Is the FIA’s test ban for Mercedes a fair penalty?

Debates and Polls

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013The FIA International Tribunal has banned Mercedes from participating in this year’s Young Drivers Test after deciding they broke the rules by testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in May.

Does the punishment fit the transgression? Is it too harsh or too soft? Compare both sides of the argument and cast your vote below.

For

In its verdict the FIA’s Tribunal made it clear Mercedes did not intend to gain an unfair advantage and said they did not act in “bad faith”.

What’s more the FIA concurred that Mercedes had grounds to believe they had been given permission to do the test.

The FIA also acknowledged it contributed to a misunderstanding on Mercedes’ part about whether they were allowed to test. Reflecting that, the governing body will jointly foot the bill for their investigation, sharing it with Mercedes and Pirelli.

This serves to demonstrate Mercedes were not entirely to blame and did not attempt to cynically exploit the testing rules, and therefore deserve a lenient punishment.

Against

The FIA made it clear Mercedes had gained an advantage from the test, “which, at least potentially, gave it an unfair sporting advantage”.

It also pointed out that the instruction it gave to Mercedes and Pirelli to ensure other teams were informed of the test was not carried out.

Mercedes were found in breach of article 22.4 (h) of the Sporting Regulations which prevents teams from testing with a car that substantially conforms to the current regulations. The benefit of being able to do so with their regular race drivers as opposed to a much less experienced driver appears to have been overlooked by the FIA in choosing to strip Mercedes of their Young Driver Test privileges.

The penalty chosen does not go far enough to rebalance the playing field following the revelation of Mercedes’ clandestine test.

I say

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013The most unsatisfactory detail to have emerged during the deliberations is that a total of three (formerly) secret tests have been conducted by F1 teams for Pirelli since the beginning of last season: two by Ferrari and one by Mercedes, though apparently only the latter involved a current specification car. The lack of transparency surrounding these tests is a cause for concern.

Regarding the Mercedes case it’s clear the FIA recognised their own fault in the communication between themselves, Mercedes and Pirelli which led to the test going ahead. That was clearly used in mitigation of any potential punishment for Mercedes.

One could blame the FIA’s equivocal interpretation of its own rules or Mercedes’ eagerness to covertly log an extra 1,000km with its current cars and race drivers. But the person hardest hit by the verdict is totally blameless: the aspiring F1 racer who’s just lost a chance to get behind the wheel of a W04 at the forthcoming Young Drivers’ Test (in recent years this has been Sam Bird).

What’s more, the effectiveness of Mercedes’ punishment is now contingent on the other teams being able to conduct worthwhile running at the Young Drivers’ Test. If it is disrupted by rain Mercedes’ punishment would be rendered meaningless.

The penalty also leaves Mercedes’ two race drivers, both of which participated in the illegal test, completely untouched. Does the FIA not expect them to understand and adhere to the Sporting Regulations?

Earlier this month Lewis Hamilton described the difficulties he’s experienced getting the W04 to behave the way he wants it to under braking. It’s hard to believe an extra day-and-a-half’s running in the car didn’t help him make progress with that.

I understand why the FIA felt they couldn’t go too far in punishing Mercedes. But at minimum they needed to cancel out what advantage Mercedes gained from the test, and they have fallen well short of that.

It was Mercedes themselves who proposed a ban from the Young Drivers’ Test as a punishment for their transgression. By giving them what they want the FIA have handed down a penalty that is too lenient.

You say

Do you think the FIA’s punishment for Mercedes is fair? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

The FIA's penalty for Mercedes is...

  • Far too harsh (3%)
  • Slightly too harsh (5%)
  • Fair (18%)
  • Slightly too soft (29%)
  • Far too soft (44%)
  • No opinion (1%)

Total Voters: 587

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210 comments on Is the FIA’s test ban for Mercedes a fair penalty?

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  1. cg22me (@cg22me) said on 21st June 2013, 17:31

    I’m not going to make comment on whether the test ban is “fair”, or not.
    I just feel sorry for the two Young Drivers who already have a tough enough time gaining experience in a Formula 1 car, without their dedicated day in the sunlight getting darkened, by no fault of their own.

    • Merv (@) said on 21st June 2013, 18:15

      100% agree, the first thing I thought of were the drivers that have now missed their shot in an F1 car. The test starts in just over a week, they must be absolutely gutted.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 22nd June 2013, 4:16

      But the young drivers test day has become a cynical test session for the car rather than the driver.

      • HxCas (@hxcas) said on 22nd June 2013, 6:12

        So you’re saying that getting in car experience in a test environment doesn’t mean anything for young drivers who have very limited opportunities?

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 22nd June 2013, 12:44

          No, what @hohum means, is that the benefit for the teams of the YDT is because they are allowed to change anything on the car and naturally they use that to their best potential.
          Sure, having a race driver in the car makes it even better, but for arguably a “young driver” like McLaren have in Gary Paffet means that for them its just another test session in reality. The only ones who come off badly by this punishment are the young drivers who could have done that session for mercedes.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 22nd June 2013, 5:41

      One would like to think that Mercedes would have the decency to pay for them to test with another team.

    • Peter (@boylep6) said on 22nd June 2013, 6:37

      How do you know Mercedes won’t turn up at the YDT with a 2011 car for the younger drivers and say they are not testing, but simply helping the young drivers?

      Seriously — they should ask Pirelli for a 2011 car test for these guys as that is now apparently ok.

      Peter

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 24th June 2013, 8:46

      I’m halfway between slightly too soft and far too soft: simply, too soft. What would’ve been a far more fitting punishment I feel is preventing them from entering two FP1&2 sessions – therefore the race drivers lose track time, the team has little time to test new parts but just enough to set the car up reasonably well for the rest of the weekend and the young drivers aren’t affected.

  2. Lin1876 (@lin1876) said on 21st June 2013, 17:36

    I believe there has been a colossal mix up at various levels here, so to hand down a harsh penalty to Mercedes, who I think genuinely believed they were in the clear, would be silly. The penalty handed down acknowledges that the rules have been broken and sends out a message that further infractions by any team will result in a far stronger punishment.

    However, I don’t want to portray Mercedes as the innocent victim, because they aren’t. They could easily have put a test driver in the car, I believe Davidson is still on their payroll, with a skeleton staff present. Instead, it’s almost certain the team and drivers went into the test with the intention of learning as much as possible from it. Whether any other team would have done differently is another matter, of course.

    • HiPn0tIc (@hipn0tic) said on 21st June 2013, 18:03

      The penalty handed down acknowledges that the rules have been broken and sends out a message that further infractions by any team will result in a far stronger punishment.

      So the same act and a stronger punishment?? I know (now) that FIA and the court are bias but handle down othe punish is to be a lote obvious.
      But i know (now) that if it was other team (aside Mercedes and Ferrari) the “sanction” would be a lot more.

      • Asif (@f1asif) said on 22nd June 2013, 2:01

        This is a bit overly dramatic don’t you think… The FIA found Charlie Whiting’s approval to be “unsatisfactory” so rest assured he won’t be giving his opinions liberally in the future. A more severe penalty in the future will be quite appropriate and no, it won’t be the “same” act.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 22nd June 2013, 12:46

        Yes, its perfectly normal that any team who would try the same now, after its been made clear that a test like this is not allowed, will be punished harshly, @hipn0tic. After all, they will hardly be able to convincingly make the case that they did not know they couldn’t!

        • HiPn0tIc (@hipn0tic) said on 22nd June 2013, 21:03

          So Mercedes ca other cannot, that’s what a call fair…

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 23rd June 2013, 13:53

            Had it been Red Bull, or McLaren or who ever had been the first one to try a 2013 car in testing, then that team would have likely gotten away with it just as Mercedes did now. Nothing strange there.

          • MagillaGorilla (@magillagorilla) said on 24th June 2013, 6:32

            @hipn0tic You seem confused, the main issue is they thought Charlie’s word was a replacement for what the rules already said. Thus if Charlie said it was fine, they weren’t going to stop and say “well the rules, Charlie say this…” rather the ball was in the FIA’s court to fix this. Charlie works for the FIA, he approves are disproves this crap. This is the true issue Charlie (FIA) says one thing and then others in the FIA (council) change what Charlie has said. The parents clearly can’t get things right between each other…

            So the point is this Mercedes can’t and no one else can’t but if the FIA can’t get their rules and choices right then people will believe they can. FIA has just said that if this were to happen again that the rules dictate how it is to be conducted. What isn’t fair is the FIA mucking up stuff like this and pushing the door open so situations like this happen and creating tension between people like you to blame MGP, when the FIA are the issue, yet again.

    • D (@f190) said on 21st June 2013, 19:55

      For these reasons I actually think the punishment was very harsh.

      I’ll be honest and I don’t know 100% how the tribunal works. But in law it always has to be proven beyond all reasonable doubt. Applying that to this case and I simply haven’t had that proven yet and still a part of me believes Mercedes genuinely wanted to help tyre development and had felt all was ok for them to do so in the way they did.

      With all the confusion I think a “guilty” verdict is very harsh. I think there is still doubt about motives and intentions so to rule as guilty seems unfair.

      • HiPn0tIc (@hipn0tic) said on 21st June 2013, 23:11

        So if you’re trying to help, you could pass the rules?? You would get a wonderfull lawyer…

        • D (@f190) said on 21st June 2013, 23:13

          Sorry I don’t understand your comment. What do you mean ?

          • HiPn0tIc (@hipn0tic) said on 21st June 2013, 23:34

            The rules say you cannot test. Mercedes participated in a test, where is the doubt?

          • D (@f190) said on 21st June 2013, 23:57

            Yes but the rules don’t simply say ” you cannot test ” the rules allow Pirelli to test and this must include the teams as Pirelli cannot test without an f1 car. The Fia therefore impose rules on these Pirelli tests which are allowed. Mercedes have been found to have broken these rules in using a loophole. But the situation has been confused which casts doubt and confusion on the test and the intentions.

        • D (@f190) said on 21st June 2013, 23:21

          I was suggesting that there is and I guess always will be doubt about the whole situation. Facts are facts but in law it’s always what you can prove, and prove beyond all reasonable doubt. To me there is still doubt here so it wouldn’t be fair for me to issue a guilty verdict.

          As i said previously I don’t know how the tribunal works so this may be totally irrelevant but I can’t help feel the punishment is harsh.

          • HiPn0tIc (@hipn0tic) said on 22nd June 2013, 20:47

            Wich doubt ? They took the test? Yes
            They couldn’t do that? Yes
            They took advantadge of that? Yes

            So where is you’re doubt?

    • I believe there has been a colossal mix up at various levels here, so to hand down a harsh penalty to Mercedes, who I think genuinely believed they were in the clear, would be silly.

      This is my belief too.
      Even if Mercedes had done everything they are supposed to have done, there would still be people convinced they are cheaters, just as people are looking sideways at Ferrari, so what is the point? The real outcome of this is that no other team will want to do a tyre test for Pirelli at all, its just not worth all the mud slinging that goes on.

    • Mark (@markfill) said on 24th June 2013, 3:24

      You genuinely think that Mercedes thought they were in the clear?Holy cr_p!!!!What part of Fantasy Island do you come from?You probably believe in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny,also.Well,sorry to burst your bubble,but neither one of them exist.That’s right!they don’t.Just go ask your mommy about it.

  3. The Abbinator (@abbinator) said on 21st June 2013, 17:36

    Not fair. Merc should have had to sit out the test and at least forfeit all constructor’s points gained between their test and the Young Driver’s test.

    • Aditya F. Yahya (@adityafakhri) said on 22nd June 2013, 4:33

      that’s should be minimum punishment. after the spygate tribunal, McLaren lose all their constructor points. if that case happen nowadays, maybe the tribunal will just gonna ask McLaren to show their design to Ferrari as payback.

  4. alok (@alok) said on 21st June 2013, 17:40

    For those that thought the penalty was too harsh or too soft, what would you consider a fair penalty?

    While the FIA doesn’t use this as a tool, my mental picture of a fair penalty was exclusion from ~5 FP1s.

  5. MahavirShah (@mahavirshah) said on 21st June 2013, 17:40

    An extremely soft verdict. And I say so not because Mercedes deserved a penalty for breaking the rules or trying to go around them or use loopholes. I won’t even say they were wrong. I don’t think Red Bull or Lotus or McLaren would have given up the opportunity as well. But the fact is that they were brought to a tribunal and therefore they were liable for punishment. They gained an unfair advantage over the other teams and even though I would not condemn them for doing so or trying to do so, they got caught and thus deserved something much more stronger.

    That said, I would have felt the opposite way if they were banned from the season, purely because teams in the past have used every means at their disposal to circumvent the existing rules. In those cases, teams have willingly gone against sporting regulations and sporting spirit and yet gotten away lightly.

    What Mercedes have received yesterday is not even a slap on the wrist. In the end no one really lost. Red Bull will go back sulking, Ferrari will quietly turn away, McLaren has bigger fish to fry and Lotus won’t get over their issues with Pirelli’s. They ought to have had a stronger penalty, points docked off, banned from 2 pre-season tests, something that would set a precedent, which clearly the FIA have failed to do this time.

    • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 21st June 2013, 18:46

      Apparantly Red Bull opted not to do a test

    • D (@f190) said on 21st June 2013, 23:29

      The problem is that the Fia created a gray area and made a mess of the whole situation. They have no really need to set a precedent as they will review the rules which will avoid this in the future.

      The rules are pretty black and white on this issue, the Fia missed a loophole and created a gray area, doubt and confusion. To me the punishment was already too harsh and I don’t see how being more harsh would change anything. It’s been done now.

      • HiPn0tIc (@hipn0tic) said on 22nd June 2013, 20:45

        What grey area? I don’t know if you know this but the veridict was guilty (i understand that for some, it’s easy to forget because they were not reaaly punished) So if they’re found guilty, they should get punished.
        The teams cannot test, but pirelli can, so in you’re pov, Pirelli is more important than FIA rules.

        Pirelli if they cannot handle the situation, please quit…

  6. Coanda (@ming-mong) said on 21st June 2013, 17:42

    I agree 100% with you opinion Keith. Given that these secret test goes, which is bluntly unfair it just highlights how good a team RBR is as Ferrari & Merc still cant challenge them constructors tittle.

    Sad to say but F1 is loosing all identity and credibility.

    • JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III said on 21st June 2013, 19:00

      ferrari engaged in two equally secret tests the secrecy is a non issue.

      The main point from my view and the point that everyone seems to have completely disregarded is that it was a pirelli test even the fia now admit it was a pirelli test. Mercedes didn’t decide the running agenda that day. However at the ferrari test before the spanish gp apparently they *did* have a say, they changed the balance if what mercedes said in the tribunal is true, which you have to assume it was. They went on to win the spanish gp the next week…. In which case they are genuinly and severely in breach of the rules where as i don’t think mercedes are at all. So even a reprimand and banning from the young drivers test is to harsh a punishment i think. Mercedes punishment should be at the very very least given to ferrari as well it’s the only true way to level this.

      • GeordiePorker (@geordieporker) said on 21st June 2013, 19:56

        I disagree that the secrecy is a non-issue; indeed it is the whole point behind the prosecution brought by the FIA – that ALL teams should have been given the opportunity. Take away the secrecy and you make it clear to everyone what Pirelli is requesting/conducting and thus allow for debate over the most suitable team to conduct the test.

        Mercedes clearly looked at the opportunity they had and grasped it with both hands; fair play. RBR’s “flexible wings”, Ferrari’s tyre tests, McLaren’s ‘brake-steer’ system (many years ago), Double Diffusers and there are hundreds of other examples, all go to show that teams will sail as close to the wind as they can. I have no problem with this.

        As for the punishment – the FIA will currently be seething with CW for providing any form of approval (however conditional) as it allowed a fair (if slightly tenuous) defence. Similar, in my opinion to Ferrari’s defence that “it’s not a 2013 car, so we can do what we like” for their tyre tests. Note that Ferrari weren’t even called to tribunal. But in the end, the FIA had to recognise that they played a part in approving something they didn’t want/intend to approve.

        I believe that Mercedes have lost more than they have gained because they have lost the only in-season test which includes having new parts on the car other than during FP sessions; when they are trying to get to grips with heat management at the back of the car this is a huge blow to them.

        So overall I would call the punishment fair when all of the circumstances are taken into account.

        • JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III said on 21st June 2013, 20:53

          I do take your point about secrecy. That being said and i think it was part of mercedes defense that since it wasn’t their test they didn’t think they were responsible for informing anyone.

          As for charlie I hope the FIA is not upset with him although i imagine they are. He does a very good job i have always viewed him as the FIA’s hired common sense. What he says is not law but the teams generaly do go by it and ultimately he acted as a middle man between mercedes and an FIA lawyer.

          I agree whole heartedly that mercedes have lost rather than gained.

  7. Daniel2 said on 21st June 2013, 17:43

    I think, it’s a good penalty for the future of the Formula 1, which includes Mercedes’ future role in the sport.

    The FIA couldn’t afford to impose a draconian penalty like they did with McLaren back then after the spygate scandal for several reasons. Pirelli is the only tire manufacturer who will be able to equip teams next season, so any penalty would have only driven the Italian company away.

    Much the same is true with the Mercedes team. It’s often been said in the German media, that the board of directors of the car manufacturer was thinking to retire from the Formula 1. Any scandal, much less the punishment thereof, would be the perfect excuse to take that step. Nobody in the F1 would like to see that happen, especially when the company in question supplies multiple teams with engines.

    But taking a closer look at the punishment for the crime, it’s more or less a joke.

    x) Reprimands aren’t worth the paper they are printed on, since they have been without consequences in almost all cases in the past. You only need to look at some suspect drivers in the past decade who received such warnings and reprimands; the only race ban resulting from that was Romain Grosjean, who had to almost hit Alonso in the head with his car to finally get banned for a single race!

    x) The loss of Mercedes’ participation in the young drivers test isn’t much of a penalty for the team, since they have already done a three day test with their championship drivers. I feel bad for the young drivers sponsored by the German team who now won’t be able to gain any experience in a Formula 1 car, which is sadly the extent of this punishment.

    • dkpioe said on 21st June 2013, 18:15

      why is Mercedes good for the sport?????
      manufacturers come and go as they please in the sport, they stay when they are making money, and leave when they are not. F1 was not any worse when Mercedes were not in the sport.
      The penalty is leniant, but at the other teams will have the last laugh, as for another year, mercedes will not get anywhere close to the championship even with cheating.

      • OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 21st June 2013, 20:45

        don’t forget championshp points mean money, both if you get the championship or if you score a decent 4th, so if they are realistic on their expecttions, it only means this ban is laughable for them as well

    • celeste (@celeste) said on 21st June 2013, 18:33

      So FIA let itself be bully by Mercedes? Shameful!

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 21st June 2013, 18:37

        No I think the FIA/F1 ultimately needed Mercedes, or somebody, to help them with the shameful tire situation that they themselves put themselves in by mandating gadgety degrady tires that went too far, under conditions of such limited testing that nobody knew how bad the tires would be until they raced in anger, and so extenuating circumstances resulted in this test.

        • caci99 (@caci99) said on 21st June 2013, 18:48

          to help them with the shameful tire situation

          And they decided to help Mercedes alone, in secrecy? Fair enough!

        • Kimi4WDC said on 22nd June 2013, 3:00

          No one needs Mercedes. If they decided to quit tomorrow, their main competitors BMW, Audi or WV would immediately go for it even though they expressed no interest in joining F1. They don’t want “competition”, this is a marketing paradise for Mercedes as sole “luxury” AND German engine provider.

          Mercedes needs Formula 1 by far more than F1 needs Mercedes. This is why it does not matter how bad things will go for their team and when they decide to pull out, they absolutely will remain as engine suppliers.

      • Theoddkiwi (@theoddkiwi) said on 21st June 2013, 22:38

        The FIA in effect have also been found guilty for providing mitigating circumstances. Had Whiting just said “No you can’t use the 2013 car” the test would never have happened and all of this would not have happened. So then it would have been Ferrari left having done two secret tests, one with an experienced test driver and the other with a current driver.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 21st June 2013, 19:06

      I think, it’s a good penalty for the future of the Formula 1, which includes Mercedes’ future role in the sport.

      So you think the FIA should give softer penalties to organisations it wants to keep in F1?

      I think that would be a mockery of justice and I hope it isn’t what’s happened here. I don’t think it is.

      • BJ (@beejis60) said on 21st June 2013, 19:44

        I believe the penalty is too harsh as aforementioned solely due to the young driver(s) now losing seat time. But also the fact that Charlie and the FIA lawyer(s) essentially said it was okay makes the penalty harsh. Playing ignorant like Merc did doesn’t mean they should be completely exonerated, but when Charlie and a lawyer say you’re good to go, that gives you a pretty big reason to not look at a higher authority in my opinion. Now whether Merc was truthful about its inability access that telemetry data should be a huge part; if in fact it could be demonstrated that they cannot and have not tried to access it, then I feel they should be fully exonerated any wrongdoing, despite the fact that Charlie nor that one lawyer’s words are not the full authority of the FIA. Both Charlie and this lawyer should also be giving a stern warning or some sort of “punishment” for leading a team to believe they were good to go, though I do not believe that Charlie should be fired. In the end, we all know how bad the rule books have been written and this is just another exploitation that Ross and co have pulled out of their hat of tricks. Albeit, flying a little too close to the sun, in my opinion. The next interpretation Ross takes into his own hands may be his last…

      • HiPn0tIc (@hipn0tic) said on 21st June 2013, 23:14

        THey already did that with this “kind of punishment”

      • Daniel2 said on 22nd June 2013, 1:54

        @keithcollantine

        So you think the FIA should give softer penalties to organisations it wants to keep in F1?

        No, not really. But I want to see Mercedes in the Formula 1 and could live with some exaggerated leniency (like I believe it has happened in this case*), if that was/will ever be the case. A loss of Mercedes in the Formula 1 would not only mean the removal of the team itself – with only 11 competitors remaining after HRT’s withdrawal, we’re already in the same critical waters as we were during the 2009 season before Toyota and BMW left – but could also impact Williams and Force India as engine customers sooner rather than later.

        I think that would be a mockery of justice and I hope it isn’t what’s happened here. I don’t think it is.

        * I believe it happened, but without any firm knowledge, it’s nothing more but a gut feeling.

        First, Mercedes spent so much time trying to convince everyone, that Ferrari was just as guilty as them – thereby ignoring the somewhat established and never challenged fact, that a two-year old car could be used outside of Formula One’s testing regulations.

        Second, the team offered a possible punishment during the hearing and the FIA tribunal miraculously decided to take that! To me this sounds like “we could live with that, but if you want us to remain in the sport, don’t go beyond that”.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 22nd June 2013, 2:19

          I just don’t get the impression that Mercedes would have threatened to leave F1, nor did, nor felt they would need to use such a threat. They were convinced they didn’t do anything wrong, so why would they pull that threat card? Plus, they didn’t commit a crime so dastardly that the Tribunal would have even had to ‘go there’ in terms of even considering releasing Mercedes from F1 as a penalty.

          I think Brawn’s suggestion of a penalty was a way of saying “this is all the punishment we feel our ‘crimes’ are worth” and Brawn would have based that on hearing 7 hours of testimony from Pirelli and the FIA on their sides of the matter.

          • Daniel2 said on 22nd June 2013, 2:46

            I just don’t get the impression that Mercedes would have threatened to leave F1, nor did, nor felt they would need to use such a threat.

            I’m not saying they did, nor was I trying to create that image. However, if you followed the German media for a while, you would know about the constant speculation on Mercedes’ withdrawal from Formula 1. The board of directors of the Daimler AG – the owners of not only the F1 team but also the Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains Ltd. – would reportedly welcome an external reason, that would allow them to withdraw in relatively good graces. While this was most often talked about in connection with Ecclestone’s possible indictment in the Gribowski (sp?)/Bayern LB/F1-to-CVC-sale affair, a significant punishment in this tribunal might have served the same result.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 22nd June 2013, 4:36

          I take it that this is not punishment, as the FIA accepts MB believed they had authorisation, but is a way to redress any advantage MB may have gained over other teams.
          Seen in this light, if you are reasonable, it is fair to all teams.

      • Joe Papp (@joepa) said on 22nd June 2013, 23:10

        So you think the FIA should give softer penalties to organisations it wants to keep in F1?

        @keithcollantine – ahh, yes. obviously. especially given that FIA is only able to pay its bills thanks to the money it extracts from F1.

  8. PhilEReid (@philereid) said on 21st June 2013, 17:45

    I’ve gone for slightly too soft, but also, slightly too harsh (which should average at fair, but as I say, it’s both). It’s clear that Mercedes went along with it because they thought they had the proper agreement that allowed them to. Would there have been no penalty at all if all the teams had been invited? Probably not.
    However, they have still gained an advantage through it. As is already said, they are not the innocent by-stander, they actively knew what was happening, and they definitely gained through it. Was it a Pirelli test? Yes, but they used their drivers, which is probably the biggest no.

    It’s too harsh because Sam Bird (or whichever young driver they would use) is now cheated out of a chance to run, which is incredibly unfair. It’s too soft however because Mercedes themselves haven’t really been punished. They have their reprimand, but, the advantage they have (whether it be driver improvement or car improvement or both) is still probably quite real.

    Even so, it really is hard to decide whether it’s overall fair, but I imagine if this was the punishment for all teams, there may be a few more tests.

    • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 21st June 2013, 18:35

      Yes, but they used their drivers, which is probably the biggest no.

      Is that actually against the rules?

      • The Abbinator (@abbinator) said on 22nd June 2013, 6:33

        Yes and no – using the 2013 car is definitely against the rules, except according to CW and the FIA Legal dept, with the caveats of it being purely a Pirelli test, which should mean no Mercedes personnel on hand, but was not the interpretation of the FIA IT. FIA said that under no circumstances should 2013 car have been used and they needed to notify FIA formally that the test was going to take place, instead of taking CW’s opinion as permission. I think these points were not addressed by this verdict.

    • antifia (@antifia) said on 21st June 2013, 19:05

      You touched the exact issue with this decision. If I were a team boss, I’d run a two days test this weekend and I wouldn’t even bother to hide it. The moment the FIA came up complaining, I would point to the just created jurisprudence on such cases and demand to be punished the same way Mercedes was – Much better running the test with my titular drivers than doing it with young wannabes.

      • D (@f190) said on 21st June 2013, 20:48

        @antifia

        You wouldn’t get very far. Which tyres were you planning on using at this weekend’s test ?

        • Theoddkiwi (@theoddkiwi) said on 21st June 2013, 22:43

          Exactly. T conduct a private tyre test you kind of need tyres.

          I think many are still absolutely convinced that this was a full blown test by Mercedes were the car was constantly changed and modified like they will be in the young driver test. It was not even the telemetry has been archived in a secure location so it can’t be used

      • Mike (@mike) said on 22nd June 2013, 3:36

        @antifia

        The verdict stated that they believed Mercedes did the test in good faith. So, given that all the teams are now aware of it, none of them could do a similar test in “good faith”.

        So no, you couldn’t do that.

        Keep in mind, the chances of Mercedes gaining as much as they would from the young drivers test is, unlikely I think.

  9. Bleeps_and_Tweaks (@bleeps_and_tweaks) said on 21st June 2013, 17:50

    It’s a good point you raise about Sam Bird losing track time, and an even better one about the fact that if the young driver test is wet Mercedes effectively receive no penalty.
    What I found intriguing about this whole process, and as of yet hasn’t received much comment, is that Pirelli passed data to Mercedes via encrypted or secure e-mails, surely this shows they were ‘in cahoot’ as it were?
    Both can consider themselves pretty lucky. I would have loved to have seen the look on Christian Horner’s face when he found out…

    • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 21st June 2013, 18:34

      What I found intriguing about this whole process, and as of yet hasn’t received much comment, is that Pirelli passed data to Mercedes via encrypted or secure e-mails, surely this shows they were ‘in cahoot’ as it were?

      Oh really? This has entirely escaped my attention…

    • LosD (@losd) said on 21st June 2013, 21:19

      Of course the emails were encrypted. Did you expect them to send information about Mercedes’ cars unencrypted? In no way anyone with half a brain would do that, all legality of any testing aside.

  10. Abuelo Paul (@abuello-paul) said on 21st June 2013, 17:56

    As regards the “secret testing”:
    a. Pirelli should have primarily contacted the FIA of their intentions
    b. Mercedes shouold have brought the offer to the attention of the constructors association
    c. What is secret about Formula 1 cars screaming round a race track for 3 days.
    d. Charlie Whiting should have become immediately suspicious and reported back to FIA.
    e. Ferrari and Red Bull shouldn’t throw boulders when they live in a sugar glass house.
    f. The rules in F1 are a joke anyway, constantly being abused and tested by all the teams, some unfortunately get caught.
    g. In season flaunting of the testing rules is more serous than getting caught with out of date spec papers from an opposing team.
    In my opinion, the tribunal was a waste of time and expenses for a lot of people needing to justify ther positions.

  11. Robbie (@robbie) said on 21st June 2013, 17:59

    I voted fair, but in fact I feel Mercedes stands to lose more from the YDT ban imposed on them than they likely gained from the Pirelli test. I’m assuming the YDT would have afforded them the chance to try different components on the car, perhaps new components that will translate to 2014, which is something they would not have had the chance to do while Pirelli engineers conducted tire tests with them back in May. I disagree with most posters about the extent that Mercedes and the drivers would have learned about their car, because I believe they were not there trying different setups, new components etc etc. It was a Pirelli test conducted by Pirelli engineers and not a normal Mercedes test. eg. If LH has had braking issues I doubt they were trying different brakes for him, and I question how much Pirelli would have allowed them or wanted them to keep changing things up, as they would have wanted stable conditions to get a handle on what the different tires they were putting on the Mercedes were doing.

  12. Ciaran (@ciaran) said on 21st June 2013, 17:59

    I think it was a little too lenient, but to punish much more would run the risk of overdoing it. If this means the end of the testing saga, I’ll be happy with today’s news though.

    • Vic (@hendrix666) said on 21st June 2013, 22:19

      @ciaran +1 We can discuss/debate it as much as we’d like, but it is what it is. I want to watch races, not soap operas! I just hope this is the end of this situation, and further BS don’t happen.

  13. sonia luff (@sonia54) said on 21st June 2013, 18:06

    For me the argument was not the fact that the test took place but the fact that they used a current car AND their race drivers.Lewis would have loved that extra time to get used to the brakes. People are complaining that the young drivers don’t get much time in the cars, there was an opportunity lost and now Mercs young drivers will miss out again. It is a joke of a ‘punishment’.

    • Vic (@hendrix666) said on 21st June 2013, 22:27

      Just out of curiosity, how long does it take to get used to brakes? I would have thought the well over 50 hours he has been behind the wheel would be plenty. Are F1 brakes really that hard to master? How long did it take for you to learn your cars? I ask these ?s in all seriousness, I truly don’t know! I don’t drive! lol

  14. Spawinte (@spawinte) said on 21st June 2013, 18:07

    There was no way they were ever going to throw the book at a major manufacturer. The tribunal was looking for a way out and they found it.

    • Traverse (@) said on 21st June 2013, 21:11

      There was no way they were ever going to throw the book at a major manufacturer.

      The FIA fined McLaren $100 Million and disqualified them from the 2007 constructors’ championship; they have no qualms dishing out severe punishment when appropriate.

      • Spawinte (@spawinte) said on 22nd June 2013, 0:10

        But back then McLaren were still only another F1 team, a successful one but still just another team. Mercedes were not tainted by that affair.

        This concerns a major car manufacturer and F1 engine supplier. The commercial concerns were huge and you can be sure that wasn’t lost on the tribunal members.

  15. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 21st June 2013, 18:08

    Way too harsh!
    - Mercedes asked FIA. FIA didn’t say no.
    - Ferrari did the same – even with the struggling Massa last year. Who benefitted probably just as much as Hamilton. Why? Because Massa knew the car, so he could learn all kinds of things about the tyres and his own driving, just as Lewis.
    - The FIA-rules on what constitutes a car which is too close to the current specs is multi-interpretable.

    So…
    Once again FIA should be the one with egg on it’s face. Not a team helping out a supplier after getting clearance with that same FIA beforehand.

    • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 21st June 2013, 18:11

      To add: Ferrari used an older car, but they ram the test themselves with the driver who probably needed the practice the most.

    • HiPn0tIc (@hipn0tic) said on 21st June 2013, 23:16

      - Mercedes asked FIA. FIA didn’t say no.

      So i ask the police – Can i kill a guy? They don’t say no, so i go and kill him, i’m inocent?

      • HxCas (@hxcas) said on 22nd June 2013, 8:02

        They asked if they could do a tyre test with pirelli, the FIA said yes. They did it. The FIA was then proven wrong to say yes. And you know perfectly well that example is an awful one that is not applicable to the situation. There is a massive difference between murder and taking advantage of a grey area provided by a governing body.

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