Toto Wolff says suggestions Mercedes may have played a role in Racing Point’s bid to copy its 2019 title-winning Formula 1 car are “total nonsense”.
Racing Point was hit with a 15-point constructors’ championship penalty and fined €400,000 after it was deemed to have copied Mercedes’ 2019 brake duct design.
The team has openly claimed it attempted to reverse engineer the Mercedes W10 in designing the Racing Point RP20 by using photographs of the car, doing so within the regulations.
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said the stewards’ ruling on the brake duct case proved this claim was “BS”, and that the rest of the RP20 car also had to be questioned.
The stewards’ ruling made no suggestion of wrongdoing on Mercedes’ part, but both Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto and Red Bull F1 chief Christian Horner have hinted at questions over Mercedes’ involvement.
Horner said that “questions will get asked” of Mercedes, adding: “If the team in question are guilty of receiving [designs], surely the team that has provided has also been in breach of those regulations?”
But Mercedes F1 team principal Wolff said it was wrong to suggest Racing Point had gone further than using photography in designing its car, and would defend any questioning of Mercedes’ role in the case.
“Copying the car more than from photos is something we would know,” Wolff said.
“That is why from my perspective, it is total nonsense to pursue that argument.
“I will be defending our brand firmly if somebody were to go down that route.”
When asked by Autosport if the suggestions made by Mercedes’ rivals was a consequence of being a leader with a target on its back, Wolff said he did not see it that way.
“I don’t think it’s related to being a leader,” he said.
“I think Formula 1 has always been the competition on the track and also the competition off the track.
“As hard as we race each other on Sunday or on Saturday, we also fight the political game that is important, and has always been the case.
“The Racing Point case is an opportunity for your direct competitors to maybe push us hard and that has always been the case.
“We have a clear position on the Racing Point situation and in that respect it doesn’t really bother us, and it shouldn’t bother us, because the FIA have made that clarification.
“The little nudging that is happening around that is something that is acceptable.”
The FIA has already confirmed it will clamp down on teams trying to copy other cars through reverse engineering from 2021, allaying fears from many on the grid.
The move prompted both Williams and McLaren to withdraw their appeals against the Racing Point ruling, but Ferrari and Renault are continuing with action.
Racing Point has also lodged an appeal with the FIA International Court of Appeal in a bid to overturn the penalty.