Mercedes and Pirelli escape severe sanctions
FIA ruling mirrors that suggested by F1 team’s legal counsel at Thursday’s hearing
Mercedes GP have been reprimanded and banned from Silverstone event for young drivers after tyre testing with Pirelli. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Mercedes have also been banned from competing in the forthcoming young driver test session to be held at Silverstone on July 17th-19th, the world governing body confirmed in a statement.
Friday’s announcements came the day after a specially convened International Tribunal sat in session for over six hours to determine whether Mercedes and Pirelli violated F1’s sporting regulations during the Barcelona tyre test held between May 15th-17th.
A statement on behalf of the tribunal read: “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.”
The verdict fits precisely with the recommended punishment set out by Mercedes’ legal counsel Paul Harris QC during Thursday’s hearing.
“It is a three-day test, and it is a car test over which teams have full control and teams know everything about the tyres and cars,” he said of the Silverstone young-driver session. “If we are in this territory then it is open to the International Tribunal to impose exclusions from events that are under FIA jurisdiction, and the young driver test is that.”
The judgement also appears to have steered F1 clear of any potentially choppy waters, with heavy sanctions for either Mercedes or Pirelli likely to have brought with them wider ramifications.
It has been reported Mercedes’s largest group of shareholders would have sought to urge the company to quit F1 in the event of a severe punishment, while Pirelli was facing an uncertain future with its deal to continue to supply tyres to the series in 2014 and beyond still to be finalised.
The FIA, which called for the tribunal to rule on the matter following a protest from Red Bull and Ferrari ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, responded to the verdict in a separate statement in which the body expressed hope that lessons can be learned.
It read: “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.”
While the right of appeal is open to both, it seems unlikely either will elect to go down that route - particularly Mercedes, who had been at the mercy of a range of sanctions, from a fine through to a points deduction, race bans or even exclusion from the world championship.
Mercedes were brought before the hearing on suspicion they contravened the FIA’s ban on in-season testing by using their current car and regular drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the 1,000-kilometre test organised by Pirelli - Formula One’s sole tyre supplier - at the Circuit de Catalunya last month.