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Mercedes testimony:

It has been an interesting first day of testimony at the International Tribunal as Mercedes and Pirelli state their cases in defense of a private test after the Spanish Grand Prix. The test included a 2013 chassis with both Mercedes drivers wearing plain, black helmets that the team says they regret but claim it had its reasons:

“We regret now the decision of our drivers to wear black helmets… we regret it and we apologise.

“We had our reasons – it was about the lack of bodyguard and security personnel. We do acknowledge that this part of the test aroused suspicions and it is regrettable.”

Mercedes claimed they did ask the FIA’s Charlie Whiting about the test but the FIA’s legal representative, Mark Howard, made it clear that race director Whiting is not in a position to approve such a test as that has to be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council.

“Whether or not Whiting consented, it is irrelevant, because testing in relation to Article 22 is a breach, unless it [a rule change] is granted by the World Motor Sport Council,” he said.

Brawn wasn’t completely convinced of the process saying:

“Charlie is the go-to reference for all the sporting matters, particularly when at a race track because there are numbers of issues that come up on a race weekend, and Charlie deals with them as race director.

The FIA pressed the Mercedes team boss on whether they benefitted from the test in a way that would have given the team an advantage. Brawn categorically denied that they did but when pressed, admitted that running a current chassis for any length of time is a benefit:

“I think that is unavoidable, and was a consideration taken into account when we had permission from the FIA to do the test. But it does need to be kept in proportion.”

Mercedes feel they’ve done nothing wrong but Red Bull and Ferrari have a differing opinion of the situation. In a bit of a twist, Red Bull’s team boss Christian Horner appeared at the hearing and it is unknown whether he will testify or is present as an observer.

Perhaps the most key evidence offered by Mercedes was the commets made by FIA  legal advisor Sebastian Barnard when queried by FIA’s Charlie Whiting about the test being ran by Pirelli and not Mercedes:

‘Yes, we could take this position, it is not an undertaking from the competitor’.

Mercede also offered a defense that implicated Ferrari for their test after the Bahrain Grand Prix. Ferrari ran a 2011 chassis with their test driver Pedro de la Rosa. Article 22 states:

“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.”

Mercedes suggested a parsing of words and argued that a 2011 chassis substantially conforms to the current chassis specification:

“Our position is if we are wrong on interpretation of what [article] 22 means and there was track running by us, such as we are in breach, it follows that Ferrari were also in breach.

“They ran their car on track and we argue their car followed substantially with the regulations… I put the marker down.

“It does not follow that if Ferrari runs on track a 2011 car, that that 2011 car does not confirm substantially to either the 2012 or 2013 regulations.

“There was only half [a second] difference between the 2011 cars and 2013 cars, showing the changes between 2011 and 2013 are minuscule in terms of performance.”

Pirelli testimony:

For Pirelli’s part in the private test, they offered a different testimony that was a more aggressive position draped in befuddlement:

“Pirelli cannot understand the disciplinary action,” said Pirelli’s lawyer Dominique Dumas. “Pirelli is only acting with the rights it was given by the FIA.

“We are unable to understand the disciplinary process. Ferrari and Red Bull have confirmed that they have no grievances against Pirelli, and it is also impossible to understand the procedure.

“The claims are unfounded because it has been recognised that Pirelli has not violated the code.”

As evidence of their position outside of FIA regulatory discipline, Pirelli offered the 2009 hearing against former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore for his role in the infamous “Crashgate” saga:

“In the framework of the case, FIA versus Flavio Briatore, an expert gave his opinion that the FIA, under French law, could have jurisdiction for sporting matters and statutes, but no jurisdiction or sanctioning power on people who have not accepted to comply with the regulations.”

The FIA feel that Pirelli are, to the contrary, bound to the regulations as Mark Howard claimed:

“We suggest it is clear that Pirelli are to be bound by the regulations – the F1 Sporting Regulations and the International Sporting Code,” he said.

Pirelli feel that the only restitution the FIA have in the matter against the Italian tire maker is in Civil court as they are not a competitor or FIA member.

 

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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.
  • F1_Knight

    What a farce. This has gone so far out of control. Its just embarrassing.

    • nofahz

      Agreed. Even the FIA looks sloppy in all of this

  • MIE

    So, Mercedes are not guilty because they did not undertake the test – Pirelli did. Pirelli are not guilty because they do not come under the jurisdiction of the FIA. Ross Brawn out of the kindness of his heart asked Charlie Whiting to confirm the test would be OK if Pirelli ran it, which he did.

    So when the verdict comes tomorrow, will it be Charlie who is found guilty?

    • JackFlash(Aust)

      Hang on there MIE… back up on that first line there?
      Mercedes may suggest this abdication of testing control, but that is not the thread of Pirelli’s commentary.

      As far as I can ascertain from interviews leading into the Tribunal Hearing (my opinion, not confirmed fact):
      Pirelli did not “run” the Test to the demands of FIA distinction. The full requirements of test control, staffing and data isolation set forth by the FIA was not undertaken by Pirelli to isolate Mercedes from advantage. Mercedes was driving the logistics of the test, and the technical personnel to run it, whilst Pirelli was simply setting the test scenarios and allocating unknown tyre prototypes to the Mercedes team for their CURRENT drivers to run on the test track for a 1000km in total.

      Where does Mercedes get to wriggle out of responsibility (joint responsibility with Pirelli perhaps at best) of substantially RUNNING these tests in Spain?

      The first casualty of putting a group of lawyers into a room to argue sides, is ‘clarity of truth’. JF

      • MIE

        Sorry for the confusion Jack, I was just paraphrasing the defendants’ arguments.

        I do worry about the consequences of any significant penalty for either defendant.

        • JackFlash(Aust)

          I now understand. You were doing a synopsis of the ‘defence lawyer-speak’ being put forward in the FIA Tribunal proceedings.

          Apologies for my reaction.

          However, in any case, F1B readers should also keep in mind here in such synopsis that just because a defence lawyer professes a “whiter than snow” position on behalf of their client in a judiciary setting – rarely means he has not been creative with truths, and liberal with self-blinded interpretations of the standing legislation – all to the benefit of their arguments (however tenuous). The law equivalent of kicking dust into the prosecution’s eyes, whilst making as much distracting kerfuffle as possible. Particularly, if the defendant bench knows they have no case of reasonable defence to work with.

          Cheers mate. JF

  • nofahz

    Great job on the summary btw. Everything I’d read through the morning was in dribs and dabs as things broke

    • No worries. AUTOSPORT and Sky did a great job of covering the play-by-play actions and I have linked all those stories in the summary.

  • Andy

    You blokes have not heard that M/B suggested that they cancel their next 3 day test to make up for their flagrant violation of the rules. Those 3 day just happen to be the “young driver ” test days – THE ONLY 3 DAYS OF THE YEAR THESE YOUNG ( often lower formula champions ) GUYS CAN DRIVE AN F1 CAR. How popular do you think m/b are going to be in the Pitlane now ? I THINK THAT WITH THAT ATTITUDE THEY SHOULD BE THROWN OUT OF F1.

  • Andreas

    SkysportsF1 just posted this:

    “Decision of the International Tribunal

    The Tribunal, after having heard the parties and examined their submissions, decided that:

    Mercedes be reprimanded;
    Mercedes be suspended from participating in the forthcoming “three day young driver training test”;
    Pirelli be reprimanded.
    and rejected all other and further conclusions.”

    So… I suspect Mercedes won’t be appealing, but where does this leave Pirelli, considering their position in regards to the hearing as such?

    • Andreas

      Official FIA press release:

      “The FIA duly notes the decision handed down today by the FIA International Tribunal against Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team and Pirelli Tyres.

      This decision follows (i) the disciplinary proceedings instigated by the FIA, on the basis in particular of the report by the Stewards of the Monaco Grand Prix, forwarded to the FIA following the two protests made by Scuderia Ferrari Team and Red Bull Racing respectively, and (ii) the hearing that took place yesterday before the International Tribunal with the participation of all the parties concerned.

      The FIA wishes that lessons are learnt from this case and from the decision handed down. To this end, the FIA will make sure, in association with all F1 teams, that its control of the testings is strengthened.

      It is recalled that the notification of the FIA International Tribunal’s decision opens to each of the parties concerned the possibility of bringing an appeal against this decision before the FIA International Court of Appeal within 7 days.”

      Tribunal full report here: http://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/news/files/(IT-2013-01)-Decision%20(EN).pdf

      • JackFlash(Aust)

        Link to PDF of FIA Tribunal Report doesn’t work directly.

        Try Media Release webpage for IT first.
        http://www.fia.com/international-tribunal-0

        Then use hyperlink to PDF report at bottom of page to get the full report to pop-up (or download it). Cheers JF

        ps: Take the time to read through the whole IT report. There is a lot of interesting ‘to and fro’ and evidence banter to go through. The Report gets interesting post Section 33.

        pss: If you don’t feel like doing that, just concentrate on: The FIA, Pirelli and Mercedes positions in Section 34, 35 and 36 respectively. Section 37-39 “FIA Responses” to Mercedes and Pirelli presented positions is very telling. Section 40 is pretty blunt in “FIA Findings” Makes you wonder why FIA Sanctions and Costs in Section 41 and 42 are quite tame/lame considering the IT findings. POLITICS…. and scared of a proper penalty maybe prompting Pirelli and Mercedes to walk away from F1, I bet.

        • MIE

          Section 36 is interesting for the list of people who presented evidence for Mercedes. It includes Jason Button. Now, ignoring the typo, did the Tribunal mistake Nico Rosberg for Jenson Button, or is there a Jason Button working at Mercedes?

        • Andreas

          I noticed the link got parsed wrongly, but couldn’t go back and edit the post. If you copy the entire line (including the .pdf part) and paste it into the browser, it’ll work.

          Jason Button? It would make sense to have Nico Rosberg in that list (if Lewis gave a statement, I’d expect Nico to do so too). But a double fault – both confusing Nico with Jenson, and then spelling the name wrong…? Or maybe Jenson has a lesser known relative working for Mercedes? :)

          • MIE

            The FIA have a history of getting peoples names wrong. In the hearing following the Ferrari barge board scandal, Ross was referred to as Dr Braun throughout the minutes. It took me quite a while to realise who they meant.

            Malaysia 1999 for those who want to search for it.

          • JackFlash(Aust)

            LOL. “Dr. Braun”
            As in the long lost English relation of ‘Wernher von Braun’ the German/US rocket scientist.

            Surely the offices of the FIA headquarters in Paris, cannot be that incompetent? Names stated in official reports (judiciary or otherwise) are sort of important to get right. YOU’D THINK! JF

          • dom

            lol, well he does has a Doctor of engineering degree, but then again it is honorary… prob more lazy then incompetent