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Mercedes-Pirelli verdict to come on Friday 20 Jun 2013

FIA logo Charlie Whiting (FIA race director), Mercedes-Pirelli tyre test hearing, FIA International Tribunal, Paris Ross Brawn (Mercedes team principal), Mercedes-Pirelli tyre test hearing, FIA International Tribunal, Paris Christian Horner(Red Bull team principal) and Paul Hembery (Pirelli motorsport director), Mercedes-Pirelli tyre test hearing, FIA International Tribunal, Paris Mercedes-Pirelli tyre test hearing, FIA International Tribunal, Paris

Representatives of the FIA, Mercedes and Pirelli all gave evidence at a hearing in Paris on Thursday, as the FIA’s International Tribunal (IT) considered whether the private tyre test conducted by Pirelli and Mercedes in Barcelona last month constituted a breach of the Formula One rules.

The test was the subject of a protest lodged by rivals Red Bull and Ferrari at the Monaco Grand Prix after it emerged that the three-day, 1000-kilometre session had been run using Mercedes’ 2013 car, in apparent contravention of the F1 sporting regulations.

The FIA previously stated that a verdict on the case would be published as soon as possible after the hearing. With proceedings having gone on late into Thursday afternoon, that verdict will now come on Friday.

Key points from Thursday’s hearing:

• The FIA reiterated its stance that it had not granted official permission for the test and argued that although FIA race director Charlie Whiting had informed Mercedes that such a test could in theory be possible if all teams were given similar opportunity, this did not constitute agreement. Furthermore, the FIA argued that Pirelli had not invited other teams to participate in the test.

• In conducting the test "without the knowledge, consent and participation of other competitors,” the FIA argued that Pirelli and Mercedes could have contravened Article 151c of the International Sporting Code, which states that a breach is: "Any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motorsport generally."

• The FIA clarified that there was no suggestion that Pirelli had breached their contract as Formula One racing’s sole tyre supplier.

• Mercedes argued that the test had been undertaken by Pirelli and not the team, hence they had not breached Article 22.1 of the sporting regulations which states: "Track testing shall be considered any track running time not part of an Event undertaken by a competitor entered in the Championship…” Pirelli are not a competitor in the championship. Mercedes are.

• Regarding the use of its 2013 car, Mercedes argued that if this is considered a breach of the regulations, then so should Ferrari’s test with Pirelli earlier this year using a 2011 car, claiming that the changes between a 2011 car and a 2013 car are “miniscule” in terms of performance. Article 22.1 precludes the use of cars “which conform substantially with the current Formula One Technical Regulations in addition to those from the previous or subsequent year."

• Similarly, Mercedes argued that if their test had breached the aforementioned Article 151c of the International Sporting Code, then so had Ferrari’s. They also claimed that Ferrari had conducted non-tyre specific work during their Barcelona test and that the Italian team had discussed tyre data from the test with Pirelli.

• Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn claimed that they could not have benefitted from the test data. Although car telemetry was active during the test for safety reasons, the telemetry data had subsequently been archived on a secure server at the team’s factory to prevent future use. Brawn did concede that there was an unavoidable benefit in using a 2013 car, but said this was “a consideration taken into account when we had permission from the FIA to do the test” and that it needed “to be kept in proportion.”

• Mercedes admitted that with hindsight it was regrettable that race drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton had used black crash helmets, conceding that it may have added to the air of suspicion surrounding the test. The helmets were used to help avoid security issues.

• Pirelli argued that as a supplier/third party to the championship they do not fall under the FIA’s jurisdiction for such disciplinary matters, citing the governing body’s ban on former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore, which was overturned by the French courts on the same grounds.

• In the closing submissions, Mercedes reiterated their assertion that they had not broken the regulations, adding that in contacting Whiting and gaining what they perceived to be FIA approval for the test, they had been careful to ensure they had not breached Article 22.1. Should the IT decide otherwise, Mercedes said that any punishment should be minor since the team had acted in good faith, suggesting that exclusion from some or all of this year’s young driver test could be a suitable sanction.

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