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Team’s defiant stand as F1 war threatens to boil over

Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer said the decision to deduct his team 15 points for using a car part designed by Mercedes was “bewildering” while other teams said the ruling had far-reaching implications.Szafnauer said the outcome had left Racing Point pondering their right to appeal.Watch the Emirates Formula One 70th Anniversary GP 2020 LIVE…

Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer said the decision to deduct his team 15 points for using a car part designed by Mercedes was “bewildering” while other teams said the ruling had far-reaching implications.

Szafnauer said the outcome had left Racing Point pondering their right to appeal.

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“The good news from the judgement was that the car is completely legal from a technical perspective so we can continue to run the brake ducts,” Szafnauer told Sky Sports during practice for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone.

“It’s just a matter of process, which is in the sporting regulations. We read the sporting regulations. There is nothing specific in there, which says we couldn’t do what we did.

“Other teams have done exactly the same, probably even more than what we did in a way. It’s a bit bewildering, however we now have to decide whether our punishment is one that we should appeal.”

Following multiple Renault protests at the originality and legality of the car, the stewards announced that Racing Point had breached the sporting regulations in the design of the brake ducts for its RP20 car, ruling Mercedes had been the principal designer of the part.

The outcome resulted in Renault moving up to fifth place in the constructors’ championship on 32 points and Racing Point dropping to sixth on 27 ahead of Sunday’s race. The team was also fined $AUD660,000.

However, several teams believe the punishment is too light. Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Williams have revealed they plan to appeal the severity of the sanctions, demanding harsher penalties be imposed.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Szafnauer defended his team.

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“We need to appeal it because we stayed completely within the regulations, both sporting and technical,” Szafnauer said. “And we need to clear our name.

“We shouldn’t be losing 15 points and we shouldn’t be charged €400,000 ($660,000). We did absolutely nothing wrong.

“Formula 1 is all about exploiting the regulations to their limit. You have to look at what’s written, and not written, to exploit the regulations.

“Just because we did a good job and we have a competitive car, doesn’t mean we did anything wrong.

“We did design it completely ourselves and we manufactured it completely ourselves. We did not get a part from Mercedes, at all.”

Szafnauer added he has no problem with rivals’ plans to appeal the leniency of Racing Point’s punishment.

“Not a problem. The more you dig in, the more on our side it’s going to be. Because we did absolutely zero wrong,” he told Sky.

“The more you dig, the better off it is for us. I welcome that.”

The International Motoring Federation (FIA) did not accept Racing Point’s argument that they had designed the brake ducts for the RP20 car.

Rival team chiefs said the “pink Mercedes” case — a reference to the Racing Point colours — is critical to ruling on future design and evaluating the level of sharing resources that should be allowed between teams.

But Szafnauer said this was an issue for the future that would be dealt with by the introduction of new rules in 2022.

RACING POINT CONFLICT ‘ABOUT A MUCH BIGGER PICTURE’

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner warned that the protests and the issue of the Racing Point cars’ legality would not go away.

“This isn’t about brake ducts,” he said. “It’s about a much bigger picture.”

He said it would need teams of lawyers to digest the implications and agreed that the case could be about the “DNA” of the sport. He suggested it might lead to clearer definitions of constructor teams and customer teams.

“It is a fundamental question for F1,” Horner said, suggesting also that Renault may protest again because the sanctions were “not draconian enough”.

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

Perez is out of action on Sunday 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.

AFP

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