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Crunch time in Paris for Mercedes and Pirelli over test row
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Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Jun 2013   |  6:50 pm GMT  |  233 comments

Tomorrow (Thursday June 20) at 9-30am local time Ross Brawn of Mercedes and Paul Hembery of Pirelli will appear before the first ever FIA International Tribunal in Paris.

This is the conclusion of a process started by Red Bull and Ferrari when they protested Mercedes’ 1,000 km test at Barcelona in the week following the Spanish Grand Prix.

The FIA Sporting Regulations explicitly prohibit the testing of current cars once the F1 season has started.

The hearing is set to last into the early afternoon and the FIA has indicated that a judgement will be made public as soon as possible, ideally on the same day.

There is a lot at stake. If Mercedes is found to have breached the FIA Sporting Regulations by testing a 2013 car, then it’s likely that veteran team boss Ross Brawn could be made to fall on his sword. He has shouldered full responsibility for the test, while team chairman Niki Lauda has distanced himself from it, telling German media he only knew about it once it had started.

From Mercedes’ point of view the situation is quite serious as they have put ‘sporting integrity’ at the heart of the agenda from their side over this issue.

They claim that the FIA’s Charlie Whiting gave them permission to run a 2013 car. The FIA contends that it did not give permission for the test to take place as they believe it did, rather for a limited distance Pirelli-managed test only. Mercedes have emails and they say that the test was managed by Pirelli.

The question of why Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg wore unmarked helmets needs to be explained, as it has given rise to the suggestion that the test was ‘secret’. This positioning is unhelpful for Mercedes and Pirelli as one of the FIA’s stipulations is that all the other teams were informed, which does not appear to have happened.

Pirelli says that it approached the teams in 2012 asking for help with testing, so they did offer the same chance to everyone.

A test with a 2011 Ferrari was also conducted but this doesn’t violate the Sporting Regulations, while there have been suggestions that further tests were lined up with Red Bull and McLaren, but as they never happened we will never know what car might have been used.

Pirelli is in a slightly different position from Mercedes. They question the procedure in place with this hearing; as they are not a competitor they cannot see why they have been called to appear before the IT. They already disclosed everything they know plus all email correspondence regarding the test.

They have a contract wit the FIA which allows them to ask teams to supply cars for 1,000lm tests. Somewhere in the gap between that document, the email permissions from Whiting and the Sporting Regulations lies the answer the IT must establish.

If Pirelli are criticised by the IT, there could be some interesting legal repercussions, while if they are not, they may seek explanations and possibly an apology for being dragged into the Tribunal.

What penalties could be applied? Other teams are calling for a sporting penalty for Mercedes – a points deduction for example, as a financial penalty would serve only to establish the going financial rate for doing a test with a current car.

There have been rumours that both Mercedes and Pirelli may withdraw from the sport if the judgement goes against them. Whether there is any truth to that we would only find out if and when it happens.

Pirelli has contracts in place for next season with FOM and with most, but not all of the teams and not yet with the FIA.

The FIA International Tribunal was set up in 2011 by Jean Todt as a way to distance the president’s office from the disciplinary process of the FIA. Under his predecessor Max Mosley, instances like the Flavio Briatore Crashgate hearing were seen to position Mosley as both judge and jury.

Now the FIA President brings the prosecution, but the statutes say that he must stay out of the process from there, leaving it to the legally qualified members of the IT.

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233 Comments
  1. Sinclair says:

    If they get no punishment or a very light one, expect RBR and Ferrari to start testing with their 2013 cars.

    Whatever the outcome though, Mercedes already are being called cheaters all over the place. Even friends, fasmily of mine whom are casual F1 viewers are talking how Mercedes cheated.

    Very bad move by them.

    1. Simmo says:

      I do agree, however I must pick up on one thing you said.

      “Even friends, family of mine whom are casual F1 viewers are talking how Mercedes cheated.”

      That’s partially because a lot of the media (in my view at least) are being biased against Mercedes, or just aren’t very good media (not this site of course!!), so people who don’t read into it as much don’t necessarily know the entire story.

      1. JoeP says:

        “That’s partially because a lot of the media (in my view at least) are being biased against Mercedes, or just aren’t very good media…”

        I agree with you so much and thank you so profoundly for making this point early. There is an especially “fanatical” F1 site in UK that has reacted w/ thinly-veiled delight at the chance to skewer Mercedes and Brawn and pronounce them guilty before any evidence is presented. In fact, they just published an article laying-out all the various ways in which MercGP could be punished! Unbelievable!

        Bravo I guess to James for his restraint…

      2. JackL says:

        Has anyone else noticed that McLaren havent said a peep about testgate while the other front runners have? Very, very suspicious.

      3. Cos says:

        +1 …you can tell alot from a man by his actions…or in this case lack of them. As with other stories on this site, I look forward to reading about the ins and outs of the hearing (or whatever we are allowed to know about) and especially the many discussion that will follow. Thank god for websites like this!!

      4. SONIA LUFF says:

        I think Mclaren have been quiet due to the fact that Merc provide their engines, they’ve got to hang on for a year for Honda. I haven’t heard comments from many other teams either

      5. **Paul** says:

        I think you’re well off the mark with the media bias against Mercedes. If this test using a 2013 car, with a locked down circuit and drivers in plain helmets had taken place with a Red Bull or Ferrari the media would have gone wild. They (RBR & Ferrari) are the two teams the F1 media show most biased against.

        Cold hard fact is that 2013 car testing in-season (other than straight line testing) is banned.

        For me Horner was actually right, and breaking the sporting regulations to give themselves a sporting advantage should be met with a sporting penalty. Someone suggested to me a ban on FP1 & 2 for 3 or 4 races would be suitable mileage, and I think that sounds pretty fair, and would relevel that tyre knowledge.

      6. Brace says:

        It’s the same thing with tyres this year. You hear a whole bunch of people complaining how it’s not good racing, but the truth is, they wouldn’t have a clue if they weren’t fed that attitude by the media 24/7, with Red Bull and broadcasters moaning about it through a whole race weekend, race after race.

      7. Brian Horgan says:

        Dont presume people who think different from you are being led. It might be unfair to change the tyres midseason and im glad they kept them the same but other than Montréal this year the passes have been too easy when cars of different stratagies meet. Take Vettel out of the equation and that was the race of the season in Canada because every pass was fought for.

      8. Brian Horgan says:

        The Media didnt drive a 2013 car with 2013 drivers 1000KM around Barcelona, stop deflecting.

      9. Simmo says:

        I’m not at all saying Mercedes aren’t wrong – I am just saying that the majority of media aren’t covering the story properly

      10. Rudy says:

        RossBrawn has always cheated. Just look into the Ferrari years and Benetton period. He might be a genious, a tactician, but this guy is going down. He has the seal of cheat all over his forehead. Isn’ t it the same reason that obliged Ron Dennis to step down and shift his efforts to the road car division? But as I have always suspected how in the name of God Merc were going to do with Paddy Lowe’s arrival. Aha! This is it. Toast Mr. Brawn and by simple logic or self respect he’ll resign. A perfect plan draw by Merc and Brawn.

    2. D@X says:

      Point! But who doesn’t cheat in F1, it’s been happening for many years. In this sport you are a only a cheat when you get caught. I will wait for the facts to come out…otherwise we could all jump the gun and get hit by an OJ Simpson.

      1. F1Aficionado says:

        +1

      2. +1 for both Simmo and D@X — except don’t grock the OJ Simpson part. Golly, gee-whillikers – sounds a lot like NASCAR/IMSA/P-LeMans and the Superbike/Motocross spectacle sports, here in the Colonies. It does look more and more like Hollywood “entertainment” everywhere these days, doesn’t it?

      3. johnLAD says:

        don’t hate on motocross…..the only great motorsport not been ruined by rules / team orders.

      4. Quade says:

        I agree, although wouldn’t exactly call it cheating. Streeeeeetching and bending the rules is the second name of F1. Everyone does it.

      5. Tealeaf says:

        Its funny how the Hamilton fans trying to downplay the seriousness of the whole situation. Try to bring other teams into it and make them look bad, quite pathetic actually, the point is finding loopholes in the rules slightly and going completely against it is 2 different matter and I remember teams like BAR and Benetton having 2 race bans for small infringements on the design of their cars, Mercedes needs to be punished and not only with fines and docking constructors points they need race bans, at least 3 in my estimation, and the threat to pull out? Go ahead they can’t hold the sport to ransom, its funny how the Mercedes can look after the tyres better than Redbull now and nearly as well as the Ferrari, they’ve altered the course of the season for everyone in their favour because of this test.

      6. D@X says:

        Nice observation but they all do cheat, if you want something closer to pure then GP2 can provide that, its like watching a movie without special effects, switch to F1 and it’s hollywood at play with higher stakes…You have to do what you have to, just to win or stay competitive. Regardless of the outcome, one person gets to profit from all of this…The walking talking Garden Gnome!

    3. Wayne says:

      But that’s the trouble with F1, EVERYONE cheats. Oh they call it pushing the limits but that’s a pretty metaphor for cheating.

      RBR develop illegal parts and run them until they are told to remove them knowing full well they will get the benefit for perhaps 5 races before the decision is made.

      Renault deliberately cashed their car.

      McLaren stole from Ferrari.

      Ferrari implemented team orders when they were banned.

      Schumacher had a habit of crashing into his opponents to win wdcs.

      Hamilton used to block other cars illegally on the track when they tried to overtake.

      Vettel cheated his own team a couple of races ago.

      The list goes on and on and on……..

      Why some people are surprised at Merc for something like this is beyond me. Mercedes are innocent until proven guilty. And in F1 that does not mean much as this will be decided by politics and vested interests.

      1. **Paul** says:

        RBR develop illegal parts and run them until they are told to remove them…
        No, they develop parts that comply to regulations, but are smart enough to make them benefit in other ways. Just like Ferrari used to in the early 2000s, and just like Brawn did with doubl diffusers and McLaren with it’s F-Duct. None of that is cheating – sorry!

        Renault deliberately cashed their car.
        Cheating yes.

        McLaren stole from Ferrari.
        Cheating yes.

        Ferrari implemented team orders when they were banned.
        Cheating yes, but I hasten to add that every team in the sport also did this.

        Schumacher had a habit of crashing into his opponents to win wdcs.
        Once, the other time he was removed from the championship and JV won anyhow.

        Hamilton used to block other cars illegally on the track when they tried to overtake.
        Questionable, I’ve seen him drive people off track, that used to be hard racing, but nowadays its not allowed really.

        Vettel cheated his own team a couple of races ago.
        Ignoring team orders isn’t cheating. It’s bad form, but not cheating.

      2. Sebee says:

        Wayne,

        Shape up your references! FYI It is Crashgate, Spygate, and yes…now officially Testgate in the media! :-)

        As for Vettel…it’s a stretch I think. The only Vettelgate here is all the winning taking place. And that win was all good.

      3. L33t_Of_Lag says:

        Wayne, you are my new hero. :-)

    4. Phil says:

      Test on what? Pirelli aren’t necessarily going to be keen to supply tyres and re stir the whole story up again…

    5. aveli says:

      i haven’t heard a single person talk about mercedes cheating. i only read it about mercedes facing the it today. only those who tend to attack a certain driver are making such claims.

  2. Becken says:

    FIA should give Pirelli a 3 race ban, starting on from the British GP!

    :D

      1. Tealeaf says:

        Whats so ‘hilarious’?

      2. Peter says:

        A GP series where the tyre supplier isn’t allowed to run..? It’s funny because it sounds stupidly unlikely until you realise were talking about F1.

      3. Laurence H says:

        It made me laugh out loud when I read it!

    1. JohnBt says:

      And use Kumho tires?

    2. Sasidharan says:

      Let try MagLev for a change ;)

    3. Arnie S says:

      +1 Hahahaha

    4. Wayne says:

      Now THAT is funny! :)

      1. Tealeaf says:

        The test was funny, if its only a £million fine or something then expect Ferrari doing 1000km or more tests for their braking system or something, in fact you lot thinks its funny well lets see how funny it is when Ferrari test their car everyday at Fiorano and Redbull test how drivers function drinking their fizzy drinks with endless testing all using their 2013 car :D

    5. PB says:

      The best laugh I’ve had in a long time…thanks!!

      I’m just imagining the looks on the faces in the paddock with Pirelli away on a 3 race ban!

  3. Dave P says:

    James, are any of the other teams allowed to attend and or give evidence… and if so are any of them going?

    1. Anne says:

      As far as I know they are. FIA could ask them to give information and details about what the knew or didn´t know about the test. So it´s up to FIA to call them if necessary.

    2. Simmo says:

      Good question

    3. D@X says:

      The prancing horse and the prancing horse!

    4. Mark says:

      Christian Horner has turned up there…

  4. Stringers says:

    This is BS – Red Bull run a technology centre – spending millions researching materials etc right next door to their F1 factory & deny cross pollination of ideas & technologies. It’s clear that they have bought their way to the front – especially finding 0.5 secs at Montreal. Mercedes are a fair way behind & are villified for what seems like a reasonable compromise for the exasperated Pirelli testing team. I’m amazed Pirelli have put up with such bad treatment from the F1 teams. If things keep going this way then the backlash against Red Bull & F1 will be serious for their brand & the sport in general. Remember Ferrari in the 2000′s???

    1. Miha Bevc says:

      So now Red Bull is on trial?

      1. Glennb says:

        Red Bull are permanently on trial, one way or another…

      2. JoeP says:

        “So now Red Bull is on trial?” <— no, but they should be.

      3. Quade says:

        I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Red Bull are next at the tribunal for something or the other. They don’t seem very loved and have a talent at ruffling feathers. Next dark conspiracy.

        ‘Just saying.

      4. David C says:

        Merc perform an (allegedly) illegal test and that’s RBRs fault? Why would there be a backlash against RBR for not performing an (allegedly) illegal test. You could easily accuse Ferrari, mclaren or Merc of using people who work for their road car divisions to “help out” on the F1 program. Why’re are you certain only RBR do this and not the others. I see no evidence that RBR gained anything significant in Montreal, there were no major obvious updates, I think it was just the cars were able to push harder on the tyres, something seen throughout the field, with force India doing a 1 stop, this allowed the Redbulls to run their true pace. I also notice that Merc seem to employ an obscene amout of F1s ghost senior managers, do you think they are “buying” success. They even bought the reigning championship team is that “buying success” ??? At least RBR started at the back

      5. Wayne says:

        The point he is making is that they are all at it (cheating), RBR no less than anyone else.

      6. Sebee says:

        There is a right way to and a wrong way to do things. This test was an example of the latter.

      7. Tealeaf says:

        Na Redbull ain’t cheating nor are Ferrari, saying everyone is guilty and cheats is baseless get a life.

      8. David C says:

        I dont buy that, its over simplistic and if thats the case lets let everyone do what they want. Some people just have a dislike of redbull or maybe its they hate Germans but its all pretty petty. If other teams think a team is cheating they get on to the FIA just as Ferrari ad RBR in this case and if there is evidence the case proceeds. If RBR, Ferrari or Force India are cheating you can be sure Merc or McLaren would be on the case. By stating as fact something that is mearly a asumption you drag the whole sport down and thats too high a price to pay just to downplay the proven guilt of Merc in the background (if they are found guilty). Lets see what the tribual say

      9. Brian Horgan says:

        + 1 @ David C, This is all about Merc performing 1000KM of testing in a 2013 car. The article is titled “cruch time in Paris for Mercedes and Pirelli over test row”. People who try to make it about Redbull or the sport as a whole are just trying to create a smoke screen from which Mercedes can escape punishment.

    2. Mathew says:

      an Ferrari are run inside a car company and McLaren supply all teams with ECU and also are a car manufacturer as is Mercedes, All have huge scope to design, develop, etc. outside of the “team” but its only Red Bull here you have a shot at, maybe your bias clouds your view

      1. **Paul** says:

        Exactly ! Mercedes race all sorts of cars, DTM, GT etc and probably have a bigger knowledge base to go at that any team in the sport.

        The gripes are always with Red Bull, why ? Because they’re winning.

        Lets get back on topic though, how many teams have tested their 2013 car ‘in season’? Answer: 1, Mercedes.

        That’s illegal, it’s not a loop hole, it’s not a clever bit of design, it’s not even creative accounting, it’s a pure and simple break of regulations.

    3. woodframer says:

      How did that .5 second RB bought work out for WEB?

      1. D@X says:

        Only Sebs gets to try the new parts…tested and proven winner. Mark is rear gunner and his remit is to ensure RB get to win both trophies…But im sure you knew that.

    4. Quade says:

      Its really Pirelli’s fault for where they now are, rotten tyres and all.

      As for Merc, I strongly believe that they will get away with it (maybe with the lightest of wrist slaps).
      Pirelli? It was their duty to inform the other teams and there seems to be quite a chasm between their 2012 story and reality. So…

      1. Dave C says:

        Yeah get away with it, let the testing resume, I’m sure Ferrari, Alonso, Newey, Vettel all have plenty excuses to test whilst using the 2013 car, if there’s no punishment for these activities then everyone should do it, wiping out the advantage Brackley gained and then some with Ferrari able to test everyday at Fiorano in fact do like 2-3 test at the same time with Massa in another car using Mugello and Barcelona for downforce tests and high speed, I can’t wait.

      2. Quade says:

        It came out today (at the tribunal) that Ferrari ran tests with Massa that significantly exceeded the 1000kms specified by the rules. Thats a crime much worse than Mercs.

        Checkmate.

        F1 can’t afford to antagonise both Merc and Ferrari. In fact, if a magical solution is not reached on Friday, then a trap is being set for Red Bull. F1 is a dirty game and all teams have cheats DNA.

    5. Me says:

      “It’s clear that they have bought their way to the front”

      …They did, they bought Brawn…

  5. Andyc_f1 says:

    As a McLaren fan I should perhaps gleefully hope that merc get hammered.

    However, I like Ross brawn, and Pirelli and the reason this has come about is typical of the ridiculous rules f1 creates.

    No testing in season, therefor everyone saves money right? No, bigger teams spend more money on simulators to push their finding advantage.

    I’m not so sure I see the point or indeed the real monetary saving, as now the smaller teams are hiring sim time.

    James,
    Net spend wise, do you believe that the test ban has actually reduced spend on F1? Or has it pushed the £££ around the chessboard a little?

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s saved a lot of money, as have wind tunnel restrictions etc.

      Budgets are reduced, but the top ones are still eye watering

      1. Spyros says:

        So what happens if F1 team A is a subsidiary of Company X, which also owns a wind tunnel, and tests some scale composites that look an awful lot like F1 cars? Does the test bill appear on the budget of their F1-running subsidiary?

      2. D@X says:

        Well you know whats on paper is not actually whats happening behind the scenes. You could even have another well established company doing all the test and putting in all the hours and nobody would know as there are no ways of verifying how the parts are developed and who actually developed them. Just a load of smokey mirrors! Resource restriction is a good phase during times of austerity but others view these times as opportunity.

    2. Quade says:

      A single constantly running wind tunnel can gobble the same power as a small town would. I don’t know the power consumption of F1 wind tunnels, though.

    3. Wayne says:

      I wonder if RBR have saved a single brass penny in real terms.

  6. ian says:

    Mercedes will need to have made it clear to the FIA they were to use a 2013 car – as they will surely have wanted confirmation that this was okay.

    1. D@X says:

      Hmmm…Ross pulled a fast one with the double diffuser, could he have one last trick up his sleeve? One thing is for sure I wouldn’t under estimate him, maybe this will be the end of him should it go south…but will wait to see and hear the verdict.

      1. Anthony says:

        Maybe Ross wants nothing more to do with Formula. It’s entirely possible that he’s simply tired of Formula 1. Outside of being an actual Formula driver, he’s accomplished more than any one person could ever imagine to achieve in this industry. Formula 1 in its purest form is still the greatest spectacle the world has ever seen. What ends up destroying the product is the infusion of greed, fear and simple minded douchebags who have nothing better to do than infuse the sport with retardation.

      2. JoeP says:

        “Ross pulled a fast one with the double diffuser, could he have one last trick up his sleeve?” <— I hope so, but then again, he probably won't need it. All Merc must do is establish that it was a Pirelli test and not a Mercedes-as-a-competitor test. I actually don't think that will be exceedingly hard to do, so they'll have no case to answer. However, don't expect most media to have reported that little nugget, as then they wouldn't be able to get into the scandal-mongering business (present company excluded, James…)!

  7. Steve says:

    “Pirelli says that it approached the teams in 2012 asking for help with testing, so they did offer the same chance to everyone.”

    That seems really lame. So that approach covers them for all subsequent seasons? If they renew their contract this year, then in 2015 they could do a secret – sorry, a “private” – test with Red Bull and the 2015 RB car, and claim it’s covered because they asked Sauber and everyone else back back in 2012?

    Both Pireli and Mercedes seem to be engaging in a whole lot of lawyerly nonsense in which the meanings of words are stretched to the breaking point and well beyond. I hope the Tribunal slaps them both down for this.

    1. Rubinho's Keyfob says:

      Hi Steve -

      “Pirelli says that it approached the teams in 2012 asking for help with testing, so they did offer the same chance to everyone.”

      I could also argue that this assertion is false anyway.

      Let’s say I have five people stood in front of me and £1 to buy a lottery ticket. I ask all five if they would like me to buy them a lottery ticket and four said yes (it was just grumpy Christian on the end who eyed me suspiciously and said no). Of the four who said yes, I picked my mate Ross in the middle and I spent the £1 on a lottery ticket for him.

      I asked all five people. Did they all get “the same chance” to win the lottery?

      My point is that if all teams were to be given the same chance then perhaps all teams who said yes should have done some testing. I guess it comes down to the wording of the regulation – did they all have to get the same chance to be _considered_ for testing, or all get the same chance to _do_ some testing?

      I haven’t seen the exact wording reported anywhere but I suspect that the answer is that the regulation is ambiguous, because they usually are :)

      1. CHIUNDA says:

        Find the exact wording on sky f1 portal

      2. Quade says:

        They were all asked, and they all said no. Thats because they were fiercely guarding their 2013 high tech gizmo’s from any 3rd party eyeballs (even Pirelli’s).

        I agree that Pirelli’s “2012″ excuse is lame and limp.

      3. PhilTayl says:

        It’s covered in the article that Ferrari had a test, and McLaren and Red Bull allegedly had tests lined up, but again, as James says, since they never happened, we’ll never know if they had the “same chance”.

    2. D@X says:

      Well said, Lawyers give words new meanings! Lets hope its a quick turn around so we can focus on this pure sport…not! They are all at it in some snap or form.

      1. Luke Clements says:

        You’re right, Pirellis argument is a red herring. It’s like the husband who is caught fooling around with a secretary at work saying “but I offered myself to all the secretaries, so they all had the same opportunity”

        Doesn’t matter, they(Merc) ran with a 2013 car which is explicitly wrong. I think Merc will get a pretty harsh penalty, and Pirellis red herring argument will be dismissed as meaningless.

      2. aveli says:

        the rules doesn’t say they couldn’t run with the 2013 car and the tyres were not for the 2013 championship.
        ferrari and renault also tested and no one complained. ferrari and red bull are simplet scarred of the prospect of hamilton in a competative car.

    3. Elie says:

      Steve I agree fully on this- when Pirelli came out and made that statement , I said “what an absolute load of rubbish” . 12 months ago had little to do with right now and the current regulations and that there is a formal process where All the teams are notified both via Pirelli and the FIA before they can proceed- As Ferrari clearly did with their test. Further all the team principals said they only discussed the subject at various meetings. If Pirelli had correctly sanctioned a tyre test ,does anyone really believe that all 12 teams wouldn’t have jumped on it..just ridiculous.

      It’s a really difficult because the embarrassment to Mercedes may see them withdrawn from the sport- at the least I think both Ross Brawn and Charlie Whiting are in very hot water- meaning GONE. Pirelli IMO acted very improperly and should be dropped, but I don’t think this will happen before the end of 2014 if the FIA hasn’t already been speaking to another supplier, as time has run out. There is no doubt the rules are not helping teams or Pirelli particularly for next year- however an honest & reputable way would be for apirelli to say unless we test we are not supplying tyres for 2014. I really want to see some tough sanctions handed out otherwise all we will be talking about will be who is going to cheat next and every team and driver will be thinking the same thing-that’s not sporting.

  8. goferet says:

    Okay then, judgement day is upon us and we await with baited breath what the verdict will be.

    Now, if I was sitting on the jury, I would let Mercedes off with a stern warning because of three main reasons;

    a) The team doesn’t seem to have got on top of their tyre heating problems as mentioned by the team/drivers and also as evidenced in Monaco/Canada

    b) The new 2013 tyres Mercedes were meant to have been testing and were meant to be introduced in Canada have been shelved for good.

    c) This is the first time a team has broken this type of rule and with Mercedes being first time offenders, they should be let off easy for as seen in the civilian courts, first time offenders are always treated linently >>> besides, a race result hasn’t been affected by this fiasco.

    So yeah, hopefully this episode gets swept under the carpet for as Mercedes has shown by threatening to quit the sport, they won’t stand any harsh/over-the-top/irrational penalties.

    P.s.

    For sure, the new statutes state the FIA President must stay out of the process but last I remember, Brawn and Todt were good mates from way back.

    That has to count for something.

    1. [MISTER] says:

      It is too early to see if Mercedes got over their problems with the tyres, but for you to say they haven’t, prompted me to bring some facts to the table. Here they are:

      Barcelona:
      Mercs qualify 1st and 2nd and finish race in 6th and 12th.
      Ferrari qualify 5th and 6th and finish race in 1st and 3rd.

      Canada:
      Mercs qualify 2nd and 4th and finish race in 3rd and 5th.
      Ferrari qualify 6th and 16th(crash) and finish race in 2nd and 8th.

      To emphasize this, in Canada, Lewis finish less than 10 sec behind Alonso.

      How can you say they didn’t get on top of their tyre issues? At least keep quiet and say it was the track layout, but don’t come here and say they didn’t learn anything from the test just because you are a Merc or Lewis fan.
      Don’t think we are stupid and can’t look at the results.

      1. goferet says:

        @ (MISTER)

        Why I say the team hasn’t got on top of it’s tyre woes is because the drivers have repeatedly said so. Unless one thinks the drivers are professional liars, I would take their word for it

        Also team were always looking forward to Monaco and Canada because they knew they weren’t going to struggle as much however the high speed circuit in Silverstone is giving them something to worry about.

      2. MISTER says:

        You always take someone’s word and believe everything they say? How naive are we?

      3. Sasidharan says:

        Merc handed over 2nd position to Alonso to show that they didn’t gain anything from the test. They had one eye on the tribunal.

      4. Rebel Spy says:

        You can’t compare times in Barcelona and Montreal as they are completely different tracks – tyre wear is higher in Barcelona so of course Merc weren’t as affected by tyres in Montreal (plus Lewis is a monster at Montreal)

      5. Quade says:

        From the little I know of goferet, he is neither a Merc nor Lewis fan. Lets be civil to one another; leave the wars to Millwal fans.

        If anything, goferet is most likely a motor racing statistics/history fan with loads of dusty books and a garage for painstaking engine disection. :)

      6. goferet says:

        @ Quade

        Lol merci

        Actually am a Lewis fan and a recent Merc fan too

        Cheers.

      7. Anthony Young says:

        This is a false analysis. Barcelona is far harder on the tyres than Montreal, so Merc’s result at Barcelona was always likely to be one of their worst of the season. Merc have done better since, but Monaco is very easy on tyres and Montreal is quite easy. There is no indication yet as to whether they have improved the car on harsh surfaces.

      8. Yak says:

        While I don’t agree that Merc should be let off with a warning, nor do I believe they learned nothing from the test, comparing their performance in Spain to their performance in Canada is a bit misguided. The two are very different circuits.

        Look at Vettel’s race in Spain compared to in Canada. Look at Di Resta managing 50-something laps on one set in Canada. Have Red Bull really made that big a step forward in such a short time? Have Force India really made that big of a step forward that they could (theoretically) go back to Spain now and whack out 50-something pretty solid laps on one set of primes? No.

        Spain is rough on tyres, and it has a bit of pretty much everything, including big lateral loads, the likes of which Canada has none. The thing in Canada is wheel spin in corner exits. If you can manage the throttle well, and the car gets the power down well, you’re off to a pretty decent start.

      9. Yago says:

        @Mister, I think until Siverstone we will not know. As a lot of people say, Barcelona and Canada are too different to get clear conclusions. Although I think there are hints that indicate they are better now at tire management than during the first five races, Silverstone will be the acid test.

    2. D@X says:

      I like the last statement, we know one team that has got away with a lot in this sport. I think a gentle slap on the hand and a nice donation to a charity fund and perhaps extra safety for marshals could be improved…the un sung heroes!

      1. Me says:

        “we know one team that has got away with a lot in this sport”

        You’re right… Ferrari have got away with a lot…

    3. Rudy Pyatt says:

      Ex-prosecutor here – I can tell you without hesitation that the severity of the offense determines the sentence or plea offer, even on a first offender. If the tribunal thinks this to be a severe infraction, and misconduct is proven (I don’t know the standard of proof here; if not beyond a reasonable doubt, it’s an easier case to prove) the heavy end of the hammer will drop.

      They’ll look at intent. Based on public knowledge so far, something as simple as the generic helmets LH and NR wore during the test implies that at least some degree of secrecy was intended.

      If the tribunal can’t get a straight, satisfactory answer to WHY such secrecy was intended, then the logical conclusion is that those helmets and the secrecy raise the inference that MB had knowledge of guilt. If so, the heavy end of the hammer will drop.

      The bottom line is intent and action will decide this. Regardless of whether or not there was a legitimate need to test tires (based on what I’ve read to date, it appears that there was), did Mercedes intend to use that to justify doing a 1000K test – did they use the tire test as a pretext for in-season car testing with their current car?

      I suspect that Pirelli is there to answer the following questions and answer them directly. Based on the answers, and to any follow-up questions flowing from these, the tribunal will decide whether or not Pirelli colluded with or induced Mercedes to run an illegal test:

      - Was the test undertaken to address this season’s delamination issue or to test compounds for next season?

      - Who determined that 1000K should be covered during the test?

      - Did Pirelli specifically request a 2013 car for these tests?

      - Did Pirelli request that MB’s current race drivers participate in the test?

      If Pirelli answers “both, we did, yes, yes,” then MB may get off fairly lightly on the ground that Pirelli did induce them into doing more than MB thought they’d be doing. Mind you, the tribunal may move on to MB thus:

      -Did you know that in-season testing is illegal?

      - Did you know that cars newer than 2011 are not allowed to be used for tire testing?

      - Did you know that current race drivers are not permitted to tire test during the season?

      Anything but a direct “yes” or “no” will sound evasive and incredible. If MB answers, “yes, yes, yes,” then the next question will be

      - Did you contact the FIA when Pirelli requested current drivers and a current car for these tests?

      Anything but a direct “yes” or “no” will sound evasive and incredible. And a direct “no” probably makes the prosecution’s case, as in

      “You knew the rules. The test violated the rules. Therefore, you knowingly violated the rules by knowingly participating in an illegal test. You did not tell the FIA when you learned that what Pirelli wanted violated the rules.”

      At which point the heavy end of the hammer would fall. If it goes that way, I expect that MB will be stripped of all post-test Constructors’ points.

      Given that time is tight for next season, Pirelli may be in a position that spares them any sanction (assuming FIA jurisdiction to impose one, which Pirelli is contesting). Conceivably, Michelin, Bridgestone/Firestone or even Goodyear could produce a conservative, long-lasting tire in time for next year simply by adapting one of their existing compounds from another series. But given Testgate and the other bad PR and angst Pirelli has endured since becoming sole-supplier, they may pack up and leave the FIA to scramble and bring in one of those other companies.

    4. David C says:

      I don’t think it’s right for Merc to get off lightly just because they threaten to quit the sport, it sets a bad president and by 2015 you could have Mercs testing weekly, with rocket boosters on their cars and weapons installed such as heat seeking missiles, spikes that fall out the back and some Chinese bloke sitting on the back throwing a hat with a really sharp rim at the other drivers. All teams should be treated equally and if Merc broke the rules they should be punished sufficiently to ensure no other team dose the same. I don’t really agree with your 3 points however if Lance Armstrong could say he would have probably have won all those bike races anyway dose that make it ok he took a load of drugs?

    5. Brian Horgan says:

      Maybe if you were on the jury you should listen to the evidence submitted from all sides and then weigh it up and make decision based on the rules instead of turning up with a pre determied agenda. I think thats one of the main problems with F1 fans at the moment, people jumping to conclusions. Lets hear the facts.

  9. Montassir says:

    Thanks for the article James, very well explained. Now we just have to wait and see what happens. James do you think that there will be journalists present at the time of the case taking place or will they have to wait outside of the room?

    1. Rich C says:

      imho *most “journalists” should be kept outside.

  10. Harvey says:

    Team Chairman Lauda. He’s the chairman but didn’t know about it before it started? He’s the one who recruited Hamilton before he became team chairman. Come on, Niki! Lauda should have remained a pundit and fixture at F1 racetracks around the world, stood on his ample laurels as a multiple World Champion and basked in the glow from the upcoming film Rush rather than step into the poop.

    1. Mad Kiwi says:

      I agree wholeheartedly. Niki didn’t know…what a lot of bosh.

      At a corporate level, lets say Niki didn’t know so that if we do have to have Ross fall on his sword we have a backup plan…

      This whole thing reeks of hypocrisy, Red Bull especially but all the teams push the limit and / or cheat where they can.

      Pirellu NEEDED help with the tyres. why wouldn’t you choose the team having the most problem to work through the issues….

      I’ve said it before but i’ll say it again. I am NOT a mercedes fan as such but i think this whole thing is crap. Sure they need a punishment IF they broke a hard and fast rule but all this baying for blood is crap.

      Give them a points or fine penalty and lets move the hell on!!!

      Over it.

    2. Sasidharan says:

      I like Ross Brawn for being brave and shouldering the responsibility rather than hiding facts.

  11. Rich B says:

    drivers can score but Mercedes can’t for the rest of the season.

    I can’t help thinking Lauda is more responsible for this than Brawn, he’s a crafty guy.

    1. Anne says:

      I don´t think so. During Canada Brawn made it clear to the media that he was behind it. I don´t think he will take responsibility for something he didn´t do.

      1. Quade says:

        Hah! You never know what politics is at the end of the rabbits warren. Ross Brawn is an operator of the uncanny kind.

    2. Timmay says:

      Hopefully that means no more team orders favouring Hamilton.

    3. Clear View says:

      +1 on the Lauda comment

    4. D@X says:

      LoL! Fell of my chair laughing..Just watched some of his comments, I think you are onto something.

  12. goferet says:

    Meanwhile, I hope this drama has taught Rosberg an all important lesson i.e. Trusting Vettel isn’t such a wise move.

    Apparently Rosberg told his good friend Vettel that he was part of a hush-hush test and Vettel told Horner >>> voilà, here we are.

    1. Anne says:

      Agree about the lesson. However it´s not about trusting Vettel. It´s about keeping your mouth shut in any situation

      1. goferet says:

        @ Anne

        Well said!!!

      2. Brian Horgan says:

        Mercedes claim to have done nothing wrong so why would he hide the facts.

      3. Anne says:

        Oh please! Do you think Rooney is telling Lampard information about Manchester U practice? It´s not about right or wrong. It´s about being smart. You don´t share information with a competitor.

      4. Brian Horgan says:

        Hi Anne, your welcome. Im not a huge football fan I perfer the rugby but I would think that players would say what day they were training to each other without giving away tatics. The fact is that according to regulations all other teams must be invited to test so therefore he would have no reason not to discuss this with SV unless he was attempting to cover up what he knew to be cheating. Some people will do anything to have a pop at SV

    2. Sven says:

      No, we don’t really know that. We know for sure that Vettel was one of the first to find out, but that’s it. Hasn’t AMuS said that it’s Whiting who told Vettel, Button and Massa?
      But even if Vettel found out from Rosberg, so what? He should have been silent about it? Don’t be ridiculous.
      And it’s BS about “good friends.” They aren’t even friends, much less good friends. Rosberg is one of the few German drivers Vettel has never been close to.

      1. Sasidharan says:

        Who is Vettel close to other than himself (and may be Marko for helping him deglamorize Webber)?

      2. Anne says:

        For sure Kimi, at least to some extend.

      3. Sven says:

        You are really funny. Kimi, Schumi, Glock, just to name a few drivers. Most drivers on the grid don’t have even one friend among drivers.

      4. goferet says:

        @ Sven

        Oh really!

        So Rosberg and Vettel aren’t even friends.

        Does this mean then that you too are in the habit of telling acquaintances your personal secrets???

        Where am from, secrets are only shared amongst the best of friends.

      5. Sven says:

        Again: we don’t know that Vettel found out about test from Rosberg. If you have a proof that he did, share it with us. That rumor was denied by Merc.

      6. Siobhan says:

        Totally agree.. why should Vettel said nothing.. His career, his job could have been affected had he kept quiet

    3. Kenneth says:

      This isnt true is it?You have a source?

      1. goferet says:

        @ Kenneth

        Sorry, haven’t got a source.

        Just some rumour that’s floating about.

    4. Steve says:

      Is there ANYTHING you can’t twist into some anti-Vettel or anti-RB screed?

      If Vettel saved the world in the fashion of Will Smith in the movie “Independence Day”, you’d be whinging “Look at all the pieces of alien mother-ship that crashed in my local park because of that careless brat Vettel!”

      1. Quade says:

        Hahaha! Damn funny stuff!

      2. David C says:

        If Sebastian Vettel Rescued a large number of hostages from the Nakatomi plaza building those people would be saying that brat vettel damaged the helipad on the roof, now the new manager will have to travel by limo.

      3. Brian Horgan says:

        If Sebastian Vettel created world peace, the complaint would be that brat Vettel put people who make guns out of work

    5. David C says:

      What do you mean??? The test wasn’t a secret and if nothing wrong happened as Merc claim what’s wrong with someone telling their friend or even the Media.

      1. Anne says:

        It´s not smart to share information with the competition.

      2. David C says:

        Maybe not exact information, but general info such as that they were testing could come up in a normal conversation between friends. The only reason to hide it would be if you thought something was wrong. Obviously NR thought the test was on the level.

  13. [MISTER] says:

    As far as I see it, it’s very clear, giving the information we know at this stage.

    I am saying this because if it was like Merc are saying (that they got permision from the FIA), why is FIA denying that? Proceding to do a test with a 2013 car, must mean that a very clear permission was received and not something grey and with other stipulations attached.

    I believe Mercedes did get some kind of permission from the FIA but which had some stipulations attached to it and considering the performance Merc had in the races, they took the risk to do the test.

    That’s why they didn’t say anything to anyone, nobody knew about the test and the drivers wore different helmets.

    Because the issue is not a hole in the floor or some engine maps or flexi wings, unless there has been a clear permission given to Merc, the IT must take away points or disqualify Mercedes. A test like that offers great great benefits not only for one race, but for the remaider of the season and possibly the begining of next season too.

    James, when Ross Brawn is saying to the media that they wanted privacy, nobody is considering to ask him what does he mean by that? Is he afraid the fans will jump the fence and invade the pit garage or what? I am trying to understand this. Was the circuit open to the public on those days? Even is it was, why would they try to get away from a dozen fans/journalists and their cameras? What are they trying to hide that they need privacy.
    It seems very odd to me that after 3-4 days when the whole world was able to see their cars and hundreds of thousands of photos of their cars have been taken, why try to get privacy 2 days later when the only thing different on those cars were supposed to be some unmarked tyres. Why?

    1. Simmo says:

      Extremely good point; what did they mean by privacy?

      I would love to know that too.

    2. AuraF1 says:

      Brawn suggested they used the alternative helmets because they didn’t want to pay for all the minders, bodyguards and PR personnel that are needed around star drivers (especially Hamilton). The suggestion is yes privacy for their drivers at the racetrack.

      How feasible this explanation is another thing the IT will have to decide.

    3. Quade says:

      Ross Brawn didn’t tell Pirelli to do the tests and Ross Brawn could not have organised the venue, so whatever he means by privacy must be the dictionary meaning.
      There is no law saying what helmets drivers can wear to test tyres, so the helmets Lewis and Nico wore are of no consequence to the case (or to the definition of privacy within the context).

      The only question about Merc that needs clearing is if they got the FIA’s lawyers permission to test with a 2013 as they claim. Related to that is the question of whether the ambigous contract the FIA has with Pirelli for in-season 1000km tests with “a representative” car is superior (or at par) with the sporting regulations.
      To me, its a legal zugzwang with one contract effectively ambushing (maybe even disembowelling) the other, but we’ll see. Its all happening today.

    4. Box Box Box says:

      To your question of “Was the circuit open to the public on those days?”:

      http://adamcooperf1.com/2013/06/02/pirelli-test-secrecy-james-bond-or-johnny-english/

      1. MISTER says:

        Thank you for sharing that. It was a secret test!

  14. Dai Dactic says:

    Never mind the judgement –
    Wonder how long the real reason for the ‘secretive’ nature of the test will take to surface?

    No one at the top in F1 is stupid or lax so obviously there’s a grander political game in play.

  15. Maciej says:

    They should make Mercedes give up 1,000km of practice time during GP weekends.

    1. Iker Gernika says:

      What about 2.000 km? Or 1.000 km each driver?

  16. shri says:

    - If Mercedes come out free or punished mildly. Almost all teams will curse themselves for not doing what Mercedes did. The culture of pushing the envelope of rules will flourish further.

    - If Mercedes is punished heavily and they leave the sport. Sport will be loser. And if becomes worse that they do not supply 2014 engines there will be utter chaos.

    - Something in the middle might be fair.

    1. Steve says:

      “If Mercedes is punished heavily and they leave the sport.”

      They’re not going to leave the sport. I’m tempted to add, “Alas”. But they’re not going to leave in any case.

      “And if becomes worse that they do not supply 2014 engines there will be utter chaos.”

      You do realize they are contractually obligated to supply those engines?

    2. Kimi4WDC says:

      They are big boys, they will survive so is the circus of F1.

  17. gudien says:

    Assuming at this early date that the Mercedes team is found guilty I think the team should be penalized heavily. Drivers wearing different coloured helmets. Niki Lauda hiding from the tribunal. Wolff half-heartedly claiming Merc are innocent.

    Disqualifying Merc from the remainder of the 2013 races would be fair.

    1. D@X says:

      Doubt it, the Garden Gnome needs to get paid and he needs them to be racing for that stream of revenue and someone needs to foot the bill of his daughters wedding…which was very nice.

    2. JoeP says:

      uhh, yeah. right.

    3. Quade says:

      What are the rules for the colour of helmets used for testing? Am I missing something?

      1. Anne says:

        The helmet itself it´s not an issue, nothing illegal there. However if you claim that there was no secret about it, then why would you use a diffent helmet? You can say that you don´t want to be recognized. That´s fine. But why? It´s an element that make things look a little odd

      2. Quade says:

        @Anne
        We all understand that Merc played fast and dirty, there is nothing illegal about looking odd and not wanting to be recognised. I think the helmet issue is too minor.

      3. Jodum5 says:

        The point is, if the test was kosher, why did the drivers not use their regular helmets?

  18. Franco says:

    This is why I love F1. Not only do we have action on the track we get a soap opera off it.

    James, these antics must be a journalist dream. Looking forward to reading your next post on this issue.

  19. Fulveo Ballabeo says:

    “Niki Lauda has distanced himself from it, telling German media he only knew about it once it had started”

    What kind of leader is that? Doesn’t know what’s going on under his own roof!

    A test requires a sizable effort, not 1 or 2 guys going rogue. Would be hard not to notice…

    1. D@X says:

      Niki has teflon clothing and bad press redirect shield..Just waiting for him to say I told them so.

    2. Luke Clements says:

      “Ya, I came to za factory on Monday morning & said..vare are ze carz? It voz da first I knew”

    3. Kimi4WDC says:

      Well, I kind of having hard time believing that anyone took his appointment seriously. Maybe as a Mercedes mascot, yes.

    4. JoeP says:

      “What kind of leader is that? Doesn’t know what’s going on under his own roof!”

      Obama-like. Or [USATT Eric] Holder-like.

      So that puts Lauda in quite esteemed company! lol..

    5. Arnie S says:

      Exactly. If you are the leader, you also have to take responsibility for the people you have (under you), or fire them.

      I run a company, either I have to support my team’s agreement, or pay for it anyway, and then later tell them what was wrong, i.e. put their boots out in the street

    6. Anne says:

      That´s one of the reason we have this mess. There´s been many changes in Mercedes. It is not clear who is in charge of what. In theory should be Toto Wolf. But Lauda is more outspoken. And he is always indicating he is on top of things.

  20. Andy says:

    I can’t see how Mercedes can wriggle out of this, the rules are clear, you cannot use a current car. Unless Charlie Whiting had informed all teams that the FIA was changing this rule, whatever he then said to Mercedes carried no authority surely.
    As for Mercedes claiming the test wasn’t secret, why didn’t they start the test on the Monday instead of waiting until Wednesday?
    They clearly waited until everyone else had left.

    1. Simmo says:

      Because they were seeking ‘privacy’. (sarcasm)

      A pretty poor excuse from Mercedes really. It is a very good point you have.

  21. Jonathan says:

    I would be very surprised if the end result is any more than a severe slap on the wrist and a reinforced ruling for future episodes.

    This has to be a massive game of chicken. Talk of Mercedes and/or Pirelli pulling out is a bargaining point. The FIA cannot afford for either to leave – neither can FOM who would be made to look stupid as they delay floatation yet further.

    This really is a lose – lose situation for all involved. Nobody can win. Bernie has lost his grip – in his heyday a problem like this would either not happen or would be resolved overnight behind closed doors.

    1. shri says:

      Agree this is a lose-lose for most of them involved whether punished or not.

  22. Tom Haythornthwaite says:

    A week ago I thought Charlie Whiting would get a secret slap on the wrist and Mercedes would get some type of suspended sentence.

    I now predict Mercedes will be banned from all remaining Friday practices, which will put them very much on the back foot every Saturday.

  23. Michael S says:

    I see Mercedes is already floating the idea of leaving the sport if the ruling is harsh. So predictable… “let us cheat or we quit”.
    Ross Brawn is a genius… He knew F1 wanted Mercedes long term so he figured… why not push it with this test. He figures deep down the FIA will be most likely afraid to come down on Merc too hard.

  24. Rein says:

    … this all sounds like Hague and war-crimes! But it is only Motorsport and a bit of tyre-testing in broad day-light!

    1. D@X says:

      This is a job for Max, Bernie hasn’t got a reliable enforcer he had in Max. I actually forgot Todt is actually the president, Im not feeling his authority and hardly visible.

  25. AlexD says:

    James, this is a bit OT. I read an article about Red Bull and the fact that they might be using some sort of traction control devices. There are analysis showing that red bull cars areleaving uneven rubber lines … Any idea?

    1. Andyc_f1 says:

      Steve matchett has spoken to redbull about it. Some good insight on twitter about it.

    2. Sven says:

      All experts pretty much agreed that it’s not TC. Usual Italian media BS.

      Matt Somerfield: http://somersf1.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/unfounded-wild-acqusations-of-red-bull.html

      Craig Scarborough ‏@ScarbsF1 Nope, its just drivetrain oscillation causing a momentary change in toque at the wheels

    3. JoeP says:

      Here’s the original article (that I saw):

      http://www.gptoday.com/full_story/view/454967/Red_Bull_cheating_by_using_banned_traction_control__report/

      Hopefully James Allen will get us the real story, however!

      1. James Allen says:

        Here’s Mark Gillan’s take:

        The picture quality is not great but the front and rear tyres look to be heavily grained/worn. The FiA control of the electronic systems on a F1 car is extremely tight and any hint of TC usage (or similar banned control systems)
        by a Team will be pounced on by other Teams and the FiA. Teams tend to send ex-drivers/engineers to corners to watch and listen to any car that they suspect to be doing something ‘trick’. This checking system has been
        used a lot in the past couple of years with the advent of the blown floor exhaust systems and myriad of different engine maps. So I would say the track marks are probably the result of degrading tyres on not a great surface
        which leaves the stripped pattern.

    4. David C says:

      The redbull thing is just speculation at the moment and the Merc tribunal is today so that’s why the focus, let’s hope if RBR have done anything wrong and there is any evidence they are charged and subsequently punished so as to prevent others doing the same. The only difference is its a lot easier to tell RBR to change what their tech infringement than to tell Merc to forget what they learned.

    5. Vic says:

      I too heard that such tyre marks are only left while using traction control not sure though. Is it Red Bull’s way of cheating??

    6. Arnie S says:

      As far as I understand, all kinds of traction control, except adjustable diff-locks are banned. FIA scrutiny should be able to detect any kind of electronic device apart from the approved McLaren ECU. Hmmmmmm.

      1. James Allen says:

        Mark Gillan has looked at it and says: The picture quality is not great but the front and rear tyres look to be heavily grained/worn. The FiA control of the electronic systems on a F1 car is extremely tight and any hint of TC usage (or similar banned control systems)
        by a Team will be pounced on by other Teams and the FiA. Teams tend to send ex-drivers/engineers to corners to watch and listen to any car that they suspect to be doing something ‘trick’. This checking system has been
        used a lot in the past couple of years with the advent of the blown floor exhaust systems and myriad of different engine maps. So I would say the track marks are probably the result of degrading tyres on not a great surface
        which leaves the stripped pattern.

  26. Alexander Supertramp says:

    My prediction:

    Mercedes walks out clean because:

    - Test had a safety purpose, not a performance one.
    - This is a grey zone in the regulations which needs clarification. It’s a grey zone because it’s not really clear which rule prevails over the other one. The sporting one or the safety one. It can be justified that testing-not performance wise- a current car is more adequate for safety purposes.
    - Charlie Whitening is an organ of the FIA, more precisely, he has quite some jurisdiction over safety matters. Every correspondation between him and Mercedes can be seen as direct correspondation between Merc & the FIA. Charlie giving the green light very much means the FIA giving green light.

    End scene, Charlie gets sacked :p

    1. Steve says:

      Pirelli have REPEATEDLY insisted that the tyres are perfectly safe as they are. I don’t see how they and/or Mercedes can now turn around and claim that “safety” makes all they did permissible.

  27. Jonathan says:

    Thinking about this further I do feel this whole debacle reflects very badly on everybody involved in F1.

    The FIA has showed itself to be amateurish. They use badly worded regulations that are almost impossible to enforce. They allow Charlie Whiting far too much leeway – who then, all too often, says “this is the ruling – but don’t rely on my word”. If he is the “Race Director” what right has he to rule on testing?

    We all talk about the vast amount teams spend but never hear about the effort the FIA take to police them. The FIA need to take a long look at their processes and hire a few clever people who can turn this farce into something that can work.

    Bernie has, all too often, bullied his ideas into being – he has always done what he thinks will earn more for himself. Frequently this has served F1 well – but certainly not always. Lately, unsurprisingly, he has been losing his grip and this shows the vacuum behind him.

    Maybe F1 Teams should pay a 1% of turnover to a dedicated F1 enforcement team.

    Flexi wings and the like have turned the ruling body into a laughing stock. Even the FA have finally relented and allowed goal line technology. It really is time the F1 was policed with some technology and thinking that goes somewhere near the scale of those used by the teams.

    1. Mad Kiwi says:

      Great post. Well thought out and logical.

      +1

    2. JoeP says:

      Dude, where is FIA going to get money to police F1, when the only reason they have any add’l budget coming to them in the future is b/c they’ve basically given F1 de facto house-rules!

      please…

    3. Quade says:

      The FIA has showed itself to be amateurish? Lol! You should have witnessed Mad Maxes circus. Compared to that sorry era, this is a display of responsibility with brooding gravitas.

      1. Jonathan says:

        I did see the Mad Max era – that is my point! He was supposed to have a very clever legal mind and, perhaps deliberately, left legal loop holes for all to exploit or fall into depending on how he saw fit.

        All Jean Todt has done is distance himself from being both judge and jury. The “sport” is in desperate need of rules that are clear and easy to apply.

    4. Steve says:

      “Flexi wings and the like have turned the ruling body into a laughing stock”

      You ruined some otherwise good points with that line. “Flexi wings” were (and still are, if you want to be technical about it) perfectly 100% legal. There was, and is, no rule which says that wings and other body parts cannot flex under load. Any such rule would requires that the laws of physics be repealed.

      1. Jonathan says:

        You prove my point perfectly!

        The rule says they mustn’t flex full stop. As you say most people know this is impossible. So this is the very simple ruling the FIA cannot enforce. To “enforce” this rule they come up with a pathetic test that most engineers take a stab at passing. However a few take this as the rule and work at every opportunity to pass the pathetic test whilst completely ignoring the rule. Red Bull wings pass the test but completely ignore the rule.

        How can Red Bull complain about a Pirelli test using Mercedes cars? Ross says Pirelli did the testing… in which case Mercedes have no case to answer.

        The FIA are so thoughtless they don’t even realise they don’t have the ability to enforce their rules. They are just like our civil service and PFI contracts. Civil servants are too simple minded to have been allowed to negotiate contracts with VERY CLEVER profit minded businessmen who now run rings around us as they demand ever more money for their PFI contracts. It is time for the FIA to grow some…

  28. Allan says:

    There certainly are many unanswered questions. The specificity and clarity of the emails will be a big part of it, I think.

    Just from the outside, the aspect that is smelly from Merc is the different helmets…

    1. D@X says:

      They were testing the helmets too..?

  29. JustaBrit says:

    Mmmm are Merc relying on the fact that they are too important as a supplier etc to be punished and therefore potentially quit F1?

    IE you cant do anything to US or we will leave and mess up a few teams in the process.

    Ross going on his own seems like fall guy to me.It does not give the impression that Merc are behind him.

    What does that say for teamwork i wonder and what to the guys on the ground working on the cars think about the likelihood of Merc being labeled cheats?

    NL had no knowledge, yeah ok pull the other one.

    Win at all costs… well i cant help thinking that Merc consider this a price worth paying

  30. Simon Lord says:

    If Ross Brawn is made to step down, could he please be banned for the rest of the season then join McLaren?

  31. MrNed says:

    FIA saying they’re going to be judging this on the rules and the rules alone. Merc saying they’ve got evidence they had permission. Pirelli saying they have a contractual right to run 1000km tests with any team.

    Then…

    No tyre contract in place for next year, and time fast running out to find an alternative. Pirelli unhappy at the criticism that’s been levelled at them from teams who (let’s face it) didn’t design their cars properly for the tyres.

    And let’s not forget…

    Merc unhappy at being sidelined in the proposed new Concorde agreement structure. Already some Merc shareholder groups are demanding a pull out from F1.

    This is one big old can of worms that has been opened up – I’m looking forward to news about it all.

    It also occurs to me that Ferrari did a very similar thing last year: unhappy with the “team orders” rules, they openly broke the rule and despite being punished they ultimately won the case: the team orders restrictions were removed from the rule book. Any chance Merc are trying a similar strategy? Only this week Martin Whitmarsh said that testing after a GP wouldn’t be too difficult or expensive…

    1. Hero_was_senna says:

      Ferrari “broke” the team order rule in 2010…

    2. Ben says:

      That’s exactly what I see coming out of this. Merc will get some sort of punishment and then the rules will be changed to allow in season testing

  32. EsseBee says:

    I can only reconcile the fact that Hamilton and Rosberg wore unidentifiable/indistinguishable helmets if I assume that the cars didn’t have the numbers nine or ten on them so that Pirelli could concentrate on the data and not the true identity of the driver.

    But, then I would also have to make the assumption that the ‘Pirelli’ team who work for Mercedes aren’t able to recognise each driver’s driving style based on the data received during the tyre test. Unless, of course, the usual team were replaced by ‘neutral’ Pirelli representatives during the tyre test.

    As for waiting until the Wednesday after the race in Barcelona to do the test as posted by Andy (post 20), maybe the drivers were already committed to filming the Mercedes A45 AMG advert – it was done in Spain, maybe and I say maybe because I really don’t know, but conceivably the advertising was done straight after the race.

    Seems logical to me. The advertising commitment would have been arranged a long time ago, whereas the ‘private’ test more recent.

    Or maybe, Pirelli chose Wednesday so that they could ship the test tyres independently of the tyre shipment for the race.

    So many assumptions. So much left unanswered.

    I’m just going to have to wait for the reporting on the outcome; discount the ‘story’; and, look for the facts. Then and only then will I be able to determine if the ‘punishment’ meets the ‘crime’ as disclosed at the Tribunal or as uncovered by Red Bull.

  33. Nick Hipkin says:

    I suspect the only punishment will be a fine as F1 needs Mercedes more than Merc needs F1 so they cannot afford to lose them. However I wouldn’t be surprised if Merc use this as their platform to get rid of Brawn

    1. IP says:

      Maybe it’ll turn out that this was a conspiracy orchestrated by Nikki Lauda to oust Brawn! Lol.

  34. Hedley Thomas says:

    Simple solution – Pirelli invite the other 10 teams for a 1000km test at Barcelona between the British and German GPs. That would even things up and we could move on….

  35. IP says:

    Hmmm, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Ross Brawn will take the hit for this and be forced out and it will turn out to be a conspiracy by him to get back at Mercedes for the management changes and undermining him all this time.

    He will then either retire, or take on a roll at another team. Personally, I’d like to see him at Williams. Bring them back to glory before he retires.

  36. Tlux says:

    James,

    You said Pirrelli have contracts with some teams for next season, but not all. Do they all have the same contract? Same price/ level of service? I’m surprised its not a single central contract

  37. GT_Racer says:

    Just something regarding Charlie Whiting.
    He’s the race director, Official starter, Technical/Safety delegate & Head of the technical department.

    Anything relating to the sporting regulations (Test restrictions are all part of sporting & not technical regs) falls outside of his remit.
    When it comes to sporting matters Charlie can only give opinions, He can’t make the decision.

    Also unless its changed since I was last around F1, No document is considered an official FIA correspondence unless its sent to all competitors & made freely available to the media.

    If Mercedes or Pirelli have an E-mail from Charlie, Im not sure that will necessarily help them since he doesn’t hold the power to OK a test given that testing is a sporting matter rather than a technical one.
    The only way I see any E-mail from Charlie been relevant is if he was given permission from somebody higher up to inform them they could run the test & was passing this message along.

    The top guys at both Pirelli & Mercedes should know the limitations Charlie has regarding sporting matters, To get an opinion from Charlie & then treat it as the final say (If thats what they did) is absurd.

    1. Quade says:

      All racing incident reports go to Charlie Whiting for adjudication, he then delegates to the stewards. That says in bold red letters, that he is in charge of sporting regulations too.
      In any event, Charlie Whiting speaks for the FIA as a very senior member of staff. His emails are far from lightweight.

      1. GT_Racer says:

        Passing incidents over the race stewards is simply part of Charlie’s role as race director.

        Beyond asking stewards to investigate an incident he cannot make a judgement on anything, Thats why it gets passed to the stewards, why Charlie is not a part of the stewards panel, why he cannot tell the stewards which way to take a decision & why the stewards ignore any opinion he gives to the team (Hamilton’s Spa 2008 penalty is an example of this).

  38. JohnBt says:

    Who can prosecute FIA?

    Ross would have made sure he informed FIA they are using the 2013 car.

    Big time sabotage? Lotsa hidden secrets in F1.

    Suddenly Lauda dosen’t exist I noticed.

    But news of this nature keeps the void alive while waiting for Silverstone.

  39. Mike from Colombia says:

    Just dock some constructors points and let’s be over and done with it.

    Mercedes were good enough to show committment to F1 while BMW, Toyota, Honda and Renault pulled te plug.

    They should be afforded some goodwill from all. Without them, F1 would be a poorer sport.

  40. C Lin says:

    Merc excluded from WCC in 2013 would be fair.
    Drivers can keep their points.

    1. David C says:

      The only problem is what if they split the contenders for the title. Say SV wins with LH and NR in second and third with FA 4th at the last race with FA only needing second to secure the title, that means merc cheating has handed the title to SV and RBR unfairly. Of course all this only matters if Merc are in fact found guilty.

  41. Pete says:

    James,
    it is unfortunate that layers will get in the way of what should be a sporting decision, by the time the word smiths have finished their work it will become a political charade, the question should be simple did Mercedes gain an unfair advantage? not being aware of all the cars and tracks idiosyncrasies and just being a fan it appears to me they have, prior to the test the Merc’s were fast but made a rapid charge to the rear of the field when the tires went off, since the test they have been constantly on the podium, for my money it seems too coincidental?

    could this be due to track configuration and surfaces? your thoughts would be appreciate.

  42. ozherb says:

    Ross Brawn is no dill. I’m sure he has a very clear understanding of the FIA regulations as they are written, and would have made sure everything was in order before agreeing to the test.

    People will always speculate, but what happened to ‘innocent until proven guilty’?

    If the verdict is guilty, then Mercedes must be punished, and the fallout can commence.

  43. David C says:

    Interesting article James, im reserving judgement until after the tribunal but hope Mercs threats are not considered. Hey James alot of people (the RBR bashing brigade) are saying that Merc got no help from the test, could you confirm that Mark Gillan former chief operations engineer at the Williams said that “Mercedes even though it was a completly blind test as Pirelli claim one would get quite alot of advantage” from the testing to you on your podcast and do you respect his opinion?

  44. ShaBooPi says:

    Go ahead and leave Mercedes. This positioning of if we get punished we may leave is bull. Go ahead and leave, the sport continued without Mercedes before and can do so again. What we don’t want is blatant cheaters…Ross…

    1. Offcourse says:

      It is not Mercedes saying they will leave the sport, it is investors in the parent company asking the board, “where is the value”. The board needs to be able to answer this question.

      Especially in the face of being called “Blatant cheaters” before the evidence has been tabled. (Mercedes actually has a strong sporting ethic)

      And if Merc do leave we will have….

      Ferrari who has struggled yet again to match RBR
      McLaren who have been in decline for some years
      Lotus, who are wearing a significant financial loss
      Williams who are falling to their knees

      A tyre manufacturer who may leave the sport to focus on others

      Other tyre manufacturers who appear to be reluctant to engage on the FIAs terms

      A float of f1 which appears will be delayed yet again.

      A stock market that has just lost 2.5% in one day across Europe as perhaps money tightens again.

      Etc…….

      Things may just be a bit more fragile in F1 than you think:(

      1. Offcourse says:

        Sorry James, just corrected my email address

      2. ShaBooPi says:

        Fair point on value, I was singling Ross Brawn out on cheating not Mercedes. He has a history of scandal… where there is smoke there is fire. As for Mercedes they should have cslculated the pros n cons of entering the sport. If they leave they will have no one else but themselves to blame. I don’t believe F1 is fragile… it is in a state of growth. Most fans just want to see the best drivers fight it out… I’d still watch if they were doing so in 3 year old F1 cars.

  45. Tim says:

    Just a thought, for those who have already decided their guilt and the appropriate punishment.
    Here is a quote from Ross Brawn.

    “When we get to the international tribunal and everything’s explained, people can make a judgement when they know the facts. I’m not going to pre-empt those facts. It’s unfortunate to be making judgements before the facts are known.”

  46. Ian Sellman says:

    I suspect it will be a political fudge. Both Mercedes and Pirelli are too important to F1 at the moment.

    The conclusion will be that Mercedes did break the rules but were mistakenly given the impression that the test had been sanctioned by the FIA.

    The “punishment” will be more about making sure the other teams don’t feel disadvantaged than anything else.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone involved already pretty much know what the outcome will be.

  47. Andre says:

    Some ‘facts’ from official statements.

    Pre May 2013:
    > Pirelli has a contract that allows them to do a 1000km test with any team.

    > Pirelli asked ALL the teams in March 2012 to do a test with them. Only some teams replied.

    > Pirelli asked some teams in March 2013 to do a test with them.

    > Pirelli does a test with a 2011 Ferrari with the Corse Clienti division in April.

    Early May ’13
    > Pirelli/Mercedes ASK the FIA if they can do a test with the current car.

    > FIA ADVISED Pirelli/Mercedes that such a test (using a current car) is possible but only if all the other teams are given the same opportunity.

    > No other teams where asked after this advice.

    > Pirelli/Mercedes do a three-day test after the Spanish GP.

    I guess it’s all in the interpretation of everything said/written in the communication between the FIA and Pirelli/Mercedes from early May (when they asked the FIA about using a 2013 car) and the actual test.

  48. Matt W says:

    I’m sorry but I find it inconceivable that the plan from Mercedes was to test in secret. Everybody knows that in the modern world you simply cannot secretly test an F1 car without someone knowing about it.

    This sounds to me like a cock up in communications between the FIA/Mercedes/Pirelli and as usual the FIA don’t want to take ownership of their mistakes.

    1. Tim says:

      I agree, I have made the same point on several occasions.

    2. Me says:

      ..then how is it nobody knew about it until the Monaco GP?…

      1. aezy_doc says:

        Of course they knew about it before Monaco. Do you think that Christian Horner got an anonymous tip off during FP1? Or that Vettel told him that Rosberg had told him that they did a secret test but that he musn’t tell anyone or else it wouldn’t be a secret?
        Of course they knew. They chose to reveal that knowledge in full glare of the world’s media at a moment it suited them.

      2. Me says:

        “Of course they knew. They chose to reveal that knowledge in full glare of the world’s media at a moment it suited them.”

        Source?… proof?…

        No? didn’t think so…

  49. SuperSi says:

    If Brawn is going to fall on his sword then would it be possible to get him at Mclaren. A swap with Ross Brawn for Sam Michael would be awsome for Mclaren. Only problem is I’m guessing Brawn would be expensive. But you pay peanuts you get monkeys, and I’m sure Mclarens budget could cover that.

  50. f1982 says:

    It could be that the mistake here was the FIA’s.

    If Mercedes do have email confirmation that the FIA were told and agreed to the test then I don’t see how Mercedes can be punished at all.
    If that is the case it was probably the FIA not understanding what was being agreed when it was described as a purely Pirelli test.
    Pirelli of course are not at fault at all- it must be made clear that their presence at the tribunal is to give evidence and not that they are ‘on trial’.

  51. Scuderia McLaren says:

    1: Whiting gets fired for FIA confusion
    2: Brawn steps down as symbolic gesture
    3: Responsibilty for using a current car rests with Mercedes not Pirelli and Mercedes will therefore suffer a (relatively) small fine. And constructors pts loss, but drivers pts remain intact.
    4: The helmet issues are crap and irrelevant. Vettel changes his helmet more times than he wipes his ar$e. No rules have been breached here. It’s a red herring.
    5: Pirelli announce new F1 deal.

    You heard it here first.

  52. Ryan Eckford says:

    I think Mercedes will get away with it on some serious technicalities, but will be warned about making sure the details are all correct. Pirelli will also get away on a technicality, but will also be warned about making sure the details are all correct, and making sure every team knows about testing. That is my prediction.

  53. Bru72 says:

    I think Ferrari, RBR and co will be happy if they are all granted a 1000km test.
    This doesn’t deal with the issue that Mercedes have done it illegally though, so they should definitely be punished.

  54. Robert Lujan says:

    Maybe it is too late ask, but, what is Charlie Whitings job anyway? Often teams defend themselves by stating that they had asked Charlie. Yet the FIA comes in and often enough states that is not what Charlie is there for. In others it is not his job to give the teams any form of permission and/or rule on any judgements. It seems at times that the teams could just go ahead and ask any fan in the stands if they think any wing configuration or last minute change to a component is ok. Because even Charlie accepts it, it still goes to the FIA and more often than not his decision get overturned! What may I ask is he there for??

  55. Dan says:

    Mercedes are claiming in court right now that it was Pirelli who conducted the test and not them. What rubbish. Everyone knows the cars have data logging capabilities and Ross and the team could be at home while lewis and Nico log all the parameters of the 1000km stint. Easy as! Then go back over the data at a later date. If they say they gained nothing from the test thats rubbish.

  56. Gareth says:

    Ahh Ross Brawn trouble seems to follow you wherever you go. Malaysia 1999 is a prime example. Did mercedes cheat, well they could get away with saying everyone knew. But then why were Rosberg and Hamilton in the car wearing undistinshed helmets? Why wasnt the test driver in there? Surley if Ferrari or Red Bull knew about the test, one of the engineers would have been there monitoring it? All seems to be very dodgy to me, a 3 race ban should be suffucient and a ban on testing next year. As for Nikki Lauda, this was the same man shown the door to his own business.

    1. Steve says:

      “why were Rosberg and Hamilton in the car wearing undistinshed helmets?”

      That seems obvious – because the pretense was that Mercedes loaned the car to Pirelli and Pireli did the test with their own drivers.

      The fact that the test was carried out by the regular Mercedes drivers blows a huge hole in the “Pirell conducted the test and we just provided the car” line of defense.

      1. Gareth says:

        But IF you are doing a Pirelli test why not use Pirellis test driver which they have?

    2. Tim says:

      Ahh Ross Brawn trouble seems to follow you wherever you go…..

      I am far from convinced that statement is correct. However, leaving that aside, one thing that does follow Ross Brawn wherever he goes is success!

  57. Raikko says:

    The regulations do not say ‘The FIA Sporting Regulations explicitly prohibit the testing of current cars once the F1 season has started’ but more precisely prohibit testing of current cars carried out by a current team entered in the world championship. If the test can be interpreted as one undertaken by Pirelli, then they can use whatever car they like, as long as it is a ‘representative’ car. Whether this can be construed as excluding or including current 2013 cars is I think one of the key questions.

    1. Steve says:

      I don’t see how a test carried out by Hamilton and Rosberg can be construed as being a test carried out by Pirelli.

      If Mercedes had loaned their 2013 car to Pirelli and the latter conducted tests with it using their OWN drivers and engineers, then that would in compliance with the regulations. But that is not what happened, not by a long shot.

  58. gregmon says:

    Come on Ross Brawn! Show them who’s the Boss!
    Enough of this bunch of old men running the FIA, who are not open-minded to innovation and slow-thinking. This sport is losing everytime! Please, we need to have racing back at its best! Let engineers/designers do their job and F1 drivers drive to the limit!
    F1=Speed.

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