McLaren: F1 copycat rules changes require “a lot of thinking” from FIA – F1

McLaren technical director James Key believes the planned rule changes to prevent copycat Formula 1 cars will require “a lot of thinking” from the FIA.

The FIA confirmed last week that it would move to tweak the regulations for the 2021 season in order to prevent a repeat of Racing Point’s approach to copy the design of last year’s title-winning Mercedes W10 car.

Racing Point was found to have copied the design of Mercedes’ rear brake ducts and breached the sporting regulations, resulting in a 15-point constructors’ championship penalty and a €400,000 fine.

The case has prompted three appeals and led to numerous questions about the direction F1 wants to take in the future over the level of collaboration between teams.

FIA head of single-seater matters Nikolas Tombazis confirmed changes would be made to 2021 regulations to prevent car copying, saying he did not want it to “become the normal in Formula 1”.

McLaren technical chief Key was pleased to see the clarification from the FIA and F1, with his team having been a leading opponent against Racing Point’s actions.

“The FIA, together with Formula 1, clearly put out some clarification of how they wanted to see Formula 1 in the future, especially when it comes down to what is allowed when it comes down to copying cars,” Key said.

“It’s an important clarification for us as an as an independent team.

“Looking back on the last 12 months, everything that was happening, it is clear that it is important for the sport, because it is a complex sport that you can’t get away with not being within the rules.

“That’s also very, very important for the entire sport, simply to make sure everyone is competing on a level playing field and according to the same regulations.

“I think FIA is doing a great job there.”

But Key conceded there would need to be a lot of consideration from the FIA on how to define a copy and how the body would go about policing the issue.

“The devil is all in the detail,” Key said.

“It needs a lot of thinking about how to police this.

“It never used to be an issue where a team was prepared to share a bit of information like this, as non-listed parts have come in.

“It’s become easier to have access to information, otherwise you wouldn’t have had it, and I guess based around there are allowances for supplying some parts of teams.

“Anything else needs to be extremely well policed, and the bits that are transferred don’t come with a lot of other information which is very easy, easy to do, just from a technical point of view.

“It’s a very complicated question. I couldn’t propose to you now what the policing framework should look like.

“But it does definitely need a lot of attention.”

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