Mercedes and Pirelli summoned to FIA tribunal

6 June, 2013

Mercedes facing sanctions for their secret Pirelli tyre test

Mercedes facing sanctions for their secret Pirelli tyre test

The Mercedes Formula One team and tyre supplier Pirelli could face heavy sanctions after F1′s governing body summoned them to an international tribunal for allegedly carrying out a ‘secret’ test in breach of the rules.

The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement on Wednesday that they had decided to act after conducting a full enquiry into the test that took place in Spain between May 15-17.

Mercedes used their current race car with Britain’s 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – the winner from pole position in Monaco on May 26 – sharing the driving over three days.

Rivals have accused the team of gaining a significant competitive advantage from the test and behaving in an ‘underhand’ fashion.

Nico Rosberg won the Moanco GP shortly after the Barcelona secret test

Nico Rosberg won the Moanco GP shortly after the Barcelona secret test

Pirelli disputes that, saying they were testing tyres for 2014 and Mercedes did not know what compounds were being used.

Article 22.1 of Formula One’s 2013 sporting regulations bars in-season testing with “cars which conform substantially with the current Formula One technical regulations in addition to those from the previous or subsequent year.”

However, Pirelli are allowed, under their commercial contract, a number of 1 000 km tests and have previously used a 2010 Renault which they say is some four seconds a lap slower than the 2013 machinery.

Ferrari, who conducted a similar 1 000 km test at the same Barcelona circuit in April but with a 2011 car and test driver, faced no further action because they were not deemed to have contravened the regulations.

Lewis Hamilton examines the blown out rear tyre on his Mercedes after qualifying in Bahrain

Lewis Hamilton examines the blown out rear tyre on his Mercedes after qualifying in Bahrain

No time was set for the tribunal, which could impose stiff sanctions against Mercedes if they are found to have acted illegally.

Already under fire for their quick-wearing 2013 tyres, Pirelli have been pressing to be allowed to test with more up-to-date cars so that they can prepare for the significant challenge of a new V6 engine next year.

The Italian company has yet to agree a contract with the teams and FIA for 2014, however, which has added to their frustration.

Ferrari and world champions Red Bull had made official protests at last month’s Monaco Grand Prix when word about the Mercedes test first filtered out, catching other teams by surprise.

It subsequently emerged that Ferrari had also conducted a test from April 23-24 – before the Spanish Grand Prix won by Ferrari’s Spanish driver Fernando Alonso.

Spotlight falls on Jean Todt and the FIA

Spotlight falls on Jean Todt and the FIA

The Monaco stewards sent a report to the FIA who then sought further information from Pirelli, Mercedes, Ferrari and other teams.

The FIA said that its president, Frenchman and former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt, had decided to close the case regarding Ferrari because the use of a 2011 car “is not deemed to contravene the applicable FIA rules.”

In the case of Mercedes, the FIA statement said Todt found that “it results from the inquiry that the conditions of this test may constitute a breach of the applicable FIA rules.

“The FIA International Tribunal is called upon to make a decision in compliance with the FIA Judicial and Disciplinary Rules,” it added. (Reuters)

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  • Not Bernie

    The problem for the FIA is that they said yes to allowing these tests. What Pirelli did wrong was not offer it to every team, although it seems they did offer the chance to a few who turned it down.

    I’m still not sure what Mercedes did wrong. They, from what I’ve read, got permission from the FIA. It was a Pirelli test and really it’s up to Pirelli to offer the same opportunities to the other teams, not Mercedes.

    Any punishment giving to Pirelli could mean that F1 has no tyres for next season!

  • Mercedes knows the rules and decided to cheat

    Mercedes knew the rules and knew they could use their 2013 car nor their current race drivers.

    The FIA cannot take away what Mercedes learned during those three days of testing.

    The only thing the FIA can do to uphold the sport is to ban Mercedes from the Constructors and drivers championships.

    The rules are very clear that no in season testing using a current car with your current drivers is allowed. Mercedes knows this and made a decision to disregard the rules.

    The drivers also know the rules and knew they were breaking them by conducting this in season test so they should be banned from the drivers championship as well.

    When you have Hamilton sending out misleading tweets about his location saying he was in Florida when he was really in Spain conducting an illegal three day in season test shows cover up by him and Mercedes.

  • Not Bernie

    The FIA, however, did give Mercedes permission to test.

  • Henk

    @ Not Bernie

    You seem to insist on the point that the FIA gave Mercedes permission to test. Are you sure this ‘permission’ included using the 2013 car and drivers? Or was it a standard ‘sure, you can test as long as it is within the rules’? I doubt the FIA would go about ‘giving permission’ to individual teams re: testing in mid-season, let alone testing against the rules. The likely scenario is that

    1. Pirelli offered Mercedes the chance to test, hoping to quite down their most vociferous critics;
    2. Mercedes checked with the FIA, they replied ‘Yes, as long as its within the rules’;
    3. Mercedes then interpreted the ‘authorisation’ their own way.

    The FIA is possibly quite upset about this.

  • Steve

    “The problem for the FIA is that they said yes to allowing these tests.”

    They did not. Why do yo keep repeating this claim?

    “I’m still not sure what Mercedes did wrong. They, from what I’ve read, got permission from the FIA.”

    STOP SAYING THAT.

    If they had permission from the FIA they would not be facing the tribunal, would they?

    Now, Mercedes may try to argue that something someone said to them constituted “permission”, but the FIA clearly disagrees.

  • Steve

    “The FIA, however, did give Mercedes permission to test.”

    And you base that claim on what, exactly?

  • Steve

    “The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement on Wednesday that they had decided to act after conducting a full enquiry into the test that took place in Spain between May 15-17.”

    Apparently their full inquiry neglected to ask NotBernie, who could have resolved this whole matter by letting them know that the FIA gave permission for the test.

  • Not Bernie

    Someone seems to have OCD… :-)

    Seriously, you do make a good point. Why? Well, if you watched the coverage of the F1 at Monaco Mercedes said that they were asked to participate in the test by Pirelli with a 2013 car they then asked the FIA for permission and it was given. That’s why they took part.

    Now the FIA may turn round and state that’s not what they meant by permission. That they didn’t want a 2013 car to be tested just by Mercedes unless every team was given a chance to do the same. So really I can only see this being a problem between Pirelli and the FIA, with the end result that Pirelli will probably now have to offer the same test to every other team; there really can’t be any other fair result.

    But, and this is a huge but, if the FIA fine Pirelli or bring any other sanctions then the wheels really will come of F1! They’ll have no tyres at all next season as Pirelli won’t renew their contract; I wouldn’t blame them either.

    Tyre manufacturers wanted us fans to be talking about tyres as that gets them exposure. This whole season so far has been all about the tyres, and not in a positive way at all. F1 is becoming a joke when the best engineered cars are hobbled by tyres that are destroyed if any performance is taken out of them. It punishes the fastest cars, yet what is F1 if it’s not about the fastest cars with the best drivers in the world?

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