Mercedes banned from Young Drivers’ Test by FIA

2013 F1 season

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

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

  1. Mads (@mads) said on 21st June 2013, 13:14

    So Merc goes testing illegally, and the only one who is punished is Sam Bird?
    Merc has gained an advantage over the other teams after Spain, they are going to carry that advantage all the way to the YDT before it is evened out. Where is the punishment in that?
    This debacle has made F1 look properly stupid as a sport. And that no example has been set.
    I think F1 looks even worse now then it did before.
    To think that the offending party has been allowed to just choose their punishment. I can’t get my head around how stupid it sounds.

  2. Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 21st June 2013, 13:16

    Mercedes probably eeked the punishment on 2 factors, both of which are hefty grey areas –
    1) Pirelli’s testing contract was two open to interpretation
    2) The rule re: cars substantially conforming to the rules is also very grey – the argument by the defence of Ferrari benefiting quite well from it probably held some water (after all, apart from a different exhaust & front suspension geometry there’s not a whole lot of difference in the car concepts).

  3. GST (@gst) said on 21st June 2013, 13:21

    Seriously, how could they do anything to Mercedes? If this was some of the midfield or lower grid teams they would have had a stiffer penalty.

    Lewis Hamilton cannot be banned or disqualified in any way. That is never going to happen. Want proof? Just listen to the sport reporter on the BBC yesterday in Paris. He said: “With the British GP just around the corner, many don’t want anything to happen that will harm Lewis Hamiltons’ chances of winning at Silverstone.”

    It’s as though they already have Lewis winning the race! How can they take any action against the team when a British driver who is classed as a God by the BBC and other media outlets is going to drive at Silverstone in Britain?

    There was more chance of ABBA reforming than action taken against Mercedes.

  4. What a joke of a punishment! I hope all teams do a test together now without Mercedes knowledge to gain worthwhile data! Punishing them by young driver test ban is hilarious!

    I’d bet everything I’ve ever owned and everything I’ll ever own every team would take that punishment for a 3 day test on current hardware with their race drivers!

    What do people usually say? Ferrari International Assistance, well today it was MIA not FIA!

    • tmax (@tmax) said on 21st June 2013, 14:42

      @rgbsf Not exactly ? So what about Massa’s Test last year he was not supposed to do testing. It looks like Ferrari has more Skeletons hidden in the closet. so better close this with less noise without any further damages to them. FIA remains FIA.

      Ross Brawn is a smart Cookie, He knows what hurts FIA the most – Ferrari !!!!! Bring up a few facts about Ferrari and FIA is silent. Nobody understands Ferrari better than BRAWN :)

    • JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III said on 21st June 2013, 20:07

      I’ll take that bet.

  5. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st June 2013, 13:31

    I’m sure Mercedes are bitterly regretting the way they will not be able to put Rodolfo Gonzalez in their car.

  6. caci99 (@caci99) said on 21st June 2013, 13:31

    Lets get the Test Fest started.

  7. Denis 68 said on 21st June 2013, 13:32

    HaHa what an absolute joke

    So the only punishment for Mercedes is that they miss the young driver test. They got to run both cars and race drivers (in plain coloured helmets) for three days of testing. Now the rest of the teams get three days of testing at the young driver test with only one car and the driver must be a rookie.

    The FIA are oxygen wasters.

  8. FlyingLobster27 said on 21st June 2013, 13:46

    I agree with the view that the tribunal has penalised the young drivers. I would have parked the Mercedes team for a day or two in pre-season testing next year, especially if they’ve been testing Pirelli’s project for 2014. It would have hit the culprits – the team and their drivers, who, if Mercedes were in the dark on data, had all the info on car feedback -, and hit them hard.

  9. Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 21st June 2013, 13:50

    In my opinion, this is the only logical outcome.

    Ignoring all the statements by people saying “I don’t believe this” or “we all it it was that” and actually looking at the evidence supplied, the FIA had no real choice but the be lenient. And not due to the threat of Mercedes and Pirelli walking out…

    The facts are that Mercedes asked a representative of the FIA – AND a lawyer for the FIA – if such a test would be legal. They both said yes (albeit with caveats). The test was then run by Pirelli, with steps taken to ensure that Mercedes didn’t benefit from the test. (Whether individuals believe that those steps were sufficient – or even COULD be sufficient are beyond the scope of my comment). The test was conducted, with the only notable attempt to hide details being the use of plain helmets.

    From that evidence, everything Mercedes have done is reasonable. Saintly? No, but certainly not a deliberate attempt to cheat, as some have implied. The primary fault with this saga lies with the FIA – a lack of clarity, and the left hand not talking to the right have led to this pseudo-not-authorised test.

    But the reason why the FIA had no choice? Because they’re already embarrassed by this. If the punishment was too severe, Mercedes would likely have appealed the decision, dragging them deeper into the mud.

    As for considering the sportsmanship of the topic, and how that affects any punishment, in 2010 Ferrari knowingly and deliberately broke the rule regarding team orders, attempted to hide the fact with a coded (however stupidly coded) message, which had a direct affect on the outcome of the race.. Their punishment? $100,000.

    If many of the suggested punishments I’ve read here were handed down, and it went to appeal, I cannot see how it could possibly have stood.

    All this is even before considering Ferrari and the ambiguous “conform substantially” rule.

    • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 21st June 2013, 13:53

      RE: my view on Ferrari testing (copied from my tweets):

      Those saying testing with 2011 car is “within the rules” are wrong. Rules say nothing about the age of the car.

      “cars which conform substantially with the current F1 Technical Regulations in addition to those from the previous or subsequent year.” #F1

      Also difference between 2011 and 2013 car is not the only consideration. Has to be different to 2012 AND 2014 cars #F1

      Also, define “conform substantially” #F1

      Basically, FIA have rules which lack clarity, advice and information that lack consistency, whatever they decide will reek of hypocrisy #F1

      I stand by my comment on hypocrisy.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st June 2013, 14:22

        Basically, FIA have rules which lack clarity, advice and information that lack consistency

        Or they have written a rule that allows them to judge these things on a case-by-case basis. Since no two cars are the same, why should the rule that governs their legality assume that they are?

    • Luke Adams (@devious) said on 21st June 2013, 13:54

      Good points,

      The other thing to take on board, a lot of people are now claiming that all other teams go and do tests. Anyone doing the same thing would be in direct violation of “the spirit of the regulations”, and thus would receive a more serious penalty. They are now knowingly breaking the rules which is I think slightly different from this incident.

      • Joe Papp (@joepa) said on 21st June 2013, 21:01

        a lot of people are now claiming that all other teams go and do tests. Anyone doing the same thing would be in direct violation of “the spirit of the regulations”, and thus would receive a more serious penalty. They are now knowingly breaking the rules

        @devious – well said. i also find it impossible to take seriously anyone who claims to be upset by the verdict and sanction (or lack thereof), but then immediately cries that the other teams should respond by breaking the very same rules! talk about bitter, partisan hypocrisy!!

    • Deej92 (@deej92) said on 21st June 2013, 16:45

      I agree with all the points raised. More clarity is definitely required by the FIA in future.
      Now it’s time to put this whole saga to bed.

  10. Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 21st June 2013, 13:57

    I personally am extremely happy with the decision and a suitable penalty. All teams can now go back to racing and clarity exists when it comes to tyre testing which was perhaps the main objective of the Tribunal to quote Horner from his interviews at Montreal. A team simply cannot test even if Pirelli invites you and the FIA gives you a signed letter that you are allowed to test.

    I still would like to see Ferrari be brought before the tribunal for keeping their test a secret for a whole season and for being the first to break the rules and also engaging in a 2nd test, and then blaming Mercedes like some lowlife criminal. Furthermore, as Mercedes’s counsel pointed out Ferrari’s test looked like a combination of Pirelli and Ferrari testing as Ferrari booked the track, exceeded the 1,000 kms and also were allowed to do their own testing for many hours.

  11. Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 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.

    • Jon Sandor (@jonsan) said on 21st June 2013, 14:27

      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.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 21st June 2013, 17:37

        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.

      • Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 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.

  12. Coanda (@ming-mong) said on 21st June 2013, 14:17

    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.

  13. Ron Mon (@henslayer) said on 21st June 2013, 14:31

    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.

    • Mr Lance said on 21st June 2013, 14:44


      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?

  14. Ben (@scuderia29) said on 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.

  15. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 21st June 2013, 15:01

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

    • kpcart said on 21st June 2013, 15:19

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

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