Renault lodges protest over legality of Racing Point cars

Renault has lodged an official protest over the legality of rival Racing Point's two cars following the Styrian Grand Prix.

Racing Point's 2020 car has been dubbed the 'pink Mercedes' due to its physical similarities with the world champions' 2019 car, leading to allegations that its bodywork may not be Racing Point's own design.

While certain components, known as non-listed parts, are allowed to be bought from rivals, listed parts, which include the aerodynamic surfaces and bodywork of the car, must be of the team's own design.

Racing Point has not denied it used last year's title winning Mercedes as inspiration for its car this year, but has always maintained that it can prove the designs are its own intellectual property and no illegal exchange of information took place with Mercedes.

Rival teams hinted at suspicions over the car during F1's preseason testing in February, but the start of the season was delayed until last week due to the coronavirus pandemic and formal protests can only be lodged at an event.

Renault's protest was made several hours after the Styrian Grand Prix, the second race of F1's 2020 season.

Renault's protest focuses on Article 1, Article 2 a) and Article 2 c) of Appendix 6 of F1's Sporting regulations.

Article 1 states: "A competitor shall, in respect of the Listed Parts to be used in its cars in Formula One, only use Listed Parts which are designed by it."

Article 2 a) states a team must "retain the exclusive right to use the Listed Parts in Formula One so long as it competes in Formula One" and Article 2 c) states "in the case of the outsourcing of design, such third party shall not be a competitor or a party that directly or indirectly designs Listed Parts for any competitor".

Representatives of the Renault and Racing Point F1 teams were called to the stewards, who will determine whether any further action is required.

Racing Point uses Mercedes' engine, gearbox and outboard suspension components, which is in compliance with the purchasing of non-listed parts allowed under the regulations. It also uses Mercedes wind tunnel to develop its car as part of an agreement between the two teams.

Speaking during preseason testing, team principal Otmar Szafnauer defended the team's design direction this year.

"Although everyone says we copied a Mercedes, it is our own [design]," he said. "It is our own design and it is our own development. It is our own wind tunnel model. It is our own concept. Yes, we look to see what is fast and we thought: that's fast, can we do the same.

"It's no different than what we did with [copying] the Red Bull when we ran a high-rake concept. But the development is our own."