Racing Point sought to 'copy' Renault brake system

Speaking in Mexico, Racing Point team boss, Otmar Szafnauer has revealed that his team only protested the legality of Renault‘s brake-bias system after it was refused permission by the FIA to copy it.

Earlier this week, Renault had both its drivers disqualified from the Japanese Grand Prix after it was deemed that the system, which allows the brake bias to be adjusted automatically, is a driver aid.

“We started looking at it after Silverstone,” said Szafnauer. “We, ourselves, had some issues with our brake bias actually failing, which I think resulted in Checo running into Hulkenberg at the restart after the Safety Car. That’s when we started looking at making our system a little bit more robust.

“As I’m sure everyone does, we started looking at our competitors to see what they do better than we do,” he admitted, “and that’s when we noticed that Renault had the system that we really wanted.

“We then wrote to the FIA asking if we could do the same, and the FIA wrote back saying we can’t. So that’s how that all came about.”

On social media, in reaction to a video posted online by Auto Motor und Sport’s, Tobi Gruner which showed the brake balance (in the upper left corner of the display) adjust without any driver input, Renault issued a brief statement.

“We’d like to clarify some facts,” said the French team. “A video from Barcelona testing is doing the rounds; it shows a legal system, known by and now confirmed by the FIA to be compliant with the technical regulations. As we had nothing to hide regarding this innovative system, we hid nothing.

“The information submitted by Racing Point, admitted in front of us and FIA members after the Japanese GP, was received via a Renault F1 Team ex-employee who had joined Racing Point and not only via this video.”

Team boss, Cyril Abiteboul subsequently revealed that the system had been in use for some time.

“I don’t want to go into the details, but it’s not from this season, it’s from before,” he told reporters. “It’s been used for so many years that we never thought it could be put into question until what happened recently.”

Though Renault opted not to appeal the ruling, Abiteboul insists that the system was not illegal.

“It’s a driver aid, just like a number of things are driver aids,” he insisted. “I’ll give you one… energy deployment. It’s all lap distance based. At some point you need to accept that there’s an element of subjectivity.

“It’s a technology that has been used for a while,” he continued. “Another party has asked to have an opinion, the normal course would have been to ask the FIA and then go towards a Technical Directive or for the FIA to engage in a discussion with us directly, not in the context of a race, not through the stewards.

“In that case we could have had the opportunity to exchange. Because before the events of Suzuka there was never such discussions and there was never such speculation regarding the legality of our system.

“It’s not something that we’ve done because also we were absolutely convinced – as further demonstrated – that we were legal, and we were legal from a technical perspective.”

Check out our Friday gallery from Mexico City, here.