Slap on wrist for Mercedes and Pirelli who get reprimand for tyre test

gavel mallet

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were given the all-clear for next week’s British Grand Prix on Friday after their Mercedes Formula One team escaped heavy sanctions for a ‘secret’ tyre test with Pirelli.

An international tribunal reprimanded Mercedes and Pirelli for breaking the rules on testing and ordered the British-based team to miss a three-day young driver test scheduled for Silverstone in July.

The verdict, announced by the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) in a statement after a seven-hour hearing in Paris on Thursday, will come as a relief for the team led by Formula One veteran Ross Brawn.

The tribunal had the power to impose a heavy fine, dock points or even ban Mercedes from the world championship – although that was never a likely option for one of the sport’s major players.

Champions Red Bull, who had protested to the FIA at last month’s Monaco Grand Prix when they found out Mercedes had used their current car in the test, had indicated they wanted to see a tough response.

“Usually if you commit a sporting offence there’s a sporting penalty that goes with it,” team principal Christian Horner said after the hearing.

The tribunal ruled in its detailed written verdict that Mercedes had not intended to obtain any unfair sporting advantage by taking part in a tyre test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya after the Spanish Grand Prix.

Ross Brawn with Mercedes' legal team

Ross Brawn with Mercedes’ legal team

Teams are banned from testing during the season but Pirelli, who are sole tyre suppliers and not competitors, are allowed to do so with a representative car.

“Neither Pirelli nor Mercedes acted in bad faith at any material time,” the tribunal said, declaring that both parties had disclosed to the FIA ‘at least the essence’ of what they intended to do and had sought permission.

“Mercedes had no reason to believe that approval had not been given,” it said, finding that FIA technical head Charlie Whiting had acted in good faith after taking advice from the FIA’s own legal department.

Despite that, Mercedes were found to have acted in breach of the rules with the tribunal saying they did gain some material advantage as a result of their test with both 2008 champion Hamilton and subsequent Monaco winner Rosberg on track.

Mercedes, Pirelli and the FIA were ordered to pay a third each of the costs of the investigation and procedure with the FIA paying all their own legal costs.

“We are satisfied with the outcome because it shows the court recognised Pirelli has always acted in good faith,” said a Pirelli F1 spokeswoman.

The young driver test ban was suggested by the team themselves on Thursday as a possible means of redress if the tribunal felt a sanction needed to be imposed.

While it will mean losing out on three useful days of track testing, which is otherwise banned during the season, it will fall hardest on British reserve driver Sam Bird who would otherwise have expected some rare time in the car.

The FIA said in a separate statement that it hoped lessons would be learnt from a case that was the first to be sent to the tribunal, which was set up in 2010 to deal with issues that race stewards were unable to rule on.

“To this end, the FIA will make sure, in association with all F1 teams, that its control of the testings is strengthened,” it added.

Mercedes and Pirelli were reminded of their right to appeal. (Reuters)

International Tribunal Verdict
(Released by FIA on Friday, 21 June 2013)

The following hearing of the International Tribunal took place in Paris on Thursday 20 June 2013. Disciplinary procedure against Mercedes and Pirelli (2013 FIA Formula One World Championship)

Reminder of the facts

On 5 June 2013, further to protests lodged during the 2013 Monaco GP by Red Bull Racing and Ferrari Scuderia Team against cars n°9 and 10 (Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team) for having conducted with Pirelli a three day tyre testing using a 2013 car on 15, 16 and 17 May in Barcelona, the President of the FIA, acting as the FIA Prosecuting Body, sent to the President of the International Tribunal a notification of charges against Pirelli and a notification of charges against Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team.

On 5 June 2013, Pirelli and Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team have been convened by the President of the International Tribunal to appear before a judging panel of the International Tribunal.

Decision of the International Tribunal

The Tribunal, after having heard the parties and examined their submissions, decided that:

  • Mercedes be reprimanded;
  • Mercedes be suspended from participating in the forthcoming “three day young driver training test”;
  • Pirelli be reprimanded.
  • and rejected all other and further conclusions.

The International Tribunal was presided over by Mr Edwin GLASGOW QC (Great Britain), and included Mr Christy HARRIS (United States), Mr Patrick RAEDERSDORF (Switzerland) and Mr Anthony SCOTT ANDREWS (Great Britain).

FIA press release after the tribunal released Friday in the wake of the verdict:

The FIA duly notes the decision handed down today by the FIA International Tribunal against Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team and Pirelli Tyres.

This decision follows (i) the disciplinary proceedings instigated by the FIA, on the basis in particular of the report by the Stewards of the Monaco Grand Prix, forwarded to the FIA following the two protests made by Scuderia Ferrari Team and Red Bull Racing respectively, and (ii) the hearing that took place yesterday before the International Tribunal with the participation of all the parties concerned.

The FIA 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.

It is recalled that the notification of the FIA International Tribunal’s decision opens to each of the parties concerned the possibility of bringing an appeal against this decision before the FIA International Court of Appeal within 7 days.

  • Lol.

    @Steve

    i wouldn’t worry, we’ve all had the wool pulled over our eyes a little here.

    I will say though, when red bull were dominating in 2011 and everyone was questioning the legality of their car, i thought they handled it very well. They lodged no protests, no anything for the whole season and basically walked out the moral victors.

    as soon as 2012 and 2013 seasons start they find any reason to start complaining about literally anything. Red bull will have been aware of at least some of the details and yet here they are demanding severe punishment…

    I can’t think of many more unsporting teams. He can seek as much “clarification” as he wants, at the end of the day what he really wants is every other competitive team sent to the firing squad.

  • Lol.

    Lol where the hell did steve’s comment go? :p

  • sman6723

    What a joke. They get found guilty – and then let off with a warning!

    The other “Steve” is spamming me – I assume that’s why his comments were removed.

  • sman6723

    ” Red bull will have been aware of at least some of the details and yet here they are demanding severe punishment”

    The details in question require “severe punishment”. Every other team in F1 objected to what Mercedes did, so why don’t you climb down off your RB-hating hobby-horse for five seconds and try to view things clearly.

  • Lol.

    @Steve

    Notice they are the ONLY team making such demands, you honestly think if the other teams felt as strongly they wouldn’t be there demanding the same thing?

    I’m not the one that needs to get off their horse, matey ;)

  • abraham

    This tribunal was a joke, red bull is a joke, u should bring back in-season testing, bring back 2 tire suppliers and make the set race till the end of the race.. give us some racing for heaven’s sake!!

    This has been the most boring season ever, at least in canada i saw some challenges but its still lame.

    FIA capped spending(banned in-season testing) to help new teams survive, what we get 3 years later is the bottom teams are still bottom teams, big teams are always late in car development and they cant do anything about it and redbull spent as so much and bought services of adrian newey and are dominating accordingly and no one can catch up.

    I, as a spectator and fan, want teams to develop cars faster, so that when a new season opens, they do not play catch up and patch their car and tune it and find “the balance” mid season or someway near the end, and try to finish the season in a gd spot while they are developing next years car and then next years car also needs half a season to fully understand.. (this has been going on since 2009 now)

  • Spartacus

    Strangely they’re saying that Mercedes had acted correcting to gain permissions, but they were wrong to provide the car to Pirelli for their test.

    And that Pirelli were wrong to test with a representative test as they’re allowed to do!

    If anything this case has shown is the utter miss-management of F1 by the FIA.

  • Tumusiime

    As always the commercial arm has reigned over the legal one! The GIANT Mercedes threatens to withdraw from the championship if the punishment is harsh & uncle Bernie gets cold feet, thinks of the would be lost dollars &rings Todt to give them a slap on the wrist! Wonder what could have happened if a Marussia was the guilty party? Idiots!

  • Zero Respect for Mercedes, FIA and Pirelli

    What a joke this is. Every other teams needs to go and do a three day test now using their race drivers and their 2013 cars. The FIA just set what the penalty will be so the teams need to just raise their middle finger at the FIA and go test and get their little slap on the wrist.

    Clearly the Mercedes learned a lot as before the test they could not make the rear tires work on their crap cars then after the test they all of the sudden no longer have the rear tire problem.

    The FIA has just proved they are nothing but a total farce, Mercedes has proven they are not trustworthy and Pirelli just needs to go.

    I could really care less any more about Formula One because of this. Way to go FIA, Mercedes and Pirelli as you three really are the three stooges.

    Mercedes should have been banned from this years championship both constructors and drivers for their blatant cheating.

    The have been allowed something non of the teams can have and that is full blown test that equals three race distances using their race drivers, race team and 2013 car.

    The young drivers test is a freaking joke and not much is really learned because you have a bunch of young drivers who have no clue how the cars should feel to start with.

    Mercedes has really put a black eye on the sport and I will never buy any Mercedes products. Ross Brawn should hang his head in shame but he has a long career of cheating and getting away with it. In fact he is pretty good buddies with Charlie Whiting.

    As for Charlie Whiting, it time for him to go as he is about as useful as tits on a boar hog.

  • Hawk

    Mr. you are not a Mercedes customer and from your vitriol were not planning to. So Mercedes cant miss what was never theirs. just go hang

  • Lol

    People running this site need to get their act together ASAP.

  • Jack

    I bet a fiver that all of the comments starting with Merc hating statements instead of an alias were written by none other than Christian Horner himself!

  • Matthias O’keeffe

    @Zero Respect For Mercedes, Pirelli and FIA

    You are a joke here… Don’t talk loads of crap here every single time… Just shut up if you want to talk shit on this page… God, you people are stupid, arrogant, useless, no common sense, and no brains..

  • Tom Zeus

    Seriously, Mercedes should have gotten more punishment. They broke the rules AND BENEFITED, which was proven by their much improved finishes following the illegal tests. OH NO god forbid if Mercedes missed the young driver test….haha what a joke of a penalty…they can’t put someone in the car for three days of testing that has no clue how the car needs to handle and where the limits are…really that’s a penalty? Sadly Mercedes is needed in the sport.