Seriously awkward image sums up F1 feud
F1's controversial divide continues to deliver as teams prepare for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.
Racing Point boss Otmar Szafnauer and McLaren chief Zak Brown were socially distancing in their pre-race press conference but that didn't stop the war of words between both outfits going up a notch.
Watch the Formula One Aramco Spanish GP LIVE on KAYO. Every practice, qualifying session and race LIVE. New to Kayo? Get your free trial now & start streaming instantly >
Racing Point is dealing with the fallout of being fined $AUD660,000 and docked 15 points after its brake ducts were ruled to have been designed by Mercedes. Authorities determined they were copied from Mercedes' 2019 championship-winning car and while Racing Point admits it used the Silver Arrows as inspiration, it denies doing anything illegal and is appealing its penalties.
Apart from Mercedes, who has voiced support for Racing Point, Szafnauer doesn't have many friends in the paddock right now. Teams including Renault and Ferrari are protesting the leniency of the punishment handed down, arguing Racing Point should face harsher sanctions.
Brown called Racing Point's excuse of copying Mercedes' parts purely from photographs "BS", leading Szafnauer to declare the American has "no idea what he's talking about" and "it seems to me he knows more about historic racing than he does about F1".
Sitting alongside Szafnauer at the team principals' media conference at the Circuit de Catalunya, Brown chose his words carefully but still worked in a sledge of his own, poking fun at Racing Point's "historic" car.
Brown also ribbed his rival boss for not knowing the full extent of his team's points penalty until it was pointed out to him during a live TV interview.
"I thought a lot of what Otmar said was accurate," Brown said. "I'm not an engineer, I don't know the rule book from the first page to the last page but as CEO you have a racing team and it's their job to know the rule book and the regulations.
"In my time here leading McLaren I've never been fined a dollar, let alone 400,000 (euros). I've never been docked points. I think Otmar thought it was 7.5 points until Sky television pointed out it was 15 points.
"As far as historic racing, I think people that know me know I enjoy historic racing and I'd invite Otmar to come and join me because he's got a historic car that he's currently racing.
"But that's kind of all part of the race weekend fun."
The cutting comeback was made all the more spicy given Brown and Szafnauer were sitting so close to one another. As F1 broadcaster and presenter Jennie Gow pointed out on Twitter, it was "so awkward".
Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul wants "closure" from the saga, believing Racing Point's punishment isn't consistent with previous penalties dished out for other teams' infringements.
"There was no discount for Renault; I don't know why there's a discount for Racing Point?" Abiteboul said.
"It should be all the points of the events that we have protested. We are also going to be in a bit of a strange situation where after every single event, Otmar will be called to the stewards, his brake ducts will be found similar to what they were and unchanged and he will again receive a reprimand.
"We think it's a bit awkward, we would like some closure about that if possible."
Originally published as Seriously awkward image sums up F1 feud