Racing Point has set up a dedicated team to manage its use of homologated parts because teams could risk exclusion from an event by “inadvertently” breaching new Formula 1 rules.
F1 has introduced homologated components for the 2020 and 2021 seasons and a token system to restrict development of the current cars.
New technical rules have been pushed back to 2022 and many elements of this year’s cars will need to be re-used next season, to relieve financial pressure on teams amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Some components will be homologated at the first round, others by round eight, and some at the start of 2021, and once those specifications are frozen those components can only be modified between that date and the end of the 2021 season by using two tokens.
“It’s a brand-new topic for everybody, never done it before,” Racing Point technical director Andrew Green told media including The Race. “And we have to implement it really rather quickly.
“We’re just really conscious because it’s new, it could be very easy to fall foul of it inadvertently.
“That’s the bit that we’re trying to make sure of, that all the protocols are in place so that we don’t fall foul of it inadvertently.
“Inadvertently meaning someone picks up a homologated product, rubs it with a file which changes it, puts it back on the car effectively, and then you breached your homologated component rule.
“It can be as draconian as that. We’re working on that right now.”
Some homologated components have been afforded a value of one token, which means they can be updated twice, while bigger components such as inboard front and rear suspension have been assigned a value of two tokens so can only be updated once after the design is homologated.
Teams have strict deadlines to hit with the FIA in terms of declaring their intention to modify a part, and while they are allowed to return to the original specification if an upgrade doesn’t work they are not allowed to make further changes to the design.
There are some exceptions to the restrictions, including minimal changes permitted for safety, reliability or cost reasons. Set-up options are allowed if these “do not constitute a fundamentally new design or specification”.
A finished homologated component can also be minimally modified as long as it does not have “a significant cost or functionality implication”, including no performance or weight improvement.
“It is quite complicated, for sure,” said Green. “It is for us managing it, and the FIA managing it, incredibly complex. And it does take a significant amount of resources to do it.
“We understand the reasons why it has to be done.
“The current way we’re working is to try and understand what we need resources-wise to manage it.
“It’s a technical regulation, not a sporting regulation. So, if we are found in breach of the homologated parts rule, it’s effectively exclusion from the event.
“It’s a really serious offence, so we have to take it really very seriously.
“With that in mind, we’ve got a dedicated team working on the management of homologated parts from the first race of this season 2020 right the way through to the end of 2021.”