Motor racing's governing body, the FIA, has impounded the brake ducts from Racing Point's cars and ordered Mercedes to supply corresponding components from its 2019 car after deeming a protest from rivals Renault admissible.
Racing Point finished sixth and seventh at Sunday's Styrian Grand Prix, but Renault have protested the result over allegations Racing Point's car does not comply with regulations requiring teams to design and manufacture certain parts.
While some components, known as non-listed parts, are allowed to be bought from rivals, listed parts, which include the aerodynamic surfaces of the car and, for the first time this year, the brake ducts, must be of the team's own design.
Racing Point has not denied using last year's title-winning Mercedes as inspiration for its car this season, but has always maintained that it can prove the designs are its own intellectual property. However, the focus on the brake ducts and the FIA's request to get hold of the same components from last year's Mercedes, suggests Renault believes Racing Point has breached the regulations in that area as it used Mercedes brake ducts last year before they became a listed part.
After hearing from Renault and Racing Point after Sunday's race, the stewards of the Styrian Grand Prix declared Renault's protest admissible and ordered the FIA technical department to seize the front and rear brake ducts from both cars.
"The FIA technical department representative was directed to seal and impound the relevant parts of cars 11 and 18 in preparation for conducting a detailed analysis of those pieces," the stewards' statement said. "The representative is further directed to provide a detailed report to the stewards with the findings and to include an assessment that matches those findings against the alleged infringements outlined in the protest.
"The representative is authorized in the name of the stewards to call upon such outside technical assistance, including representatives of the following teams - Renault DP World F1 Team - BWT Racing Point F1 Team - Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team in the conduct of their assessment. Furthermore, the Stewards ordered the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team to provide the front and rear brake air ducts of the Mercedes-AMG F1 W10 EQ Power+ used by the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team in the 2019 season to the FIA Technical Department for examination.
"When the likely submission date of the assessment can be determined, the FIA technical department representative will communicate that to the chairman of the stewards so that the next meeting to assess the claims can be scheduled."
It is no secret that Racing Point uses Mercedes' engine, gearbox and outboard suspension components, but all three are named as non-listed parts under the regulations and can be bought from a rival. It also uses Mercedes wind tunnel to develop its car as part of an agreement between the two teams.
Speaking during preseason testing, when Racing Point's rivals first voiced their concerns, team principal Otmar Szafnauer defended the team's design direction this year.
"Although everyone says we copied a Mercedes, it is our own [design]," he said. "It is our own design and it is our own development. It is our own wind tunnel model. It is our own concept. Yes, we look to see what is fast and we thought: that's fast, can we do the same.
"It's no different than what we did with [copying] the Red Bull when we ran a high-rake concept. But the development is our own."