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Mercedes escape punishment from FIA International Tribunal, FIA test control to be strengthened
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Jun 2013   |  12:55 pm GMT  |  479 comments

[Updated]The FIA International Tribunal has handed Mercedes a reprimand over its part in the controversial Pirelli tyre test and stopped it from taking part in the Young Drivers’ test next month.

Pirelli has also been reprimanded; it will be interesting to see what their reaction is as they felt that they should not have been part of the proceedings in the first place. Their lawyer Dominique Dumas said yesterday that “we do not come under the jurisdiction or authority of the FIA”.

At the same time the FIA also said that it “wishes that lessons are learnt from this case and from the decision handed down. To this end, the FIA will make sure, in association with all F1 teams, that its control of the testings is strengthened.”

To read the full FIA IT verdict read TRIBUNAL VERDICT

Red Bull’s Christian Horner said that the verdict showed “that Mercedes breached the sporting regulations and the International Sporting Code.. however the penalty is not for us to decide. It was for the tribunal to decide and they have made their decision. ”

Ferrari was more critical. The Horse Whisperer, Ferrari’s official blog, said that Mercedes had got away “scot free”

“Today we learned, that even if one is guilty and in this case that is an indisputable and verified fact, there is always a way of muddling through as best one can. One only has to suggest to the judge what the penalty should be and even better, why not make it something light like a rap across the knuckles.

“It is somewhat perplexing to say the least to see that the guilty party can get away virtually scot free for having derived “an unfair sporting advantage.””

Here’s what the Tribunal statement said about the verdict:

“The Tribunal, after having heard the parties and examined their submissions, decided that:
1. Mercedes be reprimanded;

2. Mercedes be suspended from participating in the forthcoming “three day young driver training test”;

3. Pirelli be reprimanded;

and rejected all other and further conclusions.”

The full judgement goes into more detail.

The Tribunal found:
(1) The track testing, which is the subject of these proceedings, was not carried out by Pirelli and/or Mercedes with the intention that Mercedes should obtain any unfair sporting advantage.
(2) Neither Pirelli nor Mercedes acted in bad faith at any material time.
(3) Both Pirelli and Mercedes disclosed to FIA at least the essence of what they intended to do in relation to the test and attempted to obtain permission for it; and Mercedes had no reason to believe that approval had not been given .
(4) The actions taken on behalf of FIA by Charlie Whiting (having taken advice from the legal department of FIA) were taken in good faith and with the intention of assisting the parties and consistent with sporting fairness.

Notwithstanding the above findings:
(i) by running its car(s) in the course of the testing, Mercedes acted in breach of Article 22.4 h)….

(v) Mercedes did obtain some material advantage (even if only by way of confirmation of what had not gone wrong) as a result of the testing, which, at least potentially, gave it an unfair sporting advantage, to the knowledge and with the intention of Pirelli.

Clearly the Tribunal found that there had been a breach of the rules, but that it was done in good faith, based on a feeling that it had, what the Tribunal describes as “bona fide, but misconceived ‘qualified approval’ ” hence the lenient sanctions.

The verdict, while a triumph for the advocacy of Mercedes boss Ross Brawn, will come as a disappointment to Red Bull, Ferrari and others who felt that there was a clear breach of the Sporting Regulations and that Mercedes had gained an advantage.

However, the FIA International Tribunal is a new body established to distance the disciplinary function of the FIA from the office of the President and as such is considered to be fully independent.

The nub of the problem from Mercedes’ side was the issue of “permission”

They believed that by contacting FIA’s Charlie Whiting and asking if they could use a 2013 car to conduct a test for Pirelli, they had “permission”. As was pointed out in the Tribunal only the Head of FIA’s Sport Department Pierre de Connick and the World Motor Sport Council could consider something which contravened the rules, but Mercedes followed the procedure used at race meetings of approaching Whiting for an opinion.

He gave an opinion that it might be possible subject to certain qualifications, like all the other teams being notified, but Mercedes did not follow that up with a clear written outline of what they planned to do. So they did not have “permission” to do a 1,000km test with Pirelli at Barcelona.

Mercedes felt that they had acted in good faith and that if there was a breach of the regulations it was because of an interpretation of the rules, rather than a desire to gain an unfair advantage over rivals.

Mercedes’ submission to the Tribunal stated that the car ran in the same specification at the test in which it had completed the Grand Prix a few days earlier, with only parts past their life, bing replaced being for similar ones.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was present at the Tribunal yesterday and had his say afterwards, while Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali is to take part in a live Ferrari webchat this evening at 7pm CET, presumably to answer some of the points arising from the Tribunal which concern Ferrari, such as the presence of Felipe Massa at Ferrari’s pre-Barcelona Pirelli test with a 2011 car, which was cleared by the FIA.

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Tornillo Amarillo

Very good verdict.

Pirelli had delamination problems, so the F1 had a SAFETY problem.

Now I guess that that problem is now over and we have that SAFETY that some were looking for.

Then they will have a young driver test without Mercedes, I think it is not a huge spectacle for fans, so it’s OK.

FIA, Charlie W., Pirelli and teams were discussing and some teams were looking for gaining advantage in this field, and they gained something because Mercedes will skip that future test.

Parties have learnt about this subjets and new tests are already scheduled for all Teams.

So great so far.

JAMES, is Pirelli the 2014 supplier, or when is the deadline to know it?


There are many interests that did not allow an unfavorable judgment for Mercedes and Pirelli. Mercedes threatened to leave F1 and Pirelli has done the same. Such Bernie Ecclestone must have his (fundamental) opinion. On the other hand in the German team runs a certain Lewis Hamilton, a reason to deactivate English lobby media attacking. Mercedes, Ecclestone, Hamilton, Pirelli and the great catalyst of politics in F1: Ross Brawn. Who can appeal to logic in a trial that is crystal clear?


Wow, 2 days it took me to read through all this……

Something needs to be done with the forums format.

Anyhooo, I had to laugh when the virdict came through I use to always add “a man of dubious character” when ever I wrote the name of Ross Brawn in brackets but stopped since my fav driver now drives for him…… lol

As far as I can tell, the FIA were aware of the test and really have no leg to stand on regards punishment simply because they expose their own incompetence or lack of organisation.

Well I hope now Merc can take all they learn’t and start using it to get Rosberg and Hamilton at the very sharp end to spice things up a bit…

I get it now, all those Schumi fans through the dark years, I get it now……very smart man that Ross Brawn ( a man of dubious character)……


Most are clinging to the fact that it was a Pirelli test not a Mercedes test which makes the team innocent…….. not in my book. They ran a current car, which in any test is against the rules. They admitted to gaining an advantage, no matter how small or be it a negative advantage. They claimed security for both their race drivers as the reason for running them in unmarked helmets. Jeezz there are many way to spell the word Cheating!!!


Perhaps it is my lack of English knowledge, but what does the “reprimand” mean in this case?

Is it just a “ooh, naughty guys, don’t do it again?” or rather a “next offence will result in …” ? And if it is the latter, do we know the details? Pirelli has also been reprimanded, but how can be they be punished “not allowed to mention their name for a few races?”.


well chaps, the latest news seems as though red bull, and possibly ferrari, will proceed in maybe doing a three day test and look for a ‘reprimand’.

i certainly hope that this goes ahead and that we see others doing the same. the fact that mercedes got away with a ludicrous penalty shows just how ‘hollow’ the whole thing is. brawn had the audacity to say that they got nothing out of it all!! evidence was led that they received highly confidential engineering data from pirelli after the tests but that didn’t seem to be taken into account by the IT?

what a sham this all is.


With all the politics I can’t see any other outcome but I would have liked to see Merc lose some constructor points.


To all those people and teams thinking that Mercedes got away with this scott free should now ask themselves what would a major team now do if an offer was made to them next week to skip the Young Driver Test and instead participate in a similar 3 day Tyre Test for Pirelli?

Consider that at the Pirelli tyre test you aren’t actually allowed to run the test, not allowed to have access to any data from the test, you will be testing blind tyres and you’re not allowed to test new parts or play with any settings .

However at the Young Driver day although you’re not able to use your current drivers you are more than welcome to run the show, test as many new parts as possible, play with whatever setup up you want, have full access to all data and you can choose whatever tyre you want.

How many teams do you think would prefer to do the Pirelli Test?


I have only just had a chance to watch Fridays F1 show on Sky. According to Ted, one of the key pieces of evidence that swung the case for Mercedes was a letter from the GPDA worried about the safety of the tyres – one of the co- signatures to this letter was young Vettel.

So, on one hand, you have Horner going to the tribunal to make sure the knife was stuck in deeply enough and on the other, one of his drivers unwittingly helping to get them off the hook! Isn’t that just the most delicious piece of irony 🙂



Since the IT have effectively set the precedence that neither CW nor the FIA legal department can interpret the rules and comment on behalf of the FIA, (still can’t believe that was their argument and it stood up), what does that mean for the day to day operations at a GP race? Does every little thing have to go all the way to the top to be decided? Surely this is unworkable. The FIA have dug themselves a rather deep hole and are standing at the bottom scratching their heads wondering how to get out.

On another related issue, do you think the Pirelli position has been strengthened as not only have the FIA left it a bit late to change supplier but they now have the very real threat of civil action against them by Pirelli over the testing verdict.

Do you think the outcome was just?

I actually think it is back to front. I believe Merc did try to gain an advantage however the FIA did not prove conclusively that they broke the rules, given that the FIA legal department basically said rule 22 does not apply.


AuraF1 Reply:

June 22nd, 2013 at 10:50 am

As Brawn said to Ferraris lawyer during the double diffuser scandal in that tribunal – ‘remember, I know exactly how Ferrari pushed the rules we can bring that up if you want?’…

As was mooted in the Ferrari tyre-test earlier. That test went way over the mileage iirc…

… We all know that the red bull has broken the ‘spirit’ of the rules many times with its flexi wings but the FIA load tests were inadequate to prevent it. It’s fair enough. Mercedes broke the rules but in the same manner the test of it was not up to catching them out. The FIA system was inadequate to the task.

Was, and obviously still is totally inadequate or scrutineering would catch RBR out everytime

The FIA is woefully bad at enforcing it’s own rules, but one cannot help wondering how much of that is a deliberate fudge….


A huge travesty of justice….


all this proves is how much influence money has in F1, and how its for the most part ignored by press.

Mercedes is essentially too big to fail.

F1 is a business, and it needs to keep its customers (the corporations who run the teams) happy. It is obviously not going to penalise the hand that feeds it.

And what can the other teams do? it is not like they are going to raise a huge protest, or stop racing until Merc get a more appropriate sentence. It will all be forgotten about in a month.

They cannot contest it because they are all in the same club, the agreements that govern and run F1 are set by the teams themselves….

it is completely analogous to how economic systems are run.


James do you think the flotation of f1 next year was a considered decision by the FIA in sending the case to the IT ( to be seen as impartial and fair) and also no major ” rocking of the boat ” by the sanctions?.

Can you suggest the other 20 drivers all wear black helmets at Silverstone- that would be fantastic! : ).


No. The FIA isn’t directly involved in the floatation, that’s Bernie and CVC’s thing.

The IT is independent. Edwin Glasgow QC is a serious hitter.


I don’t think the FIA had much option to reach this verdict as they had the weakest argument of the three. The fact is, they didn’t police their own rules rigorously enough or define them clearly enough. As Red Bull are so fond of telling us, there is no ‘spirit’ of the rules – it’s what is written down as you can or can’t do. The FIA left room for interpretation.

Also, and perhaps you can comment on this James, now that Charlie Whiting seems to have been undermined as the ‘go to reference’ for teams with queries, have the FIA opened the door to regular visits to the Tribunal as competitors challenge Whiting’s ‘advice’?


Will be interesting to see how that changes, if it changes.

It would be a very laborious process that would work as an alternative. But time will tell.


James somebody posted this earlier…I wonder what your opinion on this is?

Is there any credibility to it?


Mark Gillan answered it on another thread

It’s more likely to be due to degraded tyres



What is up with CH and Merc?

I do not believe he thinks they are a threat to RB and the WCC for 2013 so why the rant? In fact a quick look at the driver standings and it is clear Merc are taking more points from Ferrari than Red Bull and are therefore helping them win the championship.

Strange behaviour from CH, the formal protest was sufficient but he went overboard with blood lust. Any thoughts?


They are the next big threat – 2014 onwards
It’s obvious

Look how they’ve been arming up



Is there still a threat the top bosses in Mercedes might still want to pullout of F1 over all this?

I mean I don’t see Merc in F1 in the long term


Earlier this year the board committed until 2020 minimum


Nico should drive with a black helmet for the rest of the season to differentiate himself from Hamilton 😀

The verdict is pure F1 though. I just don’t understand why Pirelli has tried to keep all of the tests secret. They gained nothing by doing that. Only bad publicity.


Pirelli cannot win, they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Can you imagine what would have happened at the Barcelona test if word had got out during the actual test itself? The media would have descended on the circuit, and it would have turned into a paparazzi feeding frenzy.

Hopefully, now that in season tyre testing has been agreed, things should settle down a bit for them.


Sure. But their approach to this was all wrong. There was no secrecy needed.



I guess that’s how it went, but the risk of bad publicity was there. So they’re partly responsible, hence the reprimand, although I don’t know what reprimanding a sole tyre supplier actually means.

Pirelli should’ve just said “Hey, let’s all test with current cars after the GPs or else we won’t supply tires for next season.”

But yes, this is F1 😀


I respectfully disagree. Pirelli had tried talking about testing and the teams could not agree which team would provide a car. They are all paranoid about another team gaining any sort of advantage. Remember they had already vetoed the continued use of a Lotus – presumably, as Lotus are kinder to the tyres, they feel an advantage has been gained (can’t really blame them)

Pirelli needed to test, the teams would not agree amongst themselves, so how else could they do it apart from keeping it quiet(ish). If word had got out prior to the test then it would not have happened.

In order to understand this, you have to completely disregard any sort of common sense approach – remember this is F1 🙂


What a farce!

I do hope the Red bull boys with their sense of humor (gotta give SV credit for that) both wear black helmets for the British GP as a piss take of this whole ridiculous drama!

Scuderia McLaren

That would be funny actually. Would add a nice air of humour and closure to a relatively minor sporting breach that caused epic (and unnessecary) initial waves. The paddock is metaphorically wet now and many look rather silly. Horner and Marko in particular.


The paddock is metaphorically wet now and many look rather silly. Horner and Marko in particular….

At least the news is not all bad, eh?

Every cloud, as they say 😉



Is this a case of Roos Brawn doing to the FIA, Charlie Whiting and Bernie Eccelstone, what Charlie and Bernie were doing back in their Brabham days?

I say well played Ross Brawn. Not sure any of the other team principals would be able to pull that off. Unlike the double diffuser episode though, I think he didn’t hint to anyone else about this one though.

Can’t wait to see what the other teams try to get away with!


Mercedes is innocent. A penalty gets handed to the new up and coming young drivers who had nothing to do with anything. Todt should resign and the Tribunal should fine itself a hundred grand for being ridiculous, with the proceeds going to the young drivers.


I don’t know always felt max was upset with Ron for bringing Hamilton into the sport……. Never understood why though


Mercedes “got away” with this because of the misleading feedback they got from the FIA. No other team will get the same misleading feedback and therefore won’t have the same defence if they do the same thing.

Its a victory for common sense 🙂


the FIA awakes from its slumber (what do these folks do all day anyway), oh, spots a Grave Matter on the horizon… We shall grill the perpetrators and justice shall be done!!

oops, hmmm, well, cough cough, guess someone in our house was amiss it whispers. Hey, let’s just move on from here shall we….



What’s strange though is, why do so few here realize it?


All the drivers should go to the YDT in black helmets. 🙂

Bring Back Murray

Should have been more heavily punished. At least points deducted from the Monaco weekend.

But as others acknowledged – F1 needs Mercedes so that’s that, end of story.

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