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Join Grace and me as we welcome our newest F1B staff member Mark McArdle (@charlie_whiting) to review the International Tribunal decision regarding Mercedes, Pirelli and the FIA. What was the evidence before the panel? What did Mercedes and Pirelli say they were doing? Was the FIA wrong in their approval of the test? Who did and said what? What was the official decision of the Tribunal?

We cover it all in this special episode of the Formula1blog.com Podcast. We even have awards and predictions for the British Grand Prix.

Fashion award winners here, here and here.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • That was a lot of fun. Thanks again for having me on. I’m looking forward to our next one.

  • Rapierman

    1. So, is this the point where Bill Clinton asks what the definition of “is” is? :-P

    2.Can we please find someone who won’t “push the rules”? Like maybe….Jesus Christ….or maybe someone similar? I don’t think I’m asking too much here!

    3. Pirelli probably went too far. Sure, they were pushed by the FIA, but, still, they could have walked away from this. In fact, being the only supplier, they held more power than we ever thought about , and they could have said “Are you that stupide?” Quite frankly, the FIA was that stupid, and they were asking for something unreasonable, including Pirelli’s soul, for entertainment. Quite frankly, it ticks me off that the FIA asked what they did of Pirelli, but it ticks me off even more that Pirelli didn’t say “Not only no, but HECK NO!!” and just simply walked away from the table with their marketable reputation intact.

    4. Brawn is definitely one of those “snake oil salesmen” that I’d just as soon run out of town on a rail, but there you are.

    5. …and that’s understandable. If any one single person had been ask to participate, everyone else would have been screaming bloody murder.

    6. ….and that’s unfortunately true. Charlie has no such authority. The problem is that Charlie acted as if he had the authority, and that’s usually a bad idea that will bring the ire of those who do have that authority.

    7. I think it’s putting Pirelli in a no-win situation, and I don’t know anyone who likes a no-win situation.

    8. Jean Todt? Leadership? Seriously? That would be like asking the Pope to conduct an ancient Celtic hand-fastening ceremony.

    9. Yeah, it does kinda hamstring Charlie a bit. What’s his purpose if he’s got nothing to work with?

    10. If you run anything with any driver, engineer, etc., that person is going to learn something. To say otherwise is like saying that a human doesn’t have a brain, and that’s just not true.

    11. It sounds a lot like a “make whole” resolution. The question is….is that enough to “make whole”?

    12. But, really, if you take away the tribunal, who truly has jurisdiction? It’s an international body. I would think that the United Nations has something that works here.

    13. So, if you can’t change the tire to fix a safety issue, then what do you do?

    14. Truth be told, I wanted the Hand of God to come down and smite all three and have them be shown as an example of why one should never even come close to violating the rules. Of course, admittedly, I’d probably be the one to throw the switch that kills a criminal through lethal injection in front of enough witnesses to fill a football stadium, but that’s just me. I might be a bit of an idealist, but I was brought up to believe that the guilty are punished severely and the virtuous are held up as examples of how a life should be lived, and I’ve found that the human race falls way short of that standard at times. This, unfortunately, seems to be one of those examples of moral failure that is allowed to go away with nothing more than a scratch.

    15. S/O also to Matt Bell and Anthony Davidson, both participants at Le Mans.

    16. To be honest, I couldn’t tie one to save my life, and I’m short enough that I can get away with a clip-on.

    17. Kinda makes you want to punch that Horse Whisperer’s lights out. :P

    18. Time for a surprise in the British GP:

    1st: Hamilton
    2nd: Vettel
    3rd: Alonso

    FO: Perez

    • Interesting picks for British GP Paul. Very intriguing. Playing on the home race no doubt. Sense of British turf and all. :) home field advantage means something in the UK. They really support F1 well and especially British drivers.

      • Rapierman

        Actually, I was imagining the track with its straights and curves, and remembered that it was a bit of speed and technical, and I felt that, in some ways, it was like Austin. I remembered that Hamilton did well in Austin, and the Merc cars were right up there (illegal testing aside), so I figured that Hamilton would be right there, and I know that Vettel wouldn’t let him go without a fight, and I know that the Ferrari cars hadn’t done quite as well recently.

        But, yes, I acknowledge that the UK supports their drivers with a passion. ;-)

  • Jack Flash (Aust)

    1. Welcome to Mark aka FCW to the F1B podcast. Nice job. Enjoyed your insights and commentary in complement to the Todd and Grace dynamic duo.
    2. Thought the podcast covered the wrap up of the Tyre-gate saga and IT washup thoroughly and hit the right nails on the head. I don’t have anything more to add on it; and wish the Horse Whisperer had done likewise and — just let it go…
    3. Tie knots. I’ve worn ties all through school and for 25 years in professional worklife. I know tie knots, be they full-Windsor or half-Windsor varietis, very well. What I choose to highlight for NC here, is that not every tie can be knoted in full-Windsor format. Some ties are not cut out for it. Ties of short lead out tail, or ones made of particularly thick material layering, just will not provide the basis for a FW knot without producing rediculously bulky knots and stupidly short presentations. Some ties are only halfW capable. The trick is to spot the “proper tie design imposters” and leave them on the shop rack. That said, a well constructed halfW for the right tie cut for it can be well presented too.
    ps. Really hate that ‘dimple’ pinch that you speak of. A neat single convex knot transition is the coiture preference – and mine. JF

    • Yes, tie selection is critical. Look for yellow stripes in liner of tie. :) Dimple is classic and I am old school so I may not be caught with yarn tie and a single windsor. :)

      • MIE

        Well, it makes a change from Cheese and Wine :)

      • toogood2tell

        @NC – As someone who can tie a perfect double windsor, I can understand your irritation when people can’t tie a tie. I am OK if one doesn’t wear a tie and just wear jacket and leave the collar open. That still looks smart. But if one plans to wear a Tie, tie a double windsor knot.

        • toogood2tell

          forgot to brag this: As someone who can tie a perfect double windsor from the age of seven.

        • Who are you Vettel? Tribunal = tie. Equally, Winning the WDC at the F1 awards banquet = tie. :)

          • Toogood2tell

            I know you are very sensitive about the use of age related expressions, but I guess its the young thing.

            Here’s another superstar from another sport I follow:

            https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/p480x480/534099_178819602256736_1133990771_n.jpg

          • Toogood2tell

            And as I said, I can tie a double windsor, from the age of seven and have helped many people when they mess up the tie knot, and voluntarily many times, just like the man in question Whiting.

  • Oily Bo Hunk

    Good episode, glad to hear some perspective on tyre-gate, specifically when you all come at it from FIA’s rulebook perspective, manufacturers, and getting down to how this even impacts the Merc test driver. Kudos.
    From myself, the random oily fan perspective, I’m finding fan fatigue with all the “gates.”
    I’m pulled in different directions. A fan that wants to know the nuances of F1, and as a fan that grows weary from too much offtrack trials and tribunals. (none of this is a critique of F1B, this being a non-race weekend it was a good time to discuss the tribunal).
    Ultimately as the fan, it’s my choice how far I want to immerse myself in offtrack conflicts, and maybe it’s technology that makes it too easy to hear about these conflicts.
    I’m probably in the minority when it comes to Gate-Fatigue, maybe that means I’m not a very good fan of the sport. I’m not sure.
    Again F1B did a great job of discussing the viewpoints from different perspectives, without dissolving into rulebook legalese, but I hope the FIA (or whoever) can let us go through the remainder of the season with our eyes to the track, and not the courtroom.

    • Thx Oily mate. :)

    • You raise an important and often overlooked point for the less than obsessed fan: We don’t care. All the controversy around the various “gates” is uninteresting and fatiguing to the casual fan. I get frustrated by them because they usually start from some ill-conceived “trying to be too clever” perspective. But, with high stakes comes high risk.

      Thanks for the feedback.

      • I think this is a point we spoke to in the podcast before this one – I think it’s hard to find good critique of F1 beyond “Hamilton is good in the rain” or “That Michael Schumacher sure is fast” – It’s probably worse here in the States but I think its hard to find that kind of analysis aimed at smart fans who know what DRS is and don’t particularly care who Lewis Hamilton is dating.

  • toogood2tell

    Moral of the story: You can get away with murder as long as you ace the dimple on the Double Windsor knot.

    Rapier Man is correct when he writes CW does things he is not authorized to do, and then FIA has to flip flop to cover his repeat cockups. FIA and CW have to share the blame for

    Not clearly addressing ambiguity in the role of their FIA race director; and
    Doing things one is not authorized to do.

    In any other organization person would have had to resign for 2. and given bad press to the organization for 1.

    Lesson for Jean Todt:

    Its time to put on the tyrant robe and rule F1 with iron fist ala Max. The whole V4-V6 Turbo charged engine kerfuffle was a good indicator that FOM, FOTA, Privateers, and FIA can never work in harmoniously.
    Implement your pre-election agenda to appoint a F1 commissioner. This CW dabbling everywhere business has to stop. It’s time to make people accountable in F1 (which would be a new concept).

    • Tom Firth

      I guess we almost had that with FISA which was under the FIA in the 80’s before the FISA-FOCA war for power over the sport. Lets be honest it wasn’t much better back then with Balestre in terms of making people accountable.

    • A guy can achieve a lot in life by tying a double Windsor. ;)

      • Rapierman

        Did I mention my inability to tie anything? ;-(

    • Rapierman

      Sometimes, you have to be Machiavellian to make sure everyone straightens up and flies right. Not everyone goes through life with the right moral attitude, as I sometimes learn.

    • What specifically are you stating Charlie Whiting did without authorization? What ambiguity in his role as Race Director are you referring to?

      • Rapierman

        Did you not say that his role at that particular point in time was simply to “advise”? I don’t see the word “advise” implying in any way as to give legal permission to do anything, yet he acted like he had the full authority to give such permission. That usually doesn’t fly with most organizations.

      • Toogood2tell

        Having followed F1 for multiple decades now, I can list multiple instances where ambiguity in Whiting’s role has caused lots of embarrassment to FIA and frustration to the F1 followers.

        See my comments on your previous story. http://www.formula1blog.com/2013/06/12/private-test-public-headache/

        I’ve listed some examples in recent years. CW is incompetent and for mysterious reasons FIA has been carrying the dead weight. I’d be curious to know from an F1 insider, why Whiting and Blash have been tolerated by all concerned.

  • Did I ever share this old logo I did for F1B many moons ago?

    http://www.formula1blog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/f1b-tie-logo.jpg

    • Rapierman

      Nope, never saw that before.

    • I dunno. That logo looks like it says “fib”. That might send the wrong message!

      • cconf1

        *nod* That was it looked like to me at first glance (although the design is quite good otherwise).

  • warthog

    I believe Mark was wrong with regard to what the rules actually say about what can run, per Todd’s comment. As far as I can tell, this is what Article 22 says:

    “Any track running time not part of an event undertaken by a competitor entered in the championship, using cars which conform substantially with the current Formula 1 technical regulations in addition to those from the previous or subsequent year.”

    So, it’s certainly not as clear cut as saying “any car that isn’t from this year, last year or next year is okay to use.” It could easily be interpreted as “you can’t use ANY previous years car, no matter how old it is, if it does conform substantially to the current regs. And additionally, you can’t use a car from last year or next year, even if it doesn’t conform to the current regs).

    But, leave it to the FIA to maintain vagueness.

    • The word “substantial” is an important one. If there were no changes to the regs from year to year, then this would in theory restrict testing further to include the car that matched the regulations. But since we have had material changes in aero in recent years, this wouldn’t apply.

      But you make a good point.

      • Warthog

        But then it calls into question what “substantial” means. And of course, they don’t actually define it. I think there was a post on another thread where Todd said the FIA often seem to be intentionally vague. I think he’s right..for example, in banning the f-duct, they never said “f-duct’s are banned.” Instead, they just banned driver induced aerodynamic changes, and prevent people from building in areas where the previous f-duct hardware existed. And then Mercedes goes and builds a passive f-duct (never mind that it didn’t work so well, apparently).

        I assume the FIA does this so it can play fast and loose with it’s own rules, interpreting as it sees fit. It just bit them on the ass this time!

        • I do feel that being vague has helped the FIA avoid what most likely would have been a more embarrassing situation in prior issues. With all the smart people involved, I can’t help but think the rule are vague for a reason and I am willing to suggest that 80% of that reason is well founded but I do believe 20% leaves wiggle room for unknown incidents that may test more established, concrete rules.

          Now we are parsing words over “substantial” and what that actually means. Hell, you could argue that there isn’t a substantial difference between 21006 and 2013 regulations for crying out loud so where do you draw the line? You draw the line at a 2-year-old car just the rules specify. Merc is grasping at straws there.

          • warthog

            Well, yes, that’s the point. Without any definition in the rules, what the heck does it mean? Does it mean the difference between cars that are nearly identical with the exception of the blown diffuser, or does it mean the difference between cars with wide rear wings and grooved tires versus ones with narrow rear wings and slicks? I don’t know!

            But…I just don’t see how one can dismiss it…it’s one of the first and most prominent words in Article 22 as it’s written. And Brawn jumped on that, as rightly (IMO) they should have.

          • That’s another regulation that could use some defining. Seems easy enough to do over the last 5 years. Now 2014 is all new so can they test 2013 cars next year?

          • Rapierman

            I usually have issues with people using ambiguous terms. “Substantial” happens to be one of them. Then again, I’m the kind of person who prefers things to be precise so that questions like these can be avoided. Heck, I’d probably scream at the “Founding Fathers” for leaving the US Constitution so vague, good intentions or otherwise.

          • Warthog

            Todd-

            I would assume that, if the rule as written doesn’t change, you still wouldn’t be able to test with a 2013 car in 2014, since the prohibition against using a car from the previous year is in “addition” to the “substantially confirm part.”

            I agree that they really need to tighten that up. Someone should have taken a look at the regs for the previous few years and deciced that 20XX was the cut-off point for years you could test with. Who knows, maybe it’s just laziness. Because with the current rule, they didn’t have to update the wording each season.

            Rapierman-

            Keep in mind that the word “substantially” is actually written in the rules by the FIA. Brawn didn’t just pull it out of thin air.

          • Rapierman

            I realize that it didn’t come out of thin air. I just don’t like vague terms, even in the rules. :-P

  • Julian

    My first post of the week award, thanks, I am deeply honored.

    Although, this was clearly a serious post. Nearly 15% of the British population are currently employed by Mercedes F1, admittedly almost all of them are trying to figure out the org chart.

    • MIE

      I see you are aiming for two in a row.

  • Better4worse

    Been quite so many weeks, since I heard a full f1B podcast, glad I chose this one… the Tribunal review. What a colossal cock-up for FIA it was, they barely managed to wriggle out of the situation where the body itself was more to blame than anybody else.

    1. As for rants against Brawn, all I can say is he did the smart thing, where he found a loop-hole built a cover for it by checking with Charlie(who was in turn was smart enough to get FIA Legal into the loop) and went straight for it. The problem is, to many it isn’t being ‘righteous’, but then again….This.is.Spartaaaaaaa errr F1, where every advantage worth 1000th of a second matters!

    2. As for no punishment for Merc, FIA couldn’t have punished Merc without having to chop their own hands for giving Merc the comfort that ‘such a test was possible’! While one can argue that Mercedes did benefit from the test, there is no way one can quantify the quantum of advantage gained by Mercedes from the test, hence equally difficult to make a case for a more severe punishment for Merc. Add to that, any undue punishment to Merc would have sent wrong signals to Merc, (not just the AMG F1 team but also to the engine provider to 4 F1 teams in 2014). Lets just say, with such leverage and too much at play, Brawn & Co. basically had the FIA by the nuts, so much so that their lawyer even pre-empts the type, scope and quantum of punishment in the worst case scenario and thats exactly what they get.

    3. Word for Mark McArdle – Been following the fake charlie whiting on twitter handle for a while now, bytes are amusing to say the least. Wonderful to hear your thoughts through F1B on events, esp in hindsight. Some food for thought, how about we get Paul along with Grace and Mark on a podcast (goes without saying…Todd included).

    4. Horse Whisperer – One extremely frustrated Italian behind the pseudo-name !

    5. Horner @ RB Though one could argue that the too events are mutually exclusive, the fact that he recently got OBE , he certainly didn’t look too bright in the entire episode.

    6. Lauda – We didn’t discuss him much in the podcast did we or maybe I missed it ?. I think another fall out of this episode is that Brawn equity which has been on the UP since the last couple of podiums has just touched another high and conversely Lauda’s a new low. His last minute deal brokering act and worse off ..making the details public, just shows him in such poor light, especially with the way it turned out for Mercedes in the end. He seems more insecure than he should be as a part owner, too divisive an influence …definitely no team player.

    7. As for British GP, i’d say Vettel, Alonso & Kimi , Back to business as usual on the track, the big boys of F1 in a bunch return to the top (in that order)

    PS: Am I the only one who feels that Grace who got a little less airtime on this podcast ?

    • #3- Mark’s ace and I know he’s keen to join Paul and I as well for a podcast.

      As for Grace’s airtime, she’s very conscientious about podcasts when three or more are on the show. She always wants to make sure everyone is heard and it was not by design or rudeness that she had less airtime. Just how things came out and the commentary flowed. Not intentional.

      • Andreas

        Well, when one Mark goes missing, another one comes around… You and Paul do a stellar job on your own, but I must admit I still miss Hallam’s contribution to the stew that is the race reviews. So there’s a pair of shoes waiting to be filled. That said, I liked the race reviews that Grace did too (there were notes!!). But having four people on at the same time might make the podcast feel cluttered, and with each voice added, there’s less airtime for each. So three might be a good and happy medium after all.

        On another note – so, are we moving on from talking about tires to talking about ties? Good to see we’re staying focused :-)

        • Lol. Ties only come up once or twice a year. :) we miss Hallam too but he’s a busy boy it seems.

          Glad you like Mark M. He’s a terrific guy. Thx for all the support mate.

  • Makana

    Thanks Guys, enjoyed the Podcast as ever :) and Mark is a great addition indeed!

    I have a comment though, regarding the proportionality of Mercedes’ penalty.
    It’s true that not running the Young Drivers’ test is somehow (underlining somehow) similar to not running a “private” test with Pirelli BUT the issue is not about finding a fair replacement to the test, the issue is about Breaking the Rules.

    True that Mercedes are “trying” to say that they didn’t think they broke them, but we all agree that Mercedes’ defense was ridiculous and that they did in fact lie and break the rules in doing that test.
    The problem is FIA’s punishment is like a court letting a Mafia boss get away with a technicality, knowing he was guilty as charged. It encourages “interpretations” and be sure this is going to happen again; teams will take arguments like “undertaken by Pirelli” to court to defend their “interpretations” of the code.

    True also is that some communication with Whiting and Barnard was hinting to an OK on the test, but it was far form convincing or conclusive and Brawn worked with it as basis for the test. This is not a loophole, there’s clear bad intention here; knowing you are breaking the law and breaking it is not like finding a gap in the law and exploiting it.

    If a company finds out a manager was stealing money from them all year, they don’t tell him: “Bad boy, guess who’s not getting his bonus this tiiiime!”. Even is the bonus is the same amount he stole; he broke the law!
    They went undercover and broke the rules, this is a very negative message the FIA is sending here.

    And to finish, if it was to be a really proportional penalty; then the three days after Silverstone should be open testing for all the teams with their current drivers and cars; without Mercedes, who pays for the cost. Leave the young drivers’ test be. That’s proportional, in terms of knowledge. What about breaking the rules, what’s proportional to that? I would say their points up until now in the championship, of half of them… But something!… to deter future shananigans like that.

  • Ab345

    Fell behind a couple of podcasts. Just wanted to say a note about MotoGP, as great as it is and the characters, the WSBK race at Monza (5 hours broadcast on beinsport) is just epic, raw racing; very close quarters down the grid all race; taking big risks. Amazing stuff. Well worth your time.