Date: 24th June 2013 at 3:55pm
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Following the Spanish Grand Prix, Mercedes and Pirelli participated in a tyre test.

Both Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton participated in the 1,000km test, wearing unidentifiable black helmets.

The news broke just prior to the Monaco Grand Prix and from the start it appeared to be a strange scandal that almost caught Mercedes by surprise.

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn had given the go-ahead for the test, which took place immediately after the Grand Prix in Barcelona. As far as he was concerned Pirelli had following the correct procedures in inviting all the Formula One teams to take part and preparations began before the other teams and staff had even left the Spanish circuit.

But as ever in regards to Formula One when the full politics come out into the open, some teams were not aware that the test had taken place and both Red Bull and Ferrari lodged appeals to the race stewards who subsequently passed the matter on to the FIA.

The FIA following a tribunal last week decided that said test breached the Formula One rules and opted to punish Mercedes by banning them from the young driver test next month at Silverstone.

The young driver test which runs for from 17th to the 19th July at Silverstone allows a young or rookie driver to complete a test, for example last season Mercedes completed 1,354 kilometres in their rookie test.

Now considering the FIA had given ‘qualified approval’ to the test, some would say that any form of punishment was harsh on the German manufacturer and the fact that the costs of the investigation and international tribunal procedure has been shared equally between Mercedes, Pirelli and the FIA could be an indicated that the FIA also agrees that it was partially to blame for the resulting mess.

But despite this and the mitigation that we’ll cover in a moment, the FIA’s guidelines did clearly state that Mercedes had gone against the sporting regulations by running a 2013 car during the test.

That aspect of the rules was simple and for this reason alone, the test was illegal as Mercedes received an unfair sporting advantage following an in-season test, something which is banned in Formula One.

However as mentioned above the tribunal was also quick to state a few mitigating points that there had been no intention by either Pirelli or Mercedes to gain ‘any unfair sporting advantage’ from the test and that both parties had not ‘acted in bad faith’.

In regards to Mercedes, the tribunal also found that ‘Mercedes had no reason to believe that approval had not been given’ for the test.

Seemingly a break down in communication was what has caused Mercedes to come unstuck, they asked permission for the 1,000 km test from the FIA, who indicated that it was theoretically possible assuming that all teams were given the same opportunity.

Whilst Mercedes and Pirelli assumed that a previous request to the F1 teams asking for assistance in tyre testing was sufficient.

Following the announcement Mercedes released a statement:

‘The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team acknowledges and accepts the Decision of the FIA International Tribunal published today,

‘The Decision of the International Tribunal confirmed that the team acted in good faith regarding the Pirelli Tests, never intended to obtain any unfair sporting advantage and had no reason to believe that approval for the Pirelli Tests had not been given.

‘Mercedes accepts the proportionate penalties of a reprimand and suspension from the forthcoming Young Driver Test that have been decided upon by the Tribunal.


The statement ended by adding:

‘In the best interests of the sport, the team does not intend to avail itself of any right to appeal the Decision.’