June 20 tribunal could determine the fate of Mercedes F1 future

Lewis Hamilton during FP1 in Canada

Lewis Hamilton during FP1 in Canada

There is a growing consensus in the paddock that Mercedes will be penalised when the FIA’s brand-new international tribunal meets to discuss their secret Barcelona test on June 20, which in turn may cause the Stuttgart manufacturer to reassess its Formula 1 involvement.

Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn, who entered F1 as a team lawyer, told Auto Motor und Sport: “A contract can’t overrule a law.”

She is referring to Pirelli’s defence that its deal with the FIA allows tyre testing with a representative car, therefore overriding the tightly-controlled test limits in the sporting regulations.

But Spanish sports newspaper Marca’s correspondent Marco Canseco reported rumours that a fine in the order of € 5 to 10 million will be imposed against Mercedes.

Red Bull‘s Helmut Marko told Blick: “A fine and a points deduction would be appropriate.”

With the ‘testgate’ saga occupying the time and minds of most regular F1 journalists in the Montreal paddock, the details and rumours continue to flow.

Paul Hembery missed the official press conference in Canada on the advice of lawyers

Paul Hembery missed the official press conference in Canada on the advice of lawyers

Sport Bild claims that earlier rumours that Mercedes had proof – in the form of an email – with Charlie Whiting’s permission to use its 2013 car, were wrong.

That report said that Whiting gave only conditional approval, “only if all the other teams are informed and agree”.

Pirelli’s lawyers advised Paul Hembery against attending the FIA’s press conference at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Friday.

Undoubtedly, that’s because many more questions remain outstanding.

One is why – if the test was not ‘secret’ – did Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg wear all-black helmets?

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff said the idea was to “protect the public”.

“We had no security and no press people on the spot and did not want fans storming the track,” he is quoted by RTL.

“If we wanted to make it a secret, our people would not have worn team uniforms, and we would have used neutral trucks,” he added.

Charlie Whiting

Charlie Whiting

According to Sport Bild, the ‘secret’ leaked out when the FIA’s Whiting mentioned it to Grand Prix Drivers’ Association directors Sebastian Vettel, Pedro de la Rosa and Jenson Button.

The lasting consequence of the Mercedes test is that the door might now be open to the return of in-season testing.

There are rumours that Pirelli has demanded testing if Formula 1 wants the Italian supplier to stay beyond 2013, and last week FIA president Jean Todt ruled that Ferrari‘s Barcelona test with a 2011 test fell outside the sport’s testing restrictions.

“So far, with our interpretation of the regulation, running with a 2011 car is not testing, as per the sporting regulations,” said Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali.

Another implication could be Ross Brawn’s job, after the Mercedes team boss admitted it was his decision to run the Barcelona test.

Told that rumours about his future have re-emerged, the Briton said in Canada: “I think there’s been some rumours before and nothing’s happened. I think we should wait and see what the tribunal finds and then go from there.” (GMM)

Subbed by AJN.

  • Ronnie

    So Whiting stuffed up and Mercedes got an advantage.
    At the VERY least Merc’s drivers got more track time. That is indisputable. Rosberg and Hamilton didn’t have to be the drivers, but they were and they got the advantage of more track time. Fact.
    PROBABLY, Merc got the benefit of data from the car during the test, so they got more track data.
    For all we know, Merc ran some new tweaks to their car as well. Most probably they ran some setup changes and worked out where they could do better. So probably they got the advantage of real track time with some changes.
    Don’t try to cover this up Merc and Pirelli – there was SOME clear advantage for Mercedes of doing this testing. Fact.

  • Ban Mercedes and its drivers

    Clearly Mercedes knew they were breaking the rules.

    1. They had curtains put up at all the track entrances so no one could see in.

    2. The disguised their drivers by using plain helmets.

    3. Hamilton sent out a tweet saying he was in Orlando, Fl. when he was in Spain testing.

    4. Rosberg has now admitted he did know what tires he was on during the illegal testing.

    5. Ross Brawn is now saying he alone set up this test with Pirelli and it was no one else inside of Mercedes. This was done in my opinion to pave the way to set up Brawn as the fall guy for the illegal test and to make way for Lowe to take his place.

    Nothing less then a full ban for Mercedes in the constructors championship and a full ban for both Rosberg and Hamilton in the drivers championship. It is clear the drivers know the rules and Mercedes and their drivers went to a lot of trouble to mislead everyone.

    Mercedes has lost all credibility and has no integrity. I find this funny because Mercedes keeps threatening to quit Formula One over integrity issues yet here Mercedes goes and conducts an illegal test showing the world Mercedes has no integrity or credibility to begin with.

  • hillside

    20M euros plus ten race ban would be fair

  • =El Presidente=

    Luckily it is up to the tribunal to decide what is fair or not.
    Also the tribunal have all the information, we -the people- have only some very subjective and often speculative media articles to base our verdict on.

    Next to that banning is absurd. Never was a team banned for 10 races. and all teams did illegal things..
    Benneton drove MSC to his first title with forbidden TC, Ferrari has had numerous dubious encounters with the FIA, Williams , RedBull and their flexible wing and engine mapping. RedBull (and others also, be it less) stretched rules just by “interpreting” it different.

    There is nothing new under the sun here.
    F1 wants MB to stay, and MB wants to stay in the F1, i think it will end with a “mild” fine, (10-20mill) and a probation.
    Only if it is proved that they actually did gain a significant benefit from data, or possibly even some aero-testing then they are looking at a “spy-gate” sized fine.

  • hillside

    “Next to that banning is absurd. Never was a team banned for 10 races. and all teams did illegal things..”

    did the F1 world heard about PRIVATE TESTING could be possible too??

    a 10 race ban is something that hasn’t done before and so as private in-season testing.
    to pay the fine is easy but the knowledge and advantage that Mercs got during that testing is crucial for the championship. so to off set whatever advantage they got is to ban them that it will take them a huge miracle to get them back to where they at right now.

  • grat

    @hillside: So what you’re really saying is that Mercedes should quit F1. A 10 race ban for something that apparently Charlie Whiting approved (however conditionally) would be moronic.

    Let’s not forget who “broke” this story… Charlie Whiting!

    The fact that people want a team banned for half a championship for actually trying to A) respond to obvious tire problems and B) prepare for the 2014 season, shows just how deranged F1 has become– It’s a political circus driven by an uninformed media frenzy.

    At this point, I sincerely hope Pirelli refuses to sign a contract for 2014, and that no one else will either. This fanaticism about in-season testing has gone completely insane.