F1 Winter Break
What was behind Mercedes and Pirelli secret F1 tyre test?
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 May 2013   |  10:01 am GMT  |  464 comments

The F1 paddock in Monaco was in ferment on Sunday over the story of Mercedes’ secret Pirelli tyre test in Barcelona the week following the recent Grand Prix.

Mercedes and Pirelli say that they got approval from the FIA for the test. The FIA disputes some aspects of this, while Ferrari and Red Bull launched a protest and on Sunday morning were seeking allies among other teams. But some bad blood over previous protests in which those teams did not support others meant that some other teams did not join them, despite wanting clarification too.

So what is this all about? Did the FIA agree to a test of more than 100km with a 2013 car and did Mercedes benefit in a way that will make them more competitive this season? And what is the likely outcome? Here is our analysis after extensive discussions around the Monaco paddock with leading figures on both sides of the row.

What is the nub of the issue?

The FIA F1 Sporting Regulations clearly state that teams are not allowed to test current F1 cars during the season, except for straight line aerodynamic tests and the Young Drivers test. They are allowed to run cars that are two years old or more.

In Pirelli’s agreement with the FIA they can call for a team to supply them with a car for testing, especially where there are urgent question marks over safety. After the recent spate of tyre failures – the first being Mercedes’ spectacular failure with Lewis Hamilton which caused him to take a five place grid penalty in Bahrain as it broke his gearbox – there was a need to test. Ferrari conducted a ‘secret’ 500km test with a 2011 car before the Spanish Grand Prix, while Mercedes ran for three days (15th-17th May) at Barcelona after the other teams had packed up and left.

The issues here are: 1. Why was there no transparency? 2. Why did Mercedes use a 2013 car for an extended test? 3. Did Mercedes gain any competitive advantage for this year’s championship by doing this? 4. What exactly did the FIA sign off on and how much of their plans for this test did Pirelli and Mercedes share with the FIA?
The Stewards in Monaco, which included Tom Kristensen as driver steward, heard from Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari on Sunday evening and filed a report for a competent body such as an FIA special tribunal to consider.

The transparency issue was answered by Pirelli. They say that in the current climate, if they openly discussed such a test beforehand it would be engulfed in politics and discussion and would never take place. So they preferred, along with the FIA and willing teams, to quietly do the test to get the data they need and then do the talking afterwards.

The FIA says it was not aware that Mercedes would use a current car for this amount of running; it signed up for 100kms only. It was also not aware it would be conducted by its current race drivers and states that its approval was conditional upon the test being run by Pirelli, not the team. (NB- Last year Pirelli used a two year old Renault with Jaime Alguersuari driving, engineered by the current Lotus race engineer Mark Slade.)

Why Mercedes? And did they get any advantage from the test for this year?
When I spoke to Pirelli’s Paul Hembery about this he said that he wrote to all teams last year inviting them to make themselves available for this kind of work. Some said yes and others said no. After the failures in Bahrain emails went around and Pirelli was granted the opportunity to test. The tests were set up with Ferrari and Mercedes, although neither knew about the other’s test. Ferrari ran a 2011 car with Pedro de la Rosa at the wheel.

Mercedes is known to be hardest on its tyres with peak temperatures some 20 degrees above what other teams have been experiencing and it was the victim of the Hamilton failure in Bahrain. The tyres tested in Spain were a mixture of development products; some solutions for Montreal addressing the delamination problems, some ideas for 2014.

Pirelli says that they did not tell Mercedes what tyres they were testing, so they had no reference points. However some rival teams told this website that they know that Mercedes made changes in their approach to the tyres this weekend in Monaco, in areas like the suspension, for example, which showed that they had learned from the 1,000kms test.

Although Monaco would not really show up gains very clearly, as it is the most gentle track of the season on tyres and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg set a very slow pace in the race to manage the tyres, we are likely to be able to see in Canada and especially Silverstone how much Mercedes learned from the test – equivalent to more than three Grand Prix distances – from how much their tyre wear in races has improved as a result.

What happens next?
The FIA will convene a tribunal to consider the Stewards’ report from Monaco and assess whether a breach of Article 22.4 h of the FIA F1 Sporting Regulations has taken place. They will hear from Pirelli and from the FIA’s Charlie Whiting, who gave Mercedes permission to test, about exactly what he permitted them to do. If a breach of the Sporting Regulations is found to have taken place there is a tariff of penalties available but Rosberg will not be stripped of his Monaco win.

Mercedes and Pirelli are likely to argue that only a 2013 car would do for this test because they needed to replicate the conditions that led to Hamilton’s failure in Bahrain and subsequent failures (mainly on the left rear tyre) to address the problem for the new products from Montreal onwards.

What is the bigger picture here?
Many things are up in the air in F1 at the moment; there is no Concorde Agreement six months after the last one expired, there is dissent over the new 2014 hybrid engines and their significantly higher costs and there are some mixed views to say the least about commercial rights holder CVC wanting to float the sport on the Stock Market – so the FIA, Bernie Ecclestone and the 11 teams are very far from aligned at the moment and there is turmoil behind the scenes.

In this context, Pirelli is fed up with the failure of the sport and the teams to agree a new contract for 2014 and for being painted as the problem. They argue that the dysfunctional relationship between the teams and lack of trust between them over testing means that they are being put in an impossible situation by being asked to produce safe racing tyres which also provide a certain amount of ‘strategy’ in the racing, but without being able to test them on a race track. Previous tyre suppliers in F1, like Bridgestone did hundreds of thousands of miles of testing.

Their recent pronouncements have shown that Pirelli are fed up with being the whipping boy and are getting tougher in their stance; on Thursday Hembery said that Pirelli might not be in F1 next year if the teams, Ecclestone and the FIA don’t get their act together. That would put F1 in turmoil as it would be difficult for a new supplier to come in and tool up to produce F1 tyres at short notice in time for February testing, especially if they too have no opportunity to test the products on a race track.

Complicating matters further is the fact that the 2014 cars will make very different demands on the tyres due to new aerodynamic rules and totally different power delivery from the new hybrid engine and drivetrain units. They will have much higher torque, for example.

Pirelli clearly made a mistake by being more “aggressive” with the 2013 tyres despite having limited opportunity to test them beforehand due to the restrictions and it has suffered some reputational damage as a result. But now the matter has become intensely political and is about far more than whether the races are two stops, three stops or four stops.

This issue is not about testing, it’s about F1’s dysfunctionality at this moment.

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Oh boy, it's only getting better and better..


It makes sense for Pirelli to work with a top team that was seemingly most affected by tire degradation. I can also understand their need to cut red tape to be fueled by teams and the media. It is also understandable why it had to be done on a current car and drivers which produced the degradation. I also believe that the FIA was not as uninformed as they tried to project themselves. Here is a governing body red faced with a botched secret test sanctioned because of the considerations given above.


Better and better only because the regs are now fair. In the 2000's Ferari was able to bomb around as much as they like on bespoke Bridgestones. Now, they call foul when someone else get a tire advantage. Call me cynical, but that's karmic.


It was fair in 2000. Testing was allowed and Ferrari used the resources available to them to test their car. Ferrari were smart enough to build their own private test tracks and they funneled their massive profits into the race team. Then in the interest of cost controls, Ferrari agreed to the testing ban with the other teams, even though they were handicapping their own chances to win. Ferrari did it this in the best interests of the sport. I would call you misinformed, not cynical.


The tobacco money didn't end.


Philip Morris = Marlboro (contract until 2015 extended in 2011, after the tobacco ban was already in force)

So Ferrari's primary sponsor is a tobacco company, and the team has a curious red/white logo which looks rather familiar. And if you go to countries where tobacco adverts are allowed, you'll see Fernando in his F1 car everywhere advertising Marlboro (like here in Dubai at my local supermarket's checkout, where the ciggies are).

And there is Ferrari complaining about other people like Mercedes not playing fair.

Andrew Woodruff

+1 although I wouldn't go as far as saying Ferrari agreed out of the goodness of their hearts! They could no longer afford the same amount of testing either after the tobacco money from Marlboro ended.

Many of the current problems with the formula compared to the "good old days" are due to a comparative lack of cash, which can be traced back to the day F1 was forced into closing its doors to big tobacco.

Sadly F1 is therefore just another example of something great that has been spoiled by health and safety sanitisation.


@James: We're being given the excuse that a test was needed for safety reasons; we are also told that the only way a test is allowed from Pirelli's contract is for safety reasons (and it appears from the team's point of view it isn't allowable at all).

Yet Hembery is on record numerous times as saying that there was no safety issue, even after the test had been arranged. How can that possibly gel? Is Hembrey admitting to publicly lying about the safety of his company's product, or is Pirelli as a company now lying about the test being needed for safety reasons?

Also, Brawn is being highly disingenuous by suggesting that his team learned nothing from the test. Even if they weren't able to test new car parts or setup (and I don't think that has yet been proven), and even if the tyres weren't labeled except for unidentifiable codes, Mercedes will have been able to figure out from the data how many tyre types were tested, and when those tyres present on track in a future session, Mercedes will be able to recognize them from their characteristics -- at which point they'll have access to a gold mine of data on those tyres that are still brand new to every other team.

There is only one way to resolve this fairly. Set up a test at Barcelona as soon as feasible, inviting every team except Mercedes, and allow them to test for the same distance Mercedes did on the new rubber. And since those teams will have to pay to get themselves to Barca, give Mercedes a cash fine that is equivalent to the highest amount paid by any other team to attend the new test, plus an additional fine suited to the testing ban having been broken in the first place and the length of time for which it gave them an unfair competitive advantage (say, 25% of the test cost per race before the new test can be scheduled, or some such.)

The fans lose nothing in on-track action, Pirelli gets extra testing mileage on the new rubber, Mercedes lose their advantage, and are given a consequence for their actions. I see no downside.


Why punish Mercedes? They couldn't have collared Pirelli into conducting a tyre test.

Your arguments would make it more logical to punish Pirelli... But Pirelli couldn't have done a 3 day test without the FIA's knowledge.

You see, its a rabbits hole that will lead nowhere, all the F1 powers and authorities are involved, so who will punish who? The article is bang on the money about the real issue being the dysfunctionality of F1; the place is run like a gangster yard (always has been), so there are always strange things happening.

Its even much better these days, ever heard of Max Mosley? In his time as FIA boss, sanity was a rare commodity, you always felt like going on rampage and burning something.

The long and short is that nothing is gonna happen.


Merc should be suspended for 3 races starting from Canada to give other teams equal footing.

Even then, Merc still has an unfair advantage as the new compound tweaked by Pirelli is using the current Silver Arrows as their reference. Merc improvement was obvious in Monaco as Seb was told over the radio after the 1st pitstop that his 1 set of tyres were marginal while Nico's wasn't. That's a big reversal from the previous race.

Ross Brawn with his wealth of experience (especially from his Ferrari/Bridgestone days) definitely acted in an underhanded way to gain unfair advantage and tarnished the stellar reputation of the Mercedes Benz Group. Merc is losing a lot of fans, a few people mentioned that they have written to the Group expressing their disgust over the Motorsports Division's conduct.

It's one thing to exploit loopholes in racing regulations to make your car better, but to blatantly and sneakily go against the mutual agreement of no in-season testing is plain cheating.


So, who will punish the FIA for authorising the test, monitoring the tests and most likely being the one to pay Merc for their services?

Who will punish the FIA for increasing Mercs engine allocation for the season if they used 2013 spec engines?

Nothing will happen, F1 runs on scandals (an arm of the dysfunction James aptly describes).


Mercedes should be punished because they broke the rules by testing in contravention of the ban.

It matters not one jot if they did it on purpose or not, although you'd have to be pretty naive to think they didn't know something so fundamental was wrong. Past precedent says you're penalized when you break the rules, even if it was an accident.


Pirelli's defence is a joke. They claim that they were trying to avoid politics etc. How can an independent tyre supplier favour one team over the others, and how can they choose who to test with?

The reason why the teams were reluctant to the tests, was that the regulations/article states that the teams are to give the cars to Pirelli, & Pirelli is to run the tests. Not as happened here with Mercedes running the tests with 2013 cars and current drivers. Teams obviously did not trust Pirelli & were trying to protect their cars development secrets.

I mean which team would say no to a 1,000km of testing with current cars and drivers? They would gain invaluable knowledge on optimal set up, temps, suspension settings, wings and aero.

Pirelli deserves the criticism, how can one man (Hembrey) from a tyre supplier dictate who wins or loses in the Championship? Remember his comments about, "if you want durable tyres and Red Bull to drive away at the front" etc then we can do that....

Mercedes should know better, regardless of penalty they will gain a massive advantage for the rest of the year...

Even if other teams are allowed to do the same test, by the time it's set up and organised, Merc has a jump on the rest, very sneaky and against a fair competition.


you are just hurt that your team wasn't giving a chance to do the so called test. possibly a red bull or ferrari fan lol.

i totally agreed with this article on looking on the bigger issue here.


This is not like picking up a rental car. An F1 car, (even a two year old F1 car), requires a team of engineers to operate. It is normal that the car would be run by the Merc engineers, however Merc would/should not dictate any aspect of the test parameters which should be controlled by Pirelly. If Merc were found to have tested new parts during the tyre testing then I would agree that is not allowed and should be punished.


Agreed with everything you wrote there.


James, my question is where were the journalists and photographers breaking this story during the days after the Sapnish GP? Why did we only find out on Saturday of Monaco?

Are we to seriously believe that every F1 journalist & photographer, as well as all the local Spanish media packed up and left Sunday afternoon of the Spanish GP, and not one of them wondered what Mercedes Team were up to? And surely a 3 day test makes a lot of noise that someone local would have thought suspicious.

I just find it hard to be believe someone didn't get this scoop, hope the F1 journos were not muzzled by Bernie or FIA etc.

Not at all questioning your credentials personally, I'm just amazed that no one heard about this until Saturday. Surely there was rumours beforehand.


Exactly and it seems to indicate that the majority are too busy chasing hypothetical outcomes or trying to stir up controversy to see whats happening under their noses.

I think it's a storm in a teacup and as it was pointed out elsewhere that the struggles Mercedes had with their tyres were not going to be solved suddenly by a 3 day test on rubber that they had no data on. If they were provided with the compound data I would take a different view but they weren't. Red Bull are becoming really annoying these days because their money and resources are being usurped by teams who are simply doing a better job for less money. They have the experience of 2 teams to draw on, a bottomless pit of money and that advantage can only be increased when both teams are using the same engine. Maybe they should buy another 10 teams and run their own races because fighting with them is by no means a level playing field and even the top teams struggle against them today. I sympathise with Pirelli's position and I hope they stay in the sport. They are doing a great job within the limitations imposed on them. I can see how running a test with a team like Mercedes who's tyre usage is one of the more extreme on the grid would be hugely valuable to Pirelli and all the teams by extension. The inherrent problem with Mercedes tyre usage is not going to be changed in any meaningful way and any advantage gained would be minimal and irrelevant in the long run. The restrictions on testing are farcical and need changing. This storm in a teacup needs to go away and stop bothering people IMHO

Salvo Sparacio

+1 luke. I mentioned this two weeks ago. No changes to tires the teams need to adapt. Now this is what we have all year, will talk about tires!!! What he so many talented drivers that could put on a show. Come on!!!


+1 luke, very strange


This is strange to me too. And this in 21st century, with all the twitters, Facebooks, mobile phones etc...


I don't know James the color schemes are clear enough in that pic I think.


The mad thing is someone did tweet a picture of the mercedes running. It just wasn't picked up by anyone: http://twitpic.com/cr0ma2


Impossible to verify from that image


Maybe everyone assumed they were using a 2011car.


Some very good points Luke. Id like answers to those too.

Also, James, can you clarify some of the points you made here? You said it was only for 100km, but Autosport reported the FIA approved 1000km. Which is correct?

Also, you said that Pirelli should have conducted their test and Mercedes merely supply car, but Autosport reported that according to the regulations, Mercedes would supply the cars and the driver.

What exactly do the regulation state?


It would also now appear that Red Bull were invited to the same test and they turned the offer down. Horner is now claiming Mercedes gained an unfair advantage by accepting the invite to test.

Horner up to his usual tricks then.


This is really just a media created hype. All media are running around trying to get an exclusive without thinking it through logically. The truth is, Brawn has been around for years, seen a loophole and took it. Remember the double diffuser? I saw an article this morning and it is clear he spotted a loophole and took it while the other teams were navel gazing because of the tyres.


Horner is being shown up for exactly what he is.. not much. He does not have the mental capability as what Brawn has and if it was not for Newey RB would have been midfield at best!


Very interesting article, thank you for sharing it.

The article is quite long, so I have copied the paragraphs that I thought were most relevant below (to save the Red Bull and Ferrari fans the trouble of following the link).

"Yet for anyone starting from ‘rational land’ the question was obvious. How stupid are Ross Brawn and Paul Hembery? Even if this is a tough question to comprehend, we can distil the answers into multi choice – Very stupid, somewhat stupid, not really stupid and pretty smart are the likely response options.

The matter was clearly always going to hang on a technicality, and Ross Brawn following his years at Ferrari knows exactly how to spot a loophole and then drive a coach and horses through it.So where does this now hang. Clearly a 2013 car was allowed by the FIA so all the early protestations over sporting regulation breaches from Ferrari on this matter are now satisfied.

Mercedes have little to prove or argue. As long as the development test was “carried out by Pirelli, as opposed to the team that would provide the car and driver,” the Brackley team are in the clear. It is not their responsibility to ask or inform other teams."


Horner has delivered 3 WDC and 3 WCC in 3 years , and Adrian Newey ...... He delivered him to, as well as making RBR the works Renault team as apprised to a customer. He has brought all the aspects together and he dosent spend silly money in his drivers like Merc and Ferrari. Brawn pushed it too far this time and he's going to find himself in a spot of bother as the FIA have said the test was not sanctioned as run. I wouldn't ban Merc though , but I'd give the other teams a bit of testing I know that will put Merc at a disadvantage because they didn't have a free test but they cheated and the disadvantage can be their punishment. The real problem isn't if Merc win the odd race but if the were to start splitting SB and FA (like LH at Monaco) it effects the championship so just taking away constructor points can't be the punishment.


That is disrespectful, he has hired both drivers who are a pretty good combination (they dont have to be buddies just deliver both titles)Under his leadership they have become the works renault team not a terrible idea, he hires all senior staff, is envolved in sponsership, has the best pit crew at the moment. Why would you say something disrespectful then follow it up by saying i dont mean to be disrespectful. If he was running Ferrari they would be leading the WDC this year, staying out at monza, not making sure the driver didnt know to not use the DRS after it was broken, wouldnt happen at redbull although maybe FM might be allowed to race FA.


The only smart thing Horner did was to bring in Newey no disrespected intended though. Horner talks too much. He couldn't even handle his driver we he broke the team's rule in Malaysia.


So where is the loophole for using reduced Mercedes staff to conduct the test and using the 2013 car?


You're wrong in dissing Horner here! Mercedes are in the wrong and should be excluded from the championship full stop or at least a 3 race ban. This is unacceptable maybe the Hamilton fans are trying to downplay this but if Redbull done this there would be an outrage, they either sanction big time against Mercedes or Ferrari should just test as much as they want, pound around Fiorano everyday from now on thats my take on it.


Yes but even if "Bernie's" Red Bull had done this a punishment would not be given.


I concur with this.

Anyone who says Merc learned nothing is silly and doesn't understand F1. Every lap of data in a 2013 car is valid. They can enhance engine maps, aero balance, suspension setup, correlation between wind tunnel and track, drivers getting to know the car better, the list runs and runs.

To simply remove Mercedes points from Monaco isn't enough, because they're 3 days of testing ahead of everyone else in the paddock. To right this wrong either everyone should get 3 days testing or alternatively Mercedes should be excluded from that amount of mileage (e.g. FP1 & 2 for the next 3 events), and have some kind of financial punishment on top of that as way of punishment.

I find it fascinating how no one from Mercedes of Pirelli mentioned this pre Monaco, no tweets about it, no comments about it given all the press questions about tyres on Wednesday in Monaco. Nothing. I think that tells you everything you need to know about the legality of this 'test'.

If Ferrari or Red Bull had done this we'd be seeing stories about the teams getting excluded from the Championship, and the usual FIA jokes.


Who collected the data? Pirelli, or Mercedes? Was the link back to the factory running, or did they just bitbucket the car telemetry?

Did Mercedes make suspension changes to the car(s) during the testing?

I haven't heard any definitive answers to these questions, and it's the only way to tell what, if anything, Mercedes gained.

Even James's point that "However some rival teams told this website that they know that Mercedes made changes in their approach to the tyres this weekend in Monaco, in areas like the suspension, for example, which showed that they had learned from the 1,000kms test." is a bit of a hasty conclusion.

It was obvious during the race in Barcelona that Mercedes needed to "make changes in their approach to the to tyres in areas like suspension"-- the tyre wear was completely unacceptable in the race. Not changing how they approach the rear suspension isn't an option.


I havent seen anywhere that Redbull were offered to do the test or that they were aware it was the 2013 car with current drivers to be tested. However if he knew all that as you think, fair play to him for turning down the chance to run an illigal test. The old tricks of honesty and the spirit of fair play.


The old tricks of honesty and fair play being mentioned in the same sentence as Red Bull and Christian Horner. I've seen it all now 🙂


As much as it's good to jump on the "Red Bull are bad" bandwagon it's very clear that no team is going to turn down a test with a 2013 car.

Absolutely shameful and unfair behavior by both Pirelli and Mercedes. The least that should be done is give all the other teams a 3 day test with Mercedes not there. Otherwise this sport is a complete joke.


Not even that.

Mercedes had a three day test with no other teams to bother them on or off track.

Same conditions would take 10 teams x 3 days = a full month to accomplish, which is hardly likely to happen.


...."It would also now appear".........where?


Horner states the he declined because he understands this test is illegal under the regulations (in-season testing using current car & drivers). Ferrari tested in Bahrain, using 2011 car and test driver (Pedro de la Rosa) and that wasn't protested.


How is it illegal if Pirelli are asking them to do it based on one of the regulations? Anything any of the team bosses says needs to be taken with a grain of salt.


Given that Pirelli's contradicted itself at least once, and more likely twice, on this very issue, anything Pirelli says must also be taken with a grain of salt.


Based on one of the regulations?

The regulations don't allow 2013 car and drivers.


If only it was based on regulation, no one would be giving it any attention as to Ferrari test. But Merc test have regulation breaches in it, hence the tribunal.


Solution to this is simple. Disqualify Mercedes from the WCC. In season testing is banned. This is outrageous.


And from which universe are you from?

There's plenty of this stuff in F1 history.

McLaren were banned because that behaviour was really out of the world, but go back in years and you got a Ferrari nowhere near thier 2000s position, thank's to Schumy, Byrne, BRIDGESTONE and same BRAWN to rise up. last years the same with RedBull, only thanks to a great Newey and tricks they are multi-champions (the best way i want to remember RB is for the mechanic with the small tool to adjust the car in parc fermé)



It doesn't matter if Merc benefited from the test. IT'S ILLEGAL. Merc must be BANNED!!!


This is not so black and white.

As usual, F1 does a perfect job of walking the gray zone.

James brings all the points in this excellent article. Please consider them.

- Pirelli is trying it's best, surely you can understand their frustration with the limitations of tire testing.

- Pirelli is also being hung out to dry here. I wouldn't blame them if they reconsidered their involvement. They are trying to contribute, and everyone is angry at them. Rock and a hard place.

Then you have Mercedes...aweful on tires. Need to sort things out, or they will pull out of F1 if ROI is not present. FIA and FOM have to choose between using the hammer here on a company who pours hundreds of millions of euros into F1. You don't exactly see another corporate giant knocking down F1's door with a truckful of money waiting to take their place, do you? And so, you can see that balance of power has shifted to a degree - if you like it or not, it has.

The fix here is clear to me...imeediate tire test for all other teams with their drivers. Mercedes doesn't get to participate in this one however.


If Pirelli's own words are anything to go by, they didn't declare the test or offer all teams entry to it, and therefore hung themselves out to dry. They'll be lucky to receive an invite for F1 2014, or any other FIA tender for the foreseeable future. I'm not sure Pirelli thought through how much this will cost them.

Mercedes, in fairness, were most likely misled by some combination of the FIA and Pirelli (it's not even clear whether said misleading was intentional). It would be improper to penalising them for an act they had valid reason to believe was a) within the rules and b) to the benefit of F1 as a whole. Unfortunately the fact the test happened has now distorted and invalidated the entire championship, because the actions that would be necessary to redress the balance would be a travesty of justice.



I thought Michelin wanted to enter only if it's a 2 brand show? They changed their mind?


Sebee is right.

F1 better hope Pirelli don't grow weary of all this nonsense, because there ain't no one else stepping forward to fill their place.


Unless Michelin is waiting in the wings, as I mentioned in reply to another comment a couple of days ago


Also...invalidated the championship?

Please remember 13 races left. Seasons used to be that long. It's relatively close, and there is plenty of championship left ahead. this little Mercedes advantage can be balanced with 1000km each for all the remaining teams as I've noted.


They’ll be lucky to receive an invite for F1 2014, or any other FIA tender for the foreseeable future.


I think you're being extreme. You think tire companies are going to be knocking down F1's door after this little Pirelli experience?

You'd better hope that in 2014 F1 is not riding around on Flinstones rock tires.


So what about the small teams who dont really have the budget for in-season testing? It is told this test cost Mercedes about 1Million, for a team like Caterham or Marussia this is a lot of money...


Silverstone GP I mean...where their hardware is there, people are there, they are at home with minimal costs.


Let them have a few days after Silverstone.


They didnt test any new parts. They only brought the cars and the drivers at Pirelli's request and after they say the FIA approved. You cant ban them from the WCC for that.

Craig in Manila

They could have quite easily put new parts on the car after the race.

I mean, who would've noticed ?

The cars wouldn't get scrutineered before/after running the Pirelli tests so they could've done all sorts of things.

We'll never know I spose.


"They didnt test any new parts."

How can you be sure about that?

"They only brought the cars and the drivers ..." Yeah, 2013 cars and their current racing drivers in breach whith the regulations. Not to mention their (mercedes) engineers gathering data nomatter if the tyres were marked or not.


Jackl, setup for the car can be changed no? How about Sector 3 in Barcelona which reflects Monaco? Ever think about that? With every km you drive, you learn something new, mechanically, aero, setup, etc. This is outrageous and illegal. Dura lex sed lex. They know the rules, now they should be punished, hard.


No FIA representative or any regulatory staff were present. When team goes to extend of having this issue, I don't think you can give them benefit of the doubt.


How do you know for sure they didn't test any new parts? Last I check there wasn't ANYBODY there to verify it, no one from other teams and no one from the FIA. There are no footage nor pictures... All very convenient...


Absolutely! Tantamount to cheating....but lets not forget Bernie is probably behind this somewhere! I would lay money on it that Bernie would rather Nico won this years drivers title than Seb! Weve already heard it said that Seb winning 4 on the bounce would be baaaaaad for the sport. Should this be Bernies doing, then it shows hes losing something of his business acumen.


Well, if Mercedes don't receive a heavy penalty, some teams will ask to also test these tyres with their 2013 car.

Wouldn't be simpler if they bring back some testing? Pirelli would get date from running present cars, the teams will handle the tyre wear better, and young drivers will get the chance to drive F1 cars on the tracks.

The race drivers will not be allowed to participate in the tests, only reserve and young drivers which teams like to put to the test.


+1. I say bring back some limited mileage testing days, especially to help the tire situation. 3 or 4 2-day in-season test sessions for all.

Pirelli must be seriously re-thinking their F1 involvement now...

To be 100% Machiavellian for a moment, I could imagine someone at CVC hiring a new, fresh-faced consultant / F1 expert to advise them on sporting matters, and as Bernie pushes into his eighties, maybe the younger Bernie's sharpness isn't all there anymore, maybe he starts listening to all the great ideas the new kid has, or otherwise absorbing those ideas. Those ideas are then acted upon by Bernie, but they're meant to undermine his standing in F1 so that CVC can establish an argument for showing him the door to retirement... as part of a final restructuring for a better flotation 12 months hence...


Looks like Mercedes will get away with it and the FIA can hardly sanction their official tyre supplier http://wp.me/p2HWOP-hho After all Brawn at Ferrari was the master of finding the loophole and driving a coach and horses through it

Seán Craddock

If I'm not mistaken teams recently voted against bringing back in season testing next year. Don't forget we had it last year but got rid of it.

Teams don't like it as much as you think, the big teams don't have young drivers (bar Mercedes funnily enough, so if they like it so much why wouldn't they use Hartley?)


I agree, this would be a perfect solution to this embarrassing organisational mess f1 finds itself in.


Ferrari, Lotus, RBR, and anyone else who wishes, must be allowed a 3 day test in Catalunya ASAP.


"They were allowed, and they were asked to do it, but obviously turned the offer down."

You do realize that the claim that Pirelli asked everyone is based on an email they sent LAST YEAR? In the 2012 season?


very sensible, and likely the easiest way through the quagmire, but unlikely, yet, o be adopted. It would be too much for Mercedes to agree.

Ultimately, there will just be a full onslaught of public relations incidents.

Great article, James.


I am sure Mercedes would argue that they merely took part in a test, but did not run the test - so awarding the other teams a free 3 day test where they get to choose what to focus on does not compare.

If you give the other teams a 3 day test, which they can spend working on aero, tyre management (with CURRENT spec tyres) etc, then you'd have to argue that Mercedes come out the losers because they would have been given a prescribed testing agenda, using development tyres (i.e. not current compounds) and not being told which compounds they were on.

I am sure Mercedes got some useful info out the test, but this isn't a case of them getting 3 days to do what they like with a free batch of tyres.


Oh my God, I didn't know Nico and Lewis were Pirelly's drivers.


This needs the attention of some legal minds, of whom there is no shortage...but how about: give everyone who wants it the same test Pirelli offered to Merc. I'm sure Pirelli could use the feedback from the other teams. And if they can also benefit in other ways, as surely Merc did, then good for the teams.

Brawn should not have played smart with the rules, if Merc come off worst, well, they started it did they not?


I don't think any team will dare bring in legal minds. They all know they've been outsmarted and want a piece of the action too, thats why they are trying to embarrass the FIA instead. Thats also why they are empasising Merc, instead of Pirelli; its subtle - Merc does not pay Pirelli, the FIA does - so if they accuse Pirelli of cheating, they are accusing the FIA of manipulation. They don't dare do this. See?

Pirelli has complained for a long time that they need a 2013 car to test with, but the teams distrust each other and any 3rd party so much that they all refused. In all this, Ross Brawn saw an opening and grabbed it, the others now seem silly for guarding their cars so much.

Merc didn't conduct the tests, Pirelli did. And Pirelli couldn't have done it without the FIA's consent. I'll emphasise the point that Pirelli conducted the test, not Merc, because thats going to be the FIA's defence. They'll say from their investigations Merc gained nothing, then Bernie will crack some of his awful jokes, we'll forget the testing and begin waiting for the next outrage - F1 always supplies them by the bucket load.


They were allowed, and they were asked to do it, but obviously turned the offer down.


They weren't asked. When Pirelli says that they were invited they are playing with words and referring to e-mails that were sent LAST YEAR...


If they knew they could run a 2013 spec car, I doubt they would have said no.


They turned the offer down because it is clearly ILEGAL. Merc must be banned for the season.


According to a report in Sky Lotus and Force India said Pirelli never invited them to do any test


Not true, Pirelli said they offered some (not all) of the teams the chance to take part and some said yes and from those who said yes they selected Merc. So clearly some wernt given the chance others said yes but were not selected and the others can claim they presumed it was going to be a 2011 car as per regulations and that is the reason they said no.

I agree giving the others a free 3 days to do what they want is unfair but as it stands its unfair. Also if merc are judged to be at fault by the FIA it is more appropriate that they are at a disadvantage than the other 10 teams who are not at fault. However should the FIA judge Merc not to be at fault it could get tricky.


Of course we (fans) never have the full picture, but it seems Pirelli is in a fine position: if the FIA doesn't sign them for 2014 soon, F1 is in an even bigger crisis.

Pirelli can dictate when that deadline expires (or it allows that deadline to be postponed, against the right conditions (testing, price,...)).

Seems unbelievable the FIA has let it come this far. But then again, all of these people are shrewd negotiators, so they'll have soem cards left up their sleeves.

Only Mercedes seems to be the one with a weak defence and may end up the sore loser in this issue.


Michelin is waiting in line from 2011. The only reason they are not in F1 is, Pirelli do not want competition, understandably, they will be smashed financially.


Michelin aren't interested in being a sole supplier, they want a tyre war type situation whereas FIA want single supplier in order to avoid cost escalation.


So Pirelli holding F1 to ransom? don't be ridiculous, Mercedes should be banned for a few races, and Pirelli should be dropped as supplier ASAP, buy the tyres off someone if they really have to Pirelli hasn't got any power and this nonsense has to stop, it was probably designed to help hamilton as well and they know the media will be soft on Hamilton's team but its backfired, Nico won.


yeah which section of the media is soft on hamilton please tell me.......


@Dave C

I think your dislike of Hamilton is colouring your judgement. It's the same as when you buy a new car then, for the next week or so, you seem to see lots of the same car on the road.

It's because your mind is focussed on a particular car, or in this instance pro Hamilton articles.


Thats easy, all the F1 magazines, broadcasters, internet sites like this from James and others so basically all the english speaking media, and just face it Nico is beating Hamilton its funny how the whole english media downplays this, I would have loved to see Hamilton at Redbull, Seb would of destroyed him And most of you know it deep down.


Please read (and google) the quotes below from this morning. Lol!

The whole thing is a stitch-up. Its the way F1 functions or "dysfunctions" as James puts it it in the article.

"Bernie Ecclestone has told AMuS that “I did it like in the old days. I told the teams that they should be united and Pirelli will modify its tyres as planned.”

"Pirelli president Marco Tronchetti Provera met with Bernie Ecclestone this weekend according to Spain’s AS publication. “We are now close to agreeing the conditions [to sign],” said Provera. “so we’ll see. The fact is that Bernie is happy with us and also our company is still interested in the F1 project, so I hope we can get to an agreement soon and all will be well.”




Ha, gotta love whistleblowers, look at the mayhem they always throw up.

I totally agree, Mercedes cheated by using their 2013 car and race drivers to test but I have to say, I can't blame them for when a team is struggling with it's tyres, it's better to break the law and take the penalty than continue suffering for the rest of the season like what happened to Mercedes in 2012.

So yeah, am hoping this test was beneficial to the team in understanding their tyres and more importantly solving the tyre failure problem for the worst the team can expect from the FIA in terms of punishment is a financial fine.

But Pirelli can't argue the point that they're saints for the cause of all the current political turmoils in F1 is thanks to Pirelli when they had the brilliant idea to keep getting rid of the hard tyres and thus bringing in softer and softer tyres each season.

Now lets wait and see what teams would benefit from the revised Pirellis in Canada, I believe we're due another political fall out then.


Think you got it right there. Mercedes surely knew they cheated but have decided it's worth it as the penalty can't be as great as struggling in races the rest of the year like last year.


good point.

the FIA has all but guaranteed that the Monaco result won't be challenged.

If they are disqualified for Canada, it wouldn't really have made a difference with their previous poor tire management capability; Canada would have been one of the worst for them, anyways.

gave up little to nothing, to get back in full contention after Canada; a complete no-brainer!

Is this the game?


Well then it's up to the FIA to make sure the penalty is so extremely harsh to act as a deterrent to others, if it's a fine I'm sure Ferrari will just get their cheque book out and head for Mona!!


That's the word I'm looking for, "Cheated". That's it in a nutshell.

Bad days for F1 unless Bernie and Todt know how to sort out this mess


Either you do not understand, or you simply do not wish to understand ... a 2011 car is useless for testing the cars as they now have significantly higher downforce.

The MErc is the hardest 2013 car on it's tyres, Lewis got a smashed gearbox and also subsequent unfair 5 place penalty because of this, so any independent rational, reasonable observer would have to conclude that the Merc would be the best car to test...

If however you feel that this could put Mercedes back into contention for the F1 WDC, WCC at the expense of your personal favourite, then do carry on squawking like parrot who has lost his perch.


even if you are right,(about the need to use a 2013 car), this uneven application of testing is fundamentally tilting the playing field.

It is not okay, and it is not okay the way it has been handled.

If you can't take from Mercedes, then you MUST give the other teams that must now cough up the money, and for one of the top teams, it will likely be difficult, and get testing for the same tires, for the same distance, including Ferrari (a second go, how do you make that fair?)


Lower downforce you say? Check this out:

Monaco 2011:

Pole possition time: 1:13.556s

Fastest lap: 1:16.234s

Race time: 2:09:38.373s

Monaco 2013:

Pole possition time: 1:13.876s

Fastest lap: 1:16.577s

Race time: 2:17.52.056

The race time is not relevant as we had a red flag and 2 safety cars, but look at the pole time and fastest lap. How about that?


I take your point about the car (though the 2011 cars had exhaust blown diffusers), but surely all teams should have gotten one to three days testing at the same time. If Red Bull had gotten this test the internet would have exploded on Sunday.


I alluded to the fact that Pirelli will be getting fed up with all the negative publicity after Barcelona. There is approximately 9 months to the start of the 2014 season. So that is 9 months to design, manufacture and validate several compounds of dry tyres, an intermediate tyre and a full wet tyre, if Pirelli do decide to call it a day.

The FIA has to be very careful in this investigation because any heavy fine for Pirelli would further inflame the situation and the longer the situation goes on Pirelli's position becomes stronger.

All this could have been prevented if more testing was allowed before the season and during the season. So the teams which agreed to limit testing only have themselves to blame for the current situation.


100% right.

Andrew Carter

Actually it's 3 months, FIA rules state that all compounds for the following year must be finalised by September 1st.


I think James summed it up well:

This issue is not about testing, it’s about F1′s dysfunctionality at this moment.


I have the sollution to Pirelli getting a decent car for development tests.

Make a rule, that every team has to provide a car and driver (reserve) one time per season if Pirelli requests it.

Therefore, Pirelli could ask Ferrari, Force India, Mercedes, Lotus, Caterham etc in a season for a 2-3 day test. This way Pirelli gets its job done and the teams cannot say that team got an advantage because Pirelli used their car and so on.


So what happens if Ferrari are invited 3 races in and Red Bull at the end of the season? I think Horner would be rather displeased.


Or vice versa, maybe all teams send one car to the same test at pre determined gp.


These are small details which can be agreed on. They can have something like:

-after 3 races Pirelli can only approach the teams in 9th, 10th and 11th place in constructors standing;

-after 7 races Pirelli can only approach teams in 6th, 7th and 8th place;

-after 10 races Pirelli can only approach teams in 3rd, 4th and 5th places;

-after 14 races Pirelli can approach teams in 1st and 2nd place.

Some will same the standing will change from the 3rd to the 7th race. these are again details and the teams must agree on them.

If they choose Williams after 3 races and after the 7th race Williams is in 7th place, they can't choose them again. Pirelli will have a choice between place 6th or 8th.


Yes, but if the teams want wind tunnel tyres to work with they need a product to model it on and the testing begins just over 8 months from now.


The whole sport needs a re-think. It seems crazy to demand tyre makers to test with "antique" old F1 cars instead of the current models, it goes against common sense.

Also to expect the tyre manufacturer to provide the entertainment (by making sure the tyres don't last so forcing pit stops) is just a sign of how pear-shaped things have become.

Some rules are wrong. Too much emphasis on tyres and aerodynamics.

F1 need to go back to mechanical grip, engine power etc and simply dial down the "land aeroplane" aspects. If they want to keep a knowledgable and cultured fan base.

But do they care? they have potentially a new fan base, of millions who have never watched f1 before and do not know any better, people who think a processional race is exciting...

I think there needs to be a major rethink: make tyres last the whole race, get rid of wings, only use tracks where overtaking is possible and just erase or rebuild the ones that do not. Maybe go back to steel brake discs instead of carbon fibre. In other words make the cars much, much more difficult to drive. Make it a DRIVERS CHAPIONSHIP again, not a robot championship.

I may be an old git but after 40 years f1 just does not deliver much emotion to me any more... it is really a 3d computer game, and boring as hell.


Apparently the new audience does "know better", as Chinese F1 viewership dropped 33% last year. They can't compare F1 2012 with, say, F1 1972 with the level of detail many European fans can, but they can certainly compare F1 2012 with football 2012 and social networking 2012. It appears F1 came out worst of that particular "fight" last year.


That drop had a lot to do with a change of broadcaster in China, I looked into it


" I looked into it" -- don't worry, James - some of your readers will never let facts get in the way of a good whinge!


There is no problem with using old cars, any reasonable tyre manufacturer can engineer tyres for Formula One. Issue is, they are trying to make tailor made tyres that is predictable to a lap or two, which is fundamentally wrong as different teams have different development approaches. Tyres should be the component with a greater uncertainty to accommodate all the differences.


My thoughts exactly and both Schumacher and Alonso have said the same sort of thing.

Schumacher in AMuS -

"In my early days, there was always the chance to be quicker than another driver not just by a couple of tenths, but a full second.

"Why? Because the cars aerodynamically were not so balanced and were therefore very sharp to drive. As a driver, you then had many more possibilities yourself. Today, the cars are aerodynamically stable and well balanced; the window in which you work is not as big."

Alonso talking about the same in Marca -

"He's(Schumacher) the one who pushed me the most and whom I most admired, whom I tried to copy when I watched him live or saw footage of his races. Things are different now: it's more about how each car performs on every turn and not so much about who's behind the wheel"


Did the other teams not notice / question merc staying on after the race? Or did they pack up and come back two days later?


exactly that. Ross Brawn commented on that (according to Autosport) as well, saying that nothing was kept secret and no pretences were made about this, since the trailers and crew never packed up.


Exactly! Hard to believe isn't it? They were parked right in the middle of the paddock!!


That is not the point. Are you arguing that "Why did other teams not notice and wonder why Mercedes trucks are not leaving"

That point is moot. Why should they? They might have thought that they are doing testing, but with an older car, only to know later in the week, that is not the case.

How can you argue with that point? it is not the point. "The point is Merc tested with 2013 car" -- End of the story

Paul Hemberey is hilarious? When Martin Brundle asked about this on the grid walk, he says -- "Oh no, these tires are all future stuff"


1. How can you test your future stuff tires when you don't even have a contract for next year?

2. How can you justify the test with 2013 car with future stuff tires, when you know the whole package of the car is going to change

simply, utterly ridiculous



That is even worse. If future stuff meant Canada tires, then Mercedes will have got information before hand about those tires and they can run away in Canada.

That will be bigger penalty. don't you think


Future = Canada tyres 🙂


This is silly. Who cares when Horner knew? Is it his job to stick around after every race and police f1? Is he supposed to go around the paddock to make sure everyone packs up and goes home? Interogate those who stay behind and find out what they're doing?

Everyone gets a copy the rule book everyone is on the honor system. Who knew what when is a diversion. Mercedes broke the rules. In my mind the best punishment will be making them sit out the next 3 races. They got 3 Grand Prix's worth of data in their illegal test.


It matters because according to that rule book, all teams are meant to be notified and invited to testing. "Secret" testing simply isn't allowed.


Honour ? I'm afraid honour doesn't exist in the world of f1 these days unfortunately its a cut throat business with a bunch of team owners only worried about how much piece of the pie they get and keep 😉


I'm amazed Lewis didn't tweet it.


🙂 Epic!


Mr Allan,please if I may throw my two bobs

worth. The point of the matter, the Pirelli

and Mercedes broke the Sporting Regulation

Rules," Rules are Rules,same as the Law,one

breaks a law,he or they face the concequence.

The most astonishing thing is that Mercedes

supplied a current drivers to the test,and

Pirelli turn the blind eye to it.whether in

the due course tip the scale in Mercedes

pulling out of F1 and Pirelli not providing

Tyres from 2014 on, one must'n forget they

are not the "Islands "replacements will be

found nothing is impossible.

We live in modern and hi-tech times.


And.... They were in Barcelona - and they claim that nobody knew until Sat night..... Shouldn't there be spies, interested people or just stewards knowing about this??


Exactly, even more, someone authorised the use of the track and , paid for it and monitored the test. If anything, all complaints should be aimed at Charlie Whiting.

As for Red Bull, they were invited, but declined the test. I imagine the same happened with Ferrari. What both are concerned about, is that Merc found a way to outsmart Pirelli and gain access to a trunk load of info; Red Bull and Ferrari now want in on that too. Thats what this is all about, its all politics.


I think James Allen is spot on here. All the teams knew what was going on post Barcelona. The protests were delivered in Monaco to provide maximum political and publicity impact with all the other senior players present there such as the FIA president. This happened to Mosley a few years back also with a different issue and was designed to embarrass and mock the sport. Clarification is easily dealt with behind closed doors and the FIA have a very good system of doing so where letters and replies are sent to all teams at the same time.

I take issue with one point however. Christian Horner said "I only found out here in Monaco about the secret test" , I would seriously challenge the credibility of such a statement.

Its the same blah blah blah until someone gets what they want out of F1 and wins a tainted championship.


Then why would Horner lie about not knowing? I guess what Horner means is that he knew about the test but he didn´t know that Mercedes tested with current car, drivers and tyres to be used in Canada.

Ferrari is complaning about the car Mercedes used and the tyres they tested. So it seems they knew about test. And other teams have said nothing so far.

Schnell! schnell!

Horner's ability to play fast and loose has been demonstrated in the past. Refer to every "we have no #1 driver" comment he's ever made....


Do promotional/filming days not occur in the days following races?


Also, teams can only have two filming days per year. This was a three-day test and thus could not be covered under that principle even with an old car.


They have to use two years old car for that, I think.


James, yes they knew Merc were testing, but they thought it was the 2010 car. Exactly when they found out it wasn't, and what they then decided to do about that, ..... that seems to be buried in the German speaking political warfare of RB versus Merc.

That nice guy Paul H finds he is caught up in the middle


That is just crazy and it shows that Mercedes didn't want the other teams to find out about it.

What's even more crazy is the fact that they thought they will be able to get away with it. How come it was only Saturday that RBR and Ferrari found out?


According to some reports (Sky) Vettel was the first to find that out during a driver´s briefing when both or one of the Mercedes drivers told him about the test. Ferrari found out when Helmut Marko told Dominicalli


So Pirelli wanted to keep quite to avoid a controversy. Great Job! Keep up the good work!

Ferrari was not told about Mercedes test. And Mercedes was not told about Ferrari´s test What is this high school soap opera? I thought they were all adult and professional

Why any team that is given the opportunity to test would reject it? For me it is really hard to believe what Paul Hembery said that some teams said no to testing


"So Pirelli wanted to keep quite to avoid a controversy. Great Job! Keep up the good work!"

To be fair to Pirelli, they said they wanted to save the controversy until *after* the test, not avoid it all together.

VP of Common Sense

The issue is not who knew or who didn't know. Ferrari did not test the F138, while Mercedes did test the W04. Testing the current car is against all regulations. Every team has a right to be upset and Mercedes were in the wrong here.


“At the beginning of May, the FIA was asked by Pirelli if it was possible to carry out some tyre development testing with a team, using a current car. Within the contract Pirelli has with the FIA as single-supplier, there is provision for them to carry out up to 1000kms of testing with any team – provided every team is offered the opportunity to do so”.


That covers testing with a current car; according to the FIA, IT IS ALLOWED with caveats.

“We declined, because we are of the opinion that such a test violates the regulations.”

Christian Horner (Red Bull Team Principal)

It would seem that Red Bull has provided the evidence to fulfill the caveat. They were invited, but declined the test.

Conclusion? Sour grapes and storm in a teacup.


I know. But I think it was silly that Pirelli (Paul Hembery) thought that the best way to avoid a controversy was not to tell one team that other team was testing. It only makes matters worst. Just be flat out open otherwise some controversy may come up anyway despite of your good intentions


Great article as always James. I don't think I've ever anticipated another article quite as much.

The whole episode was a surprise yesterday, but everything makes sense to my except why they used the regular team drivers.


Would any team be happy allowing non team drivers access to their car?


I believe Chris was talking about the use of reserve, or retired, drivers, such as Algesauri and PDR for their respective teams. The teams even sometimes have their old race seats in the trailer for just such a contingency, as happened not too long ago for a race. For Merc, they could have used any of their young reserve drivers, or Schumi even.. Well, maybe not Schumi...too hard to fool HIM with that tyre might be which!


I genuinely don't understand why they can't choose 4 gp's and have testing on the Thursday and Monday. I thought the ban on testing was because teams were running a separate test team, and that was generating the high cost.

As for a Pirelli replacement, I gather Bernie wanted Hankook in 2010, but they had no motorsport experience, and that is why they are doing DTM, as a stepping stone.

Michelin can tell us all about the loyalty of Formula 1 participants in your time of need.

Captain Sorbet

Good point, except I would say the Monday and Tuesday - then the testing will only be for the cars and not the track. That will help limit the amount teams will want to spend on it (an extra day before the GP will be much more of a loss in terms of lap time, for the teams that can't afford it).


Hope this ends the testing ban and teams can develop their cars faster than at present.

Andrew Carter

Teams bring new parts to every race, how much faster can you get?


Teams currently bring parts that might work or might not.

When there was in-season testing earlier, teams would bring tried and tested parts for every race.

Currently the pace of a car improves by about 1 second per lap from the start to the finish of the season. Earlier the pace of development meant that the pace would improve by almost 3 seconds or maybe even more by the end of the season.

Also with more in-season testing teams have more of a chance to catch up and it could make the racing a lot closer. Currently if one team has a good car at the start of the year, they will most probably stay ahead till the end of the year, as long as they maintain a steady pace of development.

This problem will be very evident in 2014 just as it was in 2009. Huge overhaul of rules will mean that one team could make a huge step over the other teams, and because of the lack of testing the championship could be decided during pre-season testing itself.

In 2009 Brawn GP had an edge with a loophole in regulations at the beginning of the season. By the middle of the season Jenson had to just coast to victory. It was a horrible year in terms of the spectacle. But it was great that the underdog won. Imagine if there was in-season testing, they would've had to fight for it.

Andrew Carter

It was still the case in the past that teams would bring parts that might or might not work. In 2004 Coulthard said that if all the races were held at Valencia's Ricardo Tormo circuit then McLaren would have been world champions as they were blindingly fast there, but dire everywhere else. Teams would throw parts at the car with a suck-it-and-see attitude and many times parts wouldn't work and they'd cherry pick the ones that did, if they did. Newey himself has said that the increasing prevalence and accuracy of simulation technology was inevitable and has made car development increasingly data driven, far more than it ever has been in the past.

I'm not sure where you're getting your figures from because they look spurious to me. Firstly, it's entirely dependent on the car. An improvement of 2 seconds over the year is considered average from what I've read on Autosport and on here but it depends on the potential of the overall car concept to start with and how well developed it is by the first race. Take the Brawn GP01, it was good but not optimal concept for the 2009 rules, not in the way the Red Bull was, and only had the double diffuser as a trump card. It was also massively developed from early 2008 with ludicrous amounts of Honda money. The result was a car that was extremely quick to start with but only gained about 1s in pace over the year where the RB5 is thought to have made 1.5 to 2s and the McLaren 2.5s + in improvements (figures might be a bit off as they come from old Autosport issues and BBC reports, but still support my case).


'we are likely to be able to see in Canada and especially Silverstone how much Mercedes learned from the test.... from how much their tyre wear in races has improved as a result.'

Mercedes has been trying to come to grips with their tyre wear since the beggining of the season. They have tried, unsucessfully, various tweeks to get over this. The car evolves through the season as do all the cars.

As I understand it, the Mercedes car was constant throughout the test to give Pirelli an even base to compare tyres. Without the oppourtunity to test new parts etc, the test could be of little development value to the team.

The McLaren was more competative at Monaco than previously this season. If this improvement continues in Canada and Silverstone then it's down to development. If the same improvement happens to the Mercedes why must the conclusion be that it's due to testing rather than development?


Where were no FIA representative, and Mercedes used it's staff (reduced) during the resting. So the fact they used current car would argue against any conclusion that they gained nothing from the test.


I feel Mclaren's pace was due to two factors:

1. Their in-season development is legendary. Which means they can start on tractor and they'll finish the season on Fighter plane.

2. In Monaco who was racing? It seems everyone was on a Sunday Drive with their I-pods blaring in their Helmets. Seriously, on a full attack track (where overtaking is possible) do you seriously think Alonso and the form the Ferrari is in would give another car a sniff on its inside and lay down the red carpet for them to pass?

I think Force India (both) were phenomenal... the best two cars in a race which was rather strange.

Kimi was cruising on his Sunday drive till an 'Idiot' came and woke him up after that he was frighteningly quick.... the only positive highlight of the race I say.


How was Sunday any different from Monaco GP's from 2012 or 2011? They were won by one-stoppers crawling around the track.


@Irish con

or, indeed, a Marussia engineer teeling his driver he needs to slow down!


When u see a caterham put in lap times 2 seconds quicker at times than the leaders then u know something is not right. As DC said that was a rubbish race.


The pace of the 2013 race vis-a-vis the preceding years is something James will be in best position to enlighten you with.

Ofcourse, when you gauge them through the Swimming Pool Complex, they were visually at a snail's pace.


Fair point, but it would be because Mercedes has struggled for a long time with this problem without really getting on top of it, so a change of fortune after a three day tyre test would tell us something

McLaren, in contrast, has a solid track record of strong development strides

Christos Pallis

Do they still have to use one of their allotted race engines in this scenario James?


+1. I would like to know about this too.


Yes, but Rosberg did a one-stop in Monaco last year didn't he, and the cars all did two stops this time due to the red flag (why wasn't there a parc-ferme situation and cars forced to remain on the same tyres??)


Andrew Carter

As was brought up in after the 2011 Monaco GP, it's a safety thing. The whole field has just driven through a bed of carbon fiber shards and other such debris, allowing them to change tyres considerably lowers the chances of a sizable crash due to a blowout from a punctured tyre. Repairs are also allowed to keep cars in the race and for more minor damage with small parts hanging off, preventing more debris being added to the track.

It doesnt always help the racing but it's there for safety.


I agree. I recall the same thing in Monaco 2011? Red flag condition and they fitted tyres to anyone that needed them.Vettel was given a 'get out of jail free card' that afternoon. McLaren changed a rear wing too from memory. Totally legal yet bizarre that changes can be made at this time.


Why would three days help them much more than the entire season has?

I'm obviously missing some important fact here...


look at how effective the teams have been forced to become with their testing and development?!?

what does three days represent as a percentage of the entire amount of testing that the other teams got?

It's huge!


Not to mention the extra time in a proper f1 circuit in the current car for the race drivers.


Any conclusions from a test on unspecified tyres, most of which weren't 2013 spec, would be questionable. It's more likely any advantage Mercedes have gained would be useful for the 2014 car not the 2013. Even then as the 2014 tyres will no doubt evolve a lot before next season any information gain is of limited use.


Even the slower teams can look competitive at Monaco because the set up is not about raw speed....more about handling a very uneven road surface.


I'm not saying it will necessarily

But doing three race distances on Pirelli tyres is not going to do any harm is it when you are looking for a fix to a problem you've had for years?


Wow this is all getting messy now. Thanks for the article James I think it really puts all the intra politics into perspective.

I wrote on here that I thought Pirelli had gone too far. However as we can see they knew this already and were trying to rectify. Mercedes obviously exploited the situation knowing that they could because of things going on in the background.

Interestingly this whole way of trying to keep costs down isn't working. I always have believed the only way to do it is give everyone a £100m cost cap and let them spend the money as they like. It will never happen though because as we know the teams would never agree.

I just hope this latest episode doesn't lead Pirelli to pull out. I mean in honesty the theory of any publicity being good publicity must really be testing their board.


The problem with a cost cap is that it is impossible to police with the likes of Ferrari who can disguise development work in their road car division, all sorts or costs can be easily hidden such as maybe a couple of employees who work for Ferrari road cars but help out their buddies in the F1 dept one or two days a week.


Its all a bit smelly . This will bring in Ross'

retirement plan . Merc are supplying so many people with engines , Pirelli keep the whole "show" going . If they walk BIG PROBLEMS for another supplier to pick up before 2014.

Red Bull only in for themselves,nobody else relies on them .


I don't know. If another tyre supplier comes in the whole "must be 2 - 3 stops per race" rubbish will go. Pirelli only got the contract because they were the ONLY manufacturer to go along with such a daft concept. Any new tyre supplier will have the upper hand because they can simply say "yea we'll supply you tyres. but we're gonna make them how WE want" and the FIA will have no bargaining chips left.

So, that being the case, I don't think it will be a problem for an existing manufacturer to produce a decent set of tyres in a short period of time.


Anyone who says that driving a 2013 car with 2013 tyres and 2013 drivers, for 1000kms, 250 laps, 3 race lengths for 3 days, does not gain you any knowledge in all kinds of areas that the computers are logging every millisecond... is or clueless or lying.

I mean seriously, how can anyone defend this? I already see some British anti-RBR 'journalists' claiming how this is just RBR whining? If it had been Red Bull doing this, those same people defending this would be demanding RBR to be kicked off the planet, let alone F1.

Mercedes should be stripped off all their 2013 Constructor's points and let the drivers have their points and positions.


The test was mainly using 2014 tyres not 2013 tyres. Even if they were 2013 tyres then without being able to change the car's settings, try new parts etc I don't see how they would gain any more info than they did in the race.

Before suggesting those who disagree with you are clueless or lying it might be right to get your facts straight


But this is Pirelli's over-sight, not Mercedes'...

I don't follow your logic as to why it's Merc's fault.


Mercedes knows the rule that says 2013 cars are not allowed to be tested in-season, full stop. They have to follow that rule because they are the owners of that 2013 car.

They are or ignorant or just cheaters who thought they could get away with it.

It seems we would not find out if one of the drivers of Mercedes didn't mention it in the Driver talks, which then surprised all the other drivers. I am guessing Hamilton, because he is not the smartest cookie.

Dominic Donald

Merc weren't testing - Pirelli was.

This whole thing is about weasle words. Some teams knew there was a test but didn't know it was the current car. Some teams say they didn't know about (this specific?) test, but they knew of a general tyre testing programme. Pirelli said they asked the teams about participation in a testing programme, but are under no obligation to ask every team about every individual test. The FIA "advised" that a Pirelli test using the current Merc car and drivers was "possible", so long as everyone was given the same opportunity. Pirelli said they were (meaning an unspecific invitation to the test programme). Teams say they weren't (meaning about this specific test). FIA now implying that their "advice" about the Pirelli testing with the current car would only be legal outside of the F1 season, implying that the sporting regulations take precedence. Merc and Pirelli assume that the Pirelli contract takes precedence.

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with Merc's or Pirelli's interpretation of the situation. It seems that Ferrari and RBR missed and trick and the FIA is now backtracking, using semantics to explain that "advice" about a "possible" test, doesn't constitute "permission".

Remember Whiting's advice to McLaren at Spa 2008 following Hamilton's overtake of Raikönnen? Seems that FIA's "advice" doesn't mean much.


I am guessing Hamilton, because he is not the smartest cookie....

Smart enough to have negotiated the highest salary in F1 🙂


This is how rumours start.


Can't blame Mercedes,I'm sure they are much more aware of the rules than we are.

All teams will try and find a way around the rules,and when the rules are constantly changing,I blame the F1 organisers for this charade.


Lets get Simple:

In formula one you need the following four to win:

1. Budget

2. Car

3. Driver

4. Good Political Exploitation Skills.

Shame but true.


5. Be hated, that's when you know your winning.


I mention this every so often - have a read of The Art of War by Adam Parr. I think you may find it interesting and more than a little enlightening.


Absoluletly right.

Ferrari 1997- 2006 was the highest expression of that we have seen

Red Bull 2010-13 is modelled on it




To which you may add:-

5. Purposely generate controversy to keep the sport as a whole highlighted in the global media.

F1 is now a mature entity in terms of longevity – around 60 years in its current format. So it desperately needs to maintain its external competitiveness against competing sports in other sectors in order to survive commercially.

I simply do not believe that the other top teams were not aware of Mercedes’ test. As I have noted elsewhere, I can imagine the major teams’ principals regularly having amicable round-table meetings to decide what ‘teacup storms’ to generate and drawing lots as to who will take the roles of the ‘aggrieved’ and ‘beneficial’ parties.


@Dave C

Have you for a moment considered that Merc MUST have been paid for the test? 🙂


No, Merc paid for it



How are you sure it is Brawn's idea ?

I was even thinking its a setup by the board to get rid of him but I think I have to much fantasy 🙂


All the teams claim they didn't know, they also seemed very shocked in interviews and I dont see any reason to accuse them of lying, surly it would have been more dramatic to complain half way through the test, that would have been funny. Also a lot of people are saying the other teams must have noticed Merc not packing up which while I agree is a bit wired it dosent mean its ok for Merc to break the rules, it's not RBR and Ferraris job to make sure Merc follow the rules, that's the job of firstly Merc management and secondly the FIA


@Dai Dactic

I simply do not believe that the other top teams were not aware of Mercedes’ test....

I completely agree with the sentiment of your post. It's inconceivable that a team like Mercedes, run by someone with the experience of Ross Brawn, would deliberately breach the regulations so flagrantly. If they were cheating , as some have suggested, it would require a level of naivety that would beggar belief as they had no prospect of getting away with it. Ross Brawn is many things, but naïve he is not.

I am sure there is more to this than meets the eye - we will have to wait to find out. In the meantime it keeps the 'pot boiling'.


F1 is a phenomenally spectacular sport.... Even with 20+ races the viewers and fans keep craving for more.

There is no technological aspect of formula one that lacks the advance superiority.

What it should do is have more rockstar (larger than life) driver personalities.

Vettel is still a boy (even at 25+ the appeal is still boyish).

Hamilton has been portraying himself as too goodie two shoes to classified as a real. (nothing like the Hamilton of 2007).

Alonso is too politically entwined to be classified as hero.

Button.... well, never heard him do anything except complain, whine and complain.

Kimi is the only one who has brought back the Rockstar element to the driver and a lost dimension back into Formula one.

Now, this is what we need.... Characters.... not faceless drivers with zero personalities.

I think Lewis is the only other driver that has a personality which is he for reasons best known to him is keeping it under wraps.

So what we need is Lewis to add a little spice to Formula One..... The one Kimi has been so successful at.




Quick question here:

Does the lack of concorde agreement right now mean that Mercedes could just withdraw from the sport with immediate effect as a constructor and as an engine supplier from next year?

My thinking here being that IF this is the case, there's a very serious consideration to be had there for the FIA. They might not want to seriously anger one of their engine suppliers for next year. Also, as you mentioned, there's the current Pirelli situation.


I don't think well see Mercedes leave. But we might just see one of their drivers leave before his contract is up. For the first time ever, I watched the Indy 500 after the F1 race this weekend. While a circular track isn't terribly inspiring (I don't believe all Indy tracks are ovals though?), and the coverage was just awful, I can imagine Hamilton taking a look at those drivers going 95%-flat out the entire race and fancying a bit of that himself - especially if F1's going to continue down its current path...

And whatever you think of him as a driver, there's no denying that he'd certainly take a massive following with him.


Well, they have a commercial agreement with Ecclestone's company, so they would be unlikely to do that.

They have committed to F1 until at least 2020

Andrew Carter

But has anything been signed, and how much is the paper worth?


That makes sense. Thanks for that. 🙂


Thanks for the overview. These sort of issues would be resolved or at least tabled in places like FOTA wouldn't they James,- Before they became a problem.

I agree that the uncertainty of the Concorde agreement being finalized is a contributing factor and this highlights the fact that decision making between a complex set of businesses requires stronger leadership. It needs some "body" to say right this must be done by such and such a date and this body needs to have representation from all teams, commercial rights holders and the FIA.

I very much agree that the issue of Mercedes testing will be argued from the point that to recreate the conditions that led to the delamination in Bahrain would require the 2013 car and current drivers. My argument is that -it is still against the rules and if other teams were able to do special one off tests as Ferrari did in a 2011 vehicle then so should Mercedes. If they cannot extrapolate the configurations on an old car to their current car and come up with reasonable solutions then they are not technically good enough to be in F1 and deserve to be penalized. If a team like Force India whom , as far as Im aware have not even had a special test-Using the same Mercedes power plant can come up with a car that can deal with the tyres- I dont see what defense anyone at Mercedes Benz has.

Its kind of tough to take because I want to see Mercedes succeed in F1, but at the same time I dislike any team "pulling strings" and getting special treatment.

F1 is a business and a Sport..One should never ever overshadow the other.Tough thing to do, but it will be interesting to see what they will come up with.

Does this mean now the other teams have grounds to seek special testing and if so will this speed up Pirellis capacity to agree to a contract for 2014. Seems to be the Cart before Horse as usual in F1


this 'tyre' situation is becoming even more ludicrous in the extreme. the FIA and pirelli are simply a laughing stock and i find it impossible to accept that a third party 'component' supplier can determine how the entire seasons racing will be played out. hembery's comments re 'red bull' some weeks ago gave the show away.

in your second para.james, the issue with the tyre failures/delamination have been almost exclusively put down to cuts to the tread due to debris. the first question i would ask is did they, during the test, deliberately run over 'debris' to ensure that the new tyre suffered cuts to ensure that the new construction will be safe?

the second para. in your summary,'what happens next' mentions the rear left tyre problem. surely this would be as a reslut of suspension set up which is a car problem not a tyre problem?

i have absolutely no empathy with RBR whatsoever but in this case there is clearly a case to answer.

some 'pundits' suggest that the mercedes team would not be able to capitalise on what they learnt during this clandestine test is plainly wrong. the drivers and the team would be able to gain a massive understanding of the tyres, the new/proposed construction would be able to be monitored very closely.

there is a whole lot more to this than has been publicly announced i am sure. hopefully mercedes will be severely sanctioned and pirelli drummed out as they are fully complicit in the secrecy of it all.

Andrew Carter

OK genius, with 3 months to design new tyres who exactly do you think is going to come in. The only two companies with the technical expertise to do it are Bridgestone and Michelin, neither of which would be interested.

Matthew Cheshire

How is it possible that tyres could be even more trouble off the track than they are on it? Coupled with the changes in the compounds, F1 is in a massive mess over one component. Perelli is obviously rattling its cage here, and F1 management is really to blame for the whole situation reaching this point.

Tornillo Amarillo


I hope a F1 "GLASNOST" about testing.

Why not to legally invite at least inspectors from the other teams during testing??

For my fan point of view Pirelli is a mess, not a victim; they have problems with safety-delamination, artificial-race creation and now political issues that hurt the sport itself!

I'm wondering what is the alternative for fans who are saying they are switching the TV off. TENNIS?

Too much money in F1, but don't kill the Golden Goose!


Don't worry about Pirelli's threats to pull out - next year they will all be racing on Hankooks.


I sure hope so.

Andrew Carter

Really, thats rather worrying given that they have lots of testing in the DTM and still struggle to get their option tyres right.


The key point here for me is that it was the 2013 Merc and 2013 Merc driver line-up (vs the 2011 Ferrari with Pedro de la Rosa). All the other points are valid but this one is contentious for obvious reasons.

If Merc did not learn anything at all about setting-up / optimising their current car with this years tyres during this test, then I'm Nico's father...


Your last two sentances says it all


You haven't explained how M-B could have learned anything from this test. Normally in testing the team changes parts and settings to find new configurations to make the car work better. In a test run by Pirelli to evaluate tyres, I would imagine that the team must have to produce the car with exactly the same parts and settings for each tyre, to provide Pirelli with accurate comparative data on the tyres' performance. Furthermore Pirelli say that the tyres were disguised, so M-B didn't know which tyre was which. I don't see how the team concerned could learn anything about how to reconfigure their car from a test done in this way.

It sounds like a lot of sour grapes to me.


Merc would not only have learnt a huge lot about the tyres, the FIA would also surely have PAID them for the service of providing cars for the test. Thats what you call a double whammy! 🙂

F1? Whats that again?

Its tyres, tyres, tyres, tyres!


In a 1000km test you can do a lots of things not

only related to tyres.

You may use a new altenator, fuel pump, hydraulic setup, whatever and test them 1000km for reliability.


This is true, but you could just as easily fit those parts to a 2011 car, test them for 1,000km and gain the same knowledge - but we know that Pirelli tests with 2011 cars are legal, so that can't be the issue.

If doing these Pirelli tests was really such an advantage as you guys seem to believe, wouldn't it be very odd that only a few teams were willing to do them?

Andrew Carter

By comparing the new data against what they've already built up. It will give them something, though how much is anybodies guess.


You can't honestly think Mercedes employ idiots to develop, run and drive their cars do you?

The simple thing to do is set the car up with a well understood baseline for current tyres and with feedback from their race drivers who understand the feel of the tyres, some pretty smart engineers and gigabytes of gathered data I am very sure they can work out a hell of lot of information about the new tyres including which was which, wear rates etc etc and also data related to their car. Of course Mercedes being infinitely smarter than me would of had a much better plan.


Why would they use nico & lewis if they were not going to gain any advantage?


Even if Mercedes didn´t know what kind of tyres they were testing they knew they were using their 2013 car and current drivers. That´s not allowed. So it´s not about tyres only.


If it were me, I'd have all my telemetry humming, and keeping all the type temp and wear data concerning all the "mystery compounds" over the 3 days, so that I could match the data against the eventual race compounds that will eventually be produced, so that I could figure out how my car was doing on the mystery compounds of interest. There's no way, with today's sophisticated data measurement techniques, that Mercedes has not already completely characterized every single tyre that went on their car for those 3 days. They probably already know how many tyre variants were actually tested, grouped them and ordered them by hardness/wear, and basically are waiting to see which 4 of the 12 compounds Pirelli eventually releases. No advantage gained? Come on...

The other part of me thinks we're absolutely all being played by the CVC media magicians who are salivating at every blog post and news article about these controversies... however at some point, "there's no such thing as bad publicity" reaches a turning point where it all nosedives very badly. The trick is to steer clear of the oncoming cliff.


Surely it can't be as simple as you suggest? If it was not allowed to use current cars in this kind of test, Pirelli wouldn't have done it. In fact, however, it appears that there are different rules for Pirelli tests than for the teams' testing. As far as Pirelli is concerned, it seems logical to suppose that using 2011 cars to evaluate current tyre problems would be no use to them whatsoever.

At the moment, Pirelli is getting nothing but bad publicity from F1. There is as yet no tyre contract for 2014. If FIA gives a ruling that testing tyres on current cars to deal with current safety issues is not permitted, I can see Pirelli withdrawing. That would leave F1 in chaos, but rightly so - if the tyre company can't test their tyres properly, whichever company it is will be on a hiding to nothing.


Well tell FIA. They make the rules and they don´t seem to like what took place. If FIA wants to take a closer look it is because they believe that something might be wrong. In general test are not done on current cars nor with current drivers. If you have Rosberg or Hamilton and their 2013 car you always have an advantage over someone else who tested in an old car and with a test driver. Is that legal? It seems it is not but we have to wait and see.


Why can't they perform further testing with the other teams after the Canadian gp and introduce the improved tyres subsequently. I'm sure redbull and ferrari would be happy and that way Pirelli would have testing done with different cars, more information can't be a bad thing.


Testing is done in Europe at the moment.


It is easier and cheaper to transport spare parts around.

20 cars (less Mercedes of course) will involve a lot of tyres needing transport across the Atlantic at very high cost.

Besides, I doubt Pirelli has manufactured that many testing samples for the teams to test at short notice.


Ok so Silverstone, problem solved


Barcelona and Silverstone are supposedly better for data gathering. I would have a three day test from the Monday preceeding the British GP at either tbd the weather for the other 10 teams.


Thanks James for another great piece.


How about a conspiracy theory. Ross brawn to take the fall for this and retire while paddy Lowe takes over. Lol

Seriously though I feel sorry for pirelli. But with no concorde agreement is there much that can be done about it?


James, good to see you finally refer to the cost of the 2014 engines, instead of just running PR line from the development engineers about how wonderful they are.

This has the real potential to threaten the survival of the teams at the back of the grid. It's been an issue for a while now, shamefully ignored by the vast majority of the F1 press (honourable exception - Dieter Rencken).

Can we now expect you to provide some serious coverage about this issue?


Go back and read some of the older articles and posts; you'll see it's acknowledged that the expected increase in costs is one of the reasons why we're seeing a number of teams switching engine suppliers next season and an increase in pay drivers at the back of the field to help pay for it all.

How much more serious do you want?

Should James be putting on his frowny face as he writes his articles?


Very unfair comment in line one. We've written about costs extensively before and we never follow a PR line.

If you have issues with the views we take here on JA on F1 there are many other websites for you to visit which might chime with your own views, however you may arrive at them


James, what is the maximum penalty the FIA can impose on Mercedes?


Disqualification from 2013 season

If a breach is proven it won't be anything like that through


What do you think it will be like James?


@only1halen lets not get silly. It's like Alonso or Renault have anasterisk there Singapore 08 victory.

F1 need Mercedes now as much as they needed Renault then.


Take all current points from them.


I believe there should be a permanent asterisk next to Mercedes victory in Monaco. If disqualification is not possible, the FIA should strip Rosberg, Hamilton and Mercedes-AMG of their world championship points from the Monaco Grand Prix.


What about a disqualification 2014?

Apparently they have also tested 2014 compounds.

If the tires/compound show a certain 'footprint' it must be possible to recognize these tires next year. The collected data might also be useful for the 2014 design.


Isn't in the FIA's interest to say, this was all agreed, and the logical team to the test was Mercedes, because they are the worst team offended by the tyres and they had a tyre failure. As we let Pirelli do the test after a grand prix, it was not reasonable to expect Mercedes to bring an older car.

I would argue though they could have supplied a different driver.

Time to just move on guys


If Ferrari could supplied a different car so could Mercedes.


Why not just use a GP2 car for testing? Or what about a Formula Ford?

Want to know why? I'll give you a hint: it's the same reason why they didn't want to use a 2011 car.

Answer (in case you haven't figured it out by now): the performance levels aren't high enough, resulting in misleading test results, therefore a 2013 car must be used for more representative testing.


Yeah, pole was inexplicably two seconds slower in 2012 in Spain than in other seasons, which shows small changes in track conditions can have a major effect on laptime from year to year, and therefore shouldn't be used as a strict guideline.

Different tire compounds, ambient temp, track temp, wind speed and direction, track conditions (e.g. Which tires were the support series on?), etc etc. These all have an effect on laptime.

I read somewhere that Pirelli guessed wrong this year and they weren't expecting the levels of downforce achieved in 2013. Even the balance of downforce may be different now. Fact is, they need to test, and they need a proper car to test with.


Right... check the lap times for races from 2010 or 2011...


A 2013 car can´t be used if FIA doesn´t allow it. That´s one of the main points in this controversy.


From my understanding of the race – did Mercedes do a better job on their tyres? I mean they were going so slowly on a track that’s almost impossible to pass on? It seemed obvious the pack could have gone a lot faster – so surely Mercedes are still struggling with tyres and opted to control the race from the start with a lower than normal lap times. Vettel’s comment summed it up – the Silver Arrows were like a bus going for a cruise..

I don’t think Mercedes are on top of their tyre issues at all.

However that aside I think this whole testing thing seems a total mess!! Lost a lot of respect for Mercedes which is a shame as I really want them to do well with Hamilton and Rosberg..


Mercs plan was to one-stop, while others thought that was impossible. Thats why the Mercs were so slow.

I kept a close watch on Lewis tyres (even after he complained of graining), they looked all shiny and brand new throughout, despite his attcking Webber. We'll know in the next few races how they stack up tyre wise; in Monaco, they surely did much better than the Red Bulls.

Merc has the fastest car, so if they have permenently solved their tyre issues, then all other top teams are in trouble. I believe thats the real angle Red Bull and Ferrari have taken.


I agree, a similar thought had occurred to me.


I think secretly we all love this, don't we? I spend so much time on this blog, Autosport and F1 Racing mag etc READING about F1, rather than watching it, all this political nonsense keeps us coming back!

Monaco was a great race with plenty of incidents, and now we have all the off track stuff to keep us entertained until Canada.

I would not be surprised if it was Bernie that leaked this story!


Unfortunately the politics are far more interesting than the racing these days.

I quite enjoy the politics of F1, but I never thought I'd see the days when reading articles and getting involved in debates on F1 web sites was *more* entertaining than watching the actual races.


Well said. I don't about the rest of you think but it seems F1 increasingly takes place centred on issues other than the racing itself. Credit to Bernie, I suppose, it's proven to be a sporting soap opera easily on a par with football. There is a fair amount of jaundice that spills over into comment when at the very least there is a certain pleasure in being able to express it so freely, to feel one is contributing.

Surely as long as Merc had no telemetry for the test it was only an advantage in giving both their drivers an extended run out/practice. Although one wonders if they were being told things like laptimes etc as Lewis' disposition would suggest Nico was also on top during the test too. On the evidence of Monaco, at least, I think it's querulous of RB to complain they gained an advantage; of course, if they're race pace has dramatically improved come Montreal then it's a very fair complaint.


The 'story' was 'leaked' by one of the Mercedes drivers during the drivers talk, mentioning it as a matter of fact, which surprised everyone else in the room. So the drivers told their teams and then all hell broke loose.

Judging by how insecure Hamilton was looking Sunday all day, I would say he let it slip out.


If it was such a big secret, don't you think Mercedes would have told their drivers to keep schtum?


BUT, it wasn't a secret as Mercedes says!!! 🙂



People love their rumours even when they don't make sense.


Loose lips sink ships...


Well, can you really blame Pirelli. Who would be happy to spend millions a year only to have your reputation slandered in the media. Whipping boys indeed, quite a shameful display by the teams really. F1 should remember that in 6 months they will need Pirelli, and not the other way round...


Can you imagine what the British media response would be if it was Fernando and felipe in a 2013 Ferrari doing this test? The outcry would be so over the top.

But the thing that bothers me is that Pirelli on Sunday after the race said we went too far and that we will be making changes from Canada to the tyres. Then the next day Mercedes gets to test the tyres that will be run in Canada. And Mercedes say they don't know what tyres they were running because Pirelli only had them marked a and b etc. well next years tyres are going to be soo different so I'm pretty sure the smart engineers could figure that out pretty quickly. Mercedes have no doubt got an advantage out of this. I would make Mercedes have to pay for every other team to go testing for 3 days after silverstone or something like that. Fairest solution I think.


I don't understand why you want to punish Merc, but not Pirelli, or the FIA.

Between Pirelli and the FIA; someone authorised the use of the track for a whole 3 days, someone paid for the tracks use, someone monitored the tests, someone manufactured the tyres, someone stored the tyres at track-side (we are talking eaily a 100+ tyres), someone signed in the Pirelli trucks bringing in the tyres... And someone PAID Merc for the service.


You finally going to admit you was wrong and Mercedes hae broke the rules ?


Admit? I neither work for Merc nor the FIA, so how can I "admit?"

We are mostly just interested fans and observers.

It is left for the FIA to decide if Mercs exploitation of a loophole or not. F1 is about very clever people finding gaps to use for advantage. In F1, there is no straight line as it is.


Because it is clearly missing with u that Mercedes used the 2013 car. And no matter what way u call it that is testing as no matter when or were u run a car u are always learning. Pirelli didn't ask for a 2013 car as when Ferrari did the test after Bahrain it was pedro de la rosa in a 2010 or 2011 Ferrari. Merc used 2013 car with current drivers which is not allowed. Thats my problem with this situation.


The FIA had representatives at the test. That should put a line under the matter.

The FIA also makes clear that their only grouse is IF other teams were not alerted about the tests; otherwise, everything about the test was within the rules of its contract with Pirelli.

Because of F1's intense secretiveness, no team would give their cars to a 3rd party without compensation, so Merc would have been paid for supplying their cars, allocated extra engines for the season and paid for manufacturing the engines required for the test.

Guess who would have to make these concessions and payments? The FIA.

Also, the FIA has signed conflicting contracts with FOM and Pirelli. In other words, several F1 race contracts are in breach, null and void, unenforceable. To add to that soup, there is also no concorde agreement in place. So, who's gonna punish who?

The watch word is that both Red Bull and Ferrari are not complaining or looking for punishment for Merc as such, but are asking for "clarification." They would love to use the loophole Merc found themselves, they want some of that lolly they had earlier spat out for secrecies sake.

Its all politics, sour grapes and red faces. Nothing will happen.


I'd like to know what engines were used for this. 1000k's presumably across 2 cars is roughly 1.5 GP's per car. If Mercedes used previously run race engines, that squeezes them for later in the year for the FP sessions at least. The risk is obviously worth it, but to me adds to the perception they knew it was wrong. Not even Ferrari who (at least in the past) love to stretch the rules ran a current car.


There is no reason they would use one of their nominated race engines for this. To do so would be crazy. The teams can use as many engines as they want for testing, demos etc. It is only during race weekends they have to use a nominated engine. I'm sure Mercedes can afford to build a couple of extra ones for the test.


"it would be difficult for a new supplier to come in and tool up to produce F1 tyres"

There are suppliers who delivered F1 tires in the turbo era and during times the cars had much more power than now.

For sure they still have the experience and documentation how to produce.

There is no real problem to deliver safe tires without Pirelli!


Yes, but even with Pirelli's experience and expertise things have still gone pear-shaped. If what you say is true then I might as well set up a factory of my own.

In addition, the performance demands and tech data that teams require now are vastly different from the bye-gone turbo eras. Being a Tyre supplier is not just about rocking up with some rubber doughnuts for every one to use, especially when your the sole provider.


The only reason they have troubles now is due to fine tailor made specifications they want to achieve - thus to control a certain racing aspect. As mentioned above Michelin, Good Year or Bridgestone would be back in a flash providing safe and quick tyres.


Exactly. They could open up the rules and just let any tire manufacturer supply tires; they'd have tires pretty quick. Michelin would be back in a flash if that happened.

They could even get Avons... Look at the tires that are used in the BOSS series. There's lots available.

There is no crisis... Teams just don't want to buy tires.


It's puzzling to me why the Formula one teams have voted against bringing back in-season testing just two weeks ago. Mercedes was the first team to vote against!

Well, Mercedes is now in trouble.In 2007, the spying scandal at McLaren, now tyre test scandal with Mercedes, boy, never seen someone being so unlucky like Lewis Hamilton.


Wow - what a story! The other F1 teams/the media must have known/seen Mercedes + Pirelli staying on in Spain after the GP. 24h sport news/twitter age makes it impossible to have a "secret" three day 2013 Mercedes/Hamilton/Rosberg F1 test in the middle of the season - on a popular racetrack!

So - who is "brake-testing" whom? Teams/BE against FIA? Is this all strategy? First Ferrari "careful" with 2011 car, now Mercedes with 2013 car. Two teams who are to important to be banned from F1 are pushing the boundaries with heavy tools? Is testing back? Break-away all over again? This time with BE on board? This developing story is a big one - love it!


Was hoping for a bit more from this article to be honest. Some questions that need to be answered:

Did the FIA give approval for the test?

If approval was given is the reason for doing so even allowed as part of the rules and clearly stated as such eg Article X:X.x "In the event of safety requirements....".

If the FIA gave conditional approval were those conditions met? And did the FIA receive confirmation that the conditions were met before the test went ahead?

Did Pirelli in MAY 2013 offer ALL teams the opportunity of in-season testing with their 2013 car?

Are teams obliged to inform the FIA (and other teams?) when they will conduct straight-line testing?

Did the FIA make clear to Merc that they shared responsibility in ensuring the conditions were met?

If all the conditions for FIA approval were met why did a) Pirelli/Mec hide the fact that they tested with the 2013 car and b) did Merc need to consult their lawyers before doing so?

Did Mercedes have access to ANY of the data collated from the test and did they have any influence in set-up adjustments etc?

The point about the teams should have known about the test because Merc didn't pack-up is disingenuous. The other teams clearly did not know a test with the 2013 was planned. Right now it's looking unlikely that Pirelli and Merc can answer all of those questions and not have committed an infringement.


The key point is whether Mercedes had input to the setups and access to the outputs. If they had no control then they can argue that they got no benefit. I suspect, however, that it would be difficult to maintain a firewall even if they tried to do so.



James, one issue that hasn't been discussed is what engines were used for this test, were they out of the allocation of 8 engines that have to last the season. If this was the case then it could harm Mercedes rather than help them.


Technical Regulations 28.4c says "Within two hours of the end of the post race parc ferme exhaust blanking plates (with one 10mm diameter inspection hole per cylinder) and further seals will be applied to all used engines in order to ensure that these engines cannot be run between Events."

I guess this means that Mercedes couldn't have used race engines at the test without the permission of the FIA.

Pirelli could only have tested with a team that could supply the additional engines as well as the car and drivers i.e. Mercedes or Ferrari.


I kept asking myself same question and curious that why no one talk about it until i saw your comment. 1000km means 3 race distances, which means they will be out of fresh engines toward the end of season. Why all smart guys in F1 didn't ask this question.

Also...if they dont use 2013 cars, how can pirelli understand what's the difference between old spec and new spec (the one for Montreal).

Don't forget who yelled the loudest to change the spec. IT'S RED BULL!!!! if they dont ask for change, prehaps this test never take place.



And if the engine and gearbox were not part of a 2013 allocation. How do the FIA or anyone determine what constitutes a 2013 car?

Stephen Taylor

Could it be that Merc get the same punishment as what Mclaren got for Spygate in 2007?


True. Mad Max wanted to flush McLaren out of F1, he had some sort of maniacal hatred for the team. I guess because McLaren showed that honest sweat and brilliant engineering could challange and even defeat the unholy FIA/Ferrari alliance in those times.


Definitely not. That penalty was 90% Max Mosely on Ron Dennis, and 10% on McLaren.

I don't think anyone will ever face sanctions quite like that again.


That would be fair.


Doubt it, Daimler can threaten to leave the sport, both as a team and engine manufacturer, Mclaren could not.


Why just penalise Mercedes? Pirelli are responsible too as they aren't supposed to use 2013 cars. But when you have a single supplier it gets tough, the FIA don't have room for maneuver. It's not like they can disqualify Pirelli.


They are allowed to use 2013 car if they provide their own driver and if all F1 teams are asked to participate.


It does all smack of sour grapes though, doesn't it?

Pirelli need to test with current equipment to get meaningful results or everybody blames them when the tyres don't deliver. They ask teams to help them develop/test the tyres and some teams decline. The same teams then complain when others do agree to help out.

I know Paul Hembery is getting a great deal of use out of the phrase: "Damned if you do, damned if you don't", but it's hard not to see his point.

Based on this model how are they expected to produce appropriate tyres for the 2014 spec cars based on testing with a car made for old rules with a completely different design philosophy?


It is not about what Pirelli needs it is about what the rules say.And it seems that not all teams were invited to test if they want. Lotus and Force India are saying they never got an invitation from Pirelli


My thought from the first I heard of this: Why would MB agree to do it if the decision-makers thought there was nothing to gain from it?


Super disappointed in Mercedes. Mercedes was rated one of the top few trusted names in the world.

I expected the grubby behaviour from pirelli.

The rubbish coming from both Mercedes and pirelli i pure sophistry and semantics.

Imagine as a child asking to do something and hearing only the "yes" and pretending not to hear the rest of the conditions from your parents. There is no way you could hide behind "I only heard "yes"" and thought it was ok.

Bring Back Murray

"The FIA says it was not aware that Mercedes would use a current car for this amount of running; it signed up for 100kms only."

Didn't they twig this when the two existing cars stayed behind after the race and the absence of any trucks brining in and swapping the cars over?

Red Bull and Ferrai have a right to be p**d at this. The feedback from those 3 days could have a marked impact on Mercs results for the rest of the season.


Well, the FIA should have said no to the test then shouldn't it?

If they give permission and then are slack about policing it (if that's what happened) then they only have themselves to blame.

We should also not assume too much, i.e., that Merc were able to obtain data that would assist them with the current tyres. Heavy tyre wear is not a new problem for they've been mulling on it for more than a year!

Finally, its a bit rich coming from Red Bull - the team that consistently push rules to the limit and beyond. Trouble is, when they are not winning they are prone to stemp their feet - much like their favoured driver actually.


This is complete rubbish. I dont understand how Pirelli could go any more out of their way in their unstated aim of disadvantaging Red Bull. We are told that any change to the tires at this point would be unfair and favor Red Bull yet we learn that at the same time these statements are being made Mercedes have been receiving private tutoring lessons from Pirelli. Magically all the tire issues dissapear. The fix is in. F1 better get a handle on this. The credibility of the sport is declining each race weekend.


Thats why its called a circus. 🙂


I think they gave a provisional approval, with some requirements that have evidently not been met.


The FIA gave Pirelli permission to test, using an old car and non-race drivers.

Mercedes decided to use a 2013 car and their race drivers. It was Mercedes that broke the rules.

The fact that they were involved in a test with Pirelli is irrelevant, Ferrari did it earlier. The key difference is that Ferrari used an old car and a test driver. In other words, they followed the rules, which clearly, Mercedes did not.

I don't think the FIA have the guts to ban them from the championship, so I think the only remotely fair option would be to give the other teams a 3 day test as soon as possible. Even this isn't exactly fair because the achilles heel of the Mercedes is tyre problems, so a tyre test is perfect for them. Lotus for example could do with a general aero based test instead but they won't get it.



The FIA gave Pirelli permission to test, using an old car and non-race drivers.

Mercedes decided to use a 2013 car and their race drivers. It was Mercedes that broke the rules.....

Please may I politely correct you as the claim you are making above appears to be incorrect..

The FIA did provide permission for Pirelli to test using a current car - here is an excerpt from the FIA statement:

“At the beginning of May, the FIA was asked by Pirelli if it was possible to carry out some tyre development testing with a team, using a current car. Within the contract Pirelli has with the FIA as single-supplier, there is provision for them to carry out up to 1000kms of testing with any team – provided every team is offered the opportunity to do so”.

The nub of the matter would seem to be whether the other teams were offered the chance to participate. Mercedes, as they were not running the test, will presumably claim that was Pirelli's responsibility and not theirs. I have no doubt that Mercedes knew exactly what had happened and were taking full advantage (can you honestly blame them). But, as it was not their test how can they be held accountable for the failings of Pirelli?

The wise old owl, Ross Brawn, was given an inch and took a couple of miles!



For me, the real question is this - is Ross Brawn really smart or really dumb? I hope you have answered really smart.

So, how likely do you think it is that he would do something as monumentally stupid as has been suggested?


Yeah, I just found that information myself.

The real question is how they can justify that Pirelli were running the test...

All of the staff involved in running the car etc were Mercedes personnel (the race team).. When Pirelli has previously tested they used an old Renault driven by their own test driver..

Did Pirelli have full access to all the Mercedes systems and data? I doubt it. Did Pirelli decide the setup on the car? I doubt it.

I guess only time will tell if Mercedes gets away with it or not...


A naughty child in a group should be punished, not the others rewarded for him being wrong !


I totally agree except it is impossible to objectively quantify the advantage gained by the test and so how would you quantify the punishment?

So giving the other teams the test would give them the same unquantified advantage...


Rules is rules...but if 2011 and older cars can really help tyre manufacture to redesign 2013 tyre for better safety, why dont all team test their 2 yrs old car during pre season test?...or contest this year with 2011 cars?...this test may safe life of 22 great drivers on the track....


For a change Michael Schumacher is not involved in this controversy! Or was he the mystery test driver?? Who knows....

I think the FIA should allow one day of testing to each team between the two week gap of Grand Prix then no who has an excuse including Pirelli


dont you think we are exeggarating the situation too much... mercedes had 10 months last year and they had also tests in february and in march this year to solve their tyre issues but they did not really come up with something... so why people think 3 days test will do a miracle suddenly... in canada and in silverstone, expect the same pattern... ros/ham starts from the pole and end up 7th, 8th or something... or more optimistic would be 4th 5th ... i dont believe at all that they can just solve something by just running 3 days.. they have got fridays etc... they could have done it before if they were able to do it... so lets not draw too many conclusions... a fine of 1.000.000 € or something would be more than enough... so just wait for canada and you will see mercedes have not solved anything with tyres.. max chilton were doing similar times to nico rosberg in monaco :)))


With a room full of tire engineers you can't tell me that none of them suggested suspension settings and weight balances that would assist a team in coming to grips with a tire problem over the course of 3 days of testing.


Bottom line, there seems to be a grey area written into the rules, Pirelli are permitted to to request any team to do a thousand mile in season test, yet the teams are not allowed to test in season, so there is a uncertainty written into the regulations, Mercedes have spotted this and taken a gamble in exploiting it. Good on them.


For Ross Brawn to claim that they didn't gain any benefit from the test, because Pirelli gave them unmarked tyres, is laughable beyond belief.


According to Pirelli they tested the new 2014 tyres and the modified 2013 tyres to be used from Canada onwards. Given the fact that the next years tyres are so much different I suspect it took Mercedes engineers all of 5 minutes to determine which is which.


There is a very easy way to test whether he believes that comment himself.

Offer all the other teams a 3 day tyre test with unmarked tyres. If he objects in any way he's a liar.


James, excellent analysis as ever.

If anyone was thinking that the championship could be tainted by Pirelli changing tyres mid-way through the season, if Mercedes now have their act together the row over the change in compounds will probably seem like a flash in the pan.


Hey James, has anyone called this tire gate ye