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. Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 21st June 2013, 15:22

    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!

    • DaveW (@dmw) said on 21st June 2013, 15:44

      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.

    • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 21st June 2013, 18:28

      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.

      • Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 21st June 2013, 19:14

        @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.

        • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 21st June 2013, 22:15

          @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.

          • JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III said on 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.”

  2. eddie3 (@eddie3) said on 21st June 2013, 15:23

    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?

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

  4. MattB (@mattb) said on 21st June 2013, 15:31

    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….

  5. DaveW (@dmw) said on 21st June 2013, 15:40

    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.

  6. Alex Brown (@splittimes) said on 21st June 2013, 15:47

    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.

  7. WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 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.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 21st June 2013, 16:48

      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.

  8. Robbie (@robbie) said on 21st June 2013, 16:40

    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.

  9. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 21st June 2013, 16:58

    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.

    • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 21st June 2013, 18:19

      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.

  10. Sorry said on 21st June 2013, 17:04

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

    • JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III said on 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.

  11. Andy (@turbof1) said on 21st June 2013, 18:17

    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.

  12. Bleu (@bleu) said on 21st June 2013, 18:41

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

  13. DominikWilde (@dominikwilde) said on 21st June 2013, 19:05

    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

  14. karter22 (@karter22) said on 21st June 2013, 19:21

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

  15. sbl on tour (@sbl-on-tour) said on 21st June 2013, 20:34

    reckon merc should be quite pleased with themselves after all this

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