Should Mercedes be allowed into Young Drivers’ Test?

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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, 2013Last month an FIA International Tribunal banned Mercedes from participating in the forthcoming Young Drivers’ Test after they had been found to have illegally conducted a test using a current car with Pirelli.

Mercedes accepted their punishment at the time. But since then the FIA has altered the plans for the test which led Mercedes to enquire whether they might now be allowed to join in.

Their request was denied. But does the FIA’s change in plans for the test mean that Mercedes’ ban should be reconsidered?

For

Following the tyre failures seen at Silverstone Pirelli announced it will introduce new tyres at the Hungarian Grand Prix. The FIA decided to open the Young Drivers’ Test to more experienced drivers so teams could test them.

Mercedes then suggested that as the purpose of the test has been changed on safety grounds, they should have been allowed some degree of participation in it. They were one of the teams to experience a tyre failure at Silverstone.

Lewis Hamilton added that keeping Mercedes from the test was unfair: “I don’t know if people fully appreciate how big a negative it is for us not doing the test.”

“We’re going to go to Hungary when other people have run different ride heights and tested different pressures, and got their car ready for a long run. We won’t have any of that information, so we’re going to go into it blind.”

Hamilton added “in a sport everything should just be equal, you shouldn’t be going to races like that”.

Against

Several of Mercedes’ rivals believed their original punishment of exclusion from the Young Drivers Test – before it had been opened up to race drivers – was too lenient.

Christian Horner pointed out that Mercedes’ Pirelli test involved their race drivers who originally would be ineligible to participate in the Young Drivers’ test: “It is always preferential to test with race drivers rather than test drivers.”

Mercedes’ original punishment as handed down by the FIA International Tribunal banned them participating in the “three day young driver training test”. The only means of getting around that would have been to extend the test to a fourth day, which may not have been feasible at short notice.

I say

Regardless of whether it would have been possible to extend the test to a fourth day to help Mercedes, I don’t think it was necessary to do so.

There are two cases for letting them in: on grounds of safety and fairness for the competition. On the former, as Pirelli are using a product which is substantially similar to that which was used last year, I think the input of ten teams will be sufficient and an eleventh is not needed. Pirelli have said in the past they only need one car for tyre testing, providing it is of current specification.

On the question of fairness the change in purpose of the Young Drivers’ Test under which race drivers may now participate has ironically served to make Mercedes’ penalty a more fitting punishment than it was to begin with.

In principle it is clearly not ideal for the sports’ governing body to change an area of the rules under which a team has a pending punishment – that practice has an obvious potential for abuse. But in this case it was more important the FIA used the opportunity presented by the Young Drivers’ Test to give Pirelli the chance to evaluate their new tyres.

You say

Do you think Mercedes should be allowed to have some degree of participation in the Young Drivers’ Test? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

[poll id="427"]

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145 comments on Should Mercedes be allowed into Young Drivers’ Test?

  1. SeaHorse (@seahorse) said on 10th July 2013, 12:30

    I have voted ‘No’. The entire argument of Mercedes and its drivers that it is unfair to prevent them from testing the new tyres before the Friday Practice in Hungary clearly proves that they have gained unfair advantage over the entire competition in terms of 2014 spec tyres. Let other teams enjoy a fair amount of justice for this unfair test Mercedes had.

    To Mercedes, your case is already closed. You may protest it in the Court of Appeals, if you want. But then the situation can only worsen for you. Take rest and come prepared for Hungry err Hungary.. ;)

  2. Joshua Mesh (@joshua-mesh) said on 10th July 2013, 12:30

    No. The punishment was already laughably light. This brings balance back to the force.

  3. Daniel2 said on 10th July 2013, 12:39

    I completely agree with the majority (69%) who voted no.

    It’s certainly not completely fair to the German team, that other teams now have the opportunity/duty, to do tyre testing for Pirelli at the 3-day-long YDT. But all the same, their own private test wasn’t fair either.

    Right after the tribunal made their decision on Mercedes’ punishment, I thought it was too lenient. Now, after the recent tyre troubles, I’m inclined to say, that they’ve been punished enough.

  4. kcarrey (@kcarrey) said on 10th July 2013, 12:43

    Authority of the FIA cannot be undermined.

    • Nick (@npf1) said on 10th July 2013, 14:29

      I’m glad the FIA is sticking to its guns, but it’s not as if the FIA in its entire form is now a beacon of authority. They would have had a better case if not one of their own (Whiting) said Mercedes could probably test.

  5. Mathers (@mathers) said on 10th July 2013, 12:43

    I would let them in, but only on the condition they use it to test drivers that have never had F1 experience – what this test is intended for in the first place.

  6. Rigi (@rigi) said on 10th July 2013, 12:44

    what’s the point of the ban if they get allowed into the test?

  7. João Leite (@johnmilk) said on 10th July 2013, 13:03

    No

    Hamilton said:
    “in a sport everything should just be equal, you shouldn’t be going to races like that”

    But they were the ones that tested illegally and took advantage from it, they were one step ahead everybody else, they were the first team to create a difference, all the other were equal. Mr Hamilton, this is just some poor piece of argumentation.

    Regarding safety issues, I believe the data from the other teams will be enough, so they don’t need to me worried about it.

    • Rubicon (@rubicon) said on 10th July 2013, 13:12

      Exactly right. Being banned from the YDT is supposed to be a punishment, ie, it’s supposed to be unfair and put them at a disadvantage. That’s the whole point.

    • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 10th July 2013, 13:41

      they were the first team to create a difference

      No, Ferrari were, with their two in season tests. With a car that DOES significantly conform with this years, last years or next years regulations.

      NB: Conforms with the regulations, not has similar performance.

      It also has not been established how much benefit Mercedes gained from the test, so how on earth can you determine what level of punishment would be proportional? And given the Silver Arrows performance in Germany, it would appear that the private test didn’t help them very much at all…

      • João Leite (@johnmilk) said on 10th July 2013, 17:02

        Don’t forget that in Germany pirelli changed tires, and Mercedes at the end of the race were the ones that showed to be more dissatisfied, and following your thinking process you can see that the Mercedes performance got better after the test until this last GP, so it sure means that they benefit from it.

        Regarding Ferrari, if the situation is considered to be the same, punish them as well

        • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 10th July 2013, 19:19

          @johnmilk I’ve already explained in another post that you cannot establish what benefit was gained from the test by the last three race results. You might as well pick numbers from thin air. So “it sure means” nothing.

          And yes – Ferrari should be judged by the same rules.

  8. Zantkiller (@zantkiller) said on 10th July 2013, 13:09

    I voted yes because I feel every team should get to Hungary with at least some running on the new tyres.

    I’m not saying they should have 3 days worth of running but at least some.

    • GT_Racer said on 10th July 2013, 17:07

      Mercedes already got some running on the tyres to be run at Hungary, Both in the Barcelona test & during Friday practice at Montreal.

      • BJ (@beejis60) said on 10th July 2013, 18:57

        No, the tires in Barcelona were prototypes. The tires you’re speaking of at Montreal were the tires run in Germany for the race.

  9. gilgen (@gilgen) said on 10th July 2013, 13:13

    there has to be a penalty for deliberately breaking the rules. to allow them to attend , under whatever excuse, would bring the sport into further disrepute.

  10. Boost (@boost) said on 10th July 2013, 13:18

    Nope.

    Mercedes got an advantage because of their not-all-ok-test and has been reaping the rewards since then.

    The earlier the other teams get their test while Mercedes do nothing the better.

    I´ll get the feel of an equilibrium. If I was at Mercedes I wouldn´t feel that we won fair and square after that controversial test.

    • MagillaGorilla (@magillagorilla) said on 10th July 2013, 14:21

      @boost what benefits? They had the best car coming into Monaco every analyst had them pegged to win before light of the test was seen. Silverstone was luck due to cold weather but also a fast track that didn’t cause tons of tire wear. However, if they knew so well what they tires would do, then surely they would have been able to see past the Hamilton disaster. Also we all quickly forget the Ferrari’s testing and rhetoric after the Tribunal shows they too have done unfair things and got away with far more than MGP. I would implore you to inform us of the exact benefits MGP gained, cause I saw a return of the same in Germany. I already said MGP should be able to test on Safety grounds cause they did a tire test for safety as it was claimed, thus why do another, but I would also say Ferrari should be allowed either.

      • Boost (@boost) said on 10th July 2013, 15:09

        Of course I can´t give you proof of MGP´s advantage but it´s also hard to prove they didn´t get no advantage at all when the WCC points MGP received for the first five races being 18,4 points/race without wins and then 25 points/race from Monaco and forward including two wins.

        It´s my opinion that they must have gotten some advantage from the test which was a breach of the rules. It doesn´t have to be connected to tires. It would be useless spent time for the engineers if they wouldn´t find something that makes the car better during the test.

        On the other hand, if they didn´t get an advantage during that test (just thinking that should offend their awesome engineers :) I would still say no to Mercedes doing the YDT as it was nevertheless an illegal test.

        • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 10th July 2013, 15:42

          Citing points gained before and after the test is effectively irrelevant. Unless the cars received no upgrades that would have produced without the tyre test, and they raced at the same track in the same weather conditions, and comparison based on points or positions is of zero use. Everyone is assuming that the tests were aimed at reducing tyre wear, so measure by that variable only. And on that basis, we’ve had one race where tyre wear was irrelevant (Monaco), one where it was better (Silverstone) and one where it was just as bad (Germany). Pretty inconclusive.

          As to the use of a test where they didn’t benefit performance wise, as ruthless as these teams are, why is the idea they wanted to help Pirelli out so alien? My understanding (and this is by no means fact) was that Pirelli met the costs (hence no bodyguards for Lewis/Nico, and the plain helmets) so what would Mercedes have to lose? (Oh, yeah – YDT)

          As it was, I think Mercedes DID have something to gain – influence over next years tyres. But that’s not an unfair advantage, but a just reward for being one of only two teams willing to put some effort into helping their tyre supplier.

        • MagillaGorilla (@magillagorilla) said on 11th July 2013, 6:34

          @boost Once again you repeat what has been answered by me, they were going to win Monaco with or without the test. Keith’s analysis explains this in further detail. I would love for you to explain how they could test that week and have a 6-8 day turn around to get parts to the cars for Monaco that would help them win. Also as I said and @fluxsource echoes there is a big kink that you seem to have not read, Germany. Germany showed us they still have the same tire issues prior to testing. The car is easily a top 5 contender every weekend based on the drivers more than the car, also it’s funny how us use the stats to help make a biased argument. Let’s forget about Australia where Nico who was run top 3 dropped out half way due to electrical issues. China was a suspension failure, so to act as if MGP won by cheating and their result prior didn’t show any form is misinformation.

          Also explain the Ferrari tests being fair in retrospect to MGP. I find it funny that people don’t believe MGP wanted to help for safety reasons, considering Lewis had a tire explode (delaminate) during practice before the Pirelli test.

      • spoutnik (@spoutnik) said on 10th July 2013, 23:37

        @magillagorilla agreed… talking about benefits is irrelevant. It’s about rules.

  11. Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 10th July 2013, 13:19

    I’ll go with the minority and say yes on safety grounds. This isn’t about Pirelli gathering data – this is about the teams making sure that their cars can run the new Pirellis safely.

    The punishment for Mercedes was to miss the Young Drivers Test. The moment they allowed race drivers in, it wasn’t really a YDT anymore, even if they still call it that by name.

    • Nick (@npf1) said on 10th July 2013, 14:32

      I don’t think the ban should change because the test has changed. If they had gotten a race ban for Germany or Hungary, I don’t think the FIA would have suspended the ban to let Mercedes acclimatize to the new tyres.

      • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 12th July 2013, 14:45

        @npf1 But that’s missing the point. You’d want Mercedes to get significant test running (not race running, which is what a race ban would hit) before they actually race the tyres.

  12. mixwell (@mixwell) said on 10th July 2013, 13:27

    if Merc are to get another testing permission then other teams should be given that extra 1000km run first

  13. Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 10th July 2013, 13:37

    Legally speaking, Mercedes ARE allowed to to test. Their punishment was a ban from the 3 day young drivers test. Any testing on new tyres with race drivers is NOT part of the young drivers test, therefore Mercedes are permitted to take part.

    I’m still of the opinion that Mercedes should have only got a reprimand. The Tribunal admitted that the test was undertaken in good faith. Every comment that has suggested reasons that it’s too lenient have relied upon people not believing that Mercedes acted in good faith, or not believing the level of benefit they gained. I would have assumed that rational people rely on more than just blind belief when deciding punishments.

    Regardless I don’t see how the FIA can’t stop them attending the tyre testing. That wasn’t their punishment.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 10th July 2013, 22:35

      @fluxsource

      Any testing on new tyres with race drivers is NOT part of the young drivers test

      I think if you look at how the FIA has changed the rules you’ll realise that’s not the case.

      • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 10th July 2013, 22:41

        Absolutely correct, oversight on my part.

        However, the principle of the point still stands. The test from which they were banned is now a different test to that which being carried out. As mentioned in the article, the severity of the punishment has now changed. Would Mercedes have appealed the decision had they know these details? My understanding is that the opportunity for appeal has now passed, therefore are unable to respond to this change of situation.

        I am not a lawyer by any means, but I would imagine that an independent court would struggle to uphold the ban in its current form given the changed circumstances.

        • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 12th July 2013, 14:48

          @fluxsource I would agree with that assessment. The moment it stopped being a proper YDT, it really gave Mercedes an opt-out. I am surprised Mercedes didn’t push it though (even when the FIA notified them of the change).

  14. Shrieker (@shrieker) said on 10th July 2013, 13:53

    They should be allowed only one dry day with their designated young driver. On safety grounds.

  15. Garns (@) said on 10th July 2013, 14:24

    2 thoughts:

    1) Didnt they get clearance from Charlie Whiting? I would have thought that Mercedes would have known the proper person (or people) that could authorise this testing (and Charles obviously is not one of them) so they played dumb and claimed they had done their due diligence. The fact (or aledged as I dont know) that Lewis tweeted saying he was elsewhere during the test AND that he wore another helmet design (maybe one of Vettel’s LOL) shows they thought this thing was questionable at all stages.

    2) You would hate to see a young gun miss out on an opportunity to show his F1 ability based on this penalty!!

    I agree that they needed to help Pireli with their tyre issues but Silverstone proved it did not help and I think the Mercs have won 2 races since – a competitive advatange no?? If they used the 2012 car then no issue, but as I have said before, I think Ross Brawn does his homework and has most of us covered in the grey matter department!

    Penalty?? I really dont know to be honest………………………..

    • MagillaGorilla (@magillagorilla) said on 11th July 2013, 6:46

      @garns didn’t you just contradict yourself you say Silverstone shows that the test didn’t help, but then say it did based on two wins. One of the wins was predicted by most people before the test was even heard about. Then you have Germany where they had their same tire woes before the Pirelli test. Also they probably still would have been in trouble for using the 2012 car.

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