The brains of Brawn come out on top again

2013 F1 season

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Friday’s verdict by the International Tribunal was a victory for Mercedes and a vindication of the position taken by its team principal Ross Brawn.

The team may have lost its chance to run in the forthcoming Young Drivers Test but it escaped the potentially far worse punishments which could have included a race ban or confiscation of points.

For Brawn it was another encounter with the hand of FIA justice in which he has emerged as the biggest winner.

1994: Option 13

Brawn was the co-designer of the Benetton B194 with which Michael Schumacher clinched the 1994 drivers’ championship.

A major change in the technical rules for that season saw the outlawing of traction control and other driver aids. But the performance of the B194 at the start of races aroused suspicion – not least from Schumacher’s major rival Ayrton Senna prior to his death in that year’s San Marino Grand Prix.

Benetton, along with McLaren and Ferrari, were requested to provide examples of their cars’ source code to the FIA. FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting found the B194’s launch control programme was still present and could be activated using a computer:

“Launch control” is not visibly listed as an option. The menu was so arranged that, after ten items, nothing further appeared. If however, the operator scrolled down the menu beyond the tenth listed option, to option 13, launch control can be enabled, even though this is not visible on the screen. No satisfactory explanation was offered for this apparent attempt to conceal the feature.

But Benetton were cleared after the FIA ruled they hadn’t used launch control – at least on the occasion in question:

The best evidence is that Benetton Formula Ltd. was not using “launch control” (an automatic start system) at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Had the evidence proved they were, the World Motor Sport Council would have been invited to exclude them from the world championship. Given the evidence available, such a course of action would obviously have been wrong.

Of the various controversies he has been involved in, Brawn singled this out as one he felt especially “aggrieved” about. “We were simply accused of cheating,” he said in an interview in 2007 (republished in a book earlier this year). “All the race data from Imola was available, and it showed no signed of traction control or launch control being used.”

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It was the first of several rows Benetton were embroiled in during the 1994 season. Schumacher was stripped of victory in the 1994 Belgian Grand Prix after his B194 failed a post-race plank wear inspection which the team blamed on him spinning across a kerb. He was also disqualified for a driving infringement at Silverstone and banned for two subsequent races.

1994: Refuelling

Benetton were cleared on another technical matter during the 1994 season. At the German Grand Prix a fire erupted during Jos Verstappen’s refuelling stop. The FIA subsequently accused Benetton of removing a filter from their refuelling equipment.

Although Brawn was not responsible for the design of the Intertechnique refuelling rig the similarities between this case and the recent row over Mercedes’ clandestine testing are striking.

In last week’s hearing Brawn produced an email exchange between himself, Whiting and an FIA lawyer which indicated they had been given approval to conduct the disputed test. That revelation helped Mercedes avoid a serious penalty.

In 1994, Benetton claimed they had permission to remove to filter from their rig. Following their exoneration by the FIA World Council its president Max Mosley noted explained: “it was allegedly said, at a low level, between Intertechnique and the Larrousse team, and they did produce a letter from Larrousse saying this, and also a drawing from Intertechnique showing how the filter could be removed.”

It was later alleged Mosley advised Benetton’s defence lawyer not to seek to blame the FIA when presenting their defence following a public spat between the governing body and the team.

1999: Bargeboards

Five years later Ferrari had hired several key members of Benetton’s ‘dream team’ including Schumacher and Brawn, now technical director. But a one-two result in the Malaysian Grand Prix turned sour when both cars were thrown out after failing a scrutineering check on their barge boards.

Ferrari’s disqualification was a double blow: stripping Eddie Irvine of his victory and handing it to Mika Hakkinen gave the McLaren driver enough points to win the championship with one race remaining.

The team made its appeal at a hurriedly-convened hearing during the two-week gap before the season finale in Japan. Their case, explained by Brawn, was that the FIA stewards had measured the bargeboard from an incorrect reference point on the F199.

The court found in their favour Ferrari got their win back, and F1 got its final-round championship decider. But the title didn’t go to the Scuderia’s driver: Hakkinen won at Suzuka following a lacklustre performance by Irvine.

2003: Tyres

Amid the row over Mercedes’ participation in a covert test for Pirelli an FIA press conference at the Canadian Grand Prix saw Brawn face intensive questioning before a packed room of journalist plus several aggrieved rival team principals. He gave a typically unflappable performance, yielding little ground and making it plain the test was his decision.

His calm and unemotional defence brought to mind a similar encounter ten years previously. Ferrari and tyre supplier Bridgestone had successfully lobbied the FIA to change how they measured tyres which forced their rivals, most of which used Michelins, to hurriedly change their compounds.

During a tense Monza press conference Patrick Head, technical director for Williams who Ferrari were trailing in the championship, piled the pressure on Brawn. Head claimed the Ferrari-instigated change in the enforcement of the rules forced Michelin to change a tyre construction that had been used for the preceding 38 races without objection.

Brawn held his ground, even as laughter greeted his insistence that the timing of Ferrari’s petition to the FIA was not timed to maximise Michelin’s inconvenience but due to Bridgestone being “an extremely ethical company” and reluctant to raise the matter.

But Ferrari had already won the important battle and two days later they won the real one, on the track. It began a string of eight consecutive victories for Ferrari and Bridgestone, during which time Schumacher and Ferrari clinched the 2003 titles.

2009: Double diffuser

Honda’s abrupt withdrawal from F1 at the end of 2008 led Brawn, who had joined them just one year earlier, to take over the team. Following two dismal years Honda had made an extraordinary effort to ready its 2009 design in time for a major overhaul of the technical regulations.

But the design of the diffuser on the car, now dubbed a Brawn BGP-001, was a source of controversy – as it also was on Williams and Toyota’s cars. Their ‘double diffusers’ exploited a grey area in the regulations to vastly increased the downforce produced by the rear of the car.

Debate over the legality of the cars raged in the build-up to the season. But all six cars were passed by the scrutineers at the Australian Grand Prix and Brawn sensationally scored a one-two finish in their first race after locking out the front row of the grid.

The stewards found in favour of Brawn and the other two teams when Red Bull, Renault and Ferrari protested the design of their cars. The matter was taken as far as the FIA’s appeal court who stood by the stewards’ decision.

This left most of Brawn’s rivals hurriedly catching up to copy the diffuser design. Some claimed that the ruling, which came during the final, acrimonious year of Mosley’s presidency, had been designed to drive a wedge between the teams who were challenging his plan to introduce a budget gap. Double diffusers were eventually banned at the end of 2010 following Jean Todt’s election as the FIA’s new president.

2013: Testing

The revelation that Mercedes had conducted a three-day test with Pirelli ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix stunned their rivals when the news emerged following qualifying for the race. Red Bull and Ferrari lodged protests ahead of the race, which Nico Rosberg duly won for Mercedes.

The case was heard by the FIA International Tribunal, a new body set up two years earlier by Todt, who had previously been Brawn’s boss when the pair were at Ferrari. It found that the FIA had given Mercedes an indication that such a test could be allowed.

Although Mercedes were punished, the sanction of a ban from the Young Drivers’ Test was tantamount to a slap on a wrist. The punishment had even been suggested by Mercedes during the course of the hearing.

It left their rivals fuming: Ferrari called it a “rap across the knuckles” and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner pointed out they would always prefer to test using their race drivers instead of junior drivers.

But on the strength of what has gone before they can hardly have been surprised. Brawn has proved time and again his mastery of the rules, procedures and above all the politics of Formula One.

The testing row was not the first time Brawn has appeared before the FIA and come out on top after proving they had made a mistake. It was telling that afterwards he praised the independence of the Tribunal and its willingness to pursue justice even “if that involves some criticism of the FIA as well as other parties.”

Mercedes and Ferrari Pirelli tyre test row

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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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    124 comments on “The brains of Brawn come out on top again”

    1. He’s certainly a master of stretching the regs to the absolute limit. Whether on not you think it’s a good trait to have within Formula 1, well that’s up to you to decide. I, for one, think that the sport needs these “boundary pushers”.

      1. Brawn, Newey, as well as people like Chapman and Barnard in the past. They excel by looking for the limit of what can be done

        1. Traverse (@)
          24th June 2013, 13:48

          They excel by looking for the limit of what can be done

          And then they break that limit.

          1. Mr. Brawn cracked so many legal cases in his favour. But he’s missing one all the time: “High degradation of Pirelli rubber” ;-)

          2. @Traverse:

            ” They excel by looking for the limit of what can be done”

            “And then they break that limit.”

            But the only way to know where the limit is, is to break it. Otherwise you will never know whether you were at the limit or not.

            1. Traverse (@)
              25th June 2013, 20:32

              I agree! I was just pointing it out. Brawn/Mercedes did what was in their best interest, something that I can only applaud.

        2. How much simpler it was in Formula libre the predecessor of F1, no-one was accused of building illegal cars in that formula.

          1. Formula Libre was not the predecessor of F1, it is still running to this day my friend.

        3. Barnard was a unlucky lucky guy. He is many times solely credited for the carbon chassis and auto gearbox introduction when in the end he failed in his F1 career.

      2. Boundary pushers aka cheaters

        1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
          24th June 2013, 14:48

          Show me a team with a spotless record and i may as well end this saying now, because there aren’t any.

          1. jimscreechy (@)
            24th June 2013, 16:58

            Absolutely. The sport has always been about pushing boundries and I heard it said but pretty much every team principal out there

      3. It’s undeniable that the history of Formula 1 is one of those who push the boundaries of the regulations. It’s just a shame that this regulation pushing was more of a courtroom drama and less of an on-track development.

        It’s one thing to build a car that can dump it’s liquid-cooled brake reservoirs, it’s entirely another to scamper off in to the shadows to run a tire test. I’m fine with the former, the latter is uninteresting.

        1. @hwkii agreed entirely: not only that, but the testing regulation is there specifically with intent for reducing costs for greater sporting equality. So this event is far more akin to the 2003 tyres situation than the 2009 diffusers and I’m pretty sure the former left a foul taste in many people’s mouths.

          1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
            24th June 2013, 22:14

            All the regulations are there for a reason flexi wings for instance was on safety grounds so by your logic it’s fine for redbull to risk lives so long as it’s done on the cheap?

            1. That argument holds absolutely no validity as I clearly stated below in a separate post that I hold the technical regulations in a completely different regard from the sporting regulations. Now go figure.

      4. newey, chapman and barnard were never found guilty like Brawn has with Mercedes in this tribunal – so now he can be put in the briatore catergory.

      5. I very much like boundary pushers from the technical side of the sport (so thumbs up to Brawn for the DDD), but not so from the sporting side of the regulations. They are in place for reasons of sporting equality and in this case to reduce costs, so therefore I find it unsatisfactory that Mercedes were let off with apparent leniency simply because it doesn’t appear the other teams were given such an opportunity (and even at that, I doubt the smaller teams would’ve been able to afford such a luxury).

        Therefore, I was slightly disappointed at the verdict. Kudos to Brawn but I feel this was a bit of a ****-up from the FIA.

      6. maybe the sport needs some boundary pushers but these bounrary pushers need to be punished once caught cheating. FIA failed miserably on this matter. It leaves me a sour taste as integrity is again considered as a joke. Money matters. Always.

        1. @spoutnik absolutely the sport needs boundary pushers as they are what make the sport so exciting from a technical perspective, but they should remain purely technical in my view. Nobody cares about the politics as far as I’m aware, we only care for seeing the fastests circuit cars on the planet designed by the canniest of engineers.

          Therefore, I would absolutely support a far more rigid FIA in terms of enforcing the sporting code. The technical guidelines are being enforced in a satisfactory way currently however IMO.

          1. totally agreed!

    2. So Ferrari & Red Bull want to skip YDT for a personnal ‘Merc-like’ test.
      Brawn is definitly a genius.

      1. I think they’d definitely get a bigger punishment considering Mercedes only got a leaner punishment due to ‘no reason to believe the test was illegal.’ It was however, and that’s why the punishment. As Ferrari and Red Bull would both know it’s illegal, I imagine they’d be excluded from the results.

        Brawn really is a genius.

      2. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
        24th June 2013, 14:56

        If they did do it and agreed to do so with the fia and pirelli it would be a case of cutting off their nose to spite their face. However no way ferrari can even enjoy that lovely prospect since they’ve already had 2 illegal tests.

    3. The testing thing was a joke, you can’t have a ‘secret’ F1 test, people knew and if they didn’t, they obviously didn’t care. However, Brawns’ and Schumacher’s actions in the 1994 season (in my opinion) was tantamount to cheating, plain and simple. It was a joke at the time and still is, having a hidden TC option but claiming it wasn’t used is the filmiest excuse in F1 history.

      1. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1)
        24th June 2013, 12:39

        FIA: (loud voice), Bennetton, we have found you GUILTY of having TC on your car.
        BRAWN: No we don’t
        FIA: My Bad… dismissed.

        1. The joke going around at the time was that Benetton was suspected of having illegal TC but FIA wasn’t able to police for it. So they sent a crew to Silicon Valley in California to hire their best computer geek so they could police for this kind of issue, only to be told he’s already been hired…by Benetton.

          1. @full-throttle-f1 and @robbie
            You two really made my day. Thanks :)

    4. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1)
      24th June 2013, 12:37


      Agreed. Ross Brawn – The Man the beat the FIA…. 6 times!

      1. Or the FIA that was “beat” by the same man

    5. This guy truly is a genius. He should be a lawyer as well!! He certainly knows how to read things and understands ambiguous terms! Sneaky yet pure genius!
      I agree with the previous statements but because of things like these, the doors open up for teams to become uncomfortable and now ask for these exact same situations and I feel is not right.

      1. Oh come on, you degrade the meaning of the word by calling Brawn a genius

        1. +1!!! Cheats shouldnt be called geniuses!!!

          1. Traverse (@)
            24th June 2013, 17:45

            Senna and Schumi – both guilty of forcing competitors off the track.
            Alonso – he’s not called “Teflonso” for nothing.
            Hamilton – lying about Trulli overtake.
            Vet – disobeying team orders, an act that I fully supported.
            Brawn – going straight to hell for the poo that he’s gotten away with.
            Ferrari – the list is far too long for any human to comprehend let alone type.

            Fact is literally every sports team and competitor that has competed in any sport since mankind was created (by Steve) has pushed the boundaries at some point. It’s impossible to make it to the top of any profession without stretching the truth or just blatantly lying, we’ve all done it, whether it be lying during a job interview or telling that girl you fancy that “she’s the ONLY girl for you” in order to get some sexy time.

            The only thing Brawn is guilty of, is honing and utilising a natural skill that is inherent in all humans in a more effective manner that the next, and for that alone, he IS a complete and utter genius!

            1. Traverse (@)
              24th June 2013, 17:48

              *than the next

            2. @hellotraverse
              Wooooooooooooo hooooooooo!!!! Very well said! You expressed everything I feel!!! I applaud you sir! I couldn´t have said it beter myself!!
              Might I just add that although some might not like these things going on, it is indeed human nature to try to excel by any and all means possible. If you´re not trying to, you are a fool and should just get out or else the “big boys” will eat you alive!!

            3. pfffff a genius? seriously ….. A F1 nobel prize hahahaha! Its just a random guy who know his job, not a genius …

            4. Traverse (@)
              24th June 2013, 22:16

              Harry Houdini was “just a random guy who knew his job”, as was Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michelangelo, Ludwig van Beethoven, Alfred Hitchcock etc.

              Brawn is a genius…not to mention he makes fantastic electric shavers. :)

            5. @hellotraverse You can’t seriously be clubbing Vettel with these guys..

            6. Traverse (@)
              25th June 2013, 12:23

              I am indeed putting Vet in that basket. Vettel is a racing genius, just like Messi is a footballing genius or Beethoven was a musical genius, Hitchcock was a directorial genius etc…

            7. @hellotraverse oh come on, what a nonsense. Don’t put fundamental physics in parallel with a guy who basically just … cheated. Nothing great with that. His actions were not a step forward for mankind don’t make me laugh.

        2. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend How does it diminish the word? From the definition of the word Brawn and others that have done similar transgressions are creative to such an intellectual degree in their craft, are they not? It takes great intellectual ability to find a hole in the system, exploit it and shape it in such a way that not even your peers can compete. It is no surprise that Brawn has 8 WDC he helped make happen and 8 WCC as well, whether you like his methods or not is subjective but doesn’t take away the fact that based on the meaning and innovation in F1, he is a genius. @hellotraverse does a good job of explain that as well if you didn’t see it.

          1. Not sure what innovation means to you, but it most certainly it is not scampering to a track and attempt to hide a test disguising your racing drivers helmet, with an email in hand to justify it. That’s just foolish and arrogant.
            As far as calling Brawn a genius, I guess we have different definitions of genius (Wikipedia is not a legitimate source of information in case you didn’t know). I for one have standards and clear guidelines as what is right and wrong, forgive me for calling a arrogant cheat when I see one.

            1. Geez, the hate in this one is strong… Although I agree that mercedes should have gotten nailed, Brawn simply did his homework @pmccarthy_is_a_legend and therefore they got away with it. You might consider it cheating, I say it´s smart and an act of a genius. He saw this coming a mile away and was ready for it! That is what make people geniuses, the ability to anticipate to something. Napoleon was considered a war mastermind and even a genius and see what happened with him? He got his waterloo so don´t worry, one day Brawn might get caught but not in the near future!

            1. is someone who looks at someone else’s exam paper and gets away with it a genius? Because, that’s the sort of base cheating that Brawn is involved in.

              Him outwitting the FIA is more a damning indictment of their incompetence than it is a glowing report on Brawn’s genius. All he did was say “but it was a pirelli test” over and over again, so much so that my friends and I have made “it was a pirelli test” a rule in F1 related drinking games….


      2. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend

        Funny, you call him a cheat for pushing the rules and finding gray areas but, If Newey does it or Horner does it, they are geniuses?? Don´t let your hate be that obvious! You might not like him for whatever reson but the truth of the matter is, he is a genius and he really does his homework well.

        1. @karter22 actually hate does not go into it. Hate implies an irrational dislike of someone or something. I don’t hate Brawn, it’s the system that allows a cheater get away with it which I find unfortunate. Also the fact that people are calling Brawn a genius is ridiculous. Mozart composing requiem in d minor is genius, Einstein writing the theory of relativity is genius. Brawn claiming ‘its a Pirelli test’ over and again whilst holding a Charlie whiting email is most certainly not.

    6. The only thing worse than getting pwned is getting Brwned. ;)

      Perhaps we should ask Lewis what he thinks of Ross right now, too. :)

      1. Or more to the point, we could ask Lauda and the Mercedes board what they think of replacing Brawn anytime soon @journeyer

    7. i don’t like him, never did and never will. the day this guy retires will be a blessing for the sport.

      1. @rigi, are you willing to say that about Horner/Newey or Stefano?

          1. @rigi why not the other two Horner is just as bad as Newey and Brawn and so is Stefano one only has too look at the introduction of Alonso to the team to show how about Stefano has become. Ron Dennis could also be lumped into that

            1. @magillagorilla i don’t care about these two because i’m not a fan of the teams they lead (if they want a #1 driver and use team orders i don’t care)
              i dislike brawn because he’s always streching the rules BEYOND the maximum and newey because he’s the reason for making 2011 season so unbelievably boring (and i almost quit watching f1 then)

            2. @rigi That’s fine, but based on actions and facts, Stefano and Horner are just as much to blame as the “illegal” activities of Newey and Brawn. Newey has done more than make a season boring, he too stretches the rules and so forth but Brawn has won championships in F1 and Sport Car championships based on his engineer knowledge and innovation in bringing it forward..

    8. Agreed on two parts:

      Ross Brawn is a genius &
      1994 stinks- I think he should have lost that one.

      We all talk about Adrian Newey being the F1 gun- and he is. But Ross Brawn is the other side of the barrel!!
      The test was, IMO, not in the ‘spirit’ of F1- but lets be honest, the ‘spirt ‘ of F1 was replaced with the “win at all cost method’ a LONG time ago!

      Here in Australia 1980 WDC Alan Jones is co-host on our F1 coverage- and he put it best: “I dont think the test was in the best interest of sportsmanship, but if Ross Brawn gets this wrong and is penalised I will be very surprised, he does his homework”.

      100% Jonesy- I am a RBR fan but if Horner saw the loop hole he would have jumped at it- thats F1!!

      1. Good post.

        I’ve defended Brawn/Mercedes on this issue from the start, because, even knowing his behaviour in F1 in the past I found the Pirelli tire test issue too obvious, too blatant for him to have thought he could have pulled off a Mercedes ‘secret’ test at a time of a ban on in-season testing and certainly would need help from outside the team if that was what this was about.

        The Pirelli test, imho, differs from the examples of Brawn’s brains given above, which were all about grey areas in his interpretation of the rules regarding very specific components within their own team (be it Benetton and Ferrari)…engine mapping, fuel valves, how to measure barge boards, how to measure tires, how to interpret the rear diffuser rule.

        The Pirelli test first of all had Pirelli and Brawn being up front about it with Whiting if nobody else, so right off the bat they were hardly trying to hide it from everyone. Brawn would have needed tires if this was a Brawn instigated cheat attempt, so at a minimum Pirelli would have been raked over the coals for aiding and abetting Mercedes with an illegal test, if in fact they didn’t have some sort of quasi permission. And let’s face it…almost everyone within F1 and without would prefer better tires, Pirelli admitted it and had already been talking of needing to change the tires and admitting they couldn’t change them too much for fear of advantaging any one team.

        Bottom line for me…Brawn can be sneaky, some say genius, but compared to the Pirelli test, he has been far sneakier and secretive in the past, than he was this past May. I remain steadfast with the opinion that for anyone that thinks Brawn got off lightly, meaning he did something more wrong than his penalty shows, then Pirelli deserves much more for supplying tires for the test, if that’s the angle one wants to approach this from. I say it started with F1 mandating these tires, which Pirelli blew this year, but under conditions of being asked to make these tires with very limited testing, and Mercedes was brought in with some permission as the third party in this, not the first party, as though this was all Brawn’s idea from the start.

        1. let’s face it…almost everyone within F1 and without would prefer better tires

          I think the majority of fans feel that way. The FIA obviously does not want better tyres – they could simply order the 2012 tyres be used if they wished. Neither do the majority of the teams, if the news reports are correct. So your scenario of Brawn and Mercedes playing the role of altruists and conducting testing for the good of all teams and all fans everywhere is obviously false.

          1. No I don’t think the FIA could just order the 2012 tires be used, because the teams built their cars based on data Pirelli provided them last September for their 2013 cars. Hemberey himself said earlier in the season when delaminations, 4 stoppers, and delta running was becoming the apparent result of the current tires, that changes may be needed, and he also said any tweaks to the tires could not stray too far from that which he gave the teams data on last September, otherwise too drastic changes might really favour some teams and/or disfavour others and he had no interest in doing that.

            I think in reality the majority if not all teams would much prefer to be on better tires, but there hasn’t been concensus from all teams, not because they LIKE the tires, but because they fear changes to them may take away their advantage eg. Ferrari and Lotus famously didn’t want changes because they somehow felt Red Bull was suffering on them and that they themselves did a better job on their chassis’ to adapt to the tires, yet Red Bull did want changes even though they’ve been winning.

            But I refuse to believe any team thinks these tires are GREAT. They just like to see Red Bull not happy on them (yet of course RBR seems ‘fine’ on them after all their whining for change). Methinks the next hot venue with high speed corners will remind everyone why these tires suck so badly and why the racing would be better if they could have just tweaked them a little.

            1. I refuse to believe any team thinks these tires are GREAT. They just like to see Red Bull not happy on them

              There’s no difference between the two statements. In practice many teams (and many fans for that matter) think that any tyres which RB criticize are automatically just fine and should not be changed. Which is why they’re not being changed.

              Hemberey himself said …. too drastic changes might really favour some teams and/or disfavour others and he had no interest in doing that.

              No, not quite, what Hembery said was that Pireli could make good tyres – but that then Red Bull would win and that Pirelli did not want that. Which is a distinctly insulting thing for him to say about all the other teams, if you think about it.

            2. I beg to differ. I really doubt the majority thinks these tires are great and that the racing is too. And I also think I am fairly accurate with representing what Hemberey has said. I don’t think he literally said they could make ‘good tires’ because then he would be telling the world the tires they have made are bad, and he wouldn’t say that…he would say they are too aggressive, or they have delamination issues but are ‘safe’ etc etc. And I don’t think he said by making ‘good tires’ Red Bull would win…he said he didn’t want to favour any one team by changing the tires too much over what he gave the teams data-wise last September.

      2. @garns You’ve put it best.

    9. For me this time Ross didn’t use his brain to find a loophole in the rules he used the Mercedes power to abuse the rules , Mercedes them selves admitted that they have broke the rules but instead they get the penalty that they requested which is absolutely a joke , i’m just wondering if they have done the test in the end of the year what will be the penalty ? A ban from the FIA gala !!!!!!!!!
      Imagine if Mercedes which will be supplying 4 teams with turbo engines in 2014 apart from the Mercedes AMG and contributing with a big slice in Bernie Ecclestone’s paddock (safety car, medical car , trucks that transport the structures of both FOM & FOA) get a penalty like the one requested by Red Bull (100 million $ fine & 150 pts reduction from WCC) then their board of directors will say “What we are doing here ???”, the consequences will be catastrophic for some people (it is rumored that the F1 will lose around 20% from its value if Mercedes decided to quit)
      Ross broke the rules intentionally (with “good faith” of course) knowing that the punishment will not be as severe as the advantage his team has gained from the “secret test” (we all know that sometimes the punishment is more severe than the crime to just prevent from repeating it)
      In the end the brains of Brawn come out on top again but instead he used it -excuse me with the expression- in a dirty trick

      1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
        24th June 2013, 15:22

        You know what? You’re right brawn is pure evil, you better get used to him bullying the fia and ferrari up and down the paddock now that he has that complete rollox figure that you just made up of mercedes worth in f1 behind him.

        If your lunch goes missing from the fridge at work know this. It was Ross Brawn. If someone dings your car whilst you’re in a shop. It was brawn. If someone opens the arc of the covenant and melts your face off. Brawn. If your cat emptys it’s bowels on your kitchen floor and you step in it…it…was…brawn…. Have a happy paranoia!

    10. Excellent article Keith. Loved your writing in this one! The grudging appreciation for Ross Brawn comes out very well.

      I like Ross Brawn. He epitomizes what I think makes F1 different than other sports. F1 is about pushing the rules to the limit and Ross does this best. No other sport has this as a primary characteristic.

      1. @pionir Afraid not, started work on this a few weeks ago.

        1. Great minds and all that :)

    11. Ross Brawn arrogance is unbelievable. I think its one thing to push the limits of the regulations, another thing is to clearly contravene them using underhand tactics to get away with it.

      1. Thats exactly why I never liked Brawn and Schumacher. Its difficult to find loopholes in the rules, or to come as close to breaking the rules without breaking any.. like Newey has shown recently. But to break the rules without giving a **** and resort to blatant cheating to find an advantage.

        I dont think Brawn and Schumacher were intelligent or admirable for pushing the boundaries, they clearly had no regard for the boundaries or the rules, and just used their political influence to get out of trouble.

    12. This time it’s a bit different. Not only was Mercedes found guilty they admitted it and proposed a punishment. It would have been ok to fine them between 10 and 50 Mio together with banning all Mercedes tests for the rest of the season. (straight line, constant radius, YDT, promotional run etc.).
      But the punishment they received is a joke and in the long run will hurt F1 more than a few upset Daimler chairmen.

      1. If the crime was that dastardly, then what of Pirelli for supplying them tires? Why is it only Mercedes who is singled out as getting off light-handedly?

        1. because how pirelli arent fighting versus 9 other teams and winning in monaco after the test. pirelli have no competitor. yes they should also be punished more, but no one cheers for pirelli during a race, so no one cares…

    13. Michael Brown (@)
      24th June 2013, 14:17

      People accuse Red Bull of “cheating” all the time. That doesn’t compare to what Ross Brawn can do.

      1. @lite992 each and every time wrongly it appears. In this case the accusing party was clearly correct, however they may perhaps have been inflammatory.

        So at least it is with justification the accusations of cheating on this occasion! Brawn does have a very rich history for causing controversy it does appear indeed.

    14. I must say, I’m disappointed with the treatment meted out by F1 teams towards young drivers. So the YDT isn’t important? Young drivers should come to F1 without any relevant experience in F1 cars? Or when they do, must be bring a bottomless pit of money with them, like for example, Rodolfo Gonzalez, who has as many GP2 points as F1 tests?
      Or aren’t young drivers important at all? Maybe that’s why Ferrari want to keep Massa year after year after year…
      (P.S. Bianchi and Bottas might be the last of a dying breed..I shudder to think what will happen to F1 after Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton etc. retire)

    15. If MGP dont win this year’s title (IMO, they are not even close), it speaks about the team’s weak(er) car design. So now MGP has to use these kind of tactics to claw back the deficiencies?

    16. if you hire a computer geek for your programme or code, you could also hire a jurist that simply looks for the awfully numberous grey areas FIA left in the rules, and let the team know how to exploit them. it doesn’t take a genius on the teams side (however i also believe that Brawn played his cards well, and not for the first time), but it’s unfortunately something that you can never avoid in codification processes. the thing FIA could have avoided was the private e-mail exchange that didn’t eactly represent the spirit of their own rules, and should have been examined before they “allow” or “don’t disallow” the test. obviously, if FIA made the mistake, and Mercedes only exploited this mistake (bona-fide or felenious, that’s another question), how could the team be punished heavier than this? or should even Mercedes be punished? why doesn’t FIA simply allow a similar “tyre test” for every team? in the past, it was working like 1. if something cannot be controlled by the FIA, they simply ban it. 2. if something is banned, but FIA still can’t control it, they simply allow it…

    17. To be honest, I don’t think Brawn was clever this time, he was just using Mercedes’ immense power as a big manufacturer. It wasn’t a surprise that the FIA became powerless after a big manufacturer implied that they could leave Formula One if punished properly.

      I also find it ambivalent how some Mercedes supporters at the same time say Brawn is a genius because he tricked the FIA again, but also think that Mercedes didn’t deserve the penalty, because they acted in a good faith. Either Brawn acted in a good faith thinking the test was legal and thus luckily gained advantage or he cleverly manipulated the FIA knowing the test was illegal but he could get away with it, but it can’t be both at the same time.

      1. Did they actually threaten to leave F1 over this issue? Or is that just what some people suggested could happen if they thought they were unfairly treated after believing they had permission?

        The tone of your post seems to imply this was all started by Brawn, and I don’t think that is the case. To me, it started with F1 mandating these tires and the lack of testing (agreed by the teams too), then Pirelli blowing the tires this season, which then lead to them needing to test, which then lead to them approaching Whiting and Brawn, which then lead to Brawn approaching Whiting too.

        For me, not only do I think Brawn would not have considered this Pirelli tire test as being very useful for the team itself such that it would have been worth any risk without permission, but I also think the last thing he did was manipulate the FIA. FIA and Pirelli recognized the tires were a problem, otherwise there would have been no approaching toward any team let alone Mercedes, let alone was this Brawn hatching this up from the getgo.

        1. @robbie

          Did they actually threaten to leave F1 over this issue? Or is that just what some people suggested could happen if they thought they were unfairly treated after believing they had permission?

          Obviously there wasn’t any straightforward threats (at least not public), but I was talking about implying. There were rumors about Mercedes leaving which they chose not to comment, everyone knows their history of leaving when things don’t go their way and finally in the Tribunal they arrogantly named the exact punishment they should receive. It doesn’t take a genius to connect these dots.

          1. I think a conspirist can find all kinds of ways to connect dots. I don’t get the impression Brawn/Mercedes ever threatened to leave F1 over this issue, because they thought all along that they did no wrong.

            And suggesting their own punishment is not the same as getting it. The Tribunal I’m sure was well capable of deciding on their own a punishment and they obviously thought that which was administered was fine. Since there seems to be nothing substantive to support the argument that a Mercedes threat to leave was what generated the penalty, and since the very reason for the Tribunal to begin with, was to take care of contentious issues such as this as a neutral body, I would say F1 justice has been done.

          2. @hotbottoms

            There were rumors about Mercedes leaving which they chose not to comment

            That proves nothing. No serious organisation leaps at every chance to comment on unfounded rumours. Is there even an example of Mercedes at least being asked whether they might quit F1 over this?

            1. @keithcollantine

              No serious organisation leaps at every chance to comment on unfounded rumours.

              Mercedes has often commented on whether they’ll leave F1 or not. They did it last month, over something a lot sillier than this. And these weren’t just unfounded rumors, their own shareholders raised the question whether they should leave.

              Let me also say that it’s true that no intellect manufacturer would comment these kind of beneficial rumors before going to Tribunal – I wouldn’t either if I was a team principal. But I think it’s illogical to say that the threat of Mercedes leaving wasn’t there during the Tribunal especially after they told exactly what they considered a proper punishment.

            2. You are too intelligent to have provided an answer like that.

            3. The first link is from a year ago, not a month ago as I first said. Sometimes I wish I had an edit button :)

            4. Mercedes has often commented on whether they’ll leave F1 or not.

              True but the question is whether they did over the Pirelli test issue, and it seems they did not. I kind of get your point in that if they have been known to have threatened to leave F1 in the past year, then there’s that concept (of them leaving) hanging over everyone’s heads, but I’m going to trust that an International Tribunal, which is supposed to be more objective and neutral than the FIA’s usual kangaroo court, would not consider previous talks by Mercedes about leaving F1, nor would take too kindly to such threats in the very Tribunal. Not to mention reporters were tweeting on the Tribunal proceedings all along, weren’t they, so why wouldn’t it have come out if Mercedes was threatening to leave and therefore had strongarmed the Tribunal?

            5. @keithcollantine, @hotbottoms, @robbie,

              I’ve only come across this interview with Wolff, in which he says:

              We have prepared our documents, we cannot do any more until Thursday’s judgement comes and then we’ll see if we can live with it.

              That’s hardly a threat to walk away from the sport, but perhaps for some enough to interpret it as such.


    18. FIA should somehow recruit him, and get him to write the rules…

      1. They actually did, once. Between leaving the Ferrari and joining Honda he was in charge of the Technical Working Group. And (surprise! surprise!), it turned out that there is a loophole in the regs that TWG wrote, a little thing called ‘double diffuser’ that was nicely exploited by… the Brawn GP team.

        1. @tomsk @manule In Ross Brawn’s defense, he saw the loophole coming and told the TWG that they should close it up. The TWG didn’t act on it. Lo and behold, when the rules came into effect, a double-diffusered Brawn was well on its way to winning both titles.

        2. Didn’t know he joined the TWG between the Ferrari and Honda Term… its an interesting tit bit that makes me dislike Brawn even more.

    19. The mystery here is why Charlie Whiting still has a job.

      All right, it’s not really a mystery – I’m sure he did exactly what his bosses wanted him to do in giving Mercedes an “out”. What’s really a mystery is why the FIA imagines that this sort of manipulation of the rules to get a desired outcome is not immensely damaging to F1.

      In the long term you can’t have any sort of genuine sport when the answer to questions about the rules varies depending on which team is asking the questions.

      1. I still think this is more about Pirelli blowing the tires this season, FIA and F1 knowing it but having to admit that they themselves wanted the tires and the lack of testing, and so between FIA and Pirelli they agreed to own the problem and that a test was necessary and there was room to accomodate it. I blame F1 for meddling with gadgety tires and not allowing enough testing to ensure their integrity for the entire season. Otherwise, where is Pirelli’s penalty in this? How come Michelin couldn’t get away with their tires failing at one corner of one venue and yet Pirelli gets off more scot-free than Mercedes? Answer? Because F1 mandated these tires and needed to help Pirelli out of a jam, and Whiting and the FIA knew it…knew that the racing is suffering from these tires these days.

        1. @robbie

          Otherwise, where is Pirelli’s penalty in this?

          Well they got a reprimand. But I think that only serves to demonstrate what nonsense it was to call a supplier to account in the same way as a team or driver. If the FIA wanted a more severe penalty it’s not like they’re going to ban the official (sole) tyre supplier from attending a race, are they?

          That shows why trying to shift the blame onto Pirelli is barmy. They are quite right to point out that as they are not competitors they are not subject to the Sporting Regulations. I don’t know what the FIA think they have achieved by giving them a reprimand.

          1. No you’re right, and it was more a rhetorical question on my part. And I always took your point with you accenting Mercedes’ consequences in this, as they are the only ones who’s Championship standings stood to be affected by whatever penalties would be meded out, no matter the level of Pirelli’ and FIA’s involvement.

            I think if anything I was expecting something in the way of a fine for Pirelli rather than a ban which would obviously simply not be doable, but the presence of a token reprimand and a sharing in the cost of the proceedings indicates to me that ultimately Pirelli was only guilty of doing as they were asked under limited testing conditions, and taking the tires a notch too far. But I am a bit surprised that Pirelli hasn’t been verbally castigated by armchair fans if nobody else, akin to Michelin with their US GP fiasco. Then again, perhaps Pirelli HAS received a fair bit of criticism for their tires this year anyway.

            So while I agree shifting the blame to Pirelli is ‘blarmy’ they and the FIA still needed to own this problem which I’m convinced is how the test happened to begin with, otherwise Mercedes would not have been approached to test. ie. even a reprimand might have been useless, but that is not to say their testimony at the Tribunal wasn’t crucial in spite of their ‘non-competitor’ status.

            Perhaps the Pirelli reprimand was to show the public that the Tribunal was looking after those whose opinion is that Mercedes are the main culprits in this test, which would imply underhandedness, which would also imply underhanded supplying of tires to Mercedes for the test.

        2. I still think this is more about Pirelli blowing the tires this season

          Opinions seem to vary dramatically on that point. Some people say Pireli got the tyres wrong, some say they delivered exactly what the FIA asked them for. I’ve even seen some people say both simultaneously!

          Of course if Pirelie got the tyres wrong then the FIA could simply order them changed to the correct specification, with no need for any “unanimous consent” nonsense. The fact that they have not done so indicates that the FIA are not unhappy with the tyres in general.

          The fact that the FIA consented to a test for Merceds (but nobody else) suggests that they are NOT happy with Mercedes – and Hamilton – being out of contention.

          The underlying problem remains that the FIA are not neutral enforcers of the rules but stage managers trying to put on a show – theater on wheels. As long as that is the case the rules will always be applied in a capricious and cynical fashion aimed at helping some teams and handicapping others.

          1. Opinions seem to vary dramatically on that point. Some people say Pireli got the tyres wrong, some say they delivered exactly what the FIA asked them for.

            I think we know from last year and the year before that in general these are the tires the FIA wants, and the teams, and the truth is the teams signed off on the current ones and didn’t seem to complain last September when they were given data on them.

            I think it was only once they raced in anger on them, due to the lack of pre-season testing afforded Pirelli at least at a hotter high speed corner venue, that everyone, FIA, Pirelli, the teams, and the fans knew what they actually had on their hands.

            But as I said to you on another post on this topic, FIA and/or Pirelli can’t change the tires too too much over what they provided the teams data on last September, because that could and likely would REALLY upset the applecart and hurt those who happen to be muddling through a little better on these tires.

            The underlying problem remains that the FIA are not neutral enforcers of the rules but stage managers trying to put on a show – theater on wheels. As long as that is the case the rules will always be applied in a capricious and cynical fashion aimed at helping some teams and handicapping others.

            I agree with you there completely.

            The fact that the FIA consented to a test for Merceds (but nobody else) suggests that they are NOT happy with Mercedes – and Hamilton – being out of contention.

            Is it possible FIA/F1 wants to see Mercedes stronger? Or LH? Absolutely. But they also consented to, and did, a Ferrari test (or two), and apparently Red Bull were asked but declined, so I’m sure not convinced that May’s Pirelli test was about FIA helping Mercedes. And if that was the case, then people need to get off Mercedes’/Brawn’s back because all teams would have taken such assistance.

            Just one other point. If we are going to go down the path that this might have been FIA wanting to boost Mercedes into contention, then as I said early on after Monaco when the news of the Pirelli/Mercedes test hit, thank goodness they didn’t use a top 3 (at the time) team. Red Bull themselves admitted that if it had been them doing the test that would be way too contentious. Especially since they were the most vocal for change and just being vocal alone got them all kinds of criticism.

          2. COTD to @jonsan for the perfect usage of the word capricious. Well done Sir! Boundary pushing in the use of English language!

    20. i dont think his brains that came out on top, as Mercedes were proven guilty – and he took the blaim for the test, its just luck for him the penalty wasnt severe – maybe he made a deal with the judges, as he suggested the penalty handed out. if anything i think it is his bad sportsmanship that has come out again. 2003 was when i first saw his true colours, when another driver dared to pass Michael Schumacher (Juan Montoya), Brawn called the move unclassy, and then i remember his disgusting spin-talk about the tyre situation when Michelin were forced to change the tyres they had used for like 40 races, and that instantly helped Schumacher win the championship over Montoya.
      Brawn has not been a team principle, he lucked in in 2009 with a well built Honda and manipulated rules to enable a double diffuser on his car. in that year the team went backwards, redbull caught up at the end.
      every year since then, under Mercedes, the team has gone backwards as the year has gone along.
      This year will be no different, the fall hasnt started yet because of the tyre test helped them stay in it.
      Brawn will get the boot at the end of the year, and good riddence as far as i am concerned. he hasnt done anything for f1, he can go the way of briatore, he is no different – just a rich man running an f1 team and cheating to get ahead.

    21. Well, Ross is certainly not all brawn and no brains!

    22. This is only a “victory” if one beleves that Brawn should have lost the testing case on the merits. Many people including me believe that the punishment here fit the crime, as it were, and vice versa.

      That said, this is a good historical document tracing the relationship between a leading F1 team leader and major technical disputes in the sport.

      1. @dmw Surely if you believe they were right and they were rightly exonerated that is also a victory? As I said at the start it’s a vindication.

    23. Brains of Brawn.. pun intended?

      1. @cyclops_pl Wordplay intended.

        1. A nifty one :)

          1. @cyclops_pl Ta very much :-)

    24. I think that there is no more need to prove that Ross Brawn is a very smart guy, who knows the playing field very well. If there were talks about lobbying the FIA or even manipulating the rules in 2003, then this time nothing suggests that that is the case, the old fox just saw an opportunity and made use of it. I don’t believe that Mercedes didn’t understand that they were breaking the rules but they obviously felt that they had legal ground that would allow them to escape without a remarkable penalty. I think that Brawn understood the situation very well but believed that the expected gain outweighed the risks and was proven to be right… once again.

      Last September, I was among those 39%, who said that Hamilton would win the title with Mercedes until 2015 and my vote would still be the same. There are many reasons why I think so but the ‘Brawn factor’ is definitely one of them.

    25. Another example of Brawn exploiting the rules was Silverstone 1998 where he got Schumacher to serve a stop/go penalty after the race had finished…

      1. Mmm, that’s not quite how I remember it. While I don’t always like Wikipedia, this is how they have the incident.

        Two laps from the finish, Schumacher was issued with a stop-and-go penalty, meaning he had to drive through the pit lane obeying the speed limit, stop at his pit box and remain stationary for ten seconds before leaving the pits and continuing with the race. The penalty was given for passing Wurz under the safety car, as the safety car regulations continue to apply until the start/finish line is crossed. The penalty should have been issued within 25 minutes but Ferrari were informed 6 minutes after the limit had expired. The handwritten notification was also unclear as to which penalty was actually being issued: a 10s stop/go, or 10 seconds added to Schumacher’s race time (a penalty which could only be used to punish an infraction in the last 12 laps).[3] However on the final lap of the race, Schumacher came in to serve the penalty and in doing so crossed the finish line (which extends across the pit lane) before reaching his pit box and before Mika Häkkinen crossed the finish line on the race track. However, because the stewards had incorrectly issued the penalty Schumacher escaped punishment as the stewards later rescinded the penalty. A protest was lodged by McLaren-Mercedes who felt Ferrari cheated by not having Schumacher serve the penalty, was rejected by the FIA. As a result the three stewards involved handed in their licences at an extraordinary meeting of the FIA World Council.

        If that piece of rule interpretation was the product of Brawn’s brain, I would not be surprised. I don’t particularly like the dear chap, but I admire his sheer cunning. And i think he should have a role inside the FIA (but not at the same time as his Mercedes roile) to make sure the FIA rules and regs are actually watertight (or Brawn-tight). Poacher turned Gamekeeper sort of thing.

    26. @keithcollantine This was a fantastic article!

      I would love to see a similar article for someone like Colin Chapman or Patrick Head. It would help us get a reasonable perspective on how bold Ross Brawn has been over the years.

    27. I seem to recall Irvine saying he knew he had no chance whatsoever of winning the championship when Ferrari arrived at Suzuka with the old floor on the car, so I guess they were pretty worried the barge boards would have been questioned again after the last race.

    28. If Ross wasn’t British we’d be all calling him a cheat.

      1. I completely disagree there: I am a British national and completely disregard patriotism (hence why I strongly dislike Hamilton, fairly strongly dislike Button and support a German driver, despite the Germans being the national enemy of Britain!) when it comes to my judgement of people and I feel it’s only logical to assume others will do the same. As I am one of the more vocal members of this site I think I can be used as a prime example of the fact that nationality isn’t always relevant!

        As for my opinion on Brawn, I feel the penalty on this occasion was soft as they have still gained an advantage effectively and clearly were undertaking a test which contravened the regulations (hence why they were punished). I do like boundary pushers as they make the sport exciting, but save it for the technical side of things is what I say to Brawn.

    29. I’ve said this in another article on this website, and I’ll say it again… If the chief designers and principals of the teams on the grid aren’t pushing the boundaries and flirting with illegality to gain an advantage over their rivals, their not doing their job properly.

      When you take a step back and look at it, Brawn is a genius rather than a cheat. I’ve generally admired his work in F1, although I find it very hard to defend him and Mercedes over the recent tyre test…

    30. There is nothing genius about him apart from strategy calls! The only thing he does is hiding behind the political power of Ferrari at first and now Mercedes! (remember what Mercedes shareholders threatened to do) Well Benetton of course is a different case but not because of Brawn’s genius. After the tragic events of Imola a) FIA didn’t want to put F1 into further disrepute by claiming that the champion leader is simply a cheater and b) Schumacher at that time as a driver was the only bright light at the end of a long and dark tunnel for the sport. Not only its greatest ever driver was tragically killed but also some of its greatest ambassadors had recently retired (PROST, MANSELL, PIQUET).
      FIA needed desperately a climaxing title fight and Benetton was their last card to play and went for it.

      As for his technical genius after him and Rory Byrne parted ways he hasn’t produced anything significant bar the controversial Brawn GP car.
      A great analyst-strategist no doubt but everything else just fell into place by being in the right place at the right time.

      1. @philby Interesting name you have there.

        But anyway, he’s had to be VERY good to always be at the right place at the right time since 1994. That’s almost 20 years ago! Once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence, thrice is a trend… you see where I’m going with this. ;)

        1. @Journeyer, As i said he is a great analyst-strategist and obviously that applies to the choices he makes in his professional life and not only behind the pitwall, I merely suggested that his legacy to the sport isn’t by no means equal to the ones of Chapman, Brabham or Newey for that matter. He somehow gets more credit than he deserves (my opinion of course) while mr. Byrne gets less. He is a political animal but his failure (so far) of making Merc a top contender exposes his shortcomings.

    31. The problem with current F1 comes from the fact that the competition is among cheaters (Brawn, Newey, Horner, and some others) not among pilots. It seems to me that, for me, is time to retire from this farce and stop putting more and more money into Bernie’s “organization” (he is the BIGGEST cheater of them all) watching these so called “races” on TV.

    32. “my (sport TBD) guy and/or team would never do such a thing!!!”

      it’s 2013, and that attitude is as outdated as tuberculosis. come on, kids.

      as another has said, i’d like to read similar articles on newey, head, chapman, gascoyne and others that have been banging away for years in this pressure cooker.

    33. @keithcollantine “he sad in an interview in 2007 .. ” should be “he said..”

    34. Regarding this comment of 2003:

      But Ferrari had already won the important battle and two days later they won the real one, on the track. It began a string of eight consecutive victories for Ferrari and Bridgestone, during which time Schumacher and Ferrari clinched the 2003 titles.

      Perhaps it was 2002? Because there certainly wasn’t 8 victories in a row for Ferrari that year(2003), and could barely scrape together 2 in a row.

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