to appeal, and in doing so attempted to detract from our performances. They are dragging our name through the mud and I will not stand by nor accept this.
« I intend to take all necessary actions to prove our innocence. My team has worked tirelessly to deliver the competitive car we have on the grid. I am truly upset to see the poor sportsmanship of our competitors.
« I understand that the situation in which the FIA finds itself is difficult and complicated for many reasons, but I also respect and appreciate their efforts to try and find a solution in the best interests of the sport. »
The stewards’ decision hinged on Racing Point basing the design of its 2020 rear brake ducts on those used by Mercedes last year. The issue is complicated by the change in status of brake ducts from non-listed parts in 2019, which are allowed to be bought from rival teams, to listed parts this year, which must be designed in-house.
Racing Point legitimately acquired information on Mercedes’ brake ducts last year, when they were still non-listed parts, but only ran the front brake duct designs in 2019 and used its own rear brake duct design. The stewards ruled that the continued use of the front brake duct design this year was allowed as it was considered a ‘grandfathered part’ based on its use in 2019, but the introduction of rear brake ducts to the 2020 car based on Mercedes’ 2019 design was against the regulations.
Stroll argues that the regulations make no mention of « grandfathering » and said that the FIA deemed this year’s RP20 legal when it visited the team’s factory in March to inspect the car and its design process.
« There was an absence of specific guidance or clarification from the FIA in respect to how that transition to Listed Parts might be managed within the spirit and intent of the regulations, » Stroll added. « The rules, as they are written, state that after 2019, no further information on brake duct design can be shared or acquired. At that point, what you know and have learned, is your own information. From that point onwards, you are on your own. Which is exactly what we have done.
« So, to clarify, there was no guidance in place by the FIA surrounding the transition of non-listed to listed items and Racing Point received in March 2020 written confirmation from the FIA with regards to our compliance on the matter.
« This week I was also shocked to see the FIA introduced a new grandfather clause, which had never previously existed. »