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 ?? Mercedes/Hoch Zwei

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

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  1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    21st June 2013, 14:09

    I forgot to mention, the tribunal has made one thing very clear to Mercedes and to every other car manufacturer – that there is a double-standard in Formula 1. It’s a very expensive lesson to teach anyone and especially Mercedes who feel that they should be considered a top team in F1 and be given equal consideration. They have insulted Mercedes and once Mercedes wins a few WDCs and WCCs, they will pay F1 in full and fully retire.

    This also means no other car manufacturer shall ever bring a team to F1 until 2,050 when this is forgotten. I can only imagine VW’s executives (Audi and Porsche) laughing their posteriors off thinking how clever they were to stay away from F1…

    Tens of billions of dollars of cost to F1 for 1,000 kms of testing that yielded a nominal, if any, advantage and the test was initiated by the tyre manufacturer and semi-approved by the FIA… Such a silly mistake by Bernie, Jean and Luca. I would have expected them to be a little smarter than that.

    1. I forgot to mention, the tribunal has made one thing very clear to Mercedes and to every other car manufacturer – that there is a double-standard in Formula 1.

      Yes. If you’re a big company like Mercedes you can get away with breaking the rules by threatening to leave if punished.

      1. Let’s not forget how this all started. F1 mandated the tires be made as they are by Pirelli, F1 limits testing drastically, Pirelli blows it with the tires this season and needs some testing help, FIA/F1/Whiting likely agree they need help and had Pirelli been afforded more testing to begin with, and had Pirelli not been mandated to make tires like these, then there wouldn’t have even been the need to approach Mercedes to begin with. This has nothing to do with Mercedes being a big company and therefore getting away with rule breaking. This was a collaboration of FIA with their “misconceived ‘qualified approval’ which was given on behalf of the FIA,” along with Pirelli, approaching Mercedes to help them solve the tire woes this season.

        I vehemently disagree with anyone who suggests this was Mercedes initiating this test and trying to get away with something, especially because they somehow think they are immune to punishment due to their size, and also would choose to ‘win’ this way. Mercedes are the third party in this…F1/FIA the main instigator by forcing mandated tires upon the teams in an atmosphere of too little testing, Pirelli is the next most guilty party for blowing the tires this year, albei under difficult conditions given their mandate and the lack of testing, and Mercedes is the third party that agreed to help Pirelli, with quasi approval enough such that Brawn was confident they were doing nothing wrong, and with the understanding, as all teams have expressed frustration with, that the tires are not good for F1 this year.

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        21st June 2013, 17:58

        Well, I hate to break it to you but F1 needs the big companies. We don’t want accountants and lawyers building the engines in their spare time, do we? When you invest the money Mercedes and get very little in exchange while uplifting the sport a lot more than say Caterham or HRT, you probably should be congratulated for trying to help Pirelli when they ask for help.

        It’s not like Mercedes rented a track and just decided to do its own testing. They are abiding by the rules to the best of their knowledge and they actually have to because they have a larger organization behind them. Mercedes MUST play fair and square in F1 because not doing so would affect their core business and cost them a lot more than winning a WDC or WCC.

        1. Here here!

  2. Seems like we get one sort of scandal a year these days. Its good for business and commands alot of attention for Formula 1. Ching Ching.

    1. Yes, but this particular scandal has made the team concerned and Pirelli and the sport’s administrators look as though they don’t really know the rules or what each other is allowed or not allowed to do. In other words, it’s made the sport look silly and that’s not good for business. Clang Clang, rather than Ching Ching I think.

      1. There’s no such thing as bad publicity.

        1. Not true. See Charles Saatchi this week. or Lionel Messi this week, or Sergio Garcia over the past few weeks.

  3. More like a reward rather than a punishment. Absolutely laughable. FIA should be ashamed of themselves for letting Merc manipulate them like that and the other teams should be outraged.

    1. @henslayer

      No, the other teams should be outraged that Ferrari ran a test in 2012 nobody it seems new about until Mercedes lawyer revealed it. Not only that, but they used one of their current drivers (Massa) and covered more than the 1000km limit.

      This is the very definition of a ‘secret test’ as they did not attempt to inform the other teams of this test… nor did the FIA.

      Conspiracy anyone?

  4. Ben (@scuderia29)
    21st June 2013, 14:33

    what a joke!
    mercedes suggested their own punishment and the FIA went with it :/
    they lose out on the young drivers test..which is really for the young drivers themselves so its them that have been punished. Mercedes get a test with their current drivers while others have to make do with a test using rookies. If i was red bull/ferrari/mclaren etc i’d be out on the track tomorrow and do a 1000km test and then tell the FIA “ok we’re sorry, we just wont participate in the young drivers test”

    so the test has seemed to have had an impact on the performance of this years car, theyre the only team to have a feel of the tyres for next year (very handy) and their rookie driver gets punished. wow.

  5. Brawn/Wolff – Lauda
    1 – 0
    Ross doesn’t do rulebraking. He reads very carefully and covers his ground.

    1. err… you are wrong as it was proven they did break the rules. only he is lucky the punishment was so small

  6. F1 needs to stop the habbit of making itself look stupid. We have a strict ban on testing that the teams have accepted and followed to the letter for the past few years even though they didn’t like them. Punishing (read: reward) one team by saving them from doing a test with youngster is ridiculous. The least the tribunal could have done was to DSQ them form the constructors championship.

    This now opens the door to other teams that don’t find the YDT interesting to go all out testing because they will know that they won’t recieve a punishment heavier then Mercedes.

    In fact I would go as far as calling this an outrage!

    1. Why does anyone think that loosing 3-days of testing for getting one day of testing, on non-race tires, run under someone else’s program, is Mercedes getting-over? If Mercedes had theit druthers you can bet they would have taken the young driver’s test over the Pirelli test.

    2. This now opens the door to other teams that don’t find the YDT interesting to go all out testing because they will know that they won’t recieve a punishment heavier then Mercedes.

      Sorry to be harsh, but that is a ridiculous statement. The punishment handed out to Mercedes clearly acknowledges that Mercedes were acting in good faith. Specifically, they believed that they weren’t acting illegally. They, and every other competitor has now been told exactly what qualifies as permission, and told that what Mercedes did WAS illegal.

      If another team were to conduct a similar test (assuming they managed to convince Pirelli to get themselves in hot water again) the “good faith” defense would no longer apply. And considering this case would have happened recently, the FIA (or rather, the tribunal) would come down on them like a ton of bricks.

      And yes, even on Ferrari.

      1. @fluxsource This tribunal was nothing more than a farce. A couple of days before the whole thing started it was pretty much clear Meredes was a dead man. Then suddenly as if per coincidence certain stockholders of Daimler claim they would use any conviction to terminate the F1 project. From that point onwards it became pretty obvious the FIA put the importance of having Mercedes in F1 above making a clear example toward other teams. In the two weeks before the tribunal the FIA made it clear they hadn’t given actual permission. And now they are saying they weren’t ‘clear’ enough? Verdict on demand and nothing more. I have lost faith in F1.

        1. @force-maikel

          A couple of days before the whole thing started it was pretty much clear Meredes was a dead man.

          How could this possibly be, when all the relevant evidence hadn’t been reviewed by an impartial body. Surely you’re not condemning the actions of a team based largely on assumptions and anger? No? No, I didn’t think you’d be silly enough to make a mistake like that.

          From that point onwards it became pretty obvious the FIA put the importance of having Mercedes in F1 above making a clear example toward other teams.

          Or perhaps from that point onward it became pretty obvious that the FIA should put forward their case to an independent tribunal, who are not controlled by the FIA so as to remain impartial in these cases, to review the evidence and make a decision based upon that evidence, and not base their decision on what people can and can’t believe regarding something they actually know little about.

          In the two weeks before the tribunal the FIA made it clear they hadn’t given actual permission. And now they are saying they weren’t ‘clear’ enough?

          And yet at the tribunal it emerges that two representatives of the FIA (including a legal representative) said it was ok. How much more unclear would you like?

          I have lost faith in F1.

          And I have lost faith in people ability to analyse this situation with logic, rational and proportionality.

          1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
            21st June 2013, 23:23

            Not that i dont agree with everything you said but i especially agree with you on this.

            “And I have lost faith in people ability to analyse this situation with logic, rational and proportionality.”

  7. Now you understand why Rossberg listened when Braun told him to hold station behind Hamilton. Didn’t Rossberg subsequently win the first for Merc, real team principal. Any more stories about Red Bull galloping on the track under Webber?

  8. F1 is not a sport. It is an extremely embareasing marketing joke!!

  9. A reprimand for Pirelli? Does that mean if they do it twice more, they’ll be banned for a race weekend? I can see a tiny flaw in that….

  10. This is about as I expected, except I thought there would also be a fine. The lack of a fine suggests that the tribunal was worried about the contractual basis of their decision, because Mercedes and/or Pirelli could have had reason and a basis to take the FIA to court on the fine, because collecting the fine requires that the FIA institute some other contractual consequences for not paying that would implicate the actual breach/default terms that matter, for example, taking back prize money or travel money. The FIA did not want to rule themselves into a lawsuit. Mercedes, like most major corporations, don’t hesitate to litigate when significant sums are at stake. They have plenty of lawyers and the endurance to take on whoever. The “reprimand” to Pirelli is a joke. Pirelli is not a party to any sporting regulations. That reprimand is worth about as much as attacks they get from internet forums.

  11. That is probably one of the highest calculated gambles I’ve ever seen. Mercedes risked their entire season, the reputation of their parent company, the wrath of their parent company, their continued involvement in the sport, all for this, believing that the FIA had blundered an escape route for them. Based on what was at stake, the information gained must be of COLOSSAL value. All in the name of winning.

    1. Disagree completely.

    2. Winning 2014 titles

  12. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    21st June 2013, 16:29

    So what we have is still extensive net gain on the part of Mercedes, who have done more mileage than will be done during the Silverstone, with race drivers and at a more crucial time in terms of development, the start of the European season. The tribunal obviously vehemently believed that there was no malicious intent on the part of Mercedes, because a hefty fine or a points dock certainly seems to be a punishment that more neatly fits the crime. This punishment is a short-sighted attempt at squaring Mercedes with its rivals, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a test for a test. However what we will still have is uproar. Mercedes have done very well. They have managed to maintain the innocent stance, and yet have grabbed the opportunity with both hands and exploited it fully, by putting both their drivers in a modern car and undoubtedly got loads of lovely data. Not being at the Young Driver Test at Silverstone does not act as automatically bringing the other teams up to speed, although to the casual onlookers, or the media, justice may appear to have been done. I think that is the line that the International Tribunal has taken, a need for water on the media fire. Mercedes, a team that broke the rules, did so not out of malice, but after being misled. To a purist, that may not lessen the punishment, with guilt and ignorance squaring to the same thing, but this kind of black and white, rules are rules justice was not what was found at the Tribunal, rather unlike what I expected. There will be further arguments in darkened rooms, further debates, further politics, but as far as Sky F1’s hopeless Rachel Brooks or Johnny-casual-F1-viewer is concerned, justice is done.

    1. I personally believe that Mercedes will lose more from the YDT ban than they have allegedly gained from the Pirelli tire test. That test did not allow them to try different things on the car, all the while knowing what tires they were on, or anything of any use to progress the car. The YDT would have allowed them the opportunity to try different wings, etc etc, all the while experimenting with different setups on different tires all the while knowing what tires they were on, unlike with the Pirelli test.

      So I think what Mercedes may have gained from one 3 day Pirelli tire test has been way way overblown, and certainly the Tribunal’s findings attest to that. If they had been shown to have somehow experienced a normal F1 team test while testing Pirelli tires, different story and I’m sure that would have come out day one of the Tribunal. But obviously it was shown that this was a Pirelli tire test, not a normal F1 team test.

  13. I think this is a great decision on the Tribunal’s part. I think the fact that costs are being split amongst the 3 players, FIA, Pirelli, and Mercedes shows that they ALL had a hand to play in this unique situation of having to deal with bad tires in an atmosphere where bad tires are being mandated with little testing in F1 any more. I remain steadfast that Mercedes are not stupid and would never have even dreamed the risk of breaking the in-season testing ban rule would be worth it. And on top of that this was not a normal F1 team test as was suggested/assumed umpteen times whether by a former F1 mechanic or by armchair pundits. So even more reason why Brawn would not have considered a Pirelli tire test of no data sharing worth the miniscule potential gain if he thought there was any risk at all to it.

    As I’ve said before, and now this ruling proves it…Mercedes must have had some sort of permission, they didn’t seek out this test Pirelli did, and the FIA/F1/Whiting I believe had to have had some sense that the tires were problematic and the test necessary.

    I think it is silly for anyone to suggest that now other teams have some sort of open door to test then, since Mercedes got off ‘so lightly.’ I think this was a bit of a perfect storm of circumstances. Pirelli needed to test because they blew it with the tires this year, but they are tires that everyone signed off on and the conditions of F1 restrict testing so much as well as mandating these tires put Pirelli in an impossible situation and F1 needed to own some of that. Mercedes were the least offender I have thought all along because they didn’t seek out this test nor would have risked it, there was some form of permission, and the FIA/F1 and Pirelli caused this problem to arise to begin with by mandating the tires under conditions of limited testing.

    Good on the Tribunal for coming to a common sense conclusion.

  14. ABout all this @keithcollantine , when is the date and circuit (or dates and circuits) where they have Young Drivers Tests? Because we have to take into consideration the early in the season that Mercedes / Pirelli ran their secret test, thus giving them the possibility to learn more from it (regardless what some people may think,I still believe their Monaco victory had much to do with that test). Because if the Young Drivers Test is, if I’m not mistaken, in Abu Dhabi, any gain the other teams can make from it will be even more irrelevant compared to this case.

    1. regardless what some people may think,I still believe their Monaco victory had much to do with that test

      Out of interest, what are you basing this on? On the assumption that any benefit from the test would be related to improving tyre wear, and knowing the Monaco is probably the kindest race on tyres in the whole season, AND given that even before the tyre-gate saga kicked of Mercedes were hailed as favorites for that race, I would have thought it would have a pretty minimal impact.

  15. A lot of anger of Ferrari and Mclaren fans.
    Haha funny.

    1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
      21st June 2013, 23:26

      Honestly I’m not sure the mclaren fans are angry infact i havn’t seen one since melbourne. Ferrari and redbull fans are the most vocal about this.

  16. 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.

  17. So if Pirelli gets two more reprimands, does it mean that all drivers on Pirelli tyres will get 10-place grid penalty?

  18. Fair punishment really. The FIA weren’t exactly clear so swapping one test for another is a fair sanction in my view. The only problem is Sam Bird (and perhaps Brendon Hartley) get punished for having no involvement

  19. Totally bogus! The FIA is a neutered body and is totally worthless as well as useless. I´m utterly disgusted with this!

  20. reckon merc should be quite pleased with themselves after all this

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