Ferrari: Perplexing that the guilty party can get away virtually scot free

Lewis Hamilton leads Fernando Alonso

Lewis Hamilton leads Fernando Alonso

Ferrari mocked the outcome of Formula 1’s international tribunal on Friday with a website column suggesting that Mercedes had gotten away with no more than a gentle rap on the knuckles for breaking the rules.

Mercedes were reprimanded and ordered to miss a three-day young driver test in July after the tribunal found that they had illegally tested for Pirelli with their current car in Spain last month.

In their defence at Thursday’s hearing, Mercedes had highlighted the treatment given to Ferrari who tested in April with Pirelli but avoided any charges because they had used a 2011 car.

Ferrari’s response was an acerbic ‘Horse Whisperer’ column published on their official website (www.ferrari.com) decrying the punishment.

“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,” it said in the column headed “Crime and Punishment (but make it a light one)”.

“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?”

Paul Harris, the lawyer representing Mercedes at the Paris hearing, had suggested to tribunal president Edwin Glasgow in his summing up that missing the young driver test could be a suitable way of redressing any injustice.

“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,” commented the anonymous Ferrari columnist.

“What if this whole incident had taken place after the young driver test? What would have been the penalty then? Would they have been forbidden from holding an end of year dinner?”

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Full transcript: 

The Horse Whisperer – Crime and Punishment (but make it a light one)

Officially, Ferrari has never been in the habit of commenting on verdicts.

However, as you all know, the Horse Whisperer is a free spirit who sums up the mood of millions of fans, especially when certain incidents get him worked up.

Have you ever faced accusations in a tribunal? It’s never happened to the Whisperer, thank goodness, but it can’t be pleasant. But 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.” Don’t tell me that testing for three days on your own at the Catalunya circuit is the same as doing so with nine other teams at Silverstone with a host of young hopefuls at the wheel, in an area where the weather can still be changeable even in the height of summer. And what if this whole incident had taken place after the young drier test, what would have been the penalty then? Would they have been forbidden from holding an end of year dinner?

In one sense then, it’s a bit like when a ghost goal is scored against you and isn’t disallowed and then your opponents are incorrectly awarded a penalty, which has no effect on the result, incidents which both the English and the Germans ought to remember well, don’t you think? It’s not something that can be remedied with a penalty in the next game…

The way things are going in Formula 1 at the moment is becoming boring: you make a mistake, you race with an illegal component, but then you are told to just change it for the next race and we’ve seen what we’ve seen…

All this reminds the Whisperer that if he ever finds himself running a Formula 1 team in the near future and that he gets off to a difficult start to the season, then all it needs is to organise a nice week of testing at the right moment and then maybe have to skip a later session, by which time, everything could be done and dusted. What do you reckon?

PS: Oh, and to those who jabber on about transparency and credibility, the Whisperer would remind them that the rules are very clear: you cannot test with a car from the current year. With those that are at least two years old, you can run when you like, where you like, with any driver you like, dressed how you like, inviting who you like.

(Reuters / Ferrari)