Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013

Ferrari: Mercedes “got away virtually scot-free”

2013 F1 season

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Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Ferrari say Mercedes “got away virtually scot-free” for breaking the testing regulations.

An anonymous column published on the official Ferrari website said: “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.”

The FIA penalised Mercedes’ involvement in a test for Pirelli by banning them from participating in the forthcoming Young Drivers’ Test – a penalty that was suggested by Mercedes themselves during yesterday’s Tribunal.

“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’,” Ferrari complained in its Horse Whisperer column.

“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?”

“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…” Ferrari added.

The column also claimed being able to conduct a test with a current car and drivers earlier in the season would be more advantageous than conducting a test with a junior driver later in the year

Like Mercedes, Ferrari also conducted two tests for Pirelli which were not disclosed at the time. A 2012 test only came to light during yesterday’s Tribunal hearing. Its 2013 test was conducted using the 150 Italia chassis it raced in 2011.

“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,” Ferrari added.

“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.”

Among the rule Mercedes were found to have breached was article 22 of the Sporting Regulations which states testing may not be performed “using cars which conform substantially with the current Formula One Technical Regulations in addition to those from the previous or subsequent 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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66 comments on “Ferrari: Mercedes “got away virtually scot-free””

  1. I agree with every single word of it.

    1. Especially given Ferrari’s crystal clear record on cheating.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        22nd June 2013, 11:36

        +1 – Is Ferrari joking? They conducted 2 tests across 2 seasons. We have no idea what information was gleaned from last year’s test when Ferrari came 2nd in the championship especially since Ferrari was apparently doing its own testing at some point. McLaren paid $100 million back in 2007 for a similar transgression and was disqualified from the championship. I think McLaren has a lot of ground to file suit against Ferrari for 2012 and it’s going to be next to impossible not to levy the same penalty that they did to McLaren.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          22nd June 2013, 11:45

          In a way, I actually feel bad for McLaren. With 2 extra tests, they could have been doing far better in the championship.

    2. @nomore So you agree with hypocrisy?

  2. If everything Ferrari did was completely above board why are we only now hearing about the tests they conducted and why have they not released the full details of both tests such as when, where, which car and which drivers.

    1. “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.”

      Thats why. Because no one cares if Ferrari dont break the rules.

      1. You missed this bit: “using cars which conform substantially with the current Formula One Technical Regulations”

        I’d suggest that a 2011 car could run 2013 parts and that Ferrari are so sure that Mercedes tested new parts because they did themselves.

        1. I’d have to agree with this. Ferrari’s test was also too suspicious and secretive.

          1. @matt90 – exactly. it takes some brass ballz on the part of Ferrari’s Horse Whipper to whine about Mercedes’s testing when one considers what they’ve done (which we’re only now hearing about)!

  3. Team principal Stefano Domenicali, team manager Massimo Rivola and drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were summoned to face the stewards following the race at Hockenheim.

    After what appeared to be a coded message from Massa’s race engineer Rob Smedley on lap 47, the Brazilian then let Alonso past two laps later, the Spaniard going on to claim the 23rd win of his career.

    After meeting with the stewards, Ferrari were deemed in breach of article 39.1 of the FIA 2010 sporting regulations that states “team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited”.

    They were also charged with a breach of article 151c of the FIA International Sporting Code.

    That relates to “any fraudulent conduct, or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally”.

    For a $100.000 fine for a deliberately violation that -directly- impacted the result of a race.

    Seems Massa isn’t the only cry baby on that team.

    1. Yyyyyyep. :/

  4. Funny how today the “horse whisperer” is called the anonymous column, and I remember a while back it was caled by a certain someone, the ferrari “troll”. Funy how that works!
    Anyways back on subject, I totally agree with the horse whisperer and it is shamefull and outright scandalous that MERC breached the sporting regulations and just get excluded from the young drivers test. It´s funny that that is the penalty Mercedes was shooting for and that is what they got. I guess that in this case the inmortal words of AC/DC applies! : “Money talks!”
    Not even a fine, nothing at all. Heck, now I truly feel anger that Ferrari didn´t use their F138. Outrageous!!!

    1. @karter22 I assume this is the article you’re referring to in your first sentence, in which I described it as the “anonymous troll”. But I don’t see what your point is?

      1. @keithcollantine
        My point is that in that article you called it that because he was in someway bashing RBR and now, you don´t call him that. It just shows some biasness on your part. Just that and nothing more, no need to look for further explanations.

        1. @karter22 I used stronger terms in that article because it’s an opinion piece. This is a straight news story and so the terms used are descriptive rather the pejorative.

          1. Well Mr. @keithcollantine , you see, you may have found the other story distasteful to you but it was “disrespectful” to others and the thing is that we, expect more from you than that. I believe most of the time you are a very objective person but to call the person an anonymous troll in one story and then what it is, an anonymous column, in the next is just not right, no matter how distasteful you might think it is. Just my 2 cents, it´s an opinion just as you stated yours. Have a good day!

          2. @karter22

            you may have found the other story distasteful

            I don’t and I never said anything of the sort.

            to call the person an anonymous troll in one story and then what it is, an anonymous column, in the next is just not right

            I don’t see why you’re having difficulty understanding the difference between what is a comment piece in which I will express and opinion and what is straight reporting where I do not. Further to my last comment, the opinion piece you referred to is clearly marked “Comment” in the sub-heading beneath the headline. The fact that article is a comment piece is also clear from its categorisation and further labelling of it as “comment” at the end of the article. Newspapers and other publications commonly distinguish between factual reporting and opinion in this way.

          3. I don’t and I never said anything of the sort.

            I beg to differ. You said:

            I used stronger terms in that article because it’s an opinion piece. This is a straight news story and so the terms used are descriptive rather the pejorative.

            You are directly admiting that the other article was in fact your opinion and in this last quote you admit that this articles quote you say this is pure journalism and hense it is not “pejorative”. Now I must admit, you made me look the word up since like I´ve said before, english is not my first language and this is what I came up with courtesy of wikipedia:
            A pejorative[1] (also term of abuse or derogatory term) is a word or grammatical form of expression that expresses contempt or distaste.
            Therefore, the last article was an opinion article and you did in fact express distaste by the use of the term anonymous “troll”.

            I don’t see why you’re having difficulty understanding the difference between what is a comment piece in which I will express and opinion and what is straight reporting where I do not.

            I have no difficulty understanding what so ever sir. You just said it yourself in the previous quote. In the comment piece, you expressed

            your opinion

            and you used a derogative term for it and in this last article it was straight reporting. What is so hard to understand about the point I´m trying to make? I enjoy reading your articles, I really do but, things like that “anonymous troll” bit is disrespectful and I personally was offended by it but didn´t say anything about it until now. I just felt the need to point it out since I and “we” at the comunity expect much more objective opinions that don´t hint as to which way your wind blows! Simple as that sir. I never meant no disrespect but I had to get it off my chest. Thanks for the debate, I learned a new word because of it! Now I´ve said my pieca and I am at peace so consider the subject squashed!

          4. @karter22 As you’ve now acknowledged the previous article was a comment piece, unlike this one, I take it you’re satisfied that I used a different description here because it was apprporiate and not, as you claimed, because I was objecting to Ferrari criticising Red Bull and not doing the same when they criticised Mercedes.

            No one complained about (or even remarked on) the use of the phrase “anonymous troll” in the original article. Dragging it up now in an attempt to claim I have a slanted view about Red Bull compared to Mercedes fails to acknowledge the obvious fact that I was not offering an opinion in this article, a point I think is now abundantly clear.

          5. @keithcollantine
            Fair enough sir but in honesty, the reason nobody said anything is because Ferrari is the team everybody loves to hate and that is the reason nobody said anything. I as a Ferrari fan, did notice it and really did not like it but now, I´m at peace with the matter. I really don´t expect an apology or anything because it was your opinion and I respect it but I feel that now, things might be different knowing that people sometimes do get offended by your views in some matters which shouldn´t be a “big deal” but the reason why I chose to make it a “big deal” is precisely because you are the leader in this fine website!
            i.e. Imagine if Jean Todt were to favour Ferrari in some inmense way! What would people think? They would most definitely think he is biased and is Ferrari´s “protector” ! I hope you see my point!

        2. @karter22 this is a personal blog as well as a news site, so in the blog part, @keithcollatine can use whichever language he chooses.

          1. @ajokay It’s okay @karter22 has a personal vendetta with Keith it seems, it’s quite obvious why there is a difference in diction between a news article and a personal blog/editorial. Being ignorant to the change in word usage just to make a public fight for all to see is a bit inane, it’s the internet get over it.

            It’s quite clear that Ferrari, have a problem accepting their personal image and feel they can pretend the things they did aren’t on the same level.

  5. Finally!
    Considering what happened to Mclaren a few years ago. This is a slap on the wrist. No wonder Mercedes wont contest the penalty. Considering the circumstances. Mercedes got away with it. To be honest they havent punished Mercedes but Sam Bird. Who had nothing to do with it and now finds himself with no test. Outrageous!

  6. As we all know, it’s different when Ferrari do it… (illegal parts, illegal orders, suggesting its own punishments or rewards…)

    1. @hairs Nah, they’re just annoyed they let Ross go when he could’ve been their team principal now. I mean, Stefano’s a great guy, but he’s no Ross Brawn.

  7. If mercedes was punishment ferrari should be punished cause in light of the rules the 2011 car is very close to the regulations today. And really ferrari offering there opinion isn’t that calling the kettle black…hypocrite.

  8. Is the Horse Whisperer referring to “testgate” or “Fernandoisfasterthanyougate”

  9. Now Ferrari could freely do a couple of testing days with their current car at Fiorano or Maranello. I bet they would gladly give away the Young Driver Test for this.

    1. They would,and gladly so,but they have no tyres ;-),hahahahahaha.For this test they need Pirelli.

    2. @klass: I’m sure they would. But Mercedes didn’t test in Spain, Pirelli did. Mercedes had no new parts on the car, couldn’t change any settings during the test, didn’t know what tyres were being used (and none of the tyres will ever be used on this year’s car anyway). Merc got no data that they could use in any way, shape or form. Even the FIA agrees that it was Pirelli’s test, not Mercedes’ and that both Pirelli and Mercedes had no reason to believe they couldn’t conduct the test.

      1. Merc got no data that they could use in any way, shape or form.

        Well this is naive… I guess Ross Brawn saying it was inevitable for them to learn something is just rubish huh??? Some people… seriously….

        1. Merc got Data, they even admitted that as its impossible to run the modern cars without data tracking. Primarily for safety and reliability purposes, but that data has been locked in a secure site so i can’t be used. They testified to that.

          1. Primarily for safety and reliability purposes, but that data has been locked in a secure site so i can’t be used. They testified to that.

            @theoddkiwi If the data is going to be locked in a secure site so that no one is able to access them, how do you ensure the safety and reliability of the car as claimed? What @karter22 says is right as quite recently only did Mercedes boast of their deal with Tata for beaming the telemetry direct to their HQ, didn’t they?

          2. The Safety and reliability data would have been monitored at the time of the test then secured.

            Surely you understand that brake temps etc need to be monitored for the safety of the driver

          3. Some people man… seriously…. When this whole tyre row went down, people called me paranoid for saying that Mercedes was making parts as we spoke in light of what they had learnt and said their result in Monaco was all due to the track and guess what, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and said that Canada was going to speak volumes and it did! Merc did take a new front wing as far as I could tell, so, so much for me being paranoid and for them not learning anything. Again, this is very Naive to think that that was not product of what they learnt at the test!
            Thanks for you comment @seahorse . You can´t make somebody understand if they don´t have an open mind to what others say. These people are bent in believing Merc didn´t learn anything because they said so. I also believe they would jump off the eifel tower if Brawn said nothing would happen to them.

            There is a tag for people like these…. sheep!

          4. @karter22

            I think, the connection between what they learnt and a new wing development is, to be honest, a weak argument to make. In canada, they had problems with their tyres despite that track being easy in comparison on the tyres. So I doubt that’s a fair connection to make, because surely if it is, you’d see a noticeable improvement in their tyre performance.

        2. @karter22: I find your whole tone and your use of insults to be, well . . . insulting. Didn’t your mom teach you that if you have to resort to personal insults that you’ve lost all credibility and you’ve lost the argument?
          Your “arguments” are so full of holes anyone who knows anything about motor racing could drive a coach and horses through them. But I’m not going to engage you. You can continue to live in your ignorant bliss.

  10. Meh, it’s over. Who cares. Lets move on.

  11. Following my shenanigans on the case in the previous articles’ comments, I now hope I could come up with a genuinely relevant question.

    I wonder what extra advantage Mercedes gained from its 3-day, 1,000km 1Pirelli tyre test compared to the 3-day, more or less 1,000km per team YDT. Apart from the obvious advantage of fielding their racing drivers – we could read about the tangible advantages of this here earlier:

    This alone could be the reason for Mercedes to suggest the penalty they suggested and eventually got. But I still wonder if there is more to it or not.

    1. @atticus-2, there seems to be some debate about which is better: a YDT or a private Pirelli test. Christian Horner and the Horse Whisperer seem to suggest that the having Pirelli test is better. Certainly, having the race drivers in your car is preferable, and the HW makes the interesting point that it might rain in Silverstone, in which case you learn nothing at all.

      It’s not exactly clear, though, what a team would learn from a Pirelli test. I didn’t like the article you quoted as it described exactly the kind of thing that Mercedes could have done had it been their test program they were running, not Pirelli’s. Marc Priestley said they could, and therefore would, put new components and sensors on the car, but I assume they didn’t do that – not with Pirelli present at the test and also no evidence in the tribunal came forward that they did. So my question to Horner and HW would be: what can you learn from just running the car?

      1. @adrianmorse Yep, we can all hope for good weather for the YDT, just for the sake of some equality between the Mercedes and the rest of the teams in these circumstances.

        I linked the article for the third point of it, in fact: running racing drivers and Marc’s notes on its advantages. This is the most notable difference, but of course one can equally challenge the points of the article (sensors, parts) you mentioned. One can wonder how much of those they could put on the car. Still, I believe the net benefit of the Pirelli test should be larger than a YDT test – I repeat myself, but this is what we could derive from the fact that Mercedes itself advised its eventual sanction.

  12. No one has suggested much less proven that Mercedes GAINED any benefit from the tyre/tire test FOR Pirelli. If in fact Mercedes did not gain any helpful info than the penalty was fair and that seems to be the case. Thanks, RnR PS And it seems that the biggest cheater of all time (name starts with F) is always the biggest complainer. Remember when the commentators and us fans used to talk about RACING!!! F1 has lost a lot of interest for me due to tyres and tyre talk taking over the entire season yet again…..

    1. @racernorriski

      No one has suggested much less proven that Mercedes GAINED any benefit from the tyre/tire test FOR Pirelli.

      The FIA said they did in the verdict.

    2. No one has suggested much less proven that Mercedes GAINED any benefit from the tyre/tire test FOR Pirelli.

      Ross Brawn himself admitted in the tribunal that they gained knowledge from the test.

      Plus as every other team/driver in F1 has said, Any running in a current car gains you knowledge.
      Hamilton for example has been struggling with the brakes of the car this year, A significant amount of running in the current car helps him get to grips with those braking issues much sooner than he would without it. That in itself is an advantage gained.

      1. So did it help LH in Monaco and Canada then? I would suggest that LH’s very comments would suggest that he thinks he has much work to do in this area. He got car time at the Pirelli test, but I would suggest he didn’t get solutions to his braking woes. Brawn has admitted some inevitable minor gain, and I believe the gain the Tribunal hints at is nominal and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and certainly not anywhere near the knowledge gained from a full blown normal F1 team test that way too many people are leaping to the conclusion is the case.

  13. I don’t agree with most of what the Horse Whisperer says here, but I have to admit it’s pretty funny. Being banned from having an end of year dinner!

  14. All I can say to Ferrari “BOO….” Live with it and move on. You were caught they were caught , but you expect them to be punished and nobody should question you…. Wow…. Speak of Hypocrisy …..

    1. You were caught they were caught , but you expect them to be punished and nobody should question you…. Wow…. Speak of Hypocrisy …..

      @tmax – exactly! well said. I will follow your comments here with more interest, as you’re clearly not afraid to speak the truth.

  15. Can anybody remind Ferrari of Austria 2002 or Germany 2010 when they got away easily after breaching the regulations?

    1. @neelv27
      What rule did Ferrari break at Austria 2002?

      1. I think ultimately they were fined for embarrassing F1 when MS tried to hand RB the winning trophy and put him in the number one spot on the podium. So I think it was something to do with breaking a rule about putting F1 in disrpute. In people’s hearts though, they might as well have broken another rule when RB let MS have the win with metres to go…and then RB said in the post-race interview he was just obeying his contract. By all accounts, fans present, as well as Italian and German media, reacted like they were slapped in the face, so for all intents and purposes I don’t think it is too far off the mark to suggest Ferrari’s actions had the equivalent result of breaking a rule and getting away with it.

        1. @robbie
          You forgot to mention the bottom line:
          There was no rule against team orders before Austria 2002. ;-)

  16. Does anyone know the full details of the Ferrari test last year (2012). Not the one this year with the ‘legal’ car; the one last year which allegedly was driven by Massa . . . what car was used?

    1. @timothykatz
      it was a 2010 car(according to FIA), but when the name of Ferrari is spelled (especially here) people get exited.

      Every team is free (and everything to gain) to send Ferrari in a court, if they think that Ferrari has broke a rule.

      But no one is doing that ? strange isn’t it ?

      P.S probably my message will get deleted or blocked like the previous one…guess why

  17. A Brawn horse, a black horse…
    I’ve never heard a horse whisper.

  18. I would like to see Ferrari (and all teams) represent publicly the full extent of their secret testing, the exact specification and build of the cars and tires used, and the application of such data to current tires and cars. We now know that teams have had the ability and cooperation of Pirelli to test in season. Until we have a full accounting of this testing, there is a foul odor about, and its not just the one coming from both ends of the prancing horse.

  19. I think Ferrari are lucky to have gotten away absolutely “scot-free”, as they conducted not one, but TWO secret tests. Even worse: no one even knew about the 2012 one until today. And now all we know is that it took place, not what all went down. We also know that Ferrari paid for the track in 2013, while Pirelli paid for the track during the Mercedes test.

  20. Ferrari complaining about another team getting away scot-free for breaking the rules? Excuse me while I go brush my teeth, because that was a pretty rich one.

  21. Hahaaaa Ferrari has a nerve to comment about cheating!? Are they afraid of Mercedes? Of course Mercedes broke the rules (with amen from poor Charlie) but who is Ferrari to criticise FIA? After all this is first IT FIA hearing. Ferrari is lucky that FIA didn’t have this tribunal 10-15 years ago.

  22. I agree with every word Ferrari said. And for those who argue about past actions to denny their rigth to complain about that funny punishment, I would say yesterday was raining but today is not and nobody must use an umbrella due to past weather conditions.

  23. I was starting to like Ferrari again and now they behave like an immature child and I’m reminded why I didn’t and now don’t like Ferrari.

    “Miss, miss… why didn’t you tell the little boy off properly like my mummy would have?”

  24. I agree with the sentiment, but surely:
    Pot to Kettle, “you’re black!”

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