More details of Mercedes’ secret test emerge

F1 Fanatic round-up

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Circuit de Cataunya, Barcelona, 2013In the round-up: Details about Mercedes’ tyre test emerge which suggest it was more secretive than the team claimed.


Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more.

Pirelli test secrecy ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ James Bond… or Johnny English? (Adam Cooper’s F1 Blog)

“Why the excessive security measures? Why stop members of the public from observing from outside the venue, never mind wandering around the spectator areas, enjoying the chance to see the car that was on pole a few days before?”

Hankook rules out 2014 F1 tyre bid (Autosport)

Hankook DTM competition engineer Michael Eckert: “We are not ready to jump into Formula 1 for 2014, it’s not our goal short-term.”

Susie Wolff: ‘You have to make the most of it when that chance comes’ (The Guardian)

“I’ve applied for my Superlicence [to drive in F1]. I’m trying to get more track time. What I fear happening is an opportunity coming and not being ready for it. Because that opportunity will only ever come once.”

W196 meets W02 at Silverstone (Mercedes via YouTube)



Timo Glock, BMW, Red Bull Ring, DTM, 2013

Former F1 driver Timo Glock raced from twelfth to third for his first DTM podium in the third round of the championship at the Red Bull Ring. Bruno Spengler won followed by Marco Wittmann, making it a one-two-three for BMW at the former home of the Austrian Grand Prix.

Comment of the day

Out of over 100 Caption Competition entries those from Gilles de Wilde, Todfod, Starbuck, DionMach1 and Chris Browning.

But I picked this from @Adam1 as the winner:

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Monaco, 2013

?σΤιΌ?τSo you remembered to invite all the teams right??σΤιΌ?Ψ

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Tom Parfitt!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Jackie Stewart’s win in the Monaco Grand Prix 40 years ago today made it three-all between him and reigning champion Emerson Fittipaldi in terms of victories in the opening six races of the 1973 season.

Fittipaldi finished second, retaining a four-point lead in the championship, with his team mate Ronnie Peterson third. The race also saw James Hunt make his Formula One debut, though he retired with an engine failure.

Here’s some footage from the race:

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100 comments on More details of Mercedes’ secret test emerge

  1. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 3rd June 2013, 10:53

    Racecar Engineering are reporting that Mercedes and Ferrari have been called to answer charges by the FIA’s disciplinary panel.

    In response to some of the points above regarding whether Mercedes did or didn’t gain an advantage; this really is totally irrelevant. The sporting regulations state that no current car can take part in testing. No caveat there about testing being allowed as long as no advantage is gained. It’s pretty black and white and there can’t really be any argument that, at least in the case of Mercedes, the sporting regulations have been breached.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 3rd June 2013, 15:24

      I think that the history of F1 and the FIA has shown us that black and white is rarely black and white when it comes to the enforcement of the rules. So I wouldn’t be holding them to that. And I would think that if it was so black and white, there’d already be sanctions.

      I think one strong example of where they could create a shade of grey in the rule, and I suspect it will come down to this, is that it will be deemed the test was necessary in the name of safety. A 2013 car was necessarily needed because, imho, F1/FIA/Pirelli know they have one chance this year to tweak the tires to get away from 4 stop races and such blatant delta racing that fans and teams alike are turned off. (Pirelli has claimed the delamination issue is something they didn’t need a test to resolve).

      And if the test was primarily about 2014 tires then all the more reason the use of a 2013 car was necessary. It’s the closest thing they have right now to a 2014 car and Pirelli can argue that even a 2013 car is not what the new Pirelli’s are going to be built for but it’s the best they can do for now. And therefore the use of a 2013 car for this test is irrelevant to the bulk of the test with Merc in terms of any chance that they have affected the outcome of this year’s Championship with said test.

      • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 3rd June 2013, 15:58

        I disagree with you. I think what you’re referring to are the numerous instances where ambiguous areas in the technical regulations have been used to allow for inventive interpretations, to facilitate innovations which would otherwise be prevented. This situation is not like that – the rules are completely clear and unambiguous – it states two dates, between which absolutely no testing is allowed. There is no possibility to allow for testing based on that. Even the flimsy justification of safety grounds doesn’t hold water, since it would be entirely possible to try out prototype tyre constructions during normal Friday testing – as Pirelli have done on several occasions in the past.

        And again, developing 2014 tyres is irrelevant – the rules don’t make any allowances for testing current cars on future tyres. They say very clearly that this is not allowed. This was the case when Pirelli signed up to be the sole tyre supplier so I don’t see how they can really have a problem with it at this stage, no matter how clear and logical the need. The rules are the rules, and you can’t choose to simply ignore them because they are inconvenient. This situation was always going to arise, and it’s hardly to Pirelli’s credit that in the years leading up to this point they haven’t come up with a better solution than simply ignoring the rules. Perhaps they were counting on more support from the teams to get testing reinstated. Well if that’s the case then they really mis-read the situation in F1!

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 3rd June 2013, 16:40

          No it’s far more than about technical regulations when it comes to the shades of grey enforcement of the rules in F1 and I think you know that. We have numerous times debated questionable moves by a driver on the track and whether or not a driver was properly punished or should have been punished at all. We have numerous times debated whether a driver got off light because that would help bring the Championship down to the last race of the season. Did a driver obey a blue flag quickly enough. Was that an intentional block or did the driver legitimately not see him and was legitimately apologetic. Was a team order used or not (when they were ‘illegal’ of course, which was always going to be shades of grey such is the variety of ways a team can use an order even when they’re illegal). I think you get my point. We all know that there are always contentious issues as to the consistancy of the enforcement of the rules well beyond just the technical aspects as you imply. F1 is famous for their inconsistancy in that regard.

          You are right that there are two dates between which in-season testing is allowed. However, somehow Pirelli had it in their contract that they could do an in-season test. I don’t think they put a gun to someone’s head to be allowed that test. I’m pretty sure F1/FIA would have had to agree to that before a contract was signed between Pirelli and F1 (shade of grey number 1 in your scenario) We have also heard that F1/FIA can intervene if it is in the name of safety, which in this case is hardly ‘flimsy’ as you opine when tires have been delaminating. (shade of grey number 2 in your scenario).

          Bottom line for me as it relates to your argument…if it was so black and white then surely Mercedes and Pirelli are not so stupid that they would think the risk would be worth it. Firstly, Pirelli would have nothing to gain if this was about helping Merc and would only be risking being released from F1 and probably being sued into bankruptcy. And surely you don’t actually believe Mercedes would think they could get away with this and get Pirelli in on the conspiracy?

          I predict there was enough need for this tire test, uniquely, this season, and there was enough provision in Pirelli’s contract, and enough motivation within F1 and FIA to improve the racing, that if anyone gets punished it will be in a token, slap on the wrist way.

          Pirelli were asked to make degrady tires etc etc, and Keith has written his opinion that nailing down the perfect degrady tires for every track and every condition for every car and driver was always going to be a very hard task. Pirelli have acted as F1 wished and took it a bit too far. F1 has some responsibility here in helping Pirelli wright the ship, imho, and to me Merc was the perfect choice of a team to use.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 3rd June 2013, 16:43

            Sorry in the first line of my second paragraph that should have read ‘two dates between which in-season testing is NOT allowed’

          • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 3rd June 2013, 17:25

            SOrry, you’ve made a long post and I’m not going to address each point, but I think you’re muddying the waters here. Bottom line is that the rule we’re talking about is absolutely clear and unambiguous, and has to be taken as such. Regardless any such clause in the Pirelli contract, I don’t see how a commercial agreement with a supplier can take precedence over the sporting regulations, with which all teams are obligated to adhere. There is no part of the rule which says “unless the tyre supplier has a contract which allows testing.” So in order to assist Pirelli (let’s put aside any ideas about the validity or motivation for the testing here – it’s all beside the point. The main question – the ONLY question – is whether it was possible within the rules for a team to run a current specification car in a test session. And there appears to be no such clause within the rules which would allow that.

            The FIA have even made a statement to that effect – that in order to allow such a test, certain requirements would need to be met – the most important one being unanimous agreement from all teams. Which is again enshrined within the rules. No matter the circumstances, the rules must be adhered to. You can’t simply make up arbitrary exceptions which aren’t actually expressed anywhere within the rules themselves, otherwise the rules cease to have any meaning whatsoever.

            The main problem is that it appears almost impossible that this test went ahead without the knowledge of the FIA. In which case they are a little bit hamstrung in terms of what they could possibly do. They need a tyre supplier for next year, and at this point it appears there’s only one real viable answer – Pirelli. But Pirelli appear to have breached their own contract and through arranging a tyre test potentially brought the entire sport into disrepute. So on the one hand, you have to be able to deal with a situation like this one in a satisfactory manner, but on the other hand, there appears to be no way now to solve this issue in a way which is going to satisfy all concerned parties. And the FIA are at risk of losing any shred of credibility they may have left at this point.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 3rd June 2013, 19:44

            Well I think basically you are agreeing with me that there are shades of grey. On the one hand you continue to explain that there is a black and white rule, and yet you’ve also acknowledged that the test likely went ahead with the FIA’s knowledge. Hence my claim that there are indeed shades of grey. There MUST have been extenuating circumstances for said test to have gone ahead. FIA MUST have thought it necessary. This is not a test Mercedes decided to do all on their own because they decided they would try to get away with cheating their way to some wins or the WDC. Even if they had that kind of nerve, they needed tires to do the test. We now know most of the tires were for 2014, so how would that be worth them risking everything this year, or even removal from F1 and hundreds of millions of dollars in fines?

            I agree that you can’t just make up arbitrary exceptions to rules. I just don’t agree that there was anything arbitrary about this situation. Safety has been one exception and I’m sure that’s a big card that Pirelli will play. I think these tires are dangerous and are making for terrible racing. And I think that is the general concensus amongst teams and fans alike.

            I add up the following ingredients to get to shades of grey. Pirelli did not just sneak into their own contract that they could use a team to test their tires. FIA agreed to that. Pirelli have stated that they did email teams last year to be on the ready to help them do a test. Some didn’t comply. Some did. This year’s tires have been uniquely problematic, but in general are what F1 themselves have asked them to do, hence should play a role in helping rectify too degrady, too delaminaty tires. They needed to act fast. They needed to not use a top-3 team imho. And again, it’s not about Merc deciding to break a black and white rule. It’s about them agreeing to go along with Pirelli’s contracted right to do a test, and likely feeling that this test was crucial for all teams in order to get everyone better tires. If the FIA allowed this in Pirelli’s contract, surely they didn’t expect Pirelli to create their own team to do the test because there is a rule that no F1 teams can test between such and such dates. Shades of grey. For the betterment of F1 and the racing. I don’t think the FIA is too worried about losing any shred of credibility and in fact I predict they will try to come out as one’s who have tried to ensure safety for the drivers and a good show for the fans.

            I understand the FIA’s concern that the other teams weren’t consulted well enough, weren’t given a fair enough chance, and that a 2013 car was used. I predict Pirelli will fairly easily be able to explain that a consulting process would have taken too long and would have likely meant no concensus and no necessary test, and they did email the teams last year to be ready for this. As to the use of the 2013 car, I think that is again no big deal because mostly this was a test for 2014 and the cars will be completely different, and to use an even older car would not help Pirelli resolve today’s tire issues.

            Yes it’s not black and white. Yes it’s not pretty. But underhanded? Cheaty? I just don’t buy that. Why? Because I don’t think Pirelli or Merc would consider the risk anywhere near worth it. I don’t think one 3-day test of no data sharing turns a team into Championship contenders. If it did, F1 would be way too easy and the teams would not have agreed to such limited testing. They’d at least have all gotten together and agreed to one 3-day test each per in-season.

            How would your black and white thinking fair if a driver was killed because he crashed due to a delaminating tire? Would you still have no tolerance for extenuating circumstances? Especially ones that were borne of F1’s own requests for this type of racing? This type of tire? Would you still insist they not test for better tires in-season? Of course, the teams would unanimously agree quite quickly as to how to achieve better tires if someone died. Why wait for that to happen? Because of a black and white rule that couldn’t have predicted these tires?

  2. xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 3rd June 2013, 11:58

    So is that video the reason the W02 wasn’t available for the Barcelona test then?

  3. dkpioe said on 3rd June 2013, 13:44

    Susie Wolf will get a drive in F1 i believe, but not from her abilities, but because of Mr. Toto Wolff, who is becoming a strong political presence in the f1 paddock. It will be good to have a female driver nonetheless and will pave the way for others, and her presence will be no worse then having pay drivers in f1 – which she essentially will be, but many will bag her at evey opportunity because they are sexist.
    Toto Wolf will soon assume Ross Brawn’s position as the boss of Mercedes F1. I predict Brawn could be pushed out as early as the end of this year, as the Pirelli testing Mercedes did will surely get punished, and it was surely the brainchild of Ross Brawn. It is the perfect setup for a change in hierachy which seems inevitable. I wouldnt be surprised if Wolf pulled one over Brawn by allowing Brawn to do this recent testing – Mercedes have nothing to lose anyway – 4th place is just another defeat so it was worth the gamble of doing illegal testing.

    • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 3rd June 2013, 13:47

      Ross Brawn has always been the master of this kind of brinksmanship. I find it difficult to believe that he’d give the nod for something like this to go ahead if he wasn’t confident that they had an absolutely watertight justification for doing it, which would absolve them of any responsibility.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 3rd June 2013, 17:21

        @mazdachris I’m a bit confused then. You say Ross Brawn wouldn’t give the nod to the test without watertight justification that would absolve them of any responsibility, yet at the top of this page you are saying Merc clearly broke a rule…black and white. If it is as clear as you say, then surely you don’t think RB could possibly have had any reason to think Merc would be absolved of responsibility.

        @dkpioe I highly doubt the test was the brainchild of Ross Brawn since he would have needed tires for said test, and therefore Pirelli at a minimum would be a very big co-conspirator if this was all RB’s idea. I also highly doubt, if this was all so underhanded, that Merc would look at their 4th place standing and consider an illegal test as ‘nothing to lose anyway’. They would be sued for hundreds of millions of dollars, be kicked out for the rest of the season, and have their integrity and reputation jeopardized globally if in fact they were trying to get away with an illegal in-season test.

        • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 3rd June 2013, 17:39

          I’m simply saying that it would be totally out of character for RB to make a decision when it was to blatantly clear that they would be in trouble for it. Now, you can infer from that what you wish – perhaps that RB wasn’t the one that made the call. Perhaps that he was told something that wasn’t true. Perhaps that there were certain deals made behind closed doors. Who knows. I certainly don’t. What I do know is that this would be totally out of character for Brawn to make such an enormous miscalculation, and so I can’t help but feel there is far more to this story than meets the eye. And this relates to what I say above, that the FIA have either put themselves, or have been put into, an impossible situation where there seems very little chance of them coming away from this with their integrity in tact.

          That Mercedes have breached article 22 seems impossible to argue against. The reasons why, who took the decision to do it, to what end, and who knew about it, are all matters of complete speculation at this point. We have a statement from the FIA which appears to say that Mercedes and Pirelli did not have dispensation to carry out the test (or at the least, that the requirements as laid out by the FIA were not met – as backed up by several teams who confirm they weren’t even consulted on the matter) which seems to leave two possibilities – either that Mercedes and Pirelli were mistaken and believed they were acting in good faith, or that they deliberately chose to break the rules. My point being that if it’s the latter case, then I can’t imagine Ross Brawn taking such a decision without something up his sleeve to be able to get out of it. Though regardless, the whole thing absolutely stinks, and will continue to stink no matter what happens from this point onwards. This is an absolutely incredible situation, and one which as far as I know is completely without precedent in F1.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 3rd June 2013, 19:59

            For the most part I agree with what you have said here. I just think that it is highly unlikely that any team principal would think they could get away with this and deliberately break the rules this way. Which is why I’m convinced Merc and Pirelli must feel they have enough legs to stand on here including quasi permission from FIA even if they didn’t quite follow every protocol to said test. I still say it should be fairly easy for Pirelli to argue the urgency, and the need not to dilly dally with deciding how to do the test and with whom. That would have meant too much delay. And they were acting with what they thought were enough legal legs to stand on. The emails to the teams last year because of the clause in their contract for a team to work with them. The delaminations. The lack of testing in general.

            I totally agree with you that the whole thing stinks and may be completely without precedence, but imho F1 wanted these tires so they need to own up to helping rectify the situation. Come to think of it, perhaps Pirelli’s frustration is that F1 didn’t help more ahead of this need for secrecy. Perhaps F1 should have designated a team and told the other teams this is how it has to be because it is an emergency situation. I don’t know. I do know that I personally never wanted gadgety tire and DRS racing to begin with, so I’m kind of glad it has bitten them in the butt.

    • RogerA said on 3rd June 2013, 16:15

      I don’t think Susie Wolff is really as bad as some people say.

      Granted she didn’t do much in DTM but then consider that she was always in much older equipment driving for a team thats never really done a great deal & that many open wheel guys who went over to DTM struggled including several Ex-F1 race winners.

      Looking at her open wheel career she was quite competent in Formula Renault scoring podiums & finishing 5th in points in 2004 & did enough to be one of the BRDC McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award contenders eventually winning the BRDC Rising Star award.

      You never know exactly how good or not any driver is going to be until you give them a run in the car. I see no reason why she should not be given an opportunity to test the car to see exactly how good (Or not) she is.

      I remember back in 2006 when Katherine Legge tested a Minardi, Many of the same arguments as to why it should not happen were been given. However when she got in the car & did some laps she turned out to be very fast by all accounts.

  4. josephrobert (@josephrobert) said on 3rd June 2013, 16:10

    Tired of tyres?

    Shorter pitlane’s and harder tyres.

    Let them bring two types of tyres for a weekend, hards and wets. Deal with it.

    Here’s another idea, make the pitlane’s inside the track, and shorter then the track. If a car does a drive though let them only lose 1 or 2 seconds to a flying lap so that if they do pit they drop back only 5 to 6 seconds. That way drivers will be able to push the tyres and long tyre saving stints of slower lap times will be less profitable.

  5. Cranberry said on 3rd June 2013, 20:17

    Saying that the media deals in facts and only facts is a naive and uninformed statement. The media wants to sell their product, and they do that by appealing to the viewer’s emotions. The outrage that followed “Overtakegate” was huge, and then the case was only about one team’s internal hierarchy and challenges faced by their management.
    The media follows whatever path brings them the most return on their investment and the journalists use supporting facts to justify their arguments and opinions while omitting facts that may prove otherwise, these facts may later be introduced, however, as shocking new discoveries to stir things up again.

    I just hope that the FIA and whoever handles this issue does use facts and facts only to come to a fair judgement.

    This secret testing is much bigger than what happened between VET and WEB, it breaks the ruleset of the sport and highlights conflicts between the regulation and agreements made accodring to my understanding.
    The sporting regulations prohibits testing in-season, and prohibits testing with a current-gen car but Pirelli has a deal with the FIA that they may request teams to test for them during the season for a 1000km distance.

    Now, Mercedes may not have broken the in-season testing rule if they indeed have a writted permit from the FIA to conduct the test, but they may have broken the rule that restrics what type of car they can use unless the same permission slip allows them to use a 2013 spec car in writing.
    Interesting times, all in all…I’ll go get my tinfoil hat.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 3rd June 2013, 21:39

      I won’t try to speak for prisoner-monkeys as he is highly capable of speaking for himself, and he sure doesn’t come across as naive and uninformed, but I think the point is that at some point media has to have facts to back up their claims. Of course they can choose their wording to play on emotions, to sell their product, etc etc, but ultimately they wouldn’t last long nor be trusted if they didn’t back up their words with facts. If they just invent stuff. We all know that many media use compelling headlines to grab the readers’ attention. It is often in the body of the work that one can see that factually there was less alarm to the headline once all the facts have been pointed out. But I also don’t think they can credibly withhold facts to support their case only to then reveal the facts as ‘shocking new discoveries’ if the facts they are withholding are already out there in other media. They might shade the facts a little if they don’t assist their own political agenda, but again I don’t think they would be taken very seriously for very long if they constantly omitted facts that have already become general knowledge. Or they would be taken seriously but only by those who agree with their political spin and their style of reporting.

      • Cranberry said on 4th June 2013, 15:15

        I didn’t mean the man was naive, but his statement was…and my intention was not to attack him, his statement just really rubbed me the wrong way and one should never trust what they read in the media. Especially when the media circulates around a sport as as void of morals and integrity as Formula 1 is.

        I don’t know what happened in my last paragraph, but it got completely lost in translation. What I meant to say there was that Mercedes has clearly broken both rules but if they have a written approval from the FIA on all accounts then they may not be punishable.

        Now that I have my tinfoil hat on, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if FIA did indeed grant them permission to test 1000km for Pirelli with their 2013 car.

        Who knows… With the whole engine change coming up and Ecclestone having his trial and Mercedes the option to pull out of F1 on grounds of corruption…they may have leveraged the whole thing in their favor to close the gap on the leaders.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 4th June 2013, 16:36

          Fair enough. And I’m not going so far as to say I think there was any kind of conspiracy, because I just don’t believe that Pirelli shared data with Merc, nor that Pirelli or Merc would think for a second that they could get away with some kind of collusion. Pirelli would have nothing to gain if it was only about helping Merc and the risk would be huge. I think, and of course it’s just my opinion, that F1/FIA knew the tires were a problem, knew that Pirelli had one chance to get them right, and knew that Mercedes was the best option to use being a non-top-3 and non-bottom-3 team. Sure it could have been handled in a better way on the face of it, in terms of more openness and fairness, but I think that kind of democracy in this situation would have meant a quagmire or meetings and non-concensus and teams would have ended up with problematic tires and delta racing for the rest of the season and nobody is liking it.

          So for me I will be surprised if anybody gets penalized in any kind of a severe way, because the goal is to improve the tires and the racing. If anybody should be punished the most it should be Pirelli for not ensuring proper tires from the outset eg. had they stayed with last year’s tires there wouldn’t be an issue, but since they have been basically following the mandate set out by F1, they can hardly be severely punished, imho.

          In terms of media and untrustworthiness…I hear you, but I’d like to think that ultimately they have to be pretty much on the straight and narrow or the market will decide they aren’t the go-to source and will go elsewhere.

          I’ll share an interesting example going on in Toronto. There is a newspaper called the Toronto Star that has been going after the mayor Rob Ford since before he even got elected because he is a conservative who’s main mandate is to stop the abuse by government of the taxpayers money. That makes him a Conservative mayor and the Toronto Star has gone to great lengths from day one to dig up any dirt they can on him. The latest story, and you may have even heard about this wherever you are, is that the two Toronto Star reporters that have been the most aggressive all along, now claim they have seen a smart phone video of Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. It’s been weeks now and so far they have not produced said video…nobody has seen it but these two reporters. I think there should be some sort of law against this type of shoddy journalism. I no longer buy the Toronto Star.

  6. Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 5th June 2013, 3:22

    Love the ’73 Monaco GP footage, but even now there is always a respectful wave of gut felt nausea when I see the drivers climb in to those cars. There was no canopy of safety.

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