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FIA summons Mercedes and Ferrari to respond to inquiry over secret tyre tests
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Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Jun 2013   |  7:23 am GMT  |  333 comments

A statement was issued by the FIA on Friday night which takes the story of the secret tyre tests conducted in May by Ferrari (with a two year old car) and Mercedes (with a current car) to the next level, in calling them to co-operate with a disciplinary inquiry.

Ferrari being drawn in is an interesting development, given that they were one of two teams, along with Red Bull, to protest against Mercedes over its test. On the face of it Ferrari’s test with a two year old car was within the rules.

At the same time Pirelli has issued a statement summarising the information it has already given to the FIA inquiry. It adds at the bottom that the revised tyres which will be tested in Montreal and then raced from Silverstone onwards are aimed solely at fixing the delamination problem and not at altering the number of pit stops, as was originally discussed.

The FIA statement says, “The FIA has asked Team Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 and Scuderia Ferrari Team, which have taken part in tyre tests in the 2013 season, to reply to a disciplinary inquiry in pursuance of the FIA Judicial and Disciplinary Rules.

“This follows the Stewards’ Report from the Monaco Grand Prix and represents supplementary information required by the FIA in the light of the replies received from Pirelli, who were asked for clarifications on Tuesday May 28th.”

At this stage the FIA is still establishing whether or not to launch an International Tribunal hearing into the matter.

Meanwhile Pirelli went onto the front foot on Friday with a live teleconference in which they were at pains to point out that they feel that they have done nothing to unsettle the sporting competition between teams to the advantage of one team by conducting the Mercedes test. They argued that the test was not secret, that all teams were given the chance to do the test and that they did not request a current car.

Their statement, issued during the conference spelled out a list of key points which they clearly wanted to get into the public domain and which formed the thrust of their case to the FIA submitted on 28th May, along with the email trail which they believe proves what they are saying.

Clearly the key issue and the one they are most at pains to avoid is that of favouring a particular team, which would be a violation of its contract with the FIA and of the Sporting Codes. If there is a sub-plot here involving an attempt to use this issue to force a switch to a different tyre supplier, such as Michelin, then this is the potential lever and Pirelli knows it.

Pirelli’s statement says that the tyre company, “Has not favoured any teams and, as always, acted professionally, with transparency and in absolute good faith.

“The tyres used were not from the current championship but belonged to a range of products still being developed in view of an eventual renewal of the supply contract. Further, none of the tests were carried for the purpose of enhancing specific cars, but only to test tyre solutions for future championships.

“The use of the car utilized by Mercedes, in particular, was the result of direct communication between FIA and the team itself. Pirelli did not ask in any way that a 2013 car be used: not of Mercedes nor Fia nor the teams which, during the year, were offered the opportunity of participating in tests for the development of tyres for 2014.

“The tyres that will be tested by the teams in the free practice at the Montreal Grand Prix have never been used by the teams before.”

Pirelli’s Paul Hembery was at pains to point out that the Mercedes test was focussed on 2014 tyre development and that the only tyres intended for 2013 use were the ones aimed at fixing the delamination issue, with the 2012 belt pack made of kevlar replacing the steel belt.

Pirelli adds as a final note that the new tyres to be raced from Silverstone onwards will not feature any changes aimed at reducing the number of pit stops,

“Pirelli, ready as it is to make changes at any moment, has made no modifications that effect the duration of the tyres and, consequently, on the number of pit stops during the race because of a lack of unanimity of the part of the teams,” it says.

There’s no doubt that the whole secret test situation has played badly both within F1 and the wider fan base because it highlights the lack of trust between competitors and gives rise to valid questions over whether unfair advantage has been gained.

Clearly the FIA has been part of the process and is under pressure to resolve it quickly. On the face of it the rules are clear: a team is not allowed to test a current car during a season.

If there are to be exemptions, then the circumstances in which they are permitted, need to be spelled out and quickly.

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1

The FIA have called in Ferrari for using a 2 year old car to test tyres…. wtf… F1 has become a running joke already, this “Tyre-Gate” spectacle is ridculous and getting more daft by the day!

2

seems security at the mercedes test was extremely tight & that during the ferrari test locals were told it was just a gp2 test.

http://formula-one.speedtv.com/article/f1-how-secret-was-pirellis-mercedes-test/

Any advantage Mercedes got from the test isn’t likely to be about the tyres themselfs but instead from simply gaining 1000kms of seat time for its drivers.

I’ve heard it said many times that everytime your in an F1 (Or any other race car) doing laps your learning something & gaining experience of the car & how best to drive it.

There was a story a day or 2 ago about Hamilton needing to adapt to the Mercedes brakes due to them using a different supplier to what he’s been used to at McLaren. Surely a significant amount of test mileage help’s him learn more about this & figure them out a lot faster than he would have if he only had race weekends.

They may not have run any new parts, May not have known what tyres they were using & may not have made any setup changes. However there are still an awful lot of gains a driver can make just by getting seat time & Hamilton/Rosberg getting that extra set time is more of an unfairness in my opinion than having run Pirelli development tyres.

3

Agreed to some extent but I hardly think that 1000kms is something that two professionals like Lewis or Nico would really “heavil” benefit from – the track is so well known by all the drivers since they test there all the time that I’m sure all the drivers could drive there with their eyes closed.

4

Reading through the comments and there is one thing missing. If this was an FIA sanctioned test, who was present. Where was the technical team from the FIA to check that the test was only for tyre testing, and nothing else – aero etc, let alone engine and gearbox.

Why would they not be present?

5

Probably because there’s no rule that says the FIA has to be present? I guess they trust Pirelli who ran the test to be professional about it and ensure that Mercedes aren’t able to test any new packages or receive any valuable data.

6

As Pirelli wanted to get tire data for the 2014 season, what is to say that Mercedes weren’t running their 2014 engine package?

No-one saw the test. No-one “heard” the test from around the area and investigated as a 2014 engine will sound nothing like the current V8’s.

What implications would that have to the investigation and would Merc take a massive fine and stay quite on what they really had under the hood to get a leg up on next year’s engine?

1000km’s is a massive amount to be running on a new engine package, even if it was detuned to last the 1000 kays. They could also have been running any amount of 2014 components as well as getting data on new front wing/rear wing/diffuser/Coanda combinations that puts it well out infront of the rest of the pack who can only test these things in straight line or GP weekends. This data is insurmountable compared to the amount of GP weekends they would have to run, putting them 3-4 months ahead of all the other teams.

Ferrari have already stated that their Customer Division ran the 2011 car with Kamui Kobiashi at the wheel. He has already said that it was great to drive a car that he was battling with and he could correlate where the Ferrari differed to the Sauber he was driving then.

Given that, Mercedes drivers would be able to feel the difference in the tires and then brief the Engineers on what they felt and the engineers can then back that data up with the data they have received form the tests and overlay that data against the race weekend data so Mercedes would be able to correlate that data when the “future 2014” tires make their appearance, they can utilise previous data gathered.

If it is true that the FIA allowed the test because Pirelli’s contract says it can test with a “representative car” and there is a ban on testing by the current teams in season unless it is with a “extremely different (read 2 yr+ car)”, then that makes a mockery of the rules. Which has more relevance, Pirelli’s contract or the Sporting Regulations? WHo is Pirelli’s contract with? The FIA or F1 Holdings? Doesn’t the FIA contract the running of F1 to F1 Holdings, a contract which is owned by CVC. Sounds like a legal minefield which could just simply damage F1 in the eyes of Joe Public. Which could just pave the way for everyone to be fined, part suspended, just to get this out of the public domain.

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/107817

7

Mercedes had no idea what tyres they were testing and its no guarantee that what they were testing was in fact going to the official 2014 tyre when it rolls out next year. Most likely they tested a prototype 2014 tyre which will change before its finally made available to all teams. From what I understand the car used was the exact same car that was used at the race a day before still with the same suspension settings and Mercedes were not allowed to change it so pretty sure they weren’t testing their new engine.

8

Why would Mercedes put extra 1000 Km on engine and gearbox without any dispensation from FIA if they didn’t feel having some benefit ? Just apply common sense. Extra 1000 Km is a lot, almost 2 GP events with the practice and qually.

9

I am assuming other things. Something like 1/2 of all MB produced passenger cars for the next five years to be fitted with Pirelli tires. After that suddenly there is a one semi secret tire test for you MB guys, out of hat.

Excess of 1000 km on engine and gear box would be nowadays in F1 called: over engineering. It is to say the least on your side over optimistic. There is no money that Pirelli would (or want to) pay any team for tire tests. Just apply common sense, it would be enough.

10

Because most likely both the gearbox and engine were already close to the allocated end of its useable life and were designated to be changed for the next race in Montreal- may as well use the engine/gearbox rather than throw it in the trash. You’re also assuming that Mercedes did this out of the kindness of their heart, its certainly possible that Pirelli paid Mercedes for this test.

11

Even if (a big if I believe) merc didn’t get any data from the test from Pirelli, you cannot tell me the race drivers didn’t benefit from this and relay some information to their engineers. Bad move merc. Shame on them. They new of the test before hand so you can’t say they couldn’t at least bring a test driver. This just reeks of “secret test” and rule breaking.

12

How is it a secret when the track was booked in Pirelli’s name, it was done right after an event a public track with anyone who wanted to watch it allowed? The fact they didn’t inform everyone that it was going to happen doesn’t mean it was secret – If a test like this can go so unnoticed by the public, press, teams or the FIA when there was no effort made to hide it then It doesn’t give me much faith that a team could be exposes for testing if they really wanted it to be kept a secret.

As for the drivers being able to relay information to their engineers? How? What are they going to say if they don’t a clue as to what tyre they are even testing? Unless the engineers have actual data – temps , wear rates etc etc then any feedback given is worthless.

13

Surely it’s possible to run tyre tests using current cars, under FIA observation, in such a way that the team involved does not benefit or take away any usable data?

Couldn’t the team staff set up the car for running with a pre-agreed suspension/downforce set up, then Pirelli staff run the car driven by a Pirelli test driver and all recorded data is erased from team equipment prior to the car being returned?

I’m sure it’s more complicated than that but surely it’s not beyond the wit of the people involved in F1 to work out an acceptable protocol for this?

14

As far as I know this is exactly what was done with the exception of the Pirelli Test driver. If this is the case then all that’s gained is that Pirelli has a better understanding of their tyres and can help develop a better tyre for next year which is all we viewers seems to be bitching about lately.

15
Rob in Victoria bc

I’d like to see a return to single lap qualifying,no problem about saving tires for the race then.

16

Indy is also for men.

17

Sorry but F1 is so f…ing boooring!

I do enjoy Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP races though. Redding’s victory was epic!!! Now, bike races are for men, F1 races nowadays are for primadonnas…

18

Yet you feel compelled to visit a F1 related website and even comment? If you don’t like it, don’t watch it and go watch your motoGP.

19

Then why do you watch it and/or comment on a F1 blog?

20

Strictly speaking Scuderia Ferrari didn’t conduct any tests. F150 Italia utilized by Pirelli was provided by Corse Clienti Division that is a separate entity to Ferrari F1 Team. The driver that was driving F150 isn’t currently competing in F1 GPs, so Ferrari is clear. The question is still what, how and why ? Mercedes were using their current F1 W04 car despite the fact that those cars components are of limited life and they didn’t get any compensation from FIA so that they may replace engine/ transmission after 1000 km of intense testing without being penalized.

21

Not saying I actually believe Ferrari did anything wrong but I think the argument that Corse Clienti ran the test and therefore Ferrari couldn’t benefit from anything learned is a bit naive. They are affiliated with Ferrari and could easily pass information on.

22

4 sure even McLaren benefited from the famous spy gate. On legal grounds you would need a water tight B&W evidence that separate entity leaked info to SF which was beneficial to them. So Ferrari did it in a legally very complex way while Mercedes blatantly used W04 with their first line drivers.

23

It has surfaced now that Lewis and Nico even used different helmet liveries opposing to their usual one, to avoid being identified. So it is quite strange to do this, to say the least, isn’t it ?, certainly if this is true and correct.

24

The fact that Mercedes did it so blatantly leads to me believe that they must have written proof and permission that that FIA allowed it. Contrary to what is being said the test was anything but secret with no effort being made what so ever to try and hide it from anyone so unless they had permission they would be pretty stupid to be so obvious – which I doubt they are.

25

It was a 2011 model

26
Tornillo Amarillo

If it is not Pirelli, who then?

James, it is interesting to know which tire company is supplying which category currently.

For example Michelin will du FE next year. What are Firestone, Bridgestone and others companies doing?

Very interesting the problems aboug tyre size and testing pointed out by Hankook this week. Could you give us more input please?

27

I am getting very tired of the tyres debate. Why cant the FIA / Pirelli / Teams get to together to test the new tyres out maybe do it on a Thursday therefore a 4 day venue. Costs would be for an extra day but do this maybe 7 or 8 times during the season. I feel that F1 and the tyre debate may get current and long term fans isolated and bored.

Another mistake by the tyre company was changing the tyres from 2012 to these current grainer’s. They should have left the tyres to last year compounds, they were good for the aggressive drivers and gave us good racing. This year the racing is no you cant race the fastest car or tyre car you have to look after your tyres….this is not F1 any more. F1 is about the showcase of technological innovation, pure racing and driving to the limit which we are not watching at the moment.

James any news on how the tyres will be like for 2014?

thanks

28

Testing should be done during the race calendar but consisting of 4 days but with a limit running of 25 laps or 30 laps, with 7 or 8 race venues to test (race circuits and no street circuits).

29

It would make more sense to allow testing on the Monday, just let the teams use up the rubber and fuel they have left from the weekend.

30

Consisting of 4 days instead of three days (race Week /weekend). Pirelli or FIA could Chair when the tests should take place maybe 3 GPs beforehand.

31

Guys

Mercedes are not the FIA spokespersons. The onus is not in them to say anything about a tyre test. If the issue is secret, then FIA is duty bound to inform all teams as Pirelli had already requested them to come forward.

ST

32

Maybe Mercedes will argue that Barcelona car was substantially different than the car in Monaco and following races 😉

33

One of the most important issues will be : WHO (legally) conducted the test, ie what regulations apply.

34

Pirelli ran the test, Merc just supplied the car and drivers.

35
Torchwood Five

Looks like that protest blew up in Ferarri’s face, then.

36

James, why was Pirelli testing 2014 compounds when they don’t have a contract? Do you think Pirelli are honest with their statement on the parameters of the Merc test?

37

According to them: Because they expect to have a contract and time is short to specify compounds and constructions ahead of September 1 when they need to deliver the full spec to the FIA and to teams for next year’s cars.

38

James, with the loss of down force next year, wouldn’t Pirelli prefer an older car, maybe even from 2009, no exhaust generated down force, smaller wings in 2014.

39

It’s as much about the power delivery. 2014 engines have a lot more torque

40
Stephen Taylor

What if this fiasco scuppers the contract?

41
Liam of Sydney

So James, are Mercedes given an unfair advantage for 2014? Are Mercedes able to build some of the characteristics of these proposed 2014 tyre for their 2014 chassis? This seems unfair to me.

42

Guess it would depend if they were able to able to get access to the data from the tests which no one has proven they have yet. From what I read only Pirelli have the data.

43

That is for the inquiry to establish

I have no idea as the full facts need to be established

44

I hope that next years tyres is better than this years,,,,as the cars next year will generate wheel spin and these degrading tyres will not suit the Turbo V6’s.

Autosport states that Hankook will not want to take part in F1 due to the testing constraints within F1 and the short time frame. This should mean Pirelli will stay or if FIA have a secret Tyre supplier on stand by….i.e. Bridgestone / Michelin.

45

Doesn´t matter what Pirelli saya,they´re not the ones to blame,look at the Ferrari´s test,they did it in a 2011 car,so why didn´t Merc did the same?The point of this whole thing is: why the hell they had to run a current car?Very tough to back Mercedes on this one;this seems VERY unfair.

46

Apparently the Merc 2011 wasn’t available. for what ever reason I don’t know. Merc apparently asked if they could use the 2013 car and got permission from the FIA. What I’d like to hear is why the FIA would allow it or who allowed it. I’m sure all will be revealed.

47

Wow, the FIA has realised that this whole episode is going to explode, I do think Mercedes thought they could get away with using the 2013 car and have the safety issue card ready, Pirelli blew that by saying they was using 2014 tires and now the FIA has worked out the worse case ending in this and that will be Mercedes walking away. The bosses at merc want results and have thrown everything at it and if the proper penalty is given they will be thrown out with a huge fine, Mercedes will probably walk and leave the sport with some huge supply issues with engines.

So the FIA are trying to make the whole thing less of an issue by bringing Ferrari into the mess and trying to share the blame and say both mis-read the rules and let it go. Pirelli will also walk if they are made to look bad and they aren’t signed in as there is no Concorde agreement stating the teams bond to F1 or even an agreement on tire size for the next few years (if tire size isn’t agreed, how can they test 2014 tires?).

48

I’m curious about the engine(s) and transmission(s) used during the testing. Would these have been extra units outside of their season supply?

Regarding the legality of the testing itself…it seems the only clarity we have is that there is a web of rules, contracts and agreements (in place and expired) that leave this controversy a nice Rorschach test that supports whatever opinion we might have.

It will be interesting to see what the outcome is.

49

All teams run on the edge of being legal,they need someone to catch them at it.

50
richard piers

What a mess F1 has become and it gets worse not better. Too many apologists.

Time for the little ringmeister to be put out to grass and for some fresh thinking and proper authority to be put in place.

The new power unit regs will be good but the aerodynamics have gone from being dangerous and questionable to being a hugely expensive and totally irrelevant joke.

51

+1

IS the invisible elephant in the room

52

Couldn’t agree more

53

I am puzzled by the situation of Pirelli’s wanting to use new tyres from Silverstone onwards. I thought the FIA said that the tyres could only be changed on safety grounds. However, Pirelli are saying there is no safety issue and it is just to stop the type of delamination which is bad PR for them. So then why would the FIA (or teams) allow them to change the tyres?

54

They can if all teams agree. But i suspect some teams will veto it when they find out that they are not able to generate sufficient tyre temperatures.

55

Well Ferrari’s car was both within the “subsequent” year and substantially similar to exclusions of the regulations. The car would would have had to be a 2010 to not be.

Pirelli is talking out both sides of their mouth. Paul Hembry stated during Monaco that they did not ask for a 2013 car but only one that was representative. Now they say the did neither. The invite is from 2012 not for this year.

Looks like someone in the FIA might have signed off on this, which is par for the course with the FIA involved. Next thing you know they will disqualify a driver for cutting a corner but not 3 other drivers that did the same thing in the same race…wait they already did that.

There is only one equitable solution for this and that is after Canada or before Silverstone they allow all teams to test for 3 days except Ferrari who can test for only 500KM. Ferraria Merc and the FIA can split the bill with Ferrari paying the least.

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