Mercedes, Sepang, 2013

Mercedes banned from Young Drivers’ Test by FIA

2013 F1 seasonPosted on Author Keith Collantine

Mercedes, Sepang, 2013An FIA Tribunal has banned Mercedes from participating in this year’s Young Drivers’ Test for conducting a three-day test ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

The Tribunal also reprimanded the team for its participation in the test along. Tyre supplier Pirelli were also reprimanded.

Following the Tribunal hearing yesterday Mercedes had suggested the punishment of exclusion from the Young Drivers’ Test.

The Tribunal ruled that Mercedes had “misconceived ‘qualified approval’ which was given on behalf of the FIA”. It decided the team broke article 22.4 (h) of the Sporting Regulations and articles 1 and 151 of the International Sporting Code.

The costs of the investigation and procedure were shared equally between Mercedes, Pirelli and the FIA.

In the first ever hearing of the FIA’s new International Tribunal the governing body’s prosecution denied Mercedes had been granted permission for the test and said they had failed to invite other teams to participate in it as they were instructed to. The FIA added there was no way of proving Mercedes could not have gained an advantage from the test.

Mercedes’ defence claimed they were not in breach of the rules as the test was run by and for Pirelli. They insisted approval had been sought and obtained from individuals within the FIA.

They added that if their test was considered in breach of the regulations the test conducted by Ferrari three weeks prior to it should also be as the 2011 car Ferrari used was, in Mercedes’ view, similar to those being raced at present.

Red Bull and Ferrari lodged a protest against their rival team during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend when it emerged they had used their 2013 car to cover over 1,000km in a tyre test for Pirelli.

The International Tribunal was presided over by Edwin Glasgow. The three members involved in the deliberations were Christy Harris, Patrick Raedersdorf and Anthony Scott Andrews.

Mercedes and Ferrari Pirelli tyre test row

Browse all Mercedes and Ferrari Pirelli tyre test row articles

Image ?é?® Mercedes/Hoch Zwei

182 comments on “Mercedes banned from Young Drivers’ Test by FIA”

      1. How do you know they are not? Ferrari’s test didn’t come to light until Monaco. The FIA needs to go further and straighten out its rules and police them, not just review things after the fact.

    1. I think I can hear Ferrari firing up their engines to go testing now.

      3 days with your race drivers and the circuit all to yourself has the potential to be so much more productive than 3 days with a track full of other cars and a field of young drivers.

      Well done Mercedes for pulling it off. But the punishment does not fit the crime.

      1. What part of Pirelli test do you not understand. Scientific testing like tyre testing require a stable test bed, that means the car stays unchanged.
        People still think Mercedes were doing testing of the car. How would that have been any help for Pirelli?

        1. Merc got three extra days to see how their car (which overheats its tyres) performs with Pirelli rubber. You’re saying that Mercedes gained no data or advantage out of such a test? Just because it had Pirelli’s name on it doesn’t mean Mercedes didn’t benefit.

          1. I would say that it’s not so much about the specific tyres, but why the car they have generates the amount of heat it does that transfers into the tyres. Solve the car problem, solve the tyre problem. Having a specific compound on would be better but not essential.

          2. @tonyyeb

            Pirelli did not tell mercedes which tyres they were running on, however if you think that the with some of the worlds best drivers and some of the worlds best race engineers could not make a very good educated guess about which tyres were which then you do not know much about F1. Also the drivers have had 1000km to practice their breaking, cornering and accelerating which is invaluable especially as Lewis was saying before the test that he was having issues getting used to the fact that the break system on mercedes was a lot different from that on the maclaren. The engineers will have also had a lot of information coming back about the wear rate on components in the engine and on the car, plus we have no idea if they were running any test parts either or for that matter if the telemetry data was being beamed live back to their base.

            If I was one of the other teams I would be fuming right now as this outcome does not rectify the problem. What use is it banning them from the young drivers test? They got to use their race drivers, with all the experience they bring and all the benefits the drivers themselves stood to gain, while in a young drivers test the other teams will be using new drivers with little experience of developing cars and standing to gain nothing of benefit for the drivers for the current season.

            I am not disputing the decision on how guilty Mercedes were, but I do think the other teams should have got at least a full test out of this. Remember that Maclaren were never proven to have gained anything from spygate to help their performance yet they were banned from the championship and fined Ā£100million! If the idea was that if they punished Mercedes then they would leave F1 then that stinks, also if the thinking was that if they punished Mercedes then they would seriously have to think about the Ferrari tests, then that stinks too. Although I would not want Mercedes to leave F1 I do think this should have no bearing on the punishment handed out as it would effectively be one rule for the Manufacturer teams and one for the non manufacturer teams.

          3. I’d love to see that posed to all the technical directors at each team. Would you have preferred 3 days on tack by yourself, with your race drivers but without knowing what tyre you were on? Or 3 days sharing the track (more traffic, red flags etc, but gets cleaned up and rubbered in quicker), with a “young driver” (some of which have covered several race distances easily) but you would know what tyres you were using, when you wanted to use them?

          4. @tonyyeb

            Mercedes would have had a very good idea about which tyres they were on and the other teams would work that out pretty quickly too. Plus the track was fully rubbered in as they tested on a track that had just had 2 days of practice and 1 full race day. If the others were to get the same after say silverstone? or the next event after that, then they would then be running on a fully rubbered in track too.

          5. They also got to do that in mid season, and on a very clean track that they had just raced on. At the least points should have been taken .. banned from the young driver’s test???? PLEEEAAAAAAASE!

          6. @Lee1 the tyres that were used in the pirelli test are development tyres chances are not a single compound they ran will be used unchanged from that day till next year. Even if they were the notion that a driver can say oh thats a super soft and i completely understand it within 11 laps is laughable.(1000km of running divided by 3.6km track length divided by 24 compounds of tyres=11 laps a tyre.) 11 Teams with 22 drivers don’t understand pirellis tyres after 21 practice sessions or 460 hours of collective running time so far this year.

      1. Yeah because back in the ferrari days jean todt was alllllways taking ross brawn to court he couldn’t help him self the little devil.

    2. There’s a lot of loopholes and misunderstanding, the tribunal made the right call anyway. It’s not like Mercedes did the test without asking FIA and went to break the rules.

      1. @celeste Sure…as long as Pirelli approaches them to do a tire test of no data sharing, and it’s not a normal F1 team test, and the team has ā€œmisconceived ā€˜qualified approvalā€™ which was given on behalf of the FIAā€ and they are prepared to forfeit the YDT session, then yeah by all means let every team proceed accordingly.

          1. Fair point, but some teams were asked and declined, and Ferrari were completely exonerated, so…I just don’t see what allowing the other teams to ‘break the rules’ would accomplish when in fact it was found that there were extenuating circumstances for the Pirelli test. It was unique and necessary imho, and therefore should not be treated like a door has been opened for anarchy.

    3. @endel – Have you actually read the judges’ decision?

      They make it pretty clear that although the rules were broken, there was no intent to break them. Pirelli and Mercedes were testing the tyres under the impression that the test was legal, and with the intention of using the data that was gathered to build better tyres for the future.

      So do they necessarily deserve to be punished for this?

  1. Pathetic decision, This decision is a disgrace and embarace the sport.
    Well done Mercedes, having tests, and getting the knowledge will pay off and it’s better than having the young driver’s test.
    Shame for FIA, Todt and all the court.

        1. Yes in the case of Ferrari and Mercedes. I don’t make the rules.. I just read the facts. Mercedes took part in a Pirelli test, they were found guilty of using the incorrect car and have been rightly punished for this. The facts don’t change anything nor does the punishment. It was and will always be a Pirelli test.

          Had Mercedes used an older and legal car there would have been no problem or punishment, as we have seen with Ferrari. This is very simple for anyone with a brain cell to understand.

          Saying it was a Mercedes test just makes you look like you have no clue what’s going on.

          Saying it was a Mercedes test means that Ferrari also had two independent tests. They should therefore be punished as in season testing isn’t allowed. But, the whole reason they were not punished is because, guess what ? it was a Pirelli test ! Which is again the reason what Mercedes were not more harshly punished.

          1. When did i said that was a Mercedes Test???
            Please transcrit my text here that i said it was a ferrari test

            I know exactly what’s going on…Todt, Montezemolo and Brawn know it too…

            I think also Ferrari should be punished btw

        1. It was indeed a pirelli test, What does this have to do with it. The fact is Mercedes did not fulfill the requirements to do the test and they will have gained a lot of benefit from the testing. The fact that the premise of the test was to test the tires and that the tire test itself was conducted by pirelli does not mean Mercedes have not engineered an unfair advantage over other teams and it does not clear them of the duties that they failed to perform in relation to fair play and common decency.

          1. “It was indeed a Pirelli test, What does this have to do with it. ” – well quite a lot actually @lee1

            I was just pointing out @nomore ‘s mistake when they said ” it was a big Mercedes test ” – which it simply wasn’t. It was a Pirelli test, meaning his comment was in fact wrong, as I pointed out.

          2. @f190
            i’m afraid you are mistaken it was a Mercedes test…

            Do you really believe Pirelli could run Mercedes car ? really belive ?…ok bar the fact that you may be Mercedes, ham, Ros fan…do you really believe that Pirelli controlled Mercedes car ?

            the name of the test could be whatever…pirelli test, magneti marelli test, shell test, Mobil 1 test…but we know who run and controlled the car

            If you really believe that, then we can’t discuss because you believe in something that for me is unbelievable

            If you believe that Mercedes run the test, but to find a solutions how to lie to FIA is to call this test a “Pirelli test” then yes there you are right

          1. @nomore

            Sorry but you are simply wrong. They were found guilty yes, but guilty of breaking the rules while in a Pirelli test.

            Cheated is a bit harsh, they were helping Pirelli out with a well documented safety issue, an issue which Vettel, Button and several other drivers had complained to the FIA about.

            “The Decision of the International Tribunal confirmed that the team acted in good faith regarding the Pirelli Tests” Mercedes statement confirming it was a Pirelli test.

            So YES, it was a Pirelli test. So please stop saying ” it was a big Mercedes test” because it just wasnt.

    1. I think the court did the right thing. Mercedes played it cleverly and ultimately the FIA being murky about it made it possible to get away with it.

      Had the FIA legal man clearly stated that “NO, the proposed position will clearly be seen to violate the rules”, its highly likely that the case would have been clear cut (although in that case its even more likely that Mercedes would not have done the track running with their 2013 car).

    1. FWIW, I’m not totally sure they would’ve put Sam Bird in the car. Maybe Daniel Juncadella.

      Not to mention it was Mercedes themselves who recommended getting banned from the YDT as a punishment.

      But yes, I get your point.

      1. Suggesting does not mean getting. I think the point of their suggestion was to reinforce the fact that they didn’t commit nearly the crime that many believe they did, nor did they gain nearly as much from this test as many want to think. I think they will lose more from their YDT ban than they might have gained from the Pirelli test. At least at the YDT they could have tried different components for the car, and would have known what tires they were on and had their own engineers progressing the car with possible solutions, which is something they didn’t get to do at Pirelli’s tire test with Pirelli engineers running it.

  2. Considering all the politics and grey areas involved in this whole mess, I’m not surprised that Mercedes got nothing more than a very light slap on the wrist. A reduction in constructor’s points would have been preferable to my mind, and at the end of the day this does nothing to negate or penalise the development advantage Mercedes have surely gained from their three day test.

    1. This result more or less shows that the FIA was less than clear cut on the matter as well. They did not mind Ferrari doing considerable running with a 2 year old car (which could have run new parts non the less), Todt has been in favour of more testing all the way, and even proposed to open up testing several times, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the only reason to bring Mercedes in front of the tribunal was to make transparent procedures of it after Red Bull and Ferrari protested.

      Lets hope they now sit down and clear the rules on testing from now on, close the loophole and be happy that the tribunal had its first session and no more damage was done to the sport.

      1. The FIA’s approach didn’t help, for sure! I am happy that it’s over with, especially since a harsh punishment would probably have created more damage to the sport and potentially open this up to having Ferrari dragged in, creating even more controversy and prolonging all of this.

        Bad cases don’t make for good law, and the FIA-Pirelli-Mercedes mess we saw certainly meant that things were never just going to be about any possible advantage Merc gained, and more about other factors surrounding how the test was conducted. It’s over now and we move on!

  3. Difficult to know whether it is the right decision or not, but surely Pirelli could’ve gone about the testing bit a better way – if they had have asked Marussia or Caterham to do the test with their 2013 cars, we wouldn’t have cared less. But, that’s the way it is and let’s focus now on what happens on the track, regardless of whether an advantage was gained by Mercedes.

  4. I don’t think Sam Bird might suffer as much. Mercedes might get him to test with Force India or maybe even Williams now that they would be using the same engine. What an entirely weak decision this is. Banning a team from a young driver’s test. A better decision would have been to ban them from next years pre-season tests or at the very least all except the last one before the first race next year.

      1. No the point is not about there being a grey area. The point is that the punishment is not fair enough. It will make hardly any difference to Mercedes by missing the YD test. Yet, the Pirelli test has made a difference to how their car has performed over the last few races.

        1. Yet, the Pirelli test has made a difference to how their car has performed over the last few races.

          I don’t know of one credible source that is confident enough to say that. The snails pace at which the Monaco GP was races doesn’t show any such thing. Mercedes were predicted to do well at both these tracks regardless of any testing.

  5. Cue raging criticism from Christian Horner and/or LDM….and a “told you so” style comment from BE…although he appears to have been right that Mercedes should have refused Pirelli’s request without proper consultation of the other teams.

    Sounds to me like the FIA sided with Mercedes’ view that this was a Pirelli test and they were there at Pirelli’s request, which gets them out of the sporting regulation about in-season testing.

    1. Not so sure. Ferrari already mentioned before it started, that they only protested to get a clear view on what is and what is not allowed. Red Bull started toning down their anger about it too lately, so I guess they will just repeat that they think the penalty is not severe enough but to be happy that it was a transparent case etc, etc.

    2. Sounds to me like the FIA sided with Mercedesā€™ view that this was a Pirelli test and they were there at Pirelliā€™s request, which gets them out of the sporting regulation about in-season testing.

      You might want to read the results again (or perhaps the first time) because you’re wrong in every single part of that. The Tribunal (not the FIA) found that Mercedes had conducted illegal in-season testing. And then let them off with a warning.

      1. young driver test is far more valuable at least then you get some data and if you learn nothing about the tyres at least you can do some aero mapping

  6. Personally I think it’s the right call. There are a lot of grey areas that need to be cleared up.

    Going forward, FIA permission should be given in writing before ANY tests go ahead. We need transparency in F1, not hidden secret tests.

    1. What is “grey” about the article that regulates testing, in this particular case with Mercedes?

      22.1 Track testing shall be considered any track running time not part of an Event undertaken by a competitor entered in the Championship, using cars which conform substantially with the current Formula One Technical Regulations in addition to those from the previous or subsequent year. The only exception is that each competitor is permitted up to eight promotional events, carried out using tyres provided specifically for this purpose by the appointed supplier, to a maximum distance of 100kms per event.

      Tyhe description “cars which conform substantially with the current Formula One Technical Regulations in addition to those from the previous or subsequent year” is indeed very vague. But MGP ran this year’s car, so no arguments there.

      Brawn kept stating that it was a Pirelli test, not a MGP test. That was his angle. Does that refer to the bit “undertaken by a competitor”?

      I don’t think the problem lies in unclear rules. The problem lies with how the teams pay around them.

      1. The grey part starts where Pirelli has a contract with the FIA that does allow them to test with a teams car. And the FIA’s legal council answering a question from Mercedes about using the 2013 car with a conditioned yes, instead of a clear no. @baremans. In other words, the FIA murking up their own rules.

    1. Then the other teams would get a harsher punishment. Mercedes got off lightly because there was a massive grey area – they believed the test to be legal. Any team which now tests with their 2013 car and drivers will know that it is fact illegal.

      For example, if a young child was told by their mother that it is perfectly fine to kill someone, should this child be put in prison for life? Certainly not, as the child believed they were doing the right thing. However, as they still did break the law, they deserve some small punishment to reinforce the rules for the future.
      A fairly extreme example but I hope you understand the message behind it.

      If, however, the child is told not to do something and they subsequently do it, then that is a completely different matter.
      So any team who does test now should be severely punished, as they knowingly broke the rules.

  7. This is a disgrace.

    Obviously, by the letter of the regulations, Mercedes seems to have found a loophole. But they clearly breached the spirit of the regulations, somewhat ditching the whole purpose and principle of having rules.

    Now compare this with a recent incident in NASCAR: Penske used rear-end housings on its cars which incurred severe penalties (-25pts for drivers plus two-race suspension of key personnel), but NASCAR noted that it was not because the housing was illegal by the letter of the rulebook, but rather because NASCAR itself thought it was not in accordance with the spirit of the rules.

    Now, I take the side of the latter case and think of rules from the viewpoint of their purpose. I think if it does not serve its purpose, it somewhat loses its relevance and dignity; it becames merely a toy.

    1. Well the tribunal obviously thought Mercedes’ main purpose was not to gain an advantage, but to help Pirelli, so in that sense they were not against the “spirit” of the regulations.

      1. I know. But I cannot accept it – all that was needed was an FIA with balls to rule on a matter in its own backyard that the Mercedes test was not in accordance with the spirit of the rulebook, end of story.

        And this is entirely independent of the scale of the penalty received – I completely agree with the YDT ban as it could have, in my opinion, the same impact as the Mercedes test. 3 days, about 1,000km, even more liberty to access data, etc. However, contravening somewhat to this assumption is the fact that Mercedes literally advised the IT this sanction during the hearing – surely they would not have done so if they thought they were not in a net beneficiary position still.

    2. Well, actually, I judged too early. My initial thought was that the eventual penalty was for some ‘lesser’ infringement, like violating article 1 or 151c, and they got away with the testing infringement because of that unclarified ‘undertaken by’ phrase and the FIA clearance.

      So it turned out that the IT actually ruled against Mercedes in the legal interpretation (“misconceived the ‘qualified approval”), which is exactly what I thought was the right step from the viewpoint of the rulebook’s purpose.

      Thanks for @tvm for the comment which had me review the issue.

  8. That’s not much of a penalty. It will hurt Mercedes to some extent, but it’s comparable to the advantage they’d gain from the Pirelli test. If they were guilty they should have got a much harsher penalty.

    It’s like being found guilty of robbing a bank with the only punishment being having to return the money.

    1. To be honest, I can imagine a situation where a court would decide on such a verdict @enigma, if it would be clear that they were doing the robbery to give people who were conned out of their money by a bank fraudulent manager their money back or something.

Leave a Reply

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

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>