Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team say they are prepared to go to court after being dragged into Formula One’s latest ‘cheat’ storm.
Racing Point were docked 15 points and fined £361,000 for copying parts of the car Hamilton last year drove to a sixth world championship.
It emerged at Silverstone that Mercedes supplied a complete set of 2019 brake ducts to Racing Point on January 6.
Following an FIA investigation, it was also established that they provided Racing Point with computer-aided design models for the parts which assisted them in building this year’s car, dubbed the ‘Pink Mercedes’.
F1’s governing body ruled that the transfer of brake ducts from Mercedes to Racing Point did not constitute a “significant breach of the sporting regulations” and the sharing of data was within the rules.
But some in the paddock have questioned why Mercedes assisted Racing Point and the cosiness of team principal Toto Wolff’s relationship with Racing Point co-owner Lawrence Stroll.
But a defiant Wolff said after Sunday’s race: “If someone thinks we have done something wrong then they should protest, and we are happy to go to court.
“Our reputation is very important but it is intact. We have not been protested. We have done nothing wrong.
“I strongly believe that Racing Point have done nothing wrong and if this goes to the International Court of Appeal, the lawyers and the barristers have a strong opinion that this is a case which has very solid pillars.”
“I do not often speak publicly, however I am extremely angry at any suggestion we have been underhand or have cheated. My integrity – and that of my team – are beyond question.”
— BWT Racing Point F1 Team (@RacingPointF1) August 9, 2020
Stroll said he was “appalled” by the behaviour of his rivals, accusing Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Williams of dragging Racing Point’s name “through the mud”.
The four teams have all lodged their intention to appeal Racing Point’s FIA punishment. They are keen to understand if there could be other parts on the car which are identical to last year’s Mercedes – and do not believe the verdict to be severe enough.
But Canadian fashion billionaire Stroll, who took over the Silverstone-based team two years ago, issued a strongly-worded statement before Sunday’s 70th Anniversary race.
“I do not often speak publicly, however I am extremely angry at any suggestion we have been underhand or have cheated – particularly those comments coming from our competitors,” he said.
“I have never cheated at anything in my life. These accusations are completely unacceptable and not true. My integrity – and that of my team – are beyond question.
“Beyond the clear fact that Racing Point complied with the technical regulations, I am appalled by the way Renault, McLaren, Ferrari and Williams have taken this opportunity to appeal, and in doing so attempted to detract from our performances.
“They are dragging our name through the mud and I will not stand by nor accept this. I am truly upset to see the poor sportsmanship of our competitors.”
Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Williams have until Wednesday to decide if they want to press ahead with their action, which would involve lawyers at the FIA’s Court of Appeal. Racing Point are also appealing the verdict.