Date: 28th May 2013 at 10:29am
Written by:

The Mercedes AMG Formula One test were accused of cheating during the build up to the Monaco Grand Prix.

The news that Mercedes and Pirelli had conducted a three-day test session at Barcelona following the Spanish Grand Prix began to circulate around the paddock on Saturday evening ahead of the race on Sunday.

Both Pirelli and Mercedes were quick to try and play down the test, with Pirelli stating that they had permission from the FIA to run a 1,000km test during the season.

‘As per our FIA contract, we can ask teams to do 1,000 kilometres of tyre testing. It’s something that’s common in all FIA contract including the World Rally Championship,’ Pirelli’s Paul Hembery said.

The Italian tyre manufacturer went on to add that all teams were invited, with some teams declining while others accepted. Mercedes being one of the teams that accepted looked like the ideal choice for the test.

‘We asked the teams if they were interested. Some said yes, some said no.’ he clarified.

The German team has probably been the outfit that has struggled the most with Pirelli’s 2013 tyre compounds. Both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had shown the sheer pace the car holds during the one-lap of qualifying, but in the race, tyre degradation and delamination has seen the cars struggle to replicate that performance in the race.

So if Pirelli were hoping to fix this issue for this season and beyond then Mercedes were the ideal team to run with.

Mercedes throughout the build up declared that the test was run solely by Pirelli, they coded the tyres so that Mercedes had no idea what they were actually testing and they were not able to run any upgrade packages, although they did run the 2013 car.

Both Pirelli and Mercedes stated prior to the Grand Prix that they had clearance from the FIA to run the test and were bemused by reports that the test had been done in secret, considering they were setting up for the test in Barcelona whilst all the other teams were still at the track following the Spanish Grand Prix.

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said: ‘We did it at the request of Pirelli. There was a serious issue with the tyres which we’ve all experienced and that needed fixing as soon as possible.’

However the story took a twist following the Monte Carlo Grand Prix when the race stewards announced they would prepare a report for the FIA to consider regarding the official protests made by both Red Bull and Ferrari over the weekend.

‘The stewards summoned representatives of the protesting teams, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team and Pirelli.

‘After hearing and collecting information the Stewards will write a report to the FIA who may bring the matter before the International Tribunal.’
The Monaco Race Stewards’ said via a statement.

The interesting point came when the FIA released a statement which appeared to state that Pirelli and Mercedes had not been following the correct guidelines in regards to organising the testing session.

The FIA confirmed that they were aware that Pirelli and Mercedes had intended to run a tyre test using a 2013 car and that this would be legal under the terms of Pirelli’s contract if every team was also offered the opportunity to do so.

But while Pirelli insist that they did approach all the teams, the FIA have stated that they received no further communication from either Pirelli or Mercedes after the initial correspondence at the beginning of the month.

‘the FIA received no further information about a possible test from Pirelli or from Mercedes-AMG. Furthermore, the FIA received no confirmation that all teams had been given an opportunity to take part in this test.’

The matter now looks set for International Tribunal, especially as two teams have already made it public that they have never been approached by Pirelli to complete a tyre test.

The two teams are Lotus and Force India with Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier and Force India’s Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley both confirming that no approach was made from Pirelli.