Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013

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

Debates and PollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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.


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.


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

Loading ... Loading ...

An F1 Fanatic account is required in order to vote. If you do not have one, register an account here or read more about registering here.

Mercedes and Ferrari Pirelli tyre test row

Browse all Mercedes and Ferrari Pirelli tyre test row articles

Images ?? Mercedes/Hoch Zwei

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

Jump to comment page: 1 2 3 5
  1. 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.

    1. 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.

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

      1. 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?

        1. 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.

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

    4. 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.


    5. 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. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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!

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

          1. 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.

          2. @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.

    2. 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.

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

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

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

          2. 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.

        2. 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.

          1. 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?

    3. 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.

    4. 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. 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.

    1. Aditya (@adityafakhri)
      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. 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.

    1. Rather 3 FP1+2 imo would be a more approriate hit.

  5. 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.

    1. Apparantly Red Bull opted not to do a test

      1. If they did they would have a big punishment, lie losing all the constructo points

    2. 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.

      1. 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. 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.

    1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
      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.

      1. 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.

        1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
          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. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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

    2. So FIA let itself be bully by Mercedes? Shameful!

      1. 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.

        1. to help them with the shameful tire situation

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

          1. Nobody helped Mercedes.

          2. Pirelli just helped them, and they (Mercedes) helped themself…

        2. 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.

      2. 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.

    3. 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.

      1. 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…

      2. THey already did that with this “kind of punishment”

      3. @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”.

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

        2. 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.

      4. 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. 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.

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

      Is that actually against the rules?

      1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. @antifia

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

        1. 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

      2. @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. 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…

    1. 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…

    2. 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. 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.

    1. What is secret about Formula 1 cars screaming round a race track for 3 days

      The drivers identity

      1. Black helmets and that little boy smile

    2. @abuello-paul

      What is secret about Formula 1 cars screaming round a race track for 3 days.

      Hasn’t the fact that Ferrari conducted such a test last year and we only learned about it yesterday answered that question?

        1. Of course it has! I fully agree here.

  11. 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. 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.

    1. Vic (@hendrix666)
      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. 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’.

    1. Vic (@hendrix666)
      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

      1. Doesn’t take long at all and i swop from manual to auto,1.4 to 6 litre on a weekly basis.

  14. 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.

    1. Traverse (@)
      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.

      1. 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. 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.

    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.

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

    2. – 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?

      1. 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.

  16. Unfortunately this sort of thing just illustrates why F1 is closer to the WWE than to a real sport.

    Juventus is a very big club in the world of football, but when they were caught cheating they were severely punished all the same. That’s the difference between football and F1 – the authorities in the latter seem to view it as their job to create as much parity as possible, even if that involves breaking the spirit and/or the letter of their own rules. Will helping out Mercedes add to “the show”? If they believe the answer is yes then that’s what they’ll do, and the rules can go hang.

    1. I think F1 has tried to make the tires too much a part of the show, and their own mandating of said tires as well as everyone’s agreement to the limited amount of testing in F1 these days contributed to Mercedes needing to be asked to help test for better tire solutions. FIA/F1 put Pirelli in the position to blow it with the tires this year, and Mercedes were called on to help. Mercedes imho are the smallest player in this perfect storm and are just part of the show…not there to add to the show any more than any team. I think it is incorrect to say the rules can go hang given the amount and importance of the extenuating circumstances that led to this Pirelli tire test.

      1. The FIA and Pirelli could unilaterally change the tyres today if they wished. They could have done so a month ago. They clearly do not share your concern over the tyres.

        Note that there is not the slightest reason for Mercedes to be as secretive as they have been if they were nobly and selflessly ‘helping out” The only extenuating circumstances that led to this “Pirelli tire test” were the FIA’s desire for Mercedes to hurry up and emerge as a serious championship contender. Mercedes now have a several month head-start over everyone else in terms of understanding the 2014 tyres. Unless they’re a good deal more stupid than I think they are they will also have taken samples of the 2014 rubber back to their labs for detailed analysis.

        1. I vehemently disagree. We have already been shown that FIA and Pirelli cannot unilaterally change the tires without the teams’ consent, and consent has not been given by all the teams, and hence the tires they have been on are the tires for the rest of the season. Nor was Pirelli ever going to change the tires so much that they were nothing like that which they sent the teams tire data on last September from which they built this year’s cars.

          I think the privateness of the Pirelli test (it was their test not Mercedes) was for the sake of expediancy, with FIA/Whiting’s ‘permission’ because time was of the urgency and looking for concensus would have resulted in no test at all.

          I think your assumption of Mercedes now being months ahead in terms of understanding the 2014 tires is off base and unfounded, as is your suggestion that they have taken samples back to their lab. They don’t even know if any of the tires they were on are going to be the final product for 2014. I think you are trying way too hard to drum up conspiracy theories.

          1. We have already been shown that FIA and Pirelli cannot unilaterally change the tires without the teams’ consent

            We have been shown nothing of the sort. All we have been shown is that the FIA and Pirelli don’t think the tyres are a big enough problem (or a problem at all) to require then to alter them. But set all that aside – given that the tyres are NOT going to be changed this year, what sense does it make to talk about Mercedes helping Pirelli with the tyres?

            I think your assumption of Mercedes now being months ahead in terms of understanding the 2014 tires is off base and unfounded

            Well. we’re all entitled to our opinions. Mine is that your stubborn dedication to the notion that Mercedes has done absolutely nothing wrong, even in the face of all the evidence and the Tribunals ruling to the contrary, is downright peculiar.

          2. Lol. If the tires were not a big enough problem then Pirelli wouldn’t have sought to do a test with anybody let alone Mercedes, and why then would Hemberey have recently been quoted as saying that the tires they were trying to test in Canada which weather threw a wrench into will not now be used at all since there has been no concensus?

            It makes sense to talk of Mercedes helping Pirelli with the tires, because at the time Pirelli had reason and permission from Whiting if nobody else, to test. You can’t now use hindsight and the fact that new tires will not be introduced this year, to project backwards to support your argument.

            Your stubborn dedication to the conspiracy theory that Pirelli has helped Mercedes advance their Championship run is I find just as peculiar as it makes me wonder, if you think F1 is that corrupt, why you watch.

    2. That’s the difference between football and F1

      I know this is off topic but i can ensure (because i’m also a die hard Juventus fan) to you that in Football it is far more worse than it is in F1
      Back in 2006 Juventus were relegated to Seria B because their General Director Luciano Moggi was found guilty of infringement to the article 1 because (according to the prosecution) he was obtaining favors from Paolo Bergamo who is responsible for choosing the match’s referees
      The decision was made by Guido Rossi (just google the name & you will find which team he is supporting), & in 2010 new evidence shows that many teams especially Inter Milan were doing much dirtier things than Juventus, the prosecutor Stefano Palazzi has found them guilty but said that he cannot act because of the decision made in 2006 (that’s why the Inter Milan fans are called “gli prescritti” by the Juventus fans)
      BTW Inter Milan were caught cheating in 1998 when the brought Recoba with a false passport and nothing happened
      Like i said football and especially the italian football is like a brothel compared to F1

    3. + one million Jon

  17. The lack of transparency surrounding these tests is a cause for concern.

    I agree and to me it is a result of walking a fine line with these mandated questionable tires in combination with the mandated and agreed-to-by-the-teams lack of testing. A perfect storm happened this year where Pirelli did as they were mandated but under limited testing conditions nobody knew how problematic the tires would be until they raced on them in anger. Hence the quasi permission from the FIA and the need for Pirelli to call upon a team to test. This can easily be avoided several ways in the future.

  18. Young drivers have a difficult time breaking into F1 as it is without the FIA imposing undeserved punishments on them. A better punishment would have been to exclude Hamilton and Rosberg from several FP1 sessions each – that way the FIA would be ameliorating an advantage gained by using race drivers for the Pirelli test and giving a test driver a chance.

  19. i voted “no opinion” because the entire situation is pathetic. ultimately, a motor sports sanctioning body has once again proven incompetent, and cast doubt on its own integrity, at devising and implementing its own rules. the FIA had opened the door to this foolishness, so it would be wrong to hammer down on any team that walked through it.

    obviously, this situation never would have occurred if there was meaningful testing allowed in the first place. this also reinforces the point that a cost cap is totally unworkable and a resource restriction agreement is marginal at best – if they can’t even regulate cars on a track, how the hell would they control numbers scribbled on paper?

    1. Vic (@hendrix666)
      21st June 2013, 22:45

      Right on, thank you for saying it so well @f1yankee !

  20. The penalty would always have been either too soft or too hard. No matter what you do, you can’t restore the balance anymore. Punish too hard, and you’ll put Mercedes into the disadvantage for an otherwise honest mistake. Punish them too soft, and the other teams will stay with a disadvantage.

    In that regard, this was the best and most honest solution. Let me explain why:
    -The YDT can essentially be driven anytime a team wants it. Look at last year: the test wast spread out over Silverstone, Paul Ricard and Yas Marina. Teams can safely look at the weather and pick the best oppertunity. They can even be present at one of the test, with car ready to roll out and all, and still bail out. The test only starts when the car rolls out of the box. So Keith, the argument about weather really isn’t valid: teams essentially can plan their YDT at the best moment. If they hit bad weather, it’s their fault.
    -The YDT is, except for obliged running test drivers, without any restriction. How much advantage Mercedes got out of it, we don’t know, but it’s a fair assumption they did not run new parts as that would contaminate tyre data. At the YDT however, teams can basicilly run a new car if they want.
    -Mercedes was restricted to 1000km, while at the YDT there is no restriction on the amount of kms. Say you drive 100 laps at Silverstone every day of the test. that’s 5.891km x 100 laps x 3 days=1767,3km total, a whopping +76,79% extra mileage compared to the Pirelli test.

    So missing out on the YDT is a (much) bigger loss then the gains from the Pirelli test. with that in mind, we have to consider that Mercedes will have had the oppertunity to built on the data they have got. Also it would probably have helped their drivers, especially Hamilton, the only advantage other then time the Pirelli test has over the YDT. It’s not possible to measure how much the balance of power has been restored by this, but it does show that loosing out at the YDT is a harsher punishment then it looks like.

    1. Agree with this. Mercedes did some extra running with race drivers where they weren’t in control of setup etc, which is (more or less) balanced out by missing out on the YDT where they don’t use race drivers but can change setup.

      If we believe Merc’s claim that they thought they had been given approval by the FIA, and that the FIA themselves bear responsibility for that, then to say Merc deserved a much harsher punishment isn’t logical.

      This is why I don’t agree with Keith’s conclusion that the punishment fell short of what was required:

      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.

    2. The YDT is, except for obliged running test drivers, without any restriction.

      A private three day tire test for a tire supplier has its own advantages and I’ll be explaining one such scenario.

      First the disclaimer: yes, the team would not have been able to continue their development program by testing new parts, just as the team would have been ordered by Pirelli to use specific compounds and maybe even a specific length of stints, etc.

      But, running a thousand kilometers with Pirelli in full attendance and completely focused on one team and the tires on the car will likely have its own advantages. Even if these cannot be felt in the immediate aftermath of the test, there are possible long-term implications. As I understood it, the vast majority of tires used in the Mercedes-Pirelli test at Barcelona was about compounds for next year. The one team, which has the greatest issues with tires this year, is suddenly in the enviable position to directly influence next year’s tire development! It’s quite possible, that Mercedes now has some information about next year’s tires (or at least the general direction) due to the compounds used in their test. Information, which they can use in the next six months to improve their tire handling of the 2014 car!

      Who knows, if Mercedes will truly be able to benefit in the long term, but there’s certainly some potential for it having a much greater impact, than the ban from this year’s YDT.

      While I don’t have an issue with the punishment, it could (and maybe should) have been much greater.

Jump to comment page: 1 2 3 5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.