(credit: FIA images)

Open Wheel Wednesday: Renault Vs. Racing Point the New On-Track Rivalry?

Over the years in Formula 1, we have seen some incredible team rivalries. From McLaren v. Ferrari to Red Bull v. Mercedes, it seems that no matter where a team is on the grid you can always find someone to rival them.

However, following the doubleheader in Austria, it appears a new rivalry is brewing in the mid-field… Renault vs Racing Point.

It all seems to have started following the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix. A complaint by Racing Point led to the FIA seizing the steering wheels and the ECU units from both Renaults. After the investigation, both pieces of equipment were deemed illegal and Renault was disqualified.

Renault exacted their revenge following last week’s Styrian GP. Following Racing Point’s 6th and 7th place efforts, Renault launched an immediate complaint against the British outlet, claiming their car was just a “Pink Mercedes.”  The full outline of the complaint is that Racing Point has violated the FIA’s rules on what is, essentially, plagiarism.

As outlined by Motorsport.com, “Article 1 of Appendix 6 of the Sporting Regulations 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.”

In a nutshell, Renault is trying to make the case that Racing Point has copied the Mercedes W10 from last season.

Renault team boss Cyril Abiteboul said in an interview with Motorsport.com, “I think it’s the first time since I joined Formula 1 that someone has been really proud of copying,” he said. “It’s like someone who forges artworks being super happy with the work he’s done.

“Yet, it’s not worth the original piece, or the pride of working on an original piece…”

However, Racing Point has fired back to Renault’s “misconceived and poorly informed” protest. The British outlet said in their own presser that the design was approved by the FIA back in the winter before the car even hit the track.

As stated by ESPN, “BWT Racing Point F1 Team is extremely disappointed to see its results in the Styrian Grand Prix questioned by what it considers to be a misconceived and poorly informed protest.

“Prior to the start of the season, the team co-operated fully with the FIA and satisfactorily addressed all questions regarding the origins of the design of the RP20. The team is confident that the protest will be dismissed once it has presented its response.”

However, that did not stop the FIA from seizing the front and rear brake ducts in order to compare them with Mercedes. The FIA DID allow brake ducts to be purchased from other teams last season, but as new regulations approached, brake ducts were added to the list of items that teams must make themselves for 2020.

Mercedes and Racing Point have enjoyed a close partnership ever since Racing Point’s predecessor Force India, switched over from Ferrari in 2009.

It’s unclear if what the result fo the protest will be, but it does open up one question. Does this mean Renault and Racing Point become the next heated F1 rivalry?

F1 has lacked a proper rivalry ever since Mercedes started to dominate in 2015. It’s seemed that as the grid get farther and farther apart. The Racing Point- Renault rivalry serves to give fans something to watch as Mercedes continues to dominate the 2020 season. As these two teams have been slowly rising up the grid, it could show that these teams are not just fighting for a midfield position, but which team will rise faster to contend with Red Bull and Mercedes.

Both teams have fairly talented drivers, with one young driver and one veteran. It’s clear that these teams do not like each other, so look to the remainder of the season to be highly contested in the midfield.

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Alex has been writing in the motorsport world since he was 19. Starting his career with the NASCAR Pinty's Series, Alex's work has been featured in Inside Track Magazine, TSN & NBC Sports as well as countless race programs.

Alex has also worked within the junior hockey world in Canada, appearing as a desk host for the OHL's Barrie Colts. He also got the opportunity to cover the 2018 Chevy Silverado 250 which appeared as the headlining article on NASCAR.com.

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