Earlier today, the FIA’s international tribunal reached a decision over ‘tyregate’, the scandal which erupted after Mercedes AMG performed a three-day 1,000km tyre test – organised by F1’s tyre supplier Pirelli – following last month’s Barcelona GP.
The tribunal opted to apply a ban on Mercedes attending this year’s young driver test (Silverstone from 17-19 July), and for costs of the tribunal to be shared equally between Mercedes, Pirelli and the FIA.
This implies that the FIA were in some way responsible for agreeing (in principle) that Mercedes and Pirelli could test using a 2013 car.
During yesterday’s hearing, Mercedes argued that “..if their test was illegal so was one done a few weeks previously by Ferrari with a 2011 car.”
Mercedes’ counsel Paul Harris presented their argument “We argue their [Ferrari] car followed substantially with the regulations…”
“There was only half [a second] difference between the 2011 cars and 2013 [Ferrari] cars, showing the changes between 2011 and 2013 are minuscule in terms of performance.”
His argument was based on a strict interpretation of article 22 which states that no competitor in the championship is allowed to test a car which ‘conforms substantially’ with the current rules.
It clarifies this as “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.”
Harris said “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.”
As you would imagine Ferrari’s spokeshorse naturally sees things differently..
Officially, Ferrari has never been in the habit of commenting on verdicts.
However, as you all know, the Horse Whisperer is a free spirit who sums up the mood of millions of fans, especially when certain incidents get him worked up.
Have you ever faced accusations in a tribunal? It’s never happened to the Whisperer thank goodness, but it can’t be pleasant. But today we learned, that even if one is guilty and in this case that is an indisputable and verified fact, there is always a way of muddling through as best one can. One only has to suggest to the judge what the penalty should be and even better, why not make it something light like a rap across the knuckles.
It is somewhat perplexing to say the least to see that the guilty party can get away virtually scot free for having derived “an unfair sporting advantage.” Don’t tell me that testing for three days on your own at the Catalunya circuit is the same as doing so with nine other teams at Silverstone with a host of young hopefuls at the wheel, in an area where the weather can still be changeable even in the height of summer. And what if this whole incident had taken place after the young driver test, what would have been the penalty then? Would they have been forbidden from holding an end of year dinner?
In one sense then, it’s a bit like when a ghost goal is scored against you and isn’t disallowed and then your opponents are incorrectly awarded a penalty, which has no effect on the result, incidents which both the English and the Germans ought to remember well, don’t you think? It’s not something that can be remedied with a penalty in the next game…
The way things are going in Formula 1 at the moment is becoming boring: you make a mistake, you race with an illegal component, but then you are told to just change it for the next race and we’ve seen what we’ve seen…
All this reminds the Whisperer that if he ever finds himself running a Formula 1 team in the near future and that he gets off to a difficult start to the season, then all it needs is to organise a nice week of testing at the right moment and then maybe have to skip a later session, by which time, everything could be done and dusted. What do you reckon?
PS: Oh, and to those who jabber on about transparency and credibility, the Whisperer would remind them that the rules are very clear: you cannot test with a car from the current year. With those that are at least two years old, you can run when you like, where you like, with any driver you like, dressed how you like, inviting who you like.