FIA calls Mercedes to Tribunal over test and dismisses case against Ferrari

2013 F1 season

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, 2013The FIA has called Mercedes to appear before its International Tribunal to answer questions concerning its controversial test for Pirelli.

In a statement released on Friday the sport’s governing body said: “In the light of all the replies received and in view of the information gathered during this inquiry, the president of the FIA, acting as the FIA prosecuting body, has decided to bring the case concerning the tyre testing session carried out by Pirelli and Team Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 in Barcelona on 15-17 May 2013 before the FIA International Tribunal because it results from the inquiry that the conditions of this testing may constitute a breach of the applicable FIA rules.”

“The FIA International Tribunal is called upon to make a decision in compliance with the FIA Judicial and Disciplinary Rules.”

The FIA also confirmed it will close its case against Ferrari. “Its participation in a tyre testing organised by Pirelli in Barcelona on 23-24 April 2013 using for this purpose a 2011 car is not deemed to contravene the applicable FIA rules.”

Mercedes conducted a three-day test for Pirelli at the Circuit de Catalunya using their 2013 car, the W04, on May 15th to 17th. Ferrari’s test was conducted on April 23rd and 24th using the 150 Italia which was last used in F1 in 2011.

Ferrari and Red Bull protested against Mercedes when details of their test came to light during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.

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196 comments on FIA calls Mercedes to Tribunal over test and dismisses case against Ferrari

  1. DaveW (@dmw) said on 6th June 2013, 0:15

    The case, as it were, is going to turn on whether it was in a fact a “test.’ That is, whether Mercedes produced and stored analyzed data from the exercise. I know that Keith and others have said that it would be impossible for this not to have happened, but that is an empirical issue. I expect that Pirelli tried to organize some kind of data firewall here, the quality of which will be revealed. The summary dismissal of the Ferrari case suggests that the FIA wants to cover its behind on the issue of the data availability—they will say, as Ferrari apparently has been doing in jumping the gun on the prosecution’s opening statement for a few days, that it’s about the vintage of the car not the vintage of the tires. and that the Ferrari exoneration and the reasoning behind it are “facts” that the Mercedes tributal must accept. I think that Mercedes’s lawyers will rightfullly say, not so fast, the FIA was in for a dollar if it was in for a dime with the Ferrari test, and that this distinction of car spec versus tire spec is one of form over substance. The fact that there was this cursory investigation itself suggests that the Ferrari test was neither authorized in advance nor presumptively legal, so this “fact” can be turned around against the prosecution anyway. Also, there is no stare decisis in FIA tribunals, or consistency, as we all know.

    Also, the fact that Pirelli is not mentioned here is all quite bizarre. Mercedes (or Ferrari) could not have done its test without Pirelli. Pirellis solicited the deed and undertook it in conspiracy. Obviously Pirelli is not competiting in the championship so Ferrari has not named them but Mercedes should be keen to compel them to give very favorable evidence for them.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 6th June 2013, 4:30

      Pirelli is mentioned. Just not in Keith’s headline. His headline makes it seem like Mercedes is the main culprit under the microscope, but that is because he is wisely making a comparison of teams, being as they are the ones whose Championship may be affected by penalties, Ferrari has been exonerated, and any punishment to Pirelli will not be about the Championship teams and their participation for points toward the big prize.

      Imho, Ferrari have been exonerated because Pirelli has a clause that says they can do tire tests with teams if necessary. Otherwise Ferrari would not have been exonerated from breaking the same rule Mercedes is being accused of among several accusations, that of the in-season testing ban.

      Interestingly, Ferrari must have also been found to have not gleaned data from Pirelli, so I suspect that Pirelli should be able to convince the tribunal that Mercedes did not either. The charge of use of a 2013 car and the team’s primary drivers will be something Pirelli will try to convince the tribunal was necessary to ensure continuity and that they nail down proper tires for the rest of the season. Key players in recent days have said that Ferrari would not have gleaned as much advantage from the test because they used a 2011 car, so Pirelli likely wouldn’t have gleaned all the data they needed either, and I would suggest that Pirelli will argue that at some point they needed a 2013 car to glean accurate data…for themselves of course, not for Mercedes.

      • Wooolfy said on 6th June 2013, 6:58

        Very well thought out and said, except for the fact that Pirelli said that the unknown tires that Mercedes tested, were for the 2014 season. So has no bearing on 2013. The only advantage gained by Merc as I see it, is cockpit time for their drivers, and that’s something that Ferrari could have exploited(not illegal) too.

  2. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 6th June 2013, 1:04

    Awful lot of arguing going on here considering no one knows what actually happened yet.

    What’s clear is, as Keith has pointed out, it’s hard to see Mercedes getting out of this without any scratches.

  3. MarkM (@mpmark) said on 6th June 2013, 1:19

    Stick it to them! They know they cheated, it was highly secretive amongst what they will tell you. I’m sure the entire mercedes factory had multiple tests going on. CHEATERS!
    If you can’t do the time dont do the crime.

  4. FERNANDO123 (@fernando123) said on 6th June 2013, 4:11

    tiregate
    testgate
    pirelligate
    mercedesgate
    tire test gate
    vote

  5. Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 6th June 2013, 4:14

    My understanding is that Mercedes did not request the test. Pirelli offered it to them and Pirelly has the right to do it. Second, this is Mercedes we are talking about. They are doing F1 a favor by participating and are also an engine manufacturer… Aside from thanking Mercedes for making the commitment to race in F1, I don’t think the FIA would be wise to say anything else. Perhaps a ceremony to thank the board of directors wouldn’t be such a bad idea. I would tread very carefully if I were the FIA. This is not McLaren or Ferrari that depend on F1. Mercedes could leave F1 in 20 seconds, perhaps less… If Mercedes leaves F1, tis the end for any other luxury manufacturer for the next 20 years. Maybe Lada can enter – after all they devised the removable steering wheel as I witnessed first hand when my uncle made a turn and the steering wheel came off and then he put it back frantically and continued turning. Needless to say, I lost 5 years of my life in that corner:-) Then he turned to me and said “it happens all the time, don’t worry”…

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 6th June 2013, 4:38

      Omg…lol…

      As to Mercedes…I have said a few times in last few days that ultimately the teams and the fans should thank Mercedes for doing this tire test. Better tires are badly needed and the teams and the fans should all benefit equally by getting a least a little bit away from delaminations, 4 stoppers, and delta running, although I’m sure the tires are not going to be changed drastically and we still may see some of that, just not the delaminations presumably.

    • Sebsfinger (@sebsfinger) said on 6th June 2013, 5:31

      My understanding is for every kilometer driven in a Lada you cut 100 seconds from your life. More danger than smoking. The removable steering wheel is nothing new in Eastern Europe, everyone knows in Russia Lada drives YOU!

  6. HiPn0tIc (@hipn0tic) said on 6th June 2013, 6:28

    I’m glad to see that happening and want to see they get punished for that. And when i mean they , i’m referring to Mercedes but the other part to Pirelli, because they to are guilty in this process.
    For Mercedes, they should have a 3 bane race aand get thrown out of the constructor championship, also every team should have the same oppurtunity for drving like they did.

    As for Pirelli, if guity, they shouls see the contract terminated as soon as possible, or open to other manufacturers, i’m sick and tyre of discussing almos evrything and to ear more the tyre supplier that other teams and drivers. This should be racing, and racing is to beat the best, if you “race” alone like Pirelli case, ypu’re just getting to the finish line…

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 6th June 2013, 11:06

      @hipn0tic

      For Mercedes, they should have a 3 bane race aand get thrown out of the constructor championship, also every team should have the same oppurtunity for drving like they did.

      The last time a team was excluded from a championship was when McLaren were found to have used Ferrari’s designs in their car. Mercedes carrying out an illegal test is nowhere near the same scale as that, so excluding them from the championship is not an option because it’s disproportionate.

      As for Pirelli, if guity, they shouls see the contract terminated as soon as possible, or open to other manufacturers

      Pirelli’s contract expires at the end of 2013. However, there is no time for another supplier to develop tyres in time for 2014. Hankook and Bridgestone have already ruled it out. Furthermore, Pirelli appear to have carried out the test with the understanding that it was permitted because their contract allowed them to carry out an extraordinary test.

    • Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 6th June 2013, 14:03

      A 3 race ban and thrown out of the constructor’s championship?

      There are 10 teams in F1 now and the most valuable of those teams right now many would say is Mercedes. The FIA cannot punish Mercedes anymore than they can punish Ferrari. The fact that they exonerated Ferrari creates a double-standard. That’s made even more serious by the fact that every penny that Jean Todt has come from Ferrari’s coffers. Hopefully, the tribunal is for show and libations because if the FIA is serious no other car German manufacturer will ever touch F1 with a 10 foot stick and that includes BMW, Audi and Porsche.

      It’s bad enough the technology is not transferrable to anything other than a McLaren P1, LaFerrari and the new 2.9 million Pagani Zonda.

      Second, I’m going to venture a guess that Mercedes is one of Pirelli’s customers and if anyone should get a test it should be them because after all if you have a customer who has paid you a billion dollars you’d prefer them over another customer who has used your tires for free.. Unless you believe that fairness should rule the world and that Mercedes should enter F1, spend a bazillion euros and run 10th…

      If the world was fair, I’d be a Master Jedi by now;-)

      • Mads (@mads) said on 6th June 2013, 15:36

        How “valuable” Merc is, is completely irrelevant. Taking that into account would only confirm the claims that the sport these days is all about politics.
        They need the punishment according to their offence. Regardless of who they are.
        The reason FIA don’t care about Ferrari’s test, is because it was carried out with a 2 years old chassis. That is lightyears away from testing with a current car.

        • Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 6th June 2013, 18:56

          It’s quite relevant when you are paying billions of dollars to compete. Pirelli had the right to run the test they chose Mercedes for obvious reasons. End of story… The FIA cannot “slap” Mercedes – it’s just not acceptable from a business standpoint. They are not equals. McLaren they could penalize them because McLaren had to stay in F1 since it’s their main business. F1 is not Mercedes’ main business – in fact, it’s a money pit that they engage in for fun and glory and they have not seen much of either lately…

          I’m sure from MB’s perspective, Formula 1 owes them not the other way around. To penalize them would be an insult that the FIA will never be able to wipe off and no other car manufacturer would be interested in F1 again. Why bother with it?

  7. pstaffan (@pstaffan) said on 6th June 2013, 6:33

    How about; No more friday practice for Mercedes during the Championship.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 6th June 2013, 11:02

      @pstaffan – That’s completely unfair. The FIA have to determine what, if any, advantage Mercedes got from the test. Then they need to decide on a penalty that is proportionate to the offence. Banning them from taking part in Friday practice is unfair because the test in Barcelona was used to assess the early designs of the 2014 tyres, but Friday practice is used for car set-up, and qualifying and race simulations – which Mercedes weren’t doing in Barcelona. That’s two entirely different uses of the time, and so it’s therefore an unfair penalty.

      Also, there is nothing that allows the FIA to suspend a team from taking part in Friday practice, so it’s not a penalty they can give for one race, much less every race between now and the end of the season.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 6th June 2013, 14:38

        Not to mention Mercedes will have helped all the teams have better tires, and helped the fans enjoy better racing with potentially no more delaminations, fewer 4 stop races, and less delta time running, so why should Mercedes be punished for helping everyone?

    • DaveW (@dmw) said on 6th June 2013, 14:39

      As I’ve mentioned before I think the appropriate and best punishment would be for Mercedes to have to disgorge all data and all related analytical work-product gained from the test to their competitors. That would more than “even” things up as the other teams would necessarily gain far information about the Mercedes car and data systems than they would have dreamed. That would sting Mercedes far more than being excluded from the title, because it’s not like they are going to win either title this year.

  8. kpcart said on 6th June 2013, 9:09

    everyone should read the autosport article about the international tribunal and how it works – time frame, penalties, the tribunals independance from fia. very interesting read. on their website linked in the cover article

  9. For those wondering who conducted the test?

    From Rosberg:

    “It was a full on Pirelli test – they dictate what we do. We have no say whatsoever – they say you are doing that, that, that and that and the engineers that they have run our programme. So it is not for us to learn anything or to decide on anything that we do.”

    • Ivano (@) said on 6th June 2013, 14:22

      He races for Mercedes. Of course you’ll be saying that.

    • Nomore (@nomore) said on 6th June 2013, 16:15

      Just a question for you did you excpect Rosberg to say :

      Guys we get caught, we tried to do something illegal, we thought to run away with it…but unfortunately we got caught…

      you really expected this…

    • PeterG said on 6th June 2013, 16:40

      If Pirelli ran the test then why were there own test drivers not used?

      Both Jaime Alguersuari & Lucas Di Grassi are contracted Pirelli drivers & its usually them who do all F1/GP2/GP3 tyre testing during the Pirelli test’s.

      Whatever the rights/wrong of the test taking place, I don’t believe Hamilton or Rosberg should have been driving the car.

  10. Jason (@jason12) said on 6th June 2013, 12:42

    Tests aimed at 2014 should not affect 2013 racing, period.

    • kpcart said on 6th June 2013, 13:25

      test conducted during season when the rules say there is no testing whould not have happened period.

      • Jason (@jason12) said on 6th June 2013, 14:43

        Correct, but it did thanks to negligence from the FIA, and Pirelli’s invite.

        Someone should have ensured that this test did not occur.
        Merc must have thought the invite was special, and supersedes all other restrictions.
        Which is a fair assumption….

        • kpcart said on 6th June 2013, 16:06

          i doubt it was FIA negligance, and i doubt Merc had that assumption. its more likely mercedes just decided to bend the rules and hope to get away with it. and they nearly did. if it was FIA negligance and if it was legal, it would not have gone this far to the tribunal – which is an independent panel outside of the FIA (apparently). even so if there was FIA negligance, the team still had the “choice” to break the rules. i dont see how a pirelli contract with a seemingly half true invitation cited by the FIA and not correctly worded to include the 2013 car, and other teams not knowing about the matter – how that will have any precedence over the sporting codes which are pretty balck and white about the issue.

  11. Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 6th June 2013, 15:02

    Noone has mentioned the fact that Pirelli can make a serious claim that the FIA’s investigation could be interfering with Pirelli’s main business because in all honesty the only serious client in F1 would be Mercedes and Fiat through its association with Ferrari.

    Pirelli could easily threaten and they could even leave midseason.

    On the flipside, should Merc decide to leave they would be leaving on the tail end of a Monaco GP victory with a car that could have been a championship winning car were it not for the tires. It IS a good time to leave the sport. Timing is everything and the FIA’s timing is not good.

    If I were the FIA I would tread very, very carefully…

    • Nomore (@nomore) said on 6th June 2013, 16:04

      Pirelli could easily threaten and they could even leave midseason.

      Is their right, they are free to leave

      • DaveW (@dmw) said on 6th June 2013, 17:28

        And should the teams all go down to TireRack to outfit their cars? This is serious situation for the sport, not just Mercedes. While all fingers are wagging at MB now the FIA needs to focus on calming the situation rather than just meting out the roughest justice it can. Pirelli’s contractual commitment, and the question of material breach and consequences, is the main event here. No amount of liquidated damages is going to put tires on these cars if Pirelli gets fed up and decides writing the check is better than putting up with daily abuse from the FIA, Bernie, and the teams. Ferrari and RBR are laughing now but unless Dietrich can convert a soda factory to make tires in a quick jiffy they are going to be crying soon.

  12. kpcart said on 6th June 2013, 16:13

    The International Tribunal is open to the media, and today, Mercedes have gone on the front foot with media coverage to get peop0le on their side, to continue manipulating this situation. Rosberg today said mercedes had nothing to gain because Pirelli controlled the test, yet did not talk about why he drove, and why he drove a 2013 car, and how he no doubt got to better understand his car with 3 race distances. Mercedes have also said they “welcome the tribunal hearing” as it gives them a chance to show the true facts, welcoming it like it will work in their favour :) now we will have propoganda for 45 days from mercedes. great.

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