Renault requested clarification from FIA on new anti-copying rules for 2021

2021 F1 season

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Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul confirmed the FIA has responded to its request to clarify new rules for the 2021 F1 season intended to stop teams copying rivals’ designs.

The FIA is introducing the rules in response to the row over Racing Point’s RP20, which is closely modelled on last year’s Mercedes. The team were fined and docked 15 points after the FIA stewards determined they had broken the rules by copying Mercedes’ rear brake duct design, following a protest lodged by Renault.

Details of the rules changes were revealed by RaceFans in early September.

The sport’s governing body wishes to stop teams ‘reverse engineering’ the designs of rival cars. It intends to do this through changes to the rules on ‘Listed Team Components’. These are parts which are designed, manufactured and exclusively used by a single competitor, who also own the intellectual property on them.

RaceFans understands Renault wrote to the FIA’s head of single seaters Nikolas Tombazis detailing dozens of points for clarification concerning LTCs. Their queries chiefly address what approaches teams may and may not use to duplicate rivals’ designs, and what information may legally be shared between teams.

Among Renault’s requests for clarification were: What data can be shared between teams who use the same wind tunnels or collaborate on CFD research; whether tyre models and race strategy software can be shared; how far teams must protect their LTC – including whether their cars may be displayed in public or at their factories – and whether teams must avoid unintentionally receiving information on their rivals’ designs.

Renault also specifically sought confirmation of how far one team may copy the LTC of another, including whether the FIA would permit teams inferring the general concept of a rival’s design, or recreating one for test purposes only.

Abiteboul said they had received a response from the FIA to their queries and expect the details to be made public in the future.

“Up until a certain point these communications with the FIA are confidential matters,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans, “but we expect that at some point they will become public material.

“We believe that they are very important for any team to make sure they comply with the stance of the FIA on these things after obviously the precedent of this year and the controversy of this year. We have had a response from Nikolas. He is in the process of turning that into something more formal that can then become public.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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13 comments on “Renault requested clarification from FIA on new anti-copying rules for 2021”

  1. In response to such news, my go to comment usually used to be, Renault(Cyril) seems to fight much harder off the track than on it.

  2. The penultimate paragraph is from the Friday team personnel press conference of the last event.

    1. Yes, @jerejj, and would you actually like to check who asked the question? What are you implying?

      1. @dieterrencken Yes, you asked it as I correctly remembered, so I didn’t really try to imply anything specific. Just a general note because I immediately recognized the words as what I’d read in the transcript at the time.

        1. But a strange “note” still….

  3. Renault “protesteth” too loudly?
    Methinks there may be more to their clarification request.
    Standing by for some earth shattering expose soonest.

  4. That doesn’t make sense. The FIA advice is confidential but Renault asked for it to clarify the rules and they hope it will be all made public soon?

    My translation is ” We (Renault) moaned at the FIA and demanded more restrictions on others learning from what they see on the track and the FIA replied with an acknowledgement which we are keeping confidential to try to persuade other teams we have been effective.

    We hope that letter will soon be followed by more rules to limit our competitors using their brains and eyes and learning from the success of other cars. We hope they are restrictive enough to make our Renault car competitive and give lots of scope for us to protest those competitors in future seasons.”

    Of course the irony of ironies would be if next season RP find they can protest the Renault for some breach of such new new restrictions (if they materialise).

  5. I genuinely hope Aston Martin protests every single piece of the Renault chassis next year on the grounds that it’s too similar to team “X”‘s part.

    This “clarification” effectively enshrines any innovation made by any team as uncopiable.

    1. I don’t know…. I think it makes sense to clarify this otherwise we’ll have protests every time someone copies a concept from another car. There need to be clear regulations that confirm what is allowed and what isn’t. If Renault have flagged up a bunch of potential situations for the FIA to clarify now rather than when it happens, that can only be good news as it’ll allow the teams to get on with it.

  6. This is a massive can of worms. I think someone said there’s 6 pages of rules about what is and isn’t allowed.
    I can see each team having their own understanding of the rules.

  7. Didn’t they say in the RP case that a team cannot be expected to “unlearn” something they already know? In the same way, things can not be “uninvented” or “unseen”. Forcing people to not use great ideas just because they didn’t come up with it first is silly, and a real mess to police. And what if multiple parties develop near identical designs at roughly the same time? Does the right to use it go to whoever puts it on track first? They should just accept that rivals will always look at each other, learn what their enemies are doing so to speak. Is it unsporting to completely copy someone else’s work? Sure, but nobody will ever win anything by just copy what others have already done without also improving on it.

  8. Seems like its putting FIA in a strong position to introduce homologated parts – like spec front snd rear wings.

    It’s a stupid to restrict this regulation. If racing point wanted to buy last years Merc and run it pink they should be allowed to – the others should not have sour grapes that they can’t build a car as good as year old Merc! Or is it so embarrassing thats what they are trying to avoid?
    If the lower teams could buy old hardware from other teams that would-be great and help them learn to maybe take a step up to design better stuff themselves. It would close up the field. The teams would have to design their own updates to stay competitive – I think this years Williams is as faster as than the Mercedes that started last year? Can some check that fact?

  9. All necessary and important clarifications, especially on the shared wind-tunnel and CFD information.

    A potential huge loophole for teams, restricted under the new handicap system, to use B teams for their own testing / data acquisition.

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