Aug 8 (Reuters) – Formula One’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix looked more like a family bust-up on Saturday after bosses bad-mouthed each other and half of the teams took issue with the stewards.
The governing FIA said five teams – Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, Williams and Racing Point – were intending to appeal a stewards decision to impose a heavy fine and 15 point deduction on Racing Point in a ‘copycat’ row.
While most wanted tougher sanctions imposed on Canadian-owned Racing Point following a Renault protest over copied brake ducts on their ‘Pink Mercedes’, the team felt they had done nothing wrong.
The publishing of the stewards’ decision kicked off the row on Friday, with McLaren boss Zak Brown disputing Racing Point’s claim that they had copied Mercedes’ title-winning 2019 car from photographs.
“It’s clear from reading the document that is BS, and therefore you have to question anything else around that car,” Brown told a video news conference.
Racing Point principal Otmar Szafnauer, whose team have a close relationship with Mercedes and use their engines and gearbox, replied by questioning his fellow American’s expertise.
“He’s got no idea what he’s talking about. Zero. And I’m surprised at how little he knows about the rules of F1,” he said.
“It seems to me he knows more about historic racing than he does about F1.”
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff chimed in, saying spy photography had always been a part of the sport and mentioning that a leading competitor was seen scanning his team’s cars last year with a 3D camera in and outside the garages.
The Austrian also accused some rivals of being two-faced when it comes to talks on a new commercial agreement with rights holders Liberty Media.
“Some of these guys when they come on camera they are up the (backside) of the commercial rights holder and then when we have them in the meeting they are revved up and they are the loudest,” he told Sky Sports F1 television.
Wolff told reporters on Friday that Mercedes were not yet ready to sign a new deal – unlike Ferrari, McLaren and Williams – because they would be the biggest victim.
“We feel that whilst being in those negotiations we weren’t treated in the way we should have been,” he said.
Formula One replied by saying they were moving ahead anyway and would not be delayed. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Hugh Lawson)