Red Bull and Ferrari protest Mercedes over tyre test

2013 Monaco Grand Prix

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Red Bull and Ferrari have launched a protest against Mercedes following the team’s tyre test after the Spanish Grand Prix.

“We’ll feel it’s not in line with the rules so that’s why we’ve protested before the race irrelevant of what the outcome of the race is,” said team principal Christian Horner. “We just want clarity.”

“I think it’s important to be brought to a head. I don’t think we’re probably the only team to that feels that way but I think that’s just the situation.”

“It’s not Pirelli’s fault. I think Pirelli need to sort their situation out. The problem is the manner in which this has been dealt with has not been right.”

Mercedes’ non-executive director Niki Lauda said Mercedes sought and obtained permission from the FIA to conduct the test. However the FIA Sporting Regulations forbid testing during the season.

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn explained: “We were approached by Pirelli and asked about a tyre test. They were very concerned about some of the problems they were having recently. They didn’t feel the car they’d been using was representative.”

“Within their agreement with the FIA there’s a provision to ask any team to do a 1,000km tyre test. We ran that past the FIA, made sure they were happy with it, and they were. And we conducted the test after the race in Barcelona.”

“We didn’t know – when you do a Pirelli test you get codes, you don’t know what they tyres are. Each day there was a batch of tyres, we still don’t know what the conclusions from that are.”

Brawn denied the test was used to test new parts on the W04 and said they did not attempt to keep it a secret from the other teams:

“I don’t think it was secretive. While we were setting up to do the test all the other teams were still there. Why didn’t they see that our trucks weren’t going home. There was no attempt to make it a secret test.”

“It’s up to Pirelli to inform people if they wish to conduct a tyre test. It’s not our responsibility to advise people. So there was no attempt to make it secret.”

The FIA stewards confirmed the details of the hearing as follows:

“Protests have been lodged by Infiniti Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari concerning an alleged breach of Article 22.4 h) of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.

“Both teams allege that the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team has conducted three days of track testing using a 2013 car on the 15th, 16th, 17th of May in Barcelona, i.e. between the period which precedes the start of the first Event of the championship and 31st December of the same year.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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63 comments on “Red Bull and Ferrari protest Mercedes over tyre test”

  1. And it begins.

  2. I seem to recall that when pirelli were requesting a new test car from the teams, none of them stepped up and provided one – this is the result of that.

  3. Would Red Bull be this upset if any team other than Mercedes – the only team to have out-qualified them in Monaco – had been party to the tests?

    1. @prisoner-monkeys If that team had been Ferrari or Lotus, definitely. As it is there are reports Ferrari did such a test after Bahrain which only seem to have come to light now.

      1. Difference is ferrari used the 2011 f150

        1. I thought they used F10 of 2010

          1. Scratch that, they used 2010 ferrari

          2. Yes my mistake sorry, typing in a rush

        2. According to who?

          1. i was thinking the same as the guys but according to Autosprint Ferrari has denied doing such a test after the Bahrain GP and one of the possible teams is Red Bull themselves
            Another news: Helmut Marko is looking for Stefano Domenicali now at the Ferrari motorhome

    2. Mercedes has tested the Pirelli with their current F1 car, which gives them an unfair advantage regarding their rivals , i mean if this test was legal why kept it secret, maybe they were having updates on their car, the decision to protest is the right thing to do, not because Vettel could win the race if the 2 Mercedes were excluded but because this is maybe an infringement to the regulation and i’m sure that they would have done the same if it was Lotus or Ferrari
      BTW the other team that is rumored to have tested the Pirelli tyres is Ferrari after the Bahrain GP with their 2010 spec-car

      1. I understand that Mercedes did not gather any data from the test though.

        1. Which would you prefer—to get the data from a test with the old car, or test your new car and not get the data? I’d much prefer the former. But still its advantage to run your car at any time with the testing ban. It’s a pretty major loophole in the ban.

  4. It’s really unfair from FIA point of view. I hear that Mercedes were testing next years tyres, so they could’ve get very valuable information. I would ban Mercedes for 2 races, that would be the most appriate way in dealing with this situation.

    1. so after having got permission from the fia a team should be banned by them? that makes no sense at all

      1. FIA should be banned :P

        1. Best comment so far

      2. yes, it was a Mercedes issue, because the rules say they cannot use the 2013 F1 car

        1. @aandrewaa

          However, having read the article, you would know that they got permission from the FIA, due to arrangements made between the FIA and Pirelli.

          Now what we should talk about is, does this give Mercedes an advantage, and, has anyone done something wrong?

          Keeping in mind, that Monaco is not representative of a typical race track and that it has significantly reduced tyre wear compared to other tracks. There for, Mercedes was always going to do well.

          1. we are not arguing about monaco gp, but about F1 RULES, that say are not possible this kind of tests during the season (article 22); Pirelli, according to FIA, can elude article 22 regulation only for safety issues, something didn’t happen in this occasion. Ergo, Mercedes made unallowed test during the season… but will never be penalized for sure, don’t worry ;)

      3. ChimpSafari
        26th May 2013, 16:49

        +1 for common sense

  5. Paul Hembery : “Absolutely not, no. Because it’s no relevance to what’s happening here. It’s completely regular in that we are allowed to do 1000 kilometre of tyre testing with any team. In the World Rally Championship contract it’s exactly the same. We can do it with a representative car. We’ve done it before with another team and we’ve asked another team to do some work as well.”

    To be fair, it only makes sense to ask the team with the highest tyre degradation to conduct such a test. Just about everyone’s complaining about tyres, Pirelli WANT to improve but are left no room to test anything. Yes they were handed a 4 year old Renault, less relevant with every race weekend that passes by.

  6. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    26th May 2013, 12:37

    I dont see why there should be any repercussions from this.

    As far as I can tell, Mercedes have done nothing wrong. Pirelli approached them after the Spanish GP and asked them to test some tyres because they’re worried about the delamination of these current tyres.

    The tyres weren’t marked so Mercedes didn’t know which tyres they were testing, and they weren’t allowed to upgrade their car because Pirelli required a constant car.

    Niki Lauda said to SkyF1 that the FIA confirmed that this was leagal.
    Also, i dont know why Christian Horner is claiming that it was a “secret” test, when all the other teams were still there packing up, and could’ve seen that Mercedes weren’t leaving just yet.

    Just seems like a bit of Red Bull mischief before the race to try and distract Mercedes from the race at hand.

    1. @tophercheese21 My bff has a weird policy, when she knows she is doing something wrong she doesn´t speak about it.

      Paul Hembery, Nico and Hamilton, the 20 Mercedes bosses had all do interviews during the weekend and none has mention the testm they new they were in the wrong.

      1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        26th May 2013, 14:16

        But how can they be in the wrong if the FIA confirmed that it was a legal test that Pirelli is allowed ask one of the teams to do a 1000km test?

        1. @tophercheese21 So why hide it? Every time Pirelli has test there is media and they talk about it… During any of the briefings PH could have say “we directed a test with Mercedes to test the safety of the tyres”… but they didn´t say nothing…
          They knew that this will bring trouble and that it could help Mercedes so they keep it secret… I could that dirty

          1. @celeste

            Who hid it? The FIA is the one who keeps the rules, not the other teams.

          2. @mike read @aandrewaa ´s comment, they both knew that they were doing somehing wrong. Mercedes by running his 2013 car and Pirelli allowed it… both did wrong and it´s show that Pirelli is biased… I can´t wait for the moment they are out of F1

          3. @celeste

            How does it show they are Biased? Why would they be? It looks like Pirelli had a deal with the FIA to be able to test with a current car, which you can understand, given the amount of difficultly in building an F1 tyre.

            Why did they pick Merc? I don’t know. But I don’t think not knowing that is enough to be able to say that anyone is cheating.

            If Red Bull can show that Mercedes made a significant effort to take data from the test to help them build next years car or improve this years, then yes, I agree, that’s disgusting and underhanded.

            But really don’t think that’s the case.

          4. @mike as a commentarist said on twitter:

            If Mercedes didn´t learn anything from that test their engineers should be fired

            As easy as that, thats the reason the regulation says you can test only with a car two years old.

            And Pirelli is biased because of this:

            “Unless you all want us to give Red Bull the tyres to win the championship. It’s pretty clear. If we did that, there would be one team that would benefit and it would be them.”

            Hembery HAS taking the tast for himself to decide who should win WDC and WCC so it is ok to test in secret with Mercedes so they can solve problem but screw the other teams.

          5. @celeste

            you can test only with a car two years old.

            Except, Pirelli’s agreement with the FIA allowed for 1000km of testing with a current car.

            On the second bit, you’ve taken that quote way out of context. And it does not mean that Pirelli are taking sides at all.

        2. You cannot use 2013 F1 car for testing during the season: it’s a RULE that in mercedes know very well… it’s a shame!

  7. This is ugly. FIA should have informed or instead allowed all teams to do test. What a mess.

  8. C Horner: “We just want clarity.”

    In my mind that reads: “We want the FIA to come down on Mercedes like a ton of bricks, banning them from the sport and shaming them forever.” ;)

    Seems Mercedes have messed this up by using the W04, as both Ferrari and Red Bull seem to be questioning not the legality of the test itself, but the car which was used for the test.

  9. This can be a trigger of the return of in-season testing. then stay tuned on Ferrari, guys…

  10. David Livingstone
    26th May 2013, 12:52

    Testgate should prove be a very very interesting one. The WMSC has seemed to be a fairly good forum for a wide variety of grievances in the past. The only question is what can really be done without tampering too much with the championship. Points exclusion, seems too harsh and arbitrary, while a fine seems to not level the playing field. To me, the solution would be to run a 1000km test for the other 9 teams at the next permanent race track after the resolution.

  11. What I find interesting is that on the one hand they’re saying that there’s provision for Pirelli to call a team to test in an emergency situation, and yet at the same time they’re saying they testing 90% next year’s tyres. It’s hard to see how testing tyres for next year, especially when they’re not actually contracted to even supply tyres for next year, could be construed as an emergency situation.

    1. @mazdachris

      In a recent article it was said that Pirrelli needed to get next years tyres researched and locked in quite soon.

      Pirrelli is getting a lot of stick about the tyres, but as they can only use quite old cars it is hard for them to get the tyres right, so they wanted to test with a new car. Hence this test.

  12. Could F1 possibly be the most corrupt sport on the ozone. Seriously, why oh why do teams just love to flaunt the rules. Do none of them think before they carry out such blatant actions against the rule book. Idiots!!! Mercedes only have themselves to blame, throw the book at them and the shelves

    1. Really? Pirelli approach Mercedes and say they want to do testing. Mercedes approach the FIA and tell them what Pirelli wants and ask if it’s ok. The FIA say yes, perfectly ok and legal. Pirelli do the tests. Mercedes get no data from the test and don’t even know what tyres were being tested. And you call Mercedes idiots?? Hmmmm.

      1. Mercedes get no data from the test

        Is anyone naive enough to believe Mercedes’ claim that they did more than three grand prix distances at the Circuit de Catalunya and learned nothing from it?

        1. They will have gathered data, but how relevent is that data to Merc? Given that Pirelli and Merc say they dont know anything about the tyre they were running on, other than it was next years? – or is that a lie (albeit a very very damning one) and Merc did know what they where running and how it might help them?

          1. Well. What I feel is that, the workforce at Mercedes are smart enough to understand what type of tyres they are testing based on the number of laps each set lasts, the grip levels, the graining et al.

  13. Pirelli also asked other teams to perform such test. Including Red Bull. They refused…

  14. Ferrari is said to have joined the protest filed by Red Bull. They claim that the use of the 2013 car in the Pirelli tests is clearly illegal, as it gives an unfair advantage to the Mercedes. When they did tests, they used the 2010 chassis, so there’s a big difference here. Although, we have already seen how Lotus benefitted from Pirelli using even older Renault chassis, so I guess to maintain a neutrality here each team should be offered an equal tyre-testing time with Pirelli. Still, the Merc is the only team that used its current chassis for the tyre testing, which is definitely not right.

    1. Merc used a current chassis, but its next years tyres, so how relevent is the information gain by Merc, if any?

      Also, you, and others seem to be saying other teams should be offered a test? Well according to Pirelli and Merc, other teams where offered to test and help Pirelli with their problems, and refused…

      1. Merc used a current chassis, but its next years tyres, so how relevent is the information gain by Merc, if any?

        Why not? They can get an undue advantage in developing their cars for 2014 well ahead of their rivals, can’t they?

        1. That is assuming they only ran the 2014 spec tyres. If they had tested the Canada upgrades, well that is clear isn’t it?

  15. It’s gonna be one of these messy F1 things. Just lean back and see what’s happening however it’s a bit sketchy by the FIA to allow such a test with the actual car – by now you’d think that they should know better.

    1. @tmf42

      I agree. The problem is you have Pirrelli complaining that they can’t prepare next years tyres because they need a recent car to be able to do their job well. Which is understandable. It’s a very tricky situation.

      Although I suspect it’s mostly just a big rant about very little.

      Hey! But at least it’ll give Red Bull something new to complain about :D

  16. what a boring race that was, proves the fact that DRS does make f1 way more intresting!
    also the f1-tv-direction was absolutely awful, i want to see the cause of a yellow flag immediately and not 40 seconds after the incident, even i could direct races better…

    perfect drive from rosberg, definately driver of the weekend, kudos to perez and sutil for actually trying to make a move

    1. that’s what happens if you have two tabs open, this was supposed to go into the rate the race topic

  17. Something really stinks in F1! I can’t believe this is happening!
    All these rules and restrictions and BS happening all over again. And with the blessing of FIA!?
    I think they (FIA and teams) aren’t aware that there’s a limit to peoples patience.

    This would be one too many controversy for me.

  18. if what they have done is illegal, by that i mean they havent used a brilliant loop hole then they could be in big trouble. A few race ban at least would be the only punishment based on past incidents.

    Remember this team got banned for a few races in 2005

    1. How can it be illegal when it was given the green light by the governing body?

    2. This team (Mercedes) didn’t even exist in 2005.

  19. From what I have read and heard, it was Michelin that conducted the test, not Mercedes. Mercedes was one of the few teams that said they would help in tyre testing if Michelin organised one, which leads me to ask have Red Bull said “yes” in helping. If they are one of the teams that failed to answer the Michelin letter then they have absolutely no reason to complain, and the FIA should just throw out the protest and refuse to discus it.

    1. @w-k you mean Pirelli right?

  20. According to Mercedes, they obtained no data on tires from Pirelli. The right question is, did they obtain any data on their car? Since they are not dummies, I expect that they were careful not to even try. If this is confirmed, then I can really see anything wrong done here and the whole affair should end quickly.
    I am curious concerning the car, though. In the days of limited resources and penalties for out-of-order gearbox changes, 1000 km is quite a lot. What car were they running? Some spare? Or were they due to engine/gearbox change anyway and decided to give the old one a good run down?

    1. sorry: can see -> can’t see

  21. I can`t believe FIA, Pirelli and Mercedes did that. What did the bunch of think the fallout would be? Pirellii has a problem with the 2013-spec tyres related to both durability and safety. They at least have to solve the safety issue.

    so what do the geniuses do? They test the new spec tyres on a 2013-spec car. It doesn`t matter if Mercedes got any data from the test or not as we can be pretty sure that the new spec-tyre is going to suit the Mercedes pretty well. Oh my God, what on earth were they thinking!!!

    So what is going to happen now? Will all the teams be offered a 1000 km test with different spec potentiial new tyres? Will all eleven teams have a saying in what spec tyres will be used in the next races? Or will Pirelli have to make yet another change and go for the 2012-spec tyres to avoid any hint of wrong-doing or tainting the championship. Or will Pirelli have to stick to the original 2013-spec tyres and hope there isn`t a big accident down the road.

    I still can`t believe professionals could make such a huge blunder of testing new-spec 2013 tyres on a 2013-spec car. Unbelieveable..

  22. This is certainly no trivial issue, but the key is to realize that the FIA broke their own rules the very moment they signed that contract with Pirelli. Actually, it’s pretty clear: They have a rule that says that testing is not allowed. They signed a contract that says that testing was allowed. That contract is illegal by their very own rules. Then they broke those rules again by allowing Mercedes to test. The FIA is guilty and deserves a big penalty. The problem is, of course, that the FIA is the organization responsible for handing penalties for regulations infringements. If they break the rules themselves, what kind of penalty are they going to give to themselves? No points for the right answer, obviously.

    Regarding Mercedes, there’s not much to discuss. The rules say they can’t test. They tested. End of the story. The contract between Pirelli and the FIA is not even their business, and the fact that the FIA broke the rules doesn’t mean that it is OK that they break it as well. They also deserve a big penalty.

    Pirelli is guilty as well, although to a lesser extent. They knowingly signed an illegal contract and they helped Mercedes break the rules. They acted as wrong as Mercedes and the FIA, but they have the mitigatint circumstance that they only broke the rules by proxy. Still guilty, anyway.

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