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.

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?”

  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.

      Peter

    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.

    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.

    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.

  21. 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).

    I have a feeling that Sam Bird(or any driver that Mercedez had planned) will drive for Force India at the YDT.

    1. Vic (@hendrix666)
      21st June 2013, 22:52

      @1abe If Bird is a Mercedes employed/connected driver, how can he test? Isn’t Mercedes banned? I would assume that means any employees too.

      1. @hendrix666 The way i see it, the team is banned to test only its car in the YDT. There is nothing that can prevent Sam Bird to a have a contract with FI jus for the YDT. He selection fits the rule as Keith mentioned below. Anyways, all i am saying is, it could be a possibility and not that it will be.

      2. That would be idiotic. They are just prevented from testing their car.

    2. @1abe FI’s roster is already filled with the likes of Calado, Daly and possibly, Razia. They might be able to wedge in Bird for a half-day, but that would be little compensation..

  22. I think the punishment is fitting of the crime, given the circumstances. Mercedes won’t have learned that much, and whilst there were benefits, what more could the FIA do, given that it was partially their fault. The only reason for voting ‘Slightly too soft’ is because obviously the drivers, namely Lewis Hamilton will have gained the most out of such running.

    Overall, I hope this is the last we have to hear about this, and that people don’t continue on about whether the punishment was too soft, or whatever as there isn’t much more the FIA could have done. This won’t cause other teams to start going testing in spite, as it would be completely different circumstances. Let’s move on!

  23. Slightly to soft.

    In short: Mercedes deserved a penalty, but given the intricacies regarding the Pirelli contract/Charlie Whiting’s role/the sporting regulations, Mercedes could not have been judged to simply go ahead and broken the rules. If they did gain an advantage over other teams it was deemed to have been minimal, hence the minimal punishment.

    As to the drivers, they are contracted to the team, so I fail to see how they are relevant in all this. If an employer asks me to do something, I am contractually obliged to do so (unless the Sporting Regulations have a subsection for every particular employee of a team being subject to them separately from the team as a whole).

    On a different note altogether, I read somewhere that Red Bull was found to have gone testing with Pirelli too?

    1. @victor

      unless the Sporting Regulations have a subsection for every particular employee of a team being subject to them separately from the team as a whole

      The drivers are just as subject to the Sporting Regulations as their teams are. I see no reason why in this case Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton should be exempt from punishment. They were the ones driving the cars.

  24. another shot in the foot for f1. It’s so political it makes me sick.
    After the past monaco borefest, i had made myself a promise not to visit another gp live for at least a few years. I will go to moto gp instead. This latest fia-sco just confirms that i made the right decision.

  25. I have found the penalty a little bit strange to be honest because, first it was requested by Mercedes, it was just like ”punish me if you want but don’t cross the lines”, second the whole process was not intended to last 2 days it was intended to last some hours because Mercedes infringement for the rules was clear which the FIA tribunal itself admitted but instead they went into irrelevant details like Pirelli paid the test costs, Ferrari has one with Massa in 2012 (i’m amazed why they waited a whole year to talk about it), double standard FIA with Ferrari blablablablabla ………………….
    For me it was clear that something happened in the last night (& call me a conspiracy theorist) because Mercedes defense was weak & their position was critical they were even asking for penalty but who knows what’s the card the people that their trucks are transporting the structures of the FOM & FOA …..and their cars are used as safety car & medical car
    I have a feeling that Mercedes which contribute with a good slice in Bernie Ecclestone’s paddock was just taken to the FIA tribunal because Red Bull & Ferrari have protested

    1. I disagree that ‘something happened in the last night.’ I think that FIA, Pirelli, and Mercedes all had a hand in this test, the test was necessary, F1 knew it because the tires are problematic, and yes I also believe that the Tribunal was meant to clear the air but I think most of the players in the Tribunal had a good idea where they stood all along. Brawn was confident from the getgo that they didn’t do anything wrong (at least not nearly to the extent they’ve been accused of)…so…something last night? I don’t think so.

      Three parties are sharing the costs and to me that equates to three parties sharing the blame.

      1. ferrox glideh
        21st June 2013, 19:26

        Poor Sam Bird. If any good is to come of this, the 2014 F1 regulations need to be better defined. Testing by suppliers must follow strict guidelines. The FOM should provide a competitive chassis by mid-season (or sooner), maybe by purchasing it from the leading constructor (a bonus for performing). Then the component suppliers should get Karun Chandok or somebody at FIA to drive it with unlimited testing, guaranteeing optimum safety and performance standards. There are plenty of test pilots with spare time. I also nominate Brundle. Tire testing by F1 teams MUST end if there is only one tire supplier. Great insightful articles by K.C. et.al.

      2. you have said it! they share the blame!

  26. The penalty was fair, the fault lies with how watertight the contract the FIA has with Pirelli is. Merc would not have done the test if it was illegal and sought assurances that it was (though it clearly wasn’t from a sporting point of view). Merc have not disgraced themselves as they pushed the regulations to gain any advantage, though technical gains from the test will have been limited. People say things are not in the spirit of the regulations seem to forget that the spirit of F1 is and should be to push the regulations as far as they go. The FIA, for once, have not disgraced themselves they tried a team despite one of their officials giving the team permission to test and applied a judgement based on their own rulebook.

  27. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    21st June 2013, 18:31

    Keith,

    You make some great points and you’re absolutely right about 2 things you mentioned:

    1. The fact that 3 tests took place, 2 by Ferrari and 1 by Mercedes in secret is a big concern. The fact that Pirelli managed to conceal it for a whole year in a sport where there is so much spotlight from the press is very alarming.
    2. The aspiring F1 driver who will not be joining the Young Drivers’ Test behind the W04 – as if it wasn’t already hard enough to get a seat in F1…

    The other things I would add:
    1. Ferrari’s very unsportsmanlike behavior in protesting against Mercedes which is very undeserving of such a legendary staple. I have lost ALL respect for DiMontezemolo and Domenicali. If they were standing around me, I would reach into my pocket to check if my wallet is still there.
    2. The FIA’s willingness to exonerate Ferrari which confirms the existence of a double-standard in F1. I would like to find out if Ferrari will have a tribunal of its own now that the 2nd transgression has surfaced.

    1. LOL! Rules have not been breeched by Ferrari, Michael. Just stop with this hilarious, childish assumption that Ferrari has favours from the judges. If they used a 2013 cars, they would have received the same punishment. Spare us, please

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        21st June 2013, 19:49

        So your only gripe is the fact that Mercedes used the current car with next year’s tyres?

        Don’t the rules preclude last year’s and the subsequent car?

        The secrecy does not matter, nor does the fact that Ferrari’s test wasn’t just a tyre test, or
        that they did it across 2 seasons, or that they were automatically exonerated or the simple fact that Ferrari attacked Mercedes while they have committed the same offense twice with impunity? Details, right?:-)

      2. The proposition that a two-year old car, built to the same formula as current cars, run with current tires, is not a substantive advantage, is simply laughable. Espeically when there is an in-season testing ban. Ferrari’s attempt to perch on this narrow formalistic point was a cunning stunt. And, how may secret tests with a two-year old car equals a test with a current car? Infinitiy? Why don’t we let them pound around their test track 7 days a week with this terrible rusty old 2011 car then? The distinction Ferrari wants to make here is untenable. It’s a matter of degree, at best. And the issue of degree is made moot by Ferrari’s repetition.

  28. I have a somewhat stupid question.Can teams run the YDT with their racing drivers?

    1. @kimster381

      Not according to the rules, which states teams may perform:

      One three day young driver training test carried out on a date and site approved by the FIA following consultation with all teams. No driver who has competed in more than two F1 World Championship races may take part in this test and all drivers must be in possession of an International A Licence.

      But who knows, maybe another team will get an email from Charlie Whiting excusing them from that rule and we can go through all this nonsense again…

        1. Vic (@hendrix666)
          21st June 2013, 23:02

          @keithcollantine As I said above I can’t see how he would be allowed to test for another team given he is employed/associated with Mercedes. But if you want to get technical the rule above could be interpreted to say he can test. it says any driver with less than 2 GPs. Don’t say nothing about “unless the team he is associated with is banned from participating”. Come on Ross, mess with the FIA again!! :)

          In all seriousness, the FIA rules are not strong and clear enough. Too much ambiguity.

  29. There were 3 and the rest have shut their mouths. How can you trust these teams without any real scrutiny.

  30. Not fair at all. And I don’t believe for a second that Mercedes genuinely fell fool of misunderstanding communications. What are these guys? Six years old kids on their first year at school? It’s like if I work every day at a gas distribution station and I know I can not smoke, but one day I decide to ask the person in charge if I can smoke, he says: yes, go ahead, and there I go!
    The punishment was given because they were clearly guilty, but at the same time they were handed such a light punishment (which ridiculously they proposed themselves), which at the end does no harm at all. They have gained three days of testing, in the middle of the championship, with their grid drivers, against three days lost later on in the season with young drivers. Whats more, they even received an email at least from Pirelli after the test, which very probably contains data from the test.
    Well, well done to Pirelli, Mercedes and FIA.

    1. I disagree completely and think you are way way off base with your unfounded suggestion that Pirelli sent Mercedes an email containing data from the test. Answer me this if that’s what you are convinced of…what would Pirelli have to gain by risking helping Mercedes advance their Championship run this year? I’ve been asking it for 2 or 3 weeks and nobody has yet provided me an answer.

        1. So this timeline and this alleged email that none of us has seen is proof to you that it must have contained data? I would suggest it could have just as easily have said ‘thanks for the help.’ How come nothing about this email has been mentioned in the Tribunal findings? Sorry I just don’t buy the conspiracy theory that Pirelli would risk everything to help advance Mercedes with a one-off test that would never turn any team into WDC winners overnight.

      1. Robbie, Mercedes produces 100s of thousands of cars per year. Every car uses minimum 4 tires per car plus the spare. Let’s not count the trucks and similar. Do you think they both invest in F1 for passion? hell no, it’s BUSINESS and F1 is ONLY MARKETING. Hence there might be a GIGANTIC commercial interest for both parties, applied to consumption of tires for road cars… Pirelli make an investment because they believe they will have a RETURN (ROI). Period

        1. @nuvolari71 That there ‘might’ be gigantic commercial interests in your opinion does not convince me of this conspiracy theory. The risks of running this tire test obviously contained enough volatility on it’s own with quasi permission from the FIA let alone the massive negative consequences to both Pirelli and Mercedes if they were found out to have been doing something underhanded, so I don’t buy what you are trying to sell.

      2. @robbie

        unfounded suggestion that Pirelli sent Mercedes an email containing data from the test.

        There’s nothing “unfounded” about it: that was disclosed in the tribunal report and is mentioned here.

        1. @keithcollantine I see it in the timeline but wasn’t aware that it was disclosed in the tribunal report. What did the email say then?

          1. @robbie I used the word “very probably”, I didn’t say “definitely” the email contains data. So, I don’t know the email contents. And this leads to what I believe the email says and, on the other hand, what you believe. So you believe that the email says “thank you”, because they didn’t had time while leaving Barcelona to thank each other but they needed it by email. Or maybe you believe that the email was about taking a ride at some track in Bavaria with the new mountain bike Hembery had just bought.
            Instead, I do believe it contained info about the test. Even Rosberg did “for sure” new what tires he was using.

          2. I don’t believe the alleged email said ‘thank you’ either, but it might as well have unless someone can produce the email so that we will all know. I just don’t see what Pirelli would gain by helping any one team since everyone is on their tires and there is no team out there on a competing tire maker’s tires. I just don’t believe Pirelli is that underhanded nor that motivated to get themselves into that much hot water for no gain but only tons in terms of reputation and trust to lose.

          3. It was labeled secret and apparently had some data but the FIA statement goes on to say the data would have been of little to no real value to Mercedes

  31. I find this so called ‘punishment’ no punishment at all. First of all, let’s cast off all this ‘in good faith’ nonsense. Merc perfectly knew what they were doing, i.e. breaching the Sporting Code, hence they (and not Pirelli) made all possible efforts for this test to remain secret. The whole purpose of a punishment is NOT to cancel benefit gained by a perpetrator, it is to ensure that this will not happen again, and to give an object lesson to those who are considering doing the same crime. From this point of view, it is a grave mistake to let the Merc escape scot-free. What IT is projecting with this verdict is that it is easily bullied, because it is all too obvious that this decision was made with the fear of Merc walking away in mind. Banned from the ‘Young Guns Test’? As many have said before, any team would swap it for a 1000 km sole test with both racing drivers and cars. And – a reprimand? Are you kidding me? What kind of punishment is that? Are they making it up as they go along? What are the consequences of a reprimand for a team? Is it like with drivers, when you collect 3 reprimands per season you lose a race? If so, why don’t Merc go for another 1000 km ‘private’ test, they still have 2 reprimands to spare. The FIA IT made complete joke of themselves, they should have either acquitted Merc from all charges, or deal a proper punishment for breaking the SC, no matter in what faith. What they did is neither here nor there, and it sends very bad signals on many levels.

  32. I voted “Way too soft” but I am more worried about the consequences this decision may take. It created a very dangerous precedent and in case of a similar rule breech, the judges will not be able to apply a stronger “punishment”. A 1000 Km with your race drivers and new tires is worth it the non participation to the young drivers test. I am sure all the other team would have accepted it, if they knew it… My thought

  33. Not exactly a punishment for the team now is it? More like punishment for the YDT Sam Bird, who was totally uninvolved in any of this.

    Like someone mentioned on here weeks ago, perhaps the only ‘fair’ punishment would be to not allow Mercedes to take part in FP1,2 in the next coulpe races and only be allowed to qualify with whatever set up they can figure out within the qualy alotted time.

    Perhaps allow Mercedes to take part in the YDT but with a 2011 spec car on 2011 spec tires? Or give him a go in another mercedes powered car?

  34. Personally I don’t see that they’ve been punished at all. Effectively they have to sit out a test roughly equivalent in mileage but without their race drivers. This is merely to redress the balance. And debatably does a poor job of it at that.

    If you steal something, being told to give it back and don’t do it again is not a punishment. If you’re in a court and standing trial for a crime, you don’t dictate to the judge what you think would be a good punishment.

    I’m not saying they should be put into a rocket and fired into the sun, here. I’d just like to see them genuinely punished. Where’s the deterrent in this? What about 2014? Too many unanswered questions like why Mercedes pushed to use a 2013 car when they weren’t asked to. What happened to FOTA?

    Personally I can’t see this being the end of it, as far as other teams are concerned.

    1. Your missing the point and significant difference. With the Pirelli Test they would not have been able to make changes or carry out development tests on components, as Pirelli would have needed a stable unchanged car to test the tyres.
      The young driver test is a full blown team test where the team can pretty much what they like with the car and run what ever parts they want.
      There is a big difference between the two types of running with the cars

  35. I think the penalty was way too leniant, and the test Mercedes did far outweighs the Young Driver Test (at the expense of the young driver now – thankyou Ross Brawn). But what i am happy about is that for all their trouble, Mercedes will still not be a championship force, so the score will be settled on the track! Mercedes have to resort to this kind of unsportsman behaviour, and yet they are still no where near the top, which is just as well.

    1. So a test they participated in on unknown tyres with no control as to the content of the test or the parameters in which that test was carried out and unable to make changes to the car was more valuable than a test with unlimited kilometers, which the team has full control and the can make unlimited changes to the car including testing parts for next year.

      Merc have a significant disadvantage now. Any extra testing they can do is limited to Friday practice which has engine, gearbox and Tyre limitations as well as significantly less time as they also need to setup the car for the race.

  36. The Ferrari anonymous blogger makes a very good point…

    What would have happened if all this came about AFTER the young driver’s test?

    1. Or The Horse Whisperer whatever they are called…

    2. I would suggest Ferrari keep quiet like they did with their two secret tests

  37. Way to soft. I’m not buying into the whole we weren’t clear enough thing. If that were the case why bring this before a tribunal? This show was a farce, the FIA stepped back in order to keep Mercedes in F1. I have already said it, this was a verdict on demand and nothing more. Mercedes even proposed the given punishment for crying out loud.

  38. I am outraged by this news. It seems FIA is just a mere puppet in all this. They have lost all respect and credibility from a lot of people by allowing this to happen. They definitely need to grow a pair.
    Maybe Ferrari should´ve used their F138 and have Massa and Alonso have extra seat time, it seems anybody can do whatever they like these days. It´s times like these when I wish Mosley would be in charge of the FIA, he certainly would have made an example out of Merc.

    1. FIA/F1 are the puppet masters, not the puppets. They’re the ones that wanted Pirelli to make these tires, and they’re the ones, as well as the teams, that wanted the limited testing, so they had to own a big part of the problem here. Why should Mercedes by made an example of for trying to help F1 and Pirelli out of a tire jam that they themselves, not Mercedes, got themselves into in the first place?

  39. I dont even know if the test benefited mercedes. After testing, agreed they won the monaco gp, but then it’s not exactly a tyre intensive track. At canada, they were where wouldve regardless of the testing.
    Also, I wonder how much a young driver’s test is going to benefit a manufacturer in the GP. I personally feel it wont get them a substantial advantage since it’s not their drivers performing the test. Which means, mercedes’ penalty is just like a formality since FIA has to do something. In my eyes, its almost as if FIA knew it, and now they punish mercedes so it doesnt look very obvious.

  40. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    21st June 2013, 19:38

    Was there any point in including the “slightly too harsh” or “far too harsh” options in the poll?

  41. it is very unfair, but mostly for the young driver(s) who mercedes could’ve provided for that young drivers test…
    they should’ve punished them the same way they punsihed mclaren in 2007, no points for constructors championship and a hefty fine

  42. I think its unfair and very light, considering there was a clear breach in the rules. It doesnt matter it was taken on good or bad faith. Its like its saying its ok to steal something as long as its for the good cause ” i stole from the grocery store because my brotheris hungry ” i expected more from the fia.

  43. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and this whole thing basically boils down to poor communication between Mercedes, Pirelli and the FIA. On May second, Ross Brawn and Ron Meadows asked Charlie Whiting whether they could use a 2013 car in a Pirelli test. Whiting replied the test would be legal, but he would check with the FIA. He found out that Pirelli had to do the test themselves and invite all the teams. Whiting informed Paul Hembery about this. So those are the facts.

    Now comes the confusing bit: it is “common ground” that:

    No other team was, on this occasion, informed of the opportunity to carry out similar tests; no other team was even informed that the Barcelona test was contemplated; and accordingly, no other competitor participated in or was present at this testing.

    Pirelli’s response to this was:

    Pirelli did give all teams the opportunity to participate in tyre testing – albeit not in response to the specific requirement which had been made by FIA, and agreed to by it, at the time when FIA purported to grant the qualified approval which it did in this case.

    They are referring to the notification Pirelli sent all the teams in 2012, which apparently wasn’t sufficient.

    Now regarding Mercedes using a 2013 spec car. Mercedes believed that running their 2013 car was not in breach of the regulations and was under the impression that the FIA had given permission:

    The FIA expressly permitted the use of a current car and article 4.2 of the Contract makes no reference to the age or specification of the car that can be used.

    However, the FIA say:

    By carrying out track running using a 2013 car, two current F1 drivers, during the 2013 Championship, without the knowledge, consent or participation of the other competitors in that Championship, Mercedes may have engaged in conduct which was prejudicial to the interests of the competition.

    ___

    Let’s summarize: the FIA told Pirelli to ask all teams whether they would like to participate in a test. Pirelli thought they had done so, but legally they hadn’t. Mercedes must have assumed that Pirelli had legally asked the other teams to participate and thus this was now a Pirelli test as described in Article 22. Therefore Mercedes would not have been responsible would Pirelli have had permission to host this test.

    I honestly believe Mercedes and Pirelli didn’t act in bad faith, neither did the FIA. Some things were just not communicated correctly, foremost between Pirelli and the FIA. So I would say the penalty is too harsh: splitting the costs evenly between the three parties would have been sufficient in my opinion – Mercedes and Pirelli didn’t take adequate steps to make sure the test was legalized by the FIA. Mercedes gets a lot of the blame here, even though the Tribunal decided that:

    Mercedes had no reason to believe that approval [for the test] had not been given

    Mercedes eventually got punished because if you look at it from a distance, they were running a 2013 car during a test, which is in breach with Article 22. I would probably have argued that this was overruled by Mercedes believing Pirelli had gained permission for the test, which in turn would permit Mercedes running a 2013 car. I would even go as far as saying Pirelli is more to blame than Mercedes, though I still stand with my point that the removing the YDT ban from the sanctions would have been sufficient.

    1. Pretty much agree with everything you have said. And I’m glad you are saying that Pirelli were the one’s who needed to inform the other teams…not Mercedes as many have suggested…it was a Pirelli test, not a Mercedes test, and it was Pirelli who approached Mercedes, so I fail to see how Mercedes needed to inform everyone. Other than that, my only other slight difference with what you are saying is that to me Pirelli and FIA/F1 need to share the bulk of the responsibility as they mandated these tires and the lack of testing and Pirelli blew the tires this year. Without those ingredients no testing with any team would have been needed.

      To me the fact that Pirelli went to FIA/Whiting and Mercedes knew that and also communicated with him tells me nobody was trying to get away with anything. If they were they would not have gone to any officials, they would have just gone ahead and done it.

    2. A well reasoned post, however it does not address this most salient point: what exactly qualifies “a Pirelli test?” All other Pirelli tests (except the secret Ferrari ones) were conducted with unemployed F1 drivers in old spec cars. No Mercedes personnel should have been present, much less current drivers, engineering staff, or the team principal, for Pete’s sake! That combined with the black helmets are the two things I cannot get over. It was a clear breach of the rules which was met with a token punishment – one that the guilty party proposed, no less. Why kind of punishment is that?

  44. I like how Merc basically got to choose their own punishment. What if this was decided after the Young Driver Test, what would the punishment have been ? I don’t think you need to necessarily punish Nico and Lewis as they follow what the team tells them to do but yes, the unfair advantage was not taken away or given back. This has implications for 2014 as well and Merc has a headstart despite not “knowing what tires were used”. The drivers knew right ? F1 engineers couldn’t figure it out ? GOOD GRIEF.

  45. Way way too soft. The punishments for Merc and Pirelli were about right, but the tribunal should have fined the FIA at least $100M for failing to apply to it’s own rules, and a further $100M for just being plain stupid.

  46. 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.

    For example?

    1. @neelv27 See the preceding paragraphs.

  47. I think that the option “it’s a joke” should be there

  48. alofan (@alonsofan98)
    21st June 2013, 20:22

    I think the penalty for Mercedes was far too soft. They made a secret test with Pirelli and they have only banned from the Young drivers test. I think that a fair penalty would have been removing 25 points from merc in the WCC. But now a team like McLaren which has problems with the car (and has money of course) can do a test with pirelli and then say it was a pirelli test and just banned from the young drivers test.
    I think fia should put some in-season test if they don’t want to have a situation like this in the future.

  49. No one has suggested much less proven that Mercedes GAINED any benefit from the tyre/tire test FOR Pirelli. If in fact Mercedes did NOT gain any helpful info than the penalty was fair and that seems to be the case. Thanks, RnR Remember when the commentators and us fans used to talk about RACING!!! F1 has lost a lot of interest for me due to tyres and tyre talk taking over the entire season yet again…..

  50. I think you’re being a bit hard on the race drivers here, Keith. If your boss Ross Brawn requests you to drive, and tells you to run the current car because that is allowed for a Pirelli test and they had asked the FIA for permission, would you first study the rule book before consenting to drive? And even if Lewis and Nico had dug into the rule books, it is not abundantly clear that the conclusion would have been “no, we can’t run”.

    On the other hand, the only people at Mercedes to have really benefited from the Pirelli test are, in my opinion, the race drivers, as they get to hone their tyre management skills (and braking skills, although come Monaco Lewis was clearly still struggling) for one-and-a-half grand prix distances. Better than working out in the gym.

    1. I kinda think its a joke to suggest that the drivers should have regused to drive.

  51. Just a reminder…you are all talking about the secret private Merc test because you all became aware of it…but what about the tests some constructors are doing, on an ongoing basis and nobody knows about?

    There is an AREA 51 for F1.

    1. The FIA need to put GPS trackers on Pirelli’s and Ferrari’s transporters. It seems like the mouse is always away.

    2. Do tell!…where is it?

  52. Some people claim that other teams may run a test now because it was shown to pay off. However, that is not what the tribunal’s decision implies.
    We know now that FIA’s own lawyer thought that it could be Pirelli’s test, not Mercedes’s test, in other words, Mercedes had a good reason to believe that they had found a loophole in the rules. This was the reason given by the tribunal for just a slap on the wrist and it is, IMHO, a conclusion that was inevitable given all the facts.

    However, now that the tribunal made clear how things stand, no other team can claim to be acting in good faith, and therefore they would have to be punished much more severely for a similar act.

  53. It’s just fine. And if anything it does add a bit of “good measure.” Losing a 3-day test when you have control over the program and telemetry is not a fair trade for a 3-day test with non-competition tires without control.

    In fact, I bet Mercedes still feels a bit wronged, given the divulgence of the two (and counting) Ferrari secret tests. The sophistry about a two-year old car with current tires not giving competitive advantage, and the new passtion for strict-construction of the testing rules, rings hollow now. When is the 2012 test going to be investigated, and will it be done in a farcical two-day process resulting in blanket acquittal? Mercedes are rightfully drumming their fingers I bet.

    Previously I thought that a fine as well as a countervailing reduction in testing would be the best, fair thing. But the revalations about the FIA advice and the Ferrari tests put things in a new light for me.

  54. Initially i’d say that it’s been too soft, but then there’s so much question marks on certain aspects that it makes me wonder…

    1.- There’s absolutelly no doubt that Mercedes knew from an engineering standpoint they could benefit massively with this test, especially when they were struggling with their tyres. This aspect alone is proven by the fact that they used both racing drivers instead of using only one or even their reserve driver
    2.- Mercedes tried to disguise the public/spotters by using black helmets in order to conceal the driver identity. Why would they do that if they had nothing to hide?
    Even Mr. Brawn said when asked by the FIA lawyers “…it probably was not the best idea(to use black helmets)” which could be translated as: i couldn’t think of a good credible excuse to give you…
    3.- And this a no brainer. Why on earth would other teams be offered a chance to join the test and not do so? Especially RedBull and Ferrari, where money is no object. Ferrari has also been known to push for in-season testing return
    4.- Pirelli have always used their “own car” to test tyres so i cannot understand what was the urge all of a sudden to use use a current-spec car, especially on such a short notice judgding by the dates that have been mentioned.
    5.- Did the FIA properly handle this test in terms of coordiantion? Did they really tell Pirelli they had to invite all other teams for such a test? Because what i’ve interpreted out the interviews/company announcements is that Pirelli invited all teams but since Mercedes was the first to reply Pirelli discarded all the other teams, which doesn’t make much sense. If i were at Ferrari/RedBull and Pirelli had told me that Mercedes alone was going to do the test because they were first to reply i would have protested immediately, after all it was a golden opportunity for a three day test with a current-spec car. Lets not forget these top teams burn money everyday to gain a 0.001sec advantage over their rivals
    Information regarding this is rather confusing to say the least.

  55. Double standards in F1 is not news, F1 is more of a show than an actual sport and when you run a show you make sure that your protagonist is happy… Ferrari is that protagonist whether we like it or not and thus gets their fair share of favouritism.
    Now the element of surprise here is since when the Mercedes team is considered so important to be in the same boat…
    Ayrton Senna was the only man that managed with his mystique to demote Ferrari to a supporting role in the F1 show! And to spice things up a bit I ‘d say this, was Mercedes a genuine threat to Ferrari this year I am sure the punishment would be more fitting.

  56. Slightly off topic but who voted that they had “no opinion”?! Surely just don’t vote!

    1. Knowing whether people are interested or uninterested in a subject is itself useful information.

  57. Not sure if someone has pointed this out already, but a way of easing the effect on the young driver(s), and adding some form of punishment to the drivers who took part in the illegal test, would be for the young driver(s) to do some Friday running with Mercedes. This would even the score a bit.

  58. Why couldn’t the FIA inform all the teams of Mercedes’ impending tyre test? Why should the onus fall on the team that has been granted permission?

  59. Not only fair but a perfect punishment. Mercedes lose running time on known tyres with a known driver (feel sorry for Sam Bird) during which they would be allowed to, and would, test new development parts. I feel they will be slightly disadvantaged overall and it gives FIA and Pirelli a chance to sort out what the hell they do going forward.

  60. It’s too soft of a punishment, in that it doesn’t penalize Mercedes sufficiently for the advantage they gained.

    However it’s hard to say it’s the “wrong” punishment, because the testing rules are really a mess. Simply sweeping it all under the rug and making more sensible rules going forward doesn’t seem like too bad of an idea.

  61. What is happening with my comments ?

  62. @ Keith, how’s this for a conspiracy theory ? Pirelli knew that there was a safety problem with their tyres especially after the Hamilton incident. Mercedes thought but weren’t sure it was a problem with the car. Ross, as any team manager should looked for a solution and spotted the loophole in the regulations or maybe had some input from Pirelli concerning their testing dilema. Heads got together and devised a plan to seem to invoke the Pirelli exemption, Ross then checked with Charlie and made sure he got some cover. Pirelli then went ahead with the test, not informing any of the teams. That would exclude Red Bull as if all had agreed they would have had to allow Red Bull to test also. Horner, realizing that someone else had used the rules better than himself went to Ferrari and Lotus for help, unaware that Ferrari already had done their test with Pirelli. He got his help and the protests were filed. His comments were tempered after the hearing as he realized that Ferrari were also slicker than him. Do I make a case?

  63. I don’t think its a question of who was right, who was wrong, or how to penalise Mercedes. I really do think the core of the issue is this, Mercedes were gifted an unfair advantage by the FIA, allowing them to run a current car, with current drivers, for multiple days with new Pirelli tyres for testing, when no one else was around.

    Right now, the penalty handed down doesn’t address the imbalance created. No matter how Mercedes perform for the rest of the season, they will be forever tarnished over this incidence, and if they do go onto winning races, or even go on to winning the WDC and/or WCC’s, many people, including myself will wonder just how much impact the secret tyre test contributed to their success.

    1. Speaking for myself, Mercedes have not tarnished their future over this incident whatsoever. I think what is tarnishing F1 these days is F1’s insistance on gadgety tires and DRS, and the lack of testing and the mandating of these shoddy tires that put eveyone in this mess to begin with. I think this season will be tarnished if we are now consigned to the remainder of the season being like some of the hotter high speed corner venues have already shown us…delaminations may be solved, but we will still see 4 stop races and drivers driving as passengers monitoring their delta speeds as dictated by their engineers, not racing like F1 racers should do in the pinnacle of racing.

  64. is it too harsh? gee when the guilty approve the punishment what do you think?

  65. non-the less they still suck, beaten by ferrari and redbull fairly at canada, even with 1000km of knowledge.

  66. This is becoming quite “tiring”!

    Why so many arguments that Mercedes were in “doubt” or believed to be in “good faith”? The only doubt they can possibly claim is about participating in the test in the first place; but NOT about running a current spec car. The clause is too clear in that matter for anyone to claim the tiniest “doubt”.

    The claims that no data were collected, that only development tires were used or that the mileage was insignificant, seem to be designed entirely in defense of Mercedes. Or do you honestly want us to believe that an old rat like Ross Brawn would somehow neglect to switch on telemetry reading (yes, it only needs to be switched on) while both his championship drivers are hammering off laps in the current car? And this is even besides the real point which is that current spec testing is NOT legal, period! And how come no one has mentioned the fact that Mercedes have been working significantly better on the tires since the test was conducted? And by the way; since when did it become a good idea to check an actions legality by carrying it out first and ask later? Not even to mention the attempt to keep the whole thing secret.

    The argument that there is no proof they gained an advantage can’t be taken seriously. If I get caught on a red light camera; will the police have to prove that I could have caused an accident before they can fine me? No, there is a reason for the law and it’s illegal to cross the red light even when you don’t crash into another car or kill 15 little league players. There is also a reason why current spec testing is illegal…. for everyone!

    And that brings me to the verdict: apparently the regulations in Formula 1 only count for the less important teams. Nobody can possibly prove that Merc’s Monaco win would ever have occurred without the clearly illegal test, and hence the 2013 championship is forever tarnished as absolutely no actual punishment was carried out. To just ban a young drivers test is to taunt the rest of the field and the point that the other teams cannot just go test all they want because FIA will be “serious” about the next infringement is simply laughable.

    Why? Again because the test was conducted with a 2013 spec car with which testing is illegal far beyond reasonable doubt and because FIA have shown that no severity will happen by breaking the rule. (At least not if you are considered majorly important to the “sport”.)

    So there you have it: the actual proof that F1 is rotten to the core and way to dependent on it’s participants to equally enforce it’s own rules.

    The effects of the FIA’s fear to carry out actual punishments over certain participants goes far deeper than the 2013 season as it gives Formula 1 an absolutely terrible image image of corrupt management which will severely hurt the chances of attracting new players in the future.

    June 21st. 2013 was a day of shame for motor racing!

    1. Or…F1 is messing too much with gadgety tires and a massive lack of testing, and it caught Pirelli out, so they had to test in-season and got permission from Whiting. And an International Tribunal, which is now how they deal with contentious issues, resolved the issue and found some blame for all parties concerned. It is a good day for motor racing. Just too bad they’re still gonna have these crappy tires for the rest of the season.

    2. @poul You have three mistakes in your arguments. First, it is not true that regulations prohibit running current spec car. They only prohibit it assuming that it is “undertaken by Mercedes”, the logic is crucial here. If you can wiggle it legally so that it is considered to be undertaken by somebody else, you can run current car as much as you want. You can call it a loophole, but that’s the way regulations are written.

      Second, it is not true that they did something first and inquired about legality second. To the contrary, it’s been written ad nauseam the last few days that they did check with FIA first, and FIA’s response had clearly shown that even FIA’s lawyers considered this loophole feasible.

      And third, people do not mention that Mercedes has been better lately with tires for the simple reason that there is no clear indication of this. It is a common knowledge that the circuits where Mercedes did well lately are very soft on tires, and people were expecting a good Mercedes result even before any testing became known.

      1. @pH Fully concur with your points

      2. Just like in the difuser case; the intention absolutely is clear and to claim they thought it was ok to bring a 2013 car is a clear attempt to push boundaries.

        Yes, FIA knew about the test but no where at all has it been shown that the inquiry was made about a 2013 car. And obviously so because it would never have been granted. Everybody knew that; Mercedes and Ross Brawn better than any which makes my point correct. Had this been a real business law suit Mercedes would have been punished further for attempting to manipulate the law.

        For the blind and the super fans there may not be much indication of Mercedes improvement but to everybody else it seems just a bit too clear. Your “common knowledge” has never made a difference as major as this to other teams but just strangely did for Mercedes exactly after the test. BS, and the main point always remains: They knew bloody well that they were bending the rules in total disrespect of all the people who depend on playing by them.

        What makes it even more disgusting is the fact that the test came about just after FIA refused to let Pirelli give Mercedes tires that would work much better for them. There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark and it’s amazing how many people refuses to see it.

        In case you keep up your argument; it will be an uphill battle for you to change my distaste for Ross Brawn. Before this I was actually interested in switching to Mercedes privately – now I think I will just stick to Audi. Maybe Daimler should deeply consider what they are really trying to schieve here?

    3. @poul You have three mistakes in your arguments. First, it is not true that regulations prohibit running current spec car. They only prohibit it assuming that it is “undertaken by Mercedes”, the logic is crucial here. If you can wiggle it legally so that it is considered to be undertaken by somebody else, you can run current car as much as you want. You can call it a loophole, but that’s the way regulations are written.

      Second, it is not true that they did something first and inquired about legality second. To the contrary, it’s been written ad nauseam the last few days that they did check with FIA first, and FIA’s response had clearly shown that even FIA’s lawyers considered this loophole feasible.

      And third, people do not mention that Mercedes has been better lately with tires for the simple reason that there is no clear indication of this. It is a common knowledge that the circuits where Mercedes did well lately are very soft on tires, and people were expecting a good Mercedes result even before any testing became known.

      That said, I do think that what Mercedes (and to even larger extent Ferrari) did was not sporting and I do not like it. Unfortunately, F1 has always been about doing what seems to be forbidden but due to wording of regulations is not (double diffusor, Red Bull’s bending nose, Benetton’s fancy refuelling etc.).

  67. If they don’t want to give monetary penalty or extra testing for the other teams (unrealistic), instead of banning them from young driver test, it would be better to ban them from fp1 for at least 3 races. It would be fairer because not only Mercedes as a team feel the impact, but also their drivers.

  68. My vote :

    slightly too soft

    My view :

    1) Ross Brawn is a wily fox and played into the grey area that FIA have . FIA were literally out-witted into not giving a harsher penalty to Mercedes as they(FIA) could have been found guilty in court of not having transparent rules . This could have led to either pirelli or merc or both leaving the sport and all those ” fans ” stop watching F1 .

    2) As @keithcollantine says , there was no provision made for the young merc driver , he could have been given a chance with pirelli or something could have been worked out . However I disagree with Keith saying that Lewis and Nico should have been punished because they acted on behalf of their team and not of their own accord.
    The only stricter penalty could have been taking away the constructor points gained in Monaco and Canada ( after the test ) .

    3) If anyone is to blame, it is FIA who have double standards and don’t provide a good solution to pirelli to test . But I expect this to be resolved soon for 2014 .

    4) I don’t think Mercedes have made their car better as a result of the test . Some small kinks might have been corrected but nothing like ” what red bull have which enabled Vettel to pull away like hell “. We will still see them dropping back in silverstone .

  69. Hello,

    I think two very important points were raised by Keith:
    ##
    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?
    ##

    You cannot hope for a clean behaviour if you do not recognise responsabilities of people. And in here, surely, the drivers do have some responsability in the situation. (Then, they could say they were forced, had pressure or whatever, but the problem here is that this fact was not addressed at all: as said, the two drivers will not even realize anything was wrong in their behaviour.)

    The first point made by Keith is also a clear call.

    1. Then what would the penalty for the mechanics or engineers be, also the FIA lawyer and Mr Whiting. You do accept the verdict which found three parties equally guilty.

      1. Well, have I pretended to be exhaustive here?
        There are a number of evident points that were not addressed during the trial, which tends to show that what was wanted is not an objective and in-depth study of the situation and why it happened.

        Now, if you want to talk about the mechanics, then surely they are under more pressure from the team than the drivers (I don’t think a mechanic can have Mercedes pay a hundred thousand euros to replace the cameras of the photographs he destroyed by going too close from them on jet-ski…). It is harder from them to go against their bosses’ orders. Anyway, that’s not the point:
        my point was to underline two clear holes in the judgment pointed out by Keith and stress the lack of global and long-term thinking behind. Please feel free to add all other holes you think are present.

        Cheers

  70. Far too soft.

    Mercedes brazenly made no effort to comply to article 22.4h. OK, they did ask Charlie but he gave a, at best, qualified maybe in response.

    I wouldn’t have gleaned any pleasure to have seen Mercedes banned from a race but the very bare minimum should have been for them to have been banned from a more meaningful official test at the start of 2014.

    Sadly, I can’t help but think had McLaren, Red Bull or Lotus (as non-manufacturer teams) undertaken this test they would have been punished. It seems more than likely the FIA took into account the political consequences of any punishment and went easy on Merc. All of which was, to be fair, brilliantly calculated by Ross Brawn.

    I must agree though with many of the comments here criticising the FIA too for creating a conflict between one set of rules for the teams and the testing allowance in place for Pirelli.

    Anyway back to racing now please!

  71. Give Sam Bird a Friday practice seat for the next 4 Grand Prixs, that’ll even things up.

  72. I say the penalty is a fair considering that Mercedes actually proposed the punishment. I am sure if they had pushed hard enough, they could have gotten of. The reason I say this is, they asked CW under what conditions using a 2013 car would be legal, the FIA’s lawyer said, if the test was conducted by Pirelli, it would be a legal test. So, the lawyer said it will be ok, albeit under the condition that the other teams are notified as well. That is the only point against Mercedes that they didn’t.

    The thing is, Article 22 under the sporting regulations do not specifically state what the test restrictions are for the tyre manufacturer. Or what drivers are to be used for such a test. Or even what color the helmets must be for that matter… I think that point is sensationalist at best…

    What RB and Ferrari must keep in mind is that this was quintessential a Pirelli Test. Testing the tyres that are used by ALL of the teams. Mercedes Benz provided a useful platform for Pirelli to test tyres that will benefit every other single team out there. By doing that, Mercedes received a lot of criticism which is undeserved imho. The actual advantage that Mercedes gained is not as big as many think, simply because they were not in charge of the testing schedule and parameters. I am not saying that they gained nothing from the test, but the “big” advantage that they got might not as big as propagated by the likes of Ferrari and RB.

    Good on you Mercedes for exposing the huge shortcoming that exists in today’s F1.

  73. All in all a good way to get Mercedes some exposure.

  74. The verdict was a VICTORY for COMMON SENSE….

    Many would just like to ignore the sequence of events, and get all emotional.

  75. I used to love Formula 1 on a level beyond normal. Especially in the first years i started following in 05,06,07 and 08. I want that kind of Formula 1 back. Not the kind where all everyone does is talk about tires. I was supposed to go to Spa in August. But now i might not bother. Thinking of watching NASCAR. Not better than F1. But at least they dont talk about tyres all the time

  76. If I were Jeremy Clarkson, I’d say that now FIA should mean “Fuehrer’s International Assistance”. 1000 km of secret testing with the current car, and what? A slap on the hands…

    1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
      22nd June 2013, 13:14

      If you were jeremy clarkson 1)he loves mercedes and probably always will infact topgear is probably responsible for far more sales of mercedes cars than f1 is.

      2)jeremey clarkson loves underhand tactics in f1 which this isn’t but if for some reason clarkson had a reading and comprehension age as low as you and so thought the same way you do. He would still like what’s happened.

  77. FIA’s decisions, the best jokes. They always find a way to ashame themselves.

  78. The penalty was probably about right for the team, but the people that really suffer in this debacle are the drivers who would have taken part in the young drivers test. They’ve suffered at the expense of the devious nature of the team and their race day drivers. Are those young drivers going to be given Friday running to compensate from this? Are they hell. In that respect, the penalty is too harsh.

    However, the team have had their 1,000km testing which they would have probably done in the young driver test, so it’s probably about right.

  79. Let me say this: I find the punishment appropriate not because I think nothing really happened, but because all of this mess can be tracked down to FIA’s not being clear enough and strict enough with their own rules. Had FIA told Ross Brawn and Pirelli they CAN’T, on no condition, do test with 2013 car – they wouldn’t have done it. But FIA instead told them “yes, but…”. So I can understand Merc’s position here. They could have been under the impression they are clear to do the test. Any other team, being in the same position would have done exactly the same. I also think Pirelli is the victim here. The only thing they wanted was a relevant car to make good tires. The rules regarding testing hurt them and affect the tires. The only thing they have done wrong here was not going all formal and clear about using 2013 car while talking to other teams.

    How this should have been handled? Simple. Additional 2 or 3 days of tire-only testing for all teams, on non-grand prix circuit. Officially handled by FIA and Pirelli. No secrecy, everyone participating.

  80. Yet another Ross Brawn example of working on the edge of legality, I quite like him, but I would trust him as far as I can throw him.

    1. @smudgersmith1 To be fair, if the team bosses and designers aren’t flirting close to breaching the rules, then they’re not doing their job properly.

  81. They should have been ordered to give Nico Rosberg back to Williams :)

  82. The party which should get punished over this mess is the FIA.

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