Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has likened Formula One’s brake duct controversy to “copying a test” amid an escalating war of words between the teams.
Last week Racing Point was found guilty of breaching the sporting regulations, after Renault protested that the brake ducts “are clearly based on, and near-identical” to the brake ducts on last year’s championship winning Mercedes.
Racing Point was fined $657,000 and docked 15 points in the constructors’ championship, but allowed to continue using the brake ducts. Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer described the decision as “bewildering.”
In a sign of the near-universal dissatisfaction, Racing Point is appealing the decision in an attempt to clear its name, while rivals Ferrari, Williams and Renault are appealing the leniency of the punishment.
According to Binotto, a far harsher penalty would have been appropriate.
“(Lawrence) Stroll and (Toto) Wolff may be furious, but there has been a violation of the regulations here,” he told Sky Sports Italia.
“This is like copying a test. There are those who copy the test, and those who pass the test to have others copy it.
“The facts are obvious. We are opponents and this is normal. Everyone looks at their own interest.
“We believe that the sentence was not adequate.”
The findings against Racing Point drew an angry response from team owner Lawrence Stroll during the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix weekend, with the billionaire saying he was “appalled” by “the poor sportsmanship of our competitors.”
“These accusations are completely unacceptable and not true. My integrity – and that of my team – are beyond question,” Stroll said.
“Everyone at Racing Point was shocked and disappointed by the FIA ruling and firmly maintain our innocence.”
Leading commentator, and former driver, Martin Brundle, said he “grimaced” at having to talk about the brake duct controversy in the lead-up to such an historic race, which celebrated the 70th anniversary of the first world championship race.
“Most fans don’t wear caps and T-shirts featuring brake ducts or care too much about the 81-page Sporting Regulations or the 111-page technical regs,” he wrote in his column for Sky Sports.
“Of course, this type of dispute and politics is an integral part of F1 history, and this story will run a while because we have to sort out whether identical cars in ‘B Teams’ are a viable and desirable way forward, and also if it’s correct to allow one team to copy in great detail another team’s car.”
Racing Point has an agreement with Mercedes to supply a number of parts which are allowed to be shared between teams, however brake ducts were this year added to the list of parts which teams must design themselves.
“The only team not unhappy are Mercedes, whose intellectual property has been openly plagiarised by another team, but who also spend a lot of money with them for entirely legitimate sales of key and expensive items,” Brundle wrote.
“Teams who are lone ranger, like Renault, McLaren and Williams in particular, will be keen to break up this cosy relationship between Mercedes and Racing Point.
“Eminent people in the paddock assure me that it’s not possible to accurately copy critical details of the car which are not easily visible. Maybe the courts will have to decide but that could get smelly, if somewhat informative. And expensive.”