Last week, we talked about how the Racing Point drama is the gift that keeps on giving, and it absolutely peaked yesterday with the FIA decided to “expressly prevent” the use of reverse engineering in the future. Okay, fellas. How, exactly, do you plan to do that?
If you haven’t been following, Racing Point has gotten in trouble for copying the brake duct design from 2019's Mercedes. Whether or not that was totally legal has been a matter of intense debate, but the FIA now wants to “ban both tacit cooperation between teams that have a business relationship and legitimately share other technology, as well as the direct stealing of ideas by rivals,” according to Motorsport.
Basically, it’s going to be harder to copy a car from one year to the next, whether that’s via actual blueprints or photos. But how that’s going to be possible to prove is beyond me.
The whole Racing Point situation has proved how complex that whole problem is. But it’s especially tough considering the fact that there’s a pretty significant exchange of information that goes on in the modern era. There really aren’t surprises anymore, not after pre-season testing or the first race of a season. At that point, any team can copy designs from any other based on photos that make the rounds.
“Everybody has spy photographers sitting on the roofs of the opposite building, we’re zooming into the smallest detail on every car, and if we don’t want this to happen then we need to close that avenue,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said about the situation.
And, as we saw in the Racing Point situation, teams who have copied another’s design can still produce hundreds of drawings to attempt to legitimate their own creation of the design.
It seems difficult to enforce in any meaningful way, but if there’s anything F1 excels at, it’s making and enforcing complex rules.