MEXICO CITY -- Renault will not appeal the stewards' decision to disqualify both its cars from the Japanese Grand Prix after they were found to be running illegal driver aids.
After the race at Suzuka two weeks ago, rival team Racing Point protested the legality of Renault's brake-bias adjuster -- a system on all Formula One cars that determines the split in braking force between the front and rear brakes to help turn the car into a corner and prevent locking a brake. On the basis of onboard video footage, Racing Point argued that Renault's brake bias was changing without any driver input -- something it believed was in breach of Article 27.1 of the sporting regulations that outlaws driver aids.
After impounding the steering wheels and electronic control units from Renault's cars in Japan, the stewards at the race submitted the arguments of both teams to the FIA's technical department. Further evidence was submitted via email by both teams before the FIA concluded on Tuesday that that the system on the Renault made use of a grey area in F1's technical regulations but still fell foul of Article 27.1 of the Sporting Regulations that requires the driver to drive his car alone and unaided.
Renault was given until 10am on Thursday in Mexico City to appeal the decision, but declined to do so. As a result both Daniel Ricciardo, who finished sixth, and Nico Hulkenberg, who finished 10th, were disqualified from the results of the Japanese Grand Prix. With both drivers in the top 10, the decision has cost Renault nine points.
On Thursday, the French manufacturer said it had no new evidence to submit and stressed that it disagreed with the decision.
The statement said: "We regret the Stewards' decision and, in particular, the severity of the sanction applied. In our opinion, the penalty is not proportionate to any benefit the drivers derived, especially when used within the context of a system confirmed fully legal and innovative.
"It is also inconsistent with previous sanctions for similar breaches, as acknowledged by the Stewards in their decision, but expressed without further argumentation. However, since we have no new evidence to bring other than that already produced to demonstrate the legality of our system, we do not wish to invest further time and effort in a sterile debate in front of the International Court of Appeal concerning the subjective appreciation, and therefore sanction, related to an aid that reduces the driver workload without enhancing the performance of the car.
"We have therefore decided not to appeal the Stewards' decision. Formula One will always be an arena for the relentless search for the slightest possible opportunities for competitive advantage. It is what we have always done and will continue to do, albeit with stronger internal processes before innovative solutions are brought on track."
Exact details of how the system works has not been published to protect Renault's IP, but the stewards found that it "acted as a driver aid, by saving the driver from having to make a number of adjustments during a lap." Such a system would be beneficial as it would remove the need for drivers to make setting changes on the steering wheel on the straights, while making sure the braking system is perfectly primed for the next corner.
However, the stewards added that the system is not "pre-set and lap distance-dependent" as alleged in the original protest and that Renault had used "innovative solutions to exploit certain ambiguities in the technical regulations and other supporting documents," meaning "their system does not breach any technical regulation" even though it breached the sporting regulations.
The stewards also noted that Renault's penalty is "more severe" than other recent breaches of Article 27.1, but that the relative gains were "specifically assessed" to come to the conclusion of disqualification in Japan.