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?


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”.


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.

Should Mercedes be allowed to participate in the Young Drivers' Test?

  • Yes (28%)
  • No (69%)
  • No opinion (2%)

Total Voters: 494

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

  1. Merv (@) said on 10th July 2013, 14:28

    Wasn’t last weekends race on an interim tyre that nobody had run on before the weekend?
    Were they moaning about the tyres safety when Hamilton was on pole?

    They aren’t concerned about safety, they’re concerned about a sporting disadvantage, which frankly they’ve invited.

    Redbull, Ferrari and Lotus will put enough load through the tyre at Silverstone to rule out any safety concerns.
    Merc will have nothing to worry about on “safety” grounds.

  2. Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 10th July 2013, 14:29

    Even though I like mercedes , there is no question of them participating . There has to be justice .

  3. Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 10th July 2013, 14:30

    My other concern with this is that it wasn’t the FIA who handed out the punishment. It was an independent tribunal. Regardless of whether you think the punishment was lenient or not, the FIA have made changes which effectively change the severity of the punishment. How can that be allowed?

    • KeeleyObsessed (@keeleyobsessed) said on 10th July 2013, 17:09

      @fluxsource As has been well documented, the FIA are not changing the YDT to punish Mercedes further. This was done to give the teams meaningful time on the new style tyres to be used the rest of the season. Mercedes are banned from the test, but the IT never imposed anything on the FIA to maintain the nature of the test (Because they can’t, as they’d have been in trouble if Silverstone happened).

      Mercedes suggested the punishment, that’s what they’ve got. The way it’s turned out has meant that Mercedes have received a worse punishment than they expected, but that can’t be blamed on anyone as no-one knew what was to happen..

      • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 10th July 2013, 19:16

        @keeleyobsessed I wasn’t suggesting that the FIA have done it to deliberately disadvantage Mercedes. Simply that the tribunal had independently decided a level of punishment that was appropriate, and that level of punishment has now been changed.

        Whether or not Mercedes suggest the punishment is also irrelevant. Mercedes simply made a suggestion that the IT agreed with.

        Additionally, any tyre testing with race drivers falls outside the rules of the YDT, therefore the IT ban does not apply. Mercedes shouldn’t even need to ask permission.

    • spoutnik (@spoutnik) said on 11th July 2013, 11:00

      I am glad with how this punishement turned to be finally.
      I have the same concern. This modification to the YDT should have been part of the judgement. Doing it afterwards is not normal and the punishment (too light at first imo but thats not the point) has changed of nature and in total opacity (outside of the tribunal decision). Dangerous, as Keith said.

  4. Tomsk (@tomsk) said on 10th July 2013, 14:36

    “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.”

    moans Lewis, while violins play in the background.

    Get out there on Friday morning then. You know, that practice session when you just sit in the garage instead of giving paying fans something to watch. Even if the track’s “green” and you need to save tyres, and all the other lame excuses, it’s still the same Hungaroring that you’ll be racing on, so far more relevant than driving around Silverstone.

  5. DaveW (@dmw) said on 10th July 2013, 15:05

    Changing the rules and purpose of the test have increased Mercedes’ penaly, after the fact, without additional process. So it is not in fact fair to MB. What if they got a fine in dollars and then later were told they had to pay the same figure but in GBP? Allowing them back into the (new) test, however, would swing the imbalance the other way. The FIA have made a mess of things here.

  6. MarkM (@mpmark) said on 10th July 2013, 15:17


    what ever Mercedes say now (we need to test for the safety of our car) is bull! They are far more interested in developing the performance of their car then the safety part. Pirelli has more then enough teams to test, mercedes not being there for them is not going to change anything.
    They had their secret test, shut up mercedes and go sit in the corner and whine.

    It shows you after a secret test of cheating they are still struggling with their car after germany, they suck.

    • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 10th July 2013, 19:45

      It shows you after a secret test of cheating they are still struggling with their car after germany, they suck.

      @mpmark Or perhaps it shows you they were telling the truth when they said it was a Pirelli run test and got very little data from it? See how the same piece of evidence supports two different views – the dividing line being simply gut feeling. Not really something to base a punishment on, is it?

      • MarkM (@mpmark) said on 10th July 2013, 20:32

        I suppose you think Ross Brawn has a kind heart to spend “useless” money to only help Perelli and learn nothing from the test? yes this is why it was “hush hush, why there was no FIA representative on site to watch what they were testing, why the race drivers wore standard helmets? I could keep going.

        Did they not reluctantly mention in the inquiry that they “did” learn something?

        you need to live in the real world, there is no such thing as kindness in F1, it is a brutal battle to be on top. Every team will try to cheat if it gets the chance. Mercedes got caught this time, they need to pay…enough said.

        • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 10th July 2013, 20:40

          @MarkM And yet again we have another post assuming that their own view is the only one.

          Yes, some benefit was gained. That – all sides have acknowledged – was unavoidable. What hasn’t been established is how much benefit. Nor what Mercedes motives for joining the test were. You – like many others – have jumped to a conclusion without a shred of evidence.

          There have been reasons offered by Mercedes and Pirelli as to why the drivers wore helmets not in their usual colours. Whatever your beliefs on the matter, there has been NO evidence of any other reason. As for the “hush hush” nature, Ferrari have already set the precedent that tyre testing with Pirelli is private. Twice.

          As for living in the real world, I do, thank you very much. I’m well aware that it’s cut throat community, striving to be the best. But I also remember a number of teams offering support to Williams after their pit fire. So perhaps, while your Machiavellian view could be correct, it’s certainly not the only possibility. And without evidence, hard to support.

          The punishment handed to Mercedes – what they need to “pay” if you like – was missing three days of the YDT. Not missing a tyre test. Enough said.

  7. Umar Majid (@um1234) said on 10th July 2013, 15:32

    They want to be in the TEST? Wait, first they got away with a punishment that was so lenient. They should be happy they got away with it, many were expecting a lot worse
    They gained a clear advantage and won 2 races after the test, now they want to be in the test. Someone give em a kick up the backside. Shouldn’t have cheated in the first place
    If they were allowed, it would be an illegal tyre test and their punishment was a reprimand. Which would be fundamentally wrong

  8. Yoshisune (@yobo01) said on 10th July 2013, 15:58

    No. The kevlar structure has been used for the past two years, the teams know how it works and it shouldn’t be a problem as far as safety is concerned.

    The other point that Mercedes is raising is the fairness of the test. I’m actually surprised to read Hamilton’s view on this, because they were the first to gain an unfair advantage. Now everyone will catch up. It seems fair, to me.

  9. Mads (@mads) said on 10th July 2013, 16:16

    Of cause they shouldn’t.
    They, themselves proposed not to take part in the young driver test. They got the penalty that they wanted. Now the conditions around that test has changed, but who knows, it might end up raining anyway. It was a gamble that they took, and they lost, so far…
    What Merc seems to be forgetting is that they were punished for doing something illegal. A punishment isn’t about evening out the advantage. It’s supposed to be a punishment.
    A bank robber isn’t just told, if he would be so kind, to put the money back in the vault again.
    Because then he would try again tomorrow, and the day after that.
    They have to make sure that it doesn’t pay off.
    The punishment at first, was just that, telling the bank robber to put the money back.
    Now Merc actually has to pay for their crime.
    That they then start to talk about fairness is just ridiculous.
    Is it ‘fair’ to give a driver a drive through for speeding in the pitlane? “but I only gained two tenths, now I have to pay with 20 seconds! sob sob sob”, yeah well, don’t break the rules next time kid.

  10. Laminator (@laminator) said on 10th July 2013, 16:37

    I voted NO… Clearly Mercedes has their test and lets not forget, the test was for 3 days, and we still are not clear if they tested their own parts…

    FIA declared the upcoming test after informing Mercedes that they would not be allowed to participate and Mercedes accepted the same in the right spirit, don’t know why Lewis is so much troubled and vocal about it now, when he was mum during the Merc secret test…

  11. Calum (@calum) said on 10th July 2013, 16:57

    There should be a 4th day, and Merc should be allowed to test on 1 day since they were one of the teams to have a blowout.

  12. f1nairobi said on 10th July 2013, 17:35

    In my opinion, when MGP asked whitting if they could do the test, they knew it was illegal to do it, so they wanted some sort of legal loophole in order to gain an unfair advantage. They also knew the furore it’d cause thus they never told anyone and even tried to hide the identity of their drivers, I remember reading LH tweeting that he was in Miami. They new they were doing wrong but they also knew they had an email they could use to cover themselves.
    So for a company that would go to these length’s to gain an unfair advantage to then come out talking about the sport being unfair is just unbelievable. But again it’s not really MGP, it’s LH. Mr. I’m better than Murray. All he did was swing a racket, I actually had to master tires, turn a steering, learn how to break n build a F1 car all by myself.

  13. Hamilton added “in a sport everything should just be equal

    That makes their Barcelona test unfair for the others. If Hamilton thinks it’s unfair for them not to be on the YDT, it’s just making it even
    And about safety grounds, the tyres have been changed for good safety now, so I don’t se how Pirelli could bring a tyre that it’s unsafe only for them. Impossible, or it’s fragile for all or it’s safe for all, and that is not going to depend on Mercedes being banned this time or not.

  14. Jimmy Hearn (@alebelly74) said on 10th July 2013, 19:16

    Brawn is absolutely shameless

  15. crr917 (@crr917) said on 10th July 2013, 21:04

    Yes if the rest of the teams get 3 more days alone with Pireli

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