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Renault Disqualified From Japanese Grand Prix Results

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Nico Hulkenberg at 2018 Japanese GP FP1
Photo: Takayuki Suzuki

Renault drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg finished sixth and tenth, respectively, at the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix, but will lose their results and championship points following the team’s disqualification for breaching Formula One regulations.

Rival team Racing Point had lodged a protest against Renault’s breach of the Sporting and Technical Regulations as well as of the FIA International Sporting Code, which alleged that the team was using a system that could automatically adjust their car’s brake bias.

All drivers can adjust brake bias while driving to help fine-tune the feel of the car under braking and corner entry, but it’s an adjustment that must normally be made manually. Racing Point alleged that Renault was using an illegal preset or distance-dependent control system that could automatically change brake bias to take the work out of the drivers’ hands.

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The FIA found that Renault’s system, which used “innovative solutions to exploit certain ambiguities,” did not breach the technical regulations — but that it did breach the sporting regulations, which state drivers must “drive the car alone and unaided.”

As a result, Renault were disqualified from the results of the 2019 Japanese GP results, losing nine points and granting three and two points to rival teams Toro Rosso and Racing Point, respectively.

What exactly constitutes as a “driver aid” is somewhat subjective, and Renault acknowledged that because of this subjectivity and because of its lack of new evidence to bring to F1’s legal system, it would not appeal the penalty.

Now powered by Honda, Toro Rosso is on course for its best championship result in a few years and, with the revised Japanese GP results, is now in striking distance of Renault: Only six points separate the two teams with four races still to go.

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