Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 7th June 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day – 13:14

Brawn and Whiting the scapegoats?

On Wednesday evening the FIA confirmed Ferrari did not break the rules however Mercedes’ testing “may constitute a breach of the applicable FIA rules” and referred the latter to the International Tribunal. It appears there is more to this than originally thought.

When the story broke on the eve of the Monaco Grand Prix, Ross Brawn and Pirelli stated permission was gained from the FIA for the test however, no evidence has yet been seen. TJ13 reported earlier this week that Mercedes went through a lot of effort to conceal the driver’s identities and what was being tested. This and the fact that Michael Schumacher may have been present at the test have led to rumours surrounding the test and more importantly, what was being tested.

On Thursday Mercedes released a statement saying they would welcome the opportunity to present their side to the IT, “We welcome the opportunity to explain the full facts of the Pirelli Test in an open and transparent manner at the International Tribunal. Sporting integrity is of primary importance to Mercedes-Benz and we have the utmost confidence in the due process of the FIA”.

Over the course of the 45 days it takes to got to the IT a number of things will become clear. Some points to ponder though, could it be that the agreement that Brawn had with the FIA was in fact with Charlie Whiting, a man the FIA are not particularly keen on and a friend of Ecclestone. If Mercedes is found guilty at the IT what will the consequences be for the team and for  Brawn, and in fact for Whiting?

Should Whiting go Mr Ecclestone will have one less friend in the paddock. Coincidence?

Ecclestone to breath easier…

Bernie Ecclestone will have to wait a bit longer to get his appearance before the German courts. Reports from Germany said the delay is, “because of the necessary translation work”.

Either there is a lot if evidence and the file is VERY big or…??

Earlier this month Ecclestone was quoted saying, “I hope they don’t but I think they will [charge me]. Then we will see what happens. That doesn’t mean to say there will be a trial.

So Ecclestone has been charged but is still waiting for the file that is taking longer than usual to translate… Whiting may get fired… This seems like a game of chess between the FIA and Ecclestone and the winner takes???

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26 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 7th June 2013

    • I’ve seen that on a few places, I think that the language he used is not so clear cut as ‘well aware what was tested and when’… there is wiggle room for interpretation or nuance.

      I certainly something is not right with many facets of this, he admits to knowing some degree what was going on, but not perhaps, details.

      Having ‘no idea’ might mean for instance you knew you were on a softer compound and were expecting short runs and fast times for qually, but no detail on whether its this years, next years, what belt it has in… that from an engineering point of view is pretty much no idea, but could also be descirbed as ‘we knew what we were running’… There is a lot still left unsaid I think the media is deperate to glean snippets of meaning from the loosest of language.

  1. This was just in the FP1 practice chat window:
    “Another fascinating insight from Martin – it is believed that the ‘secret’ test only became public knowledge when Charlie Whiting mentioned it during the GPDA meeting at Monaco after qualifying.

    It had been reported last night that the secret was spilled during a conversation between Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel, but Mercedes were very quick to issue a robust denial of that claim – and now it seems as if Whiting himself might have revealed all.”
    Pete Gill

      • Does Whiting even have the authority to exempt a team from the rules without every other team agreeing to it? This would sound a wee bit Belarus to me…

      • Sounds like Whiting gave MGP permission to test. That is MGP’s defense and I think they will be in the clear and Whiting will take the fall. Daimler-Benz has an army of lawyers on this and since they “welcome” the IT, then they are confident they did nothing wrong. I think the FIA made a huge mistake in giving them permission to test with their current car, and in order to save face Whiting will be out.
        Nico is a very intelligent guy, and understands the engineering of a Grand Prix car. He knows what was and was not tested, and what worked and what didn’t, not hard for him to figure it all out. Lewis, I’m not so sure about! LOL!

        • I have seen that the permission came from the legal office. Am I sorely mistaken? Pretty sure Wolff and Brawn would not have engaged unless they felt like they were on solid ground, and the big problem is not that they let Pirelli test with current car next year’s tire ( which Pirelli desperately needed, since Merc especially were eating this year’s compund and no one can figure out why), but that the FIA failed to specify what they meant by “same opportunity”.

          Quite a field day for the conspiracy theorists, too.

          FYI OEM tires on Merc’s road cars are Pirellis. Just pouring a little fuel on the speculative fire.

          • According to an article that appeared in Germany about two hours ago, Merc claim to have gotten the green light, but were aware of the conditions (all get the same chance). They also claim that they actually asked Pirelli for confirmation that these conditions have been met, but ultimately went ahead without getting a positive answer from Pirelli.

            Still doesn’t explain the discrepancies about Brawn’s and Rosberg’s recollection of the events. And why was Michael Schumacher allegedly at the track for a test that is allegedly run by Pirelli? And why the neutral helmets?

            Also, Hembery getting muzzled by his lawyers says a lot. Pirelli seem to know that they might end up with more than a bit egg on their faces.

          • Thanks DS, I missed that article entirely so I’m just catching up.

            I tend to agree that if anyone is going to come in for serious trouble it will be Pirelli, its being their test really down to them to conform to whatever stipulation the FIA had regarding use of a current car.

            The rest is intriguing, but may admit of banal explanations. Afraid we may have to wait a few more weeks to get closer to finding out the specifics of what really happened.

          • Well, it doesn’t absolve Mercedes though. Starting the test without a clear confirmation from Pirelli that all FIA conditions have been met is still. It was Mercedes’ duty to make sure that their willingness to help Pirelli didn’t conflict with the rules they have signed up for. In case of reasonable doubt they should have cancelled the test. Gross negligence is no excuse.

          • Just wanted to add my part to this. Despite what Mercedes did, or didn’t do, regards paperwork with Pirelli, they ran a 2013 car. This is the point that all the competition is angered by.
            Pirelli provides tyres for F1, they aren’t happy with this absurd rule of no testing for F1 teams and if any or all teams agreed to a private/ secret test, they would have supplied tyres.
            Ultimately, Pirelli hasn’t broken any rules.

            Ferrari provided a car that was acceptable to the law makers, hence not called in front of the Tribunal.
            If Whiting gave permission to Mercedes, is he actually in a position to give that, after all he is a race director. His duties include going to circuits and making sure their safety requirements are up to date, or running race control after the race start. He also gives judgements on what is legal or questionable with team developments on their cars.
            But does he have the authority to break FIA rules?

            It’s a joke to claim that the drivers and team wouldn’t have picked up any information.
            They run cars with young drivers during the single test they can do in a season and test all sorts of bits on their cars, accumulating data throughout which serves them back at their factories.

            With Brawn’s record at Benetton and Ferrari, I would imagine that he’ll get away with this too, on some technicality like always. Traction control in 1994, the barge boards which hadn’t been measured correctly in Malaysia 1999?
            He even said after the race that the BB were incorrect, but a few days later, the tolerances and way of measuring overturned that ruling..

          • Of the two conditions, only one directly applies to Mercedes, which is that the test must be run by Pirelli. If Mercedes ensured that was the case, and they prove so to the FIA IT, then they are cleared of any breach of Article 22.

            The other condition was “…every team [be] given the same opportunity to test…” That condition would appear to be under the realm of Pirelli’s contractual obligations to the FIA.

            If the FIA is able to prove that Pirelli failed to fulfill the “same opportunity” requirement, then the FIA is likely to punish Pirelli since it was Pirelli was obliged to do so.

            The circumstantial evidence (of helmets, MS, security) being discussed is most likely not going to be relevant to this case.

            Pirelli’s lawyers pulling PH from today’s press conference seems smart given that some folks, including this blog, and some of the comments here, as well as others, have noticed PH contradicting himself by being quick with sweeping statements that are later found to be too broad.

            By the way, tire structure testing can be a very complex exercise, with small, subtle changes to these structures providing surprisingly large variance of performance. There is a long history of that, (which is not well documented), but which is reflected in the fact that Pirelli had 12 different tire structures to test.

          • I’m curious, where did you hear that? If they were testing 2014 parts then that would (for me at least) completely change the complexion of the case against them.

  2. This is a weird, and incredible insinuation:
    “…could it be that the agreement that Brawn had with the FIA was in fact with Charlie Whiting…?”

    On May 27th GMM reported that Niki Lauda said, “When we were asked to do this, our team boss Ross Brawn called Charlie Whiting and asked if a test is compatible with the sporting regulations. Charlie consulted with the FIA lawyers and gave us the green light.”

    On that same day, May 27, the FIA stated they provided conditional approval (Pirelli tests tires only + all teams receive offer to test). They were very clear in their statement “…that such a development test could be possible if carried out by Pirelli, as opposed to the team…”

    Perhaps I’m missing something, as this supposition that Charlie Whiting went rogue is appears fanciful.

    • “test tires only”
      But didn’t they test the updated 2013 tires with kevlar belts in as well?

      • No, they tested the kevlar “belt packs” (to use their term) on a tire with a different compound than than is being used this season.

        But my poor wording may have caused confusion. The meaning of “tests tires only” was that the test by a Pirelli managed test, versus a Mercedes managed test. Sorry to confuse there…

  3. Ok, updated New Jersey Grand Prix news. Apparently Hindery is saying he has a signed 15 year contract with Bernie, and has also hired Martin Hunt from COTA. http://goo.gl/hD9SF Discuss..

      • So they are trying to take advantage of Montreal to troll for investors by having some “news” to announce at the GP?

        I still am not sure how they will pull it off without government support, but I will point out that we have in the NY/NJ region this quasi governmental authority, the Port Authority of NY/NJ, who might be able to legitimately (*cough,cough*) claim to not be using “tax dollars” while actually investing heavily into a GP. I’m not even pretending I have any evidence for this, but it did occur to me as a possibility.

  4. I’m hearing people believe the hand of Bernie is at work in the testgate affair – to further his battle with the FIA to sign Concorde….

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