Mercedes could face tribunal after protests over tyre testing

FIA says it may impose penalties on team after Red Bull and Ferrari lodge official protests

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 May, 2015, 4:27pm


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The latest row engulfing Formula One could end up going before another hearing after Red Bull and Ferrari launched official protests against Mercedes, alleging the team breached rules by conducting in-season tyre testing with manufacturer Pirelli following the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago.

The three teams and Pirelli answered questions from stewards after the Monaco GP on Sunday, which Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg won from pole position ahead of Red Bull pair Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

After the hearing, motor sport's governing body said "the stewards [present] will write a report to the FIA, which may bring the matter before the International Tribunal".

The FIA gave no further details when this might happen. The next race is in two weeks in Canada.

The sport's governing body also warned Mercedes over its conduct and said its tribunal "may decide to inflict penalties that would supercede any penalty the stewards of the meeting may have issued".

Earlier, the team principals of Red Bull and Lotus - which did not lodge a formal protest - expressed their annoyance at what they felt was secretive testing by Mercedes. "We feel it's not in line with the rules," Red Bull's Christian Horner said. "We just want clarity." Mercedes has been fast in qualifying - securing a fourth straight pole for Monaco - but had struggled with durability during races and Rosberg's win was the team's first of the season.

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said "it wasn't a secret test". He added: "It was up to Pirelli to spread the information. It wasn't up to us, it was their test. Pirelli has been asking teams to help them out for 12 months and people haven't been supporting them."

Mercedes' motor sport director Toto Wolff backed that view.

"Everybody speaks about everything these days," Wolff said. "We left everything there, the garage, the buses, the trucks, all the engineering offices. Nothing was secret."

Like Horner, Lotus principal Eric Boullier underlined that the testing fell outside of regulations.

"At the end of the day it's a breach of the sporting code," he said, adding that he found out about the tests on Saturday night. "If they did it, I think it is maybe because they think they could get an advantage."

In agreement with Mercedes, Pirelli conducted those tests after the race in Barcelona.

Although this is not strictly permitted under the sport's rules, there is a grey area because Pirelli insists its contract allows it to conduct private tests with teams under special circumstances.

Pirelli's head of motor sport, Paul Hembery, maintains there has been no wrongdoing. "We are allowed to do a 1,000-kilometer tyre test with any team," he said prior to the race.