F1 team principals and bosses share their thoughts on new regulations to ensure the protection of intellectual property.
The FIA introduced a new rule at the start of the 2021 F1 season, giving power to the FIA to complete a thorough check of each car and its “front and rear inboard suspension components, attached sensors, their loom rooting and connections to the SECU and other units” – where Valtteri Bottas was the first to be thoroughly checked post Bahrain.
The inspection system seems to be in an effort to ensure that each F1 team is responsible for designing their own non-listed parts – something which was at the center of Racing Point’s controversy surrounding last year’s RP20, a car which many alleged copied the title-winning 2019 Mercedes.
In Bahrain, it was Mercedes’ W12 that was the first to be inspected under this new system as mentioned above, and team boss Toto Wolff trusts the new system, which he believes eliminates wiggle room in the regulations: “The regulations have become more prescriptive,” he said. “By the end of last year they have been clarified.
“Everything that could have been down to interpretation was described in a very solid way, so everybody knows what’s on and what is not on. There will always be areas of collaboration between teams but they are not in areas of any IP nor any exchange of information or in whatsoever way.
“So I believe that it’s down to all of the teams to perform, carry on with their own development but there will be some infrastructure that’s being shared within the regulations and obviously that creates the positive effect of economies of scale, revenue stream for the bigger teams and fantastic state-of-the-art facilities for the other teams, but we equally recognize a situation like McLaren has, that this needs to be, in a way, ring-fenced in terms of the regulations, so there’s absolute clarity what’s on and what’s not.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says F1 teams should trust in this process however new it may be, and the Brit also encourages the FIA to keep a watchful eye on the exchange of information with 2022’s regulations. “The FIA are acutely aware and again, as the governing body, you have to trust in them to police accordingly,” he said.
“I think obviously there is the topic of the 2022 F1 car which is a clean sheet of paper and again the FIA need to be on top of ensuring that no team artificially benefits through that of a customer or affiliate or associate team and it’s something that we at Red Bull take very, very seriously and the relationship with Toro Rosso and now AlphaTauri has scrupulous discipline to how we operate, respectful of those rules.
“Of course you trust in the governing body to police those and enforce those accordingly,” Horner said. At Williams, Jost Capito expressed that he agrees with this statement, and “fully believe” in the new inspection method, while Alpine’s Laurent Rossi was similarly positive about the new regulations.
McLaren’s Zak Brown says his “independent” F1 team supports the new rule, the British team having been one who campaigned against Racing Point’s RP20 last season. “We’re an independent team [and] are of the view that everyone should be a constructor. There is obviously the ability to collaborate, but we just have to have our trust in the FIA; that they’ll monitor the situation and make sure the rules are followed accordingly,” he said.
McLaren F1 team principal, Andreas Seidl, reckoned it was important step from the FIA to safeguard independent teams policy. “I think the most important thing is that the regulations are crystal clear after some points were put in place last year,” he said to media including FormulaRapida.net.
“Also the additional Technical Directive was sent out, it is crystal clear, and we have full trust on the FIA. This year, they have put in a lot of energy to make sure that these rules get enforced. I am be sure that we are an independent team and haven’t taken any information from any other team.
“This year’s car is again our on IP, but it is also clear that it is important that the FIA is top of the policing of this regulations because it is important for our progression to the front of the field,” summed up Seidl.