FIA: It is difficult to say that Mercedes gained no benefit from the test

gavel mallet

Formula 1′s governing body accused the Mercedes team on Thursday of contravening the Sporting Code by testing in Spain with tyre supplier Pirelli last month and benefiting unfairly as a result.

Mercedes, the team of 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton and Germany’s Nico Rosberg, could face heavy sanctions if found guilty by a tribunal meeting at the International Automobile Federation (FIA) headquarters.

Mark Howard, the FIA’s legal representative, opened the hearing by telling the four judges and tribunal president Edwin Glasgow that there was little factual dispute in the case presented to them.

Mercedes have admitted that they tested at the Barcelona circuit after the Spanish Grand Prix with their 2013 car, but have stated that the test was organised by Pirelli – who are not competitors – and claimed that they “gained no advantage” from it as a team.

They have also said that they acted in good faith and believed that they had secured the approval of the FIA.

Howard said that their action was a clear breach of the ban on teams testing during a season with a current car.

FIA headquarters in Paris

FIA headquarters in Paris

“There is not much room for doubt that the Mercedes 2013 car was a car covered by the regulations and that the car was subjected to track running time in Barcelona,” he said.

“Track testing is deliberately defined as track running time,” Howard explained. “It is a term used deliberately because it is unambiguous…any running on the track is deemed to be testing.”

Howard said that Mercedes would have gained valuable information from the test, even if only to highlight some hitherto unknown defect with the car.

“It is difficult to say that Mercedes gained no benefit from the test,” he declared.

Mercedes, who had principal Ross Brawn attending the hearing along with chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin, sporting director Ron Meadows and several lawyers, was expected to be heard later before Pirelli also present their views.

The tribunal heard that Meadows spoke to FIA technical head Charlie Whiting on May 2 to ask whether testing with a 2013 car was permissible.

Brawn then made a similar enquiry in a telephone call later that day, said Howard.

“What is very odd about all of this is that on the basis of the telephone calls, both Mercedes and Pirelli went ahead without getting back to Mr Whiting and making clear precisely ultimately what they were intending to do,” he added.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner, whose team registered a protest against the Mercedes / Pirelli test, at last month’s Monaco Grand Prix, was attending the hearing along with chief engineer Paul Monaghan and a lawyer.

Ferrari, who also protested before the Monaco race won by Mercedes’s Nico Rosberg, sent two lawyers while Mercedes-powered McLaren and Williams also sent legal representatives.

The FIA has said a verdict will be issued “as soon as possible” after the hearing. (Reuters)

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  • bamza

    50% chance of rain wot

  • Mercedes is guilty as charged

    If Mercedes had turned over their cars to Pirelli and Pirelli used their own test drivers and Mercedes had no contact with the cars or data they might have been able to use their fantasy excuse.

    The facts are Mercedes waited two days after the race to do this test, they used the Mercedes team and engineers along with Pirelli’s, they tried to hide the drivers identity with plain helmets and one of their drivers sent out a misleading tweet to try to hide his location while the other driver slipped up and admitted of course he knew what tires were on the car how else could he provide proper feed back.

    Mercedes is guilty as charged. They fished for an answer from FIA and stopped looking any further when they found a half hearted response that they felt they could hide behind. Ban Mercedes not only for this year but next year as well.

  • Common Sense says Mercedes is guilty

    Common sense says Mercedes is guilty.

    The rules are clear, there is another agreement with all the teams signed by non other than Ross Brawn that says no in season testing with a 2013 car.

    Ross Brawn and Mercedes knew full well the rules and because they again failed in the design of their 2013 car they decided to take what ever the penalty would be to fix the problems with the car in this test.

    The last two races clearly show Mercedes is no longer having the tire problems it had before the test so clearly Mercedes did learn what the issue was with their cars and have applied that to them.

    Ban Mercedes.

  • Matthias O’keeffe

    Those who say Mercedes are guilty as charged or whatever crap, pls shut up… Mercedes is innocent..

  • Lee

    Sayin that Mercedes would take any penalty to fix there problem’s is stupid. The worse penalty would be a ban that would mean no point’s and no money for the season. I don’t believe any team would do the test without having permission from the FIA. It wasn’t done secretly or hiden from anyone.

  • Nowhereman

    Really? That is the weakest defense in the world.
    Merc has been caught, they can’t even lie good.
    Strip them of all points and ban them the rest of the year.
    They are guilty.
    PS. Get rid of Pirelli also to stop this stupid tire degradation thing.
    Bring back two suppliers and have them go at it.
    Competition makes for a better product and better racing.

  • Steve

    I thought Mercedes would have had a better defense than the one they came up with.

    “Pirelli did it, not us!”

    Mercedes cars, Mercedes drivers, Mercedes mechanics and engineers. Pirelli were on hand to observe, but Mercedes carried out the testing.

    Guilty as charged.

  • Steve

    “I don’t believe any team would do the test without having permission from the FIA.”

    Some people refuse to accept reality even when it hits them right between the eyes. According to Brawn, Mercedes didn’t NEED permission from the FIA!

  • Steve

    Mercedes did not “seek permission”.

    More importantly, Mercedes did not GET permission.

    On a separate note, is every single commenter here going to cal him or herself Steve from now on? Not that I mind – I think It’s a good name – but it will make things a touch confusing if all of you insist on using my name.

  • Steve

    If Mercedes had given their cars to Pireli to test and Pirelli had used their own drivers and engineers then it would have been an allowable “Pirelli test”.

    Since the test was carried out by Mercedes using their own drivers and other personnel, it was an illegal Mercedes test.

  • Steve

    “technically, they gained less advantage than ferrari did with their test.”

    The rules don’t say anything about “gaining advantage”. If it was proved that Mercedes actually made their car worse as a result of these tests – the tests would still be illegal.

  • Butterfly

    Wow, Steve, that’s ten in a row. Too much coffee?

  • Jack

    Sooo many Steve’s …

  • MacStar227

    F1 needs Mercedez, they need to bear that in mind when they dish out their so called punishment.

  • Butterfly 2.0

    However you look at it, Mercedes got the OK from the FIA’s goto man. Pirelli were in charge of the test.

    The FIA also wanted the teams to be helpful to Pirelli to develop the tyres, and we need better tyres in F1. So Mercedes are only doing what the FIA wanted too.

    If the Motorsport Council decide there is a rule breach and to punish Mercedes or Pirelli then how would that affect F1 if they just walked away?

  • Butterfly 1.0

    It was a mess on behalf of the FIA. Charlie gave the OK, so did the FIA, but they say it wasn’t official. Well, damn, they weren’t asking you on principle, now were they?

    A botched job. Wouldn’t be surprised if the fall guy is Charlie from the FIA’s side.

    As for Ross, well, he did what Ross does – found an opportunity and used it to gain 1000 Km of testing. Nice man.