FIA to rule on Mercedes query related to Ferrari-Haas relationship

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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The FIA stewards intend to respond to a query from Mercedes apparently directed at rivals Ferrari before tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Mercedes has submitted a series of question regarding the implementation of the FIA’s Aerodynamic Testing Regulations. Although their submission does not mention their rivals by name, the points raised by Mercedes indicates they are probing the legality of Ferrari’s technical collaboration with new team Haas.

The query also raises the possibility of Mercedes exploring a similar relationship with another team, providing they are assured of its legality. “Mercedes may decide… to act in a way which may, depending on the way the relevant regulations are interpreted, be impermissible,” notes the request.

Mercedes’ query centres on the shared use of wind tunnels for the development of ‘listed parts’ – the monocoque, survival cell, front impact structures, roll over structures, bodywork, wings, floor and diffuser.

Among the concerns raised by Mercedes are whether teams can share details of the shape of these parts, outsource the aerodynamic testing of them and if so, whether that is deducted from their limited allocation of wind tunnel time. The submission states the meaning of “outsourcing” within the regulations is “an area of significant uncertainty to Mercedes and, it believes, to other teams”.

The crux of Mercedes’ submission asks: “Would any third party which carries out any aerodynamic testing in relation to any surfaces or parts which are ultimately for the benefit of a competitor, be classified as either a ‘related party’, ‘agent’ or ‘sub-contractor’ of that competitor and, therefore, fall within the [Aerodynamic Testing Restrictions], regardless of the exact legal form of any relationship between the third party and the competitor?” Mercedes also queried whether individuals can take the results of tests carried out under restricted conditions with them when they move teams.

The stewards have requested Mercedes attend a meeting this afternoon in Abu Dhabi and also invited contributions from “any other competitor in the 2015 FIA Formula One world championship or any competitor intending to enter the 2016 FIA Formula One world championship, or any other interested party.”

The stewards have set a deadline for submissions this afternoon and say they “will endeavour to hand down their decision on the specific matters prior to the start of the race on Sunday.”

Download the full text of Mercedes’ submission, correspondence with the FIA, and the stewards’ ruling (PDF)

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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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    16 comments on “FIA to rule on Mercedes query related to Ferrari-Haas relationship”

    1. Out of curiosity, how does the FIA control the hours spend on wind tunnel and CFD?

    2. Just when it looks like RedBull have an engine, a new proposal for engines will be drawn up to stave off a 2 tier formula and there is an agreement on 2017 rules F1 has to have another political fight.

      To do what Merc are insinuating you can only do it for 12 months before a new entrant enters the sport. What if a chassis designer never commited to F1 but evaluated it every year thus doing aero work for an existing team. How would you make a water tight rule to stop this? This is very very difficult and also the reason a form of cost cap would be so hard to police.

      1. Absolutely right. And how on earth could the FIA police the Intellectual Property side of it? Supposing a team of engineers from Company A research, learn and develop ideas for F1 *outside* F1, and then the team joins an F1 team . . . Where does the cost of the Intellectual Property lie, with the team that receives it – all packaged and done – or with the non-F1 company that the engineers were working for?

    3. Shades of Abu Dhabi 2014. For some reason for the 2nd year running, a team leaves a trump card for the very last GP in order to unfortunately get something out of it. I have no idea whether there’s any reason for protest, but there’s something to gain, even if it’s just because this is falling on the stewards, surely not a calculated risk… Anyhow Merc has been sandbagging this weekend, I have no idea why, I’ll speculate Merc are trying to paint an image to the stewards. This year’s Abu Dhabi protest is probably more meaningful to the next season than the McLaren/RBR debacle. The McLaren protest was disgusting, I’ll hope there’s some probable “cause” to protest this time, or if it’s just sour grapes. I wonder what’s going to happen to Manor, after we get to know the outcome of the protest.

    4. Haven’t Red Bull being doing this for years? ;)

      1. Their situation with Toro Rosso is a bit different. TR used to use year-old RB chassis until (IIRC) 2008, when they were told to develop their own car. Since then, the two teams have done their work separately.

        1. @raceprouk, there is still a question over whether the two are truly independent, because Red Bull and Toro Rosso both outsource their design work to Red Bull Technology.

          The company was set up as an external design consultancy to support both Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso and officially has two separate design teams, but there have been allegations that there has been a transfer of technology between the two (James Allen raised questions over whether Red Bull had been transferring information on their blown diffusers a few years ago in order to promote Toro Rosso up the running order).

          1. I didn’t get a notification for this mention… @keithcollantine?

        2. Sorry to be nitpicky, I think it was 2010 when Toro Rosso first had to develop their own car and of course have done ever since.

      2. Toro Rosso have their own aerodynamic team based at Bicester.

    5. Horse has bolted on this one. I wonder if Mercedes are considering ‘loaning’ some staff to Manor, which would be working on the 2017 concept? If it helps get Wehrlein a seat, and enables Manor to be competitive in 2017, then it might be a decent compromise. Ferrari might have thrown everything at 2016 with Haas, but 2017 might see someone well clear of the field again (or just Red Bull and maybe McLaren back at the front, even with an engine ‘handicap’).

    6. I’m left without a face because I’ve palmed it into non-existence.
      F1 really continiously tries to drive me away with all their decisions. DRS, 5 seconds faster is more important than overtaking, engines… And now this.


    7. The FIA already checked if the rules were being followed when Haas uses the Ferrari windtunnel earlier this year, and confirmed that all was in order.

      FIA spokesman:

      “There is a unique arrangement between Ferrari and Haas, and we felt it necessary to check that things were being operated as agreed,” he said.

      “This was done in considerable detail during the week after the Spanish Grand Prix, and everything was satisfactory.”

      Ferrari spokesman:

      “As is allowed under the existing regulations, we are allowing them to use the wind tunnel in Maranello. But we do not have a shared wind tunnel programme.

      “In aerodynamic terms we are two completely separate entities. The use of the wind tunnel is separate; there are separate models and parts. And also personnel are completely different. We do not share staff.”

    8. I guess it’s more out of concern about Ferrari than Hass’ end. Or at least I hope so.

    9. Mark in Florida
      28th November 2015, 21:07

      I think Mercedes fear is not that Haas is doing the same aerodynamic research that Ferrari is doing but running parallel development in different areas. What I am referring to is what Honda did the year before Brawn took over. They developed two different car’s at the same time. Then they just picked the fastest one which became the Brawn racing car with some further changes. Ferrari can almost tryout two car’s at once with the technical partnership with Haas. Maybe that’s what Mercedes wants to do with Manor.

    10. After reading (and re-reading) the documents, I am convinced that Mercedes have more lawyers than … Mr Ecclestone required in the British and German courts.

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