'Pink Mercedes' debacle: Does Renault have a Point?

This weekend we will have race four of the 2020 Formula One championship as teams arrive at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. It will be the first round of another triple header, the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix one week later, with the Spanish Grand Prix following in a further seven days. Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton has to be odds-on favourite to take his seventh British Grand Prix win, perhaps this week challenged by team-mate Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull appears to be struggling with an aero problem but managed to grab second spot in Hungary, thanks to a determined drive by...
This weekend we will have race four of the 2020 Formula One championship as teams arrive at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. It will be the first round of another triple header, the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix one week later, with the Spanish Grand Prix following in a further seven days.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton has to be odds-on favourite to take his seventh British Grand Prix win, perhaps this week challenged by team-mate Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull appears to be struggling with an aero problem but managed to grab second spot in Hungary, thanks to a determined drive by Max Verstappen. Whether McLaren or Ferrari will join the fight is yet to be seen.

The Woking outfit has realised some good results, but the Maranello cars continue to suffer a distinct lack of pace, leaving only Racing Point to take up cudgels against the Mercedes drivers. It will be interesting to see post race if Racing Point will again be protested by Renault.

Racing Point have been instructed by the FIA Technical Team to submit certain components currently utilised on the RP20, specifically the front and rear brake cooling ducts, as a result of a protest lodged by Renault F1 after the Styrian Grand Prix. The protest claims these components were copies of those used on the Mercedes W10 last season and the German team were ordered to supply a set of the originals.

The so called "Pink Mercedes" alleged infringement of the regulations has yet to be finalised by the FIA and it was Renault who again protested the cars driven by Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll in the Hungarian Grand Prix. The protest was identical to the previous submission, which was explained by Nikolas Tombazis, head of single-seater technical matters of the governing body.

Tombazis was reported as saying:"If, ultimately, Renault decides to protest after every single race, they have the right to do that until this matter is adjudicated." Marcin Budkowski, Renault's Executive Director, believes the outcome of the investigation will affect the entire sport. He is reported as saying: "It is important to clarify what is permissible/\r\n/
and what is not during this season. We protest for the F1 we want in the future. It is important to clarify what level of exchanges is permissible.Is it permissible to get parts or get geometries from another team and use them on your car or not? Because we don't think that is the right model for F1 in the future."

Ross Brawn, managing director of F1, believes that "copying in F1 is standard". He said: "Every team has, in normal times, digital photographers in the pit lane, taking thousands of photos of every car for analysis, with a view of copying the best ideas. We used to give our photographers a shopping list. Racing Point have just taken it to the next stage and done a more thorough job."

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff agrees, saying: "They seem to have re-engineered our car. They have bought non-listed parts from us last year and they are just doing a good job." The outcome of this investigation could drag on for months, as any decision is open to appeal. The concept of smaller teams being able to purchase parts from the larger companies has economic benefits.

However, I believe it will require tight controls to avoid multiple clones on track – a thought that sends shivers down my spine. F1 teams should continue as independent manufacturers and not move in the direction of the ill-fated A1 series. It will be interesting to follow the restructuring of Ferrari's technical department with the aim of becoming "more effective and assure a more holistic emphasis on performance development".

A new performance development department has been formed under the control of Enrico Cardile, while Enrico Gualtieri remains as head of power units, Simone Resta with chassis engineering and Laurent Mekies as sporting director. Frankly the Scuderia is in a bit of a mess. After the Hungarian race, team chief Mattia Binotto stated: "After three races, it is clear we are in worse shape than we expected… I honestly cannot see much of an improvement coming before the end of this season."

More good news regarding the 2020 season is the addition of three more races, Imola, Nurburgring and Portimao. The last time Nurburgring was on the F1 calendar was in 2013, Imola even further back in 2006 and Portimao will be making its F1 debut.

For more news your way, download The Citizen's app for iOS and Android.