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. James Goulding said on 10th July 2013, 21:26

    Yes, because otherwise Vettel is going to run away with the WDC again. The FIA should use its discretion in cases like this, to tip the balance against overly dominant teams. By harshly punishing Hamilton and Mercedes, they’re going to destroy most of the interest in the last seven or eight races. Bravo!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 10th July 2013, 22:25

      That would be a terrible reason to let them in. The decision should only be made on what the fair thing is to do, not on how it might affect the championship.

      • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 10th July 2013, 22:34

        Based upon the FIAs track record, I wouldn’t rely on that too much…

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

        the worst reason indeed.
        Anyway I don’t believe Vettel will “run away with the WDC” again… 2012 was not exactely a ‘cool ride’ for him.

        • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 12th July 2013, 14:52

          @spoutnik Oh, but Vettel is running away with it already. While Alonso and Raikkonen have scored roughly the same points as they did at this time last year, Vettel has score ~60 points more compared to this time last year.

          And given that development is split between 2013 and 2014, I think the other teams will find it difficult to outspend and outdevelop Red Bull.

          All that said, perhaps this is what Christian Horner wanted all along…

          • spoutnik (@spoutnik) said on 16th July 2013, 21:51

            the game is far from over I think. Let’s see what the new tyres can do. RB has indeed a relatively comfortable amount of points but who knows?

  2. Yes, because the tribunal cleared Mercedes.

    • celeste (@celeste) said on 11th July 2013, 3:52

      No, they were declared guilty. And they were guiven a pnishement. If they allow them to participate that will made the process a joke

      • Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 13th July 2013, 11:02

        The process is already a joke. We have an independent tribunal, who hand down a punishment, but the non-independent teams lobby the non-independent FIA to increase the effect of the penalty after is has been handed out.

        This situation is a bit like someone being offered a plea bargain – plead not guilty and you might get off, or you might get 2 years. Plead guilty and you will get 6 months. So fine, to avoid the risk of 2 years, they give up the fight, and admit the guilt. Then AFTER they are handed their 6 month prison term, they’re told “oh, due to strange weather conditions in Australia, we’re redefining a month to be 120 days long”. Why bother having the independent tribunal in the first place? Just leave it up to the FIA to come down on Mercedes like a ton of bricks in order to distract attention away from the fact the all this was caused by lack of clarity, poor planning and a total absence of internal communication in the FIA.

  3. Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 10th July 2013, 22:19

    People keep claiming that Mercedes already had their test, but they had a tyre test for the benefit of Pirelli and discussed this with the FIA.

    They didn’t know which tyres they were running. So it wasn’t a “test” in the normal sense.

    They proposed the YDT ban because they probably felt a punishment was needed to put an end to the ridiculous whinging from some (one) teams(s) and the YDT isn’t that important anyway.

    Now the test is changed into a YDT plus tyre test. Mercedes should at least be allowed to enter in the tyre test part.

  4. Obi-Spa Kenobi (@obi-spa-kenobi) said on 10th July 2013, 23:54

    I voted no opinion.

    I think they should be allowed to test and have the punishment changed to something else (i.e. loss of points, fines, restricted race weekend practices, etc)

  5. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 11th July 2013, 2:18

    Voted no, but not without thinking about the safety factor. What Keith said about having all the other teams testing the tires should provide enough data for this test makes sense to me. All teams, even Mercedes, will benefit from the YDT.

    Mercedes took a calculated risk by doing their test. They essentially requested their punishment and received it. Even though the YDT test has now changed some for reasons of safety, the punishment should still be served. This is the only hope of satisfying those who thought the punishment was too lenient. That way we should all be able to move on with the rest of the season. If Mercedes is allowed back in, we will all never hear the end of it and rightfully so.

  6. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 11th July 2013, 6:30

    Would I like them to be able to take part? Yes.

    Do I think they should be allowed to? No.

  7. coefficient (@coefficient) said on 11th July 2013, 11:55

    I vote yes just to see Horner throw up his liver when he hears the announcement.

  8. zvoni (@zvoni) said on 11th July 2013, 19:27

    Mercedes was banned from the Young Drivers Test. Forthcoming test is not in reality any more young drivers test. So FIA should let them participate this time and postpone the ban for the next occurrence of the YDT. That would be fitting, appropriate and within the letter and spirit of the verdict.

    • wsrgo (@wsrgo) said on 12th July 2013, 11:16


      FIA should let them participate this time and postpone the ban for the next occurrence of the YDT.

      If you really paid attention, you’d know that there’s no YDT from next year. So the question of the ‘next occurrence’ doesn’t arise here. Do we have to wait for the next batch of rule changes in F1 to punish Merc?

  9. Garns (@) said on 12th July 2013, 16:21


    No mate I dont think I contradicted myself but maybe I should elaborate.
    When I said it didnt help that the Mercs tested based on Silverstone my “they” referred to the whole F1 field- the drivers and teams as a whole and they did not benefit at all- the issue got far worse. It did not refer to the Mercedes F1 team alone.

    My 2 wins comments did refer specifically to IMO the Mercs got better from the test. If your “predicted win” mean Monaco (??) I thought the test was a few weeks before, not after.

    No real F1 fan (IMHO) can argue that the Mercedes Formula One Team COULD NOT benefit by this test. Any other premise I dont like , but thats F1 and thats fine. As I said before, RBR would if they saw it…………. but Ross is TOO much smarter!!

  10. Paul2013 said on 14th July 2013, 15:02

    Mercedes should participate, And the rest of teams should not be allowed to. To follow the rules is for dumbs.

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