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02:00 11:31 13:39 14:09 14:39 17:28 18:30
Lauda – I knew nothing
Its D-Day for Mercedes and Pirelli as they attend the F1 International tribunal in Paris. AMuS is reporting that Niki Lauda is now distancing himself from the test claiming the first he knew about it was “when the wheels were already turning”.
Lauda insisted in Monaco that proper permission had been obtained from the FIA by Mercedes.
Brawn said in Canada, “It was my decision to do the test, so that’s a fact. Let’s see what occurs at the tribunal and go from there.”Yet Toto Wolff has since insisted that the Brackley management are all in this together and that Ross Brawn’s job is not at risk.
Lotus No. 1?
TJ13 reported on Tuesday the makeup of the investors behind Infinity Racing which has acquired 35% of Lotus F1. Manssor Ijaz who has a 20% stake appears to be emerging as the spokesperson for the group.
Mr. Ijaz has an interesting background and was the subject of a report into ‘memogate’ in 2012 by the BBC
he appears very confident on the impact he and his consortium will have on F1 when speaking to Sportspro he claimed, “I say it simply, flatly, completely — we’ll be number 1 in 12 months.”
The major shareholder in the group is believed to be the Sultan of Brunei, but on this Mr. Ijaz was more circumspect. “I will not comment on the Royal family, whether it’s Brunei or not — I’m not going to comment on that.”
Curiouser and curioser Ijat claims, Infinity is entering F1 “to bring our technological capabilities”, but wouldn’t be drawn on what this was adding, “I won’t go too much into that today because I want to keep some elements of surprise in terms of what we’re going to do to win the championship, but we have enormous technological capabilities that we can bring and we’re going to make Lotus the number one team for sponsorship within the next year.”
He said his younger brother Mujeeb will be “an important part of the story.” The press release yesterday referred to KERS technology and Ijaz adds, “I would say we will be integrally involved in the technology development side, as the engines change next year, as technology comes to the front.”
Indian GP organisers rubbish rumours of funding troubles
There have been reports in the past couple of days that the Indian GP is under threat due to funding. Jaypee Sports have issued a statement stating, “Some international news organisations are trying to spread rumours that JPSI may not host 2014 Indian GP. This is totally baseless and malicious.
Our agreement with Formula One Management is to hold F1 races at Buddh International Circuit (BIC) till 2015, and we are fully committed to do that. There is no reason for us to give up hosting F1 races.
In fact, JPSI is keen to get some more international car and bike races to BIC, besides F1 and the World Superbike Championship which will be held this year on November 17.
We are fully committed to promote motorsport in India in collaboration with local government and global and local motorsport organisations.”
Yet the premier of the regional government who was an advocate of the Sports City project has been ousted in elections, and it is believed public funding for the project is under threat.
The Buddh International Circuit is the centre piece for a development described by Jaypee marketed as follows.
“Jaypee Greens Sports city is to be India’s first Urban Integrated City, spread over 2000 Hectares and features India’s first Formula one circuit – Buddh International Circuit
Choose to reside in a one-of-its-kind city in India. The 2000 Hectare (ha)* Jaypee Greens Sports City comprises of perfectly crafted homes with breath-taking views of perennial lakes and canals. Social clubs, Motor Racing Track, Cricket Stadium and other international sports centers add to the splendor.
With all modern facilities, the city offers regular water supply, 24 hours electric power supply, centrally monitored 3-tier security system, medical & education facilities. It does not get any bigger than this”.
Much of this dream is as yet undeveloped and behind schedule and is certainly more of a village than a city.
Lewis angst continues
Following the Monaco GP and having watched his team mate win the race Lewis told reporters, “I just have to focus on myself and try and get my shit together.”
Following his third place in Canada, Lewis appeared downbeat yet he told the pen reporters, “What I’m projecting is not disappointment. I’ve just got stuff on my mind.”
Lewis has been criticised for his apparent obsession over a new dog and the XIX celebrity events he is being scheduled to attend, and his focus on being an F1 driver has been questioned.
Yesterday, Ron Dennis took a swipe at his former prodigy telling La Repubblica, “Some people lost sight of what the objective is,” he said. “When you lost sight of what you are doing, then you lost sight of what it takes to be a world champion.”
Having won just one WDC Lewis appears to be ruing missed opportunities as he told the Times, “Time is slipping away, It’s been five years since I won the World Championship. When I was in the lower categories I would win a championship every year or every other year.
There are a lot of drivers that haven’t won a World Championship, so I feel at least grateful that I have one, although one is less prestigious now because so many people have won a championship. Now the people who have two or three or four: [that’s what] makes you special.
I’m getting older and I don’t have forever in this sport. So I definitely start to think what I want people to remember me as: I just want to be known as a hard, out and out racer.
I got to F1 and nearly won in my first year, then I won in my second year. I’ve never had a car to really compete since then. The car makes such a big difference so you’re just wasting away your best years.”
Maybe Lewis needs to stand in front of a mirror and read the words he had painstakingly tattooed on his back. ‘Still I rise’.
See TJ13 article on the inspiration behind these words here.
TestGate UpDate #1
Good to see a busy courtroom. Welcome all. TJ13 will be providing updates here in the daily news throughout the day.
Brawn arrived this morning and declined to speak with the media. Some appear a little surprised Christian Horner is present, but then Red Bull did lead the protests.
The FIA have opened proceedings and suggested, ‘There is very little factual dispute about this case. We know when the test took place, where it took place and with what cars and drivers it took place.’ The FIA lawyer is Mark Howard QC, who has been described as having the ability to “destroy opposing counsel with little more than a look”.
Mark Howard, said that “there was some communication between Mercedes and the FIA, there was no outlining of when the test would happen or under what terms.’
So the lack of ratification of the test is still the FIA’s position. Howard concedes there was contact between Mercedes and Charlie Whiting, in which the team requested permission to take part in the test, took place in the form of a telephone call.
Whiting then took advice from the FIA’s legal department who expressed the opinion that their participation could be allowed IF all the other teams were copied in to provide their acquiescence and had an equal opportunity to test. The FIA position is the same as in Monaco – all teams were not offered and ‘equal opportunity’.
TJ13 Opinion: … Pirelli and Mercedes will surely argue it was impossible for all teams to attend such a test – it’s all going to be about whether ‘confirming the equal opportunity’ to the FIA’ was a pre-requisite for the waiver permission granted…
Pirelli are indeed in the dock properly. The FIA stipulates that they are also bound by F1’s rules, in effect meaning that in that regard there is no way round the regulations for them either. It hadn’t been clear prior to today exactly why F1’s tyre supplier were being charged with given they are not a ‘competitor’ in the championship like Mercedes. Breach of Sporting Regulations is the charge against Pirelli too
Lauda ‘FIA offered a deal’
Niki Lauda, Mercedes’ Non-Executive Chairman, via the German press says that the FIA offered the team the chance to ‘cut a deal’ provided they pleaded guilty to the charges levied against them by the Tribunal. This hearing would have been cancelled and then some punishment would have been meted out.
Lauda says, Team Principal Ross Brawn and Toto Wolff said ‘no, we want this to go to trial, go to the tribunal and take our chances in the court’.
FIA are refuting Mercedes argument that they learned nothing from the test. Clever arguement, ‘I’m afraid you can’t give that excuse because even if you didn’t learn anything, you’re learning something, because in a way there’s nothing you need to change on the car’. So even by not learning anything in a way you are learning something.
FIA about to wrap up their outline of the case for prosecution.
Testgate UpDate #2
Mercedes commence their defence. They strongly maintain it was a Pirelli test and it was Pirelli alone who set the parameters of the test. Mercedes acknowledged they did have access to telemetry during the test but that was ‘immaterial’ because the data was essential to the safe running of the car.
And here it is folks……. Mercedes claim that because the test wasn’t theirs, it was not ‘essential’ they received permission. However, because Ross Brawn showed an ‘abundance of caution, he thought he should check with Mr Whiting and the FIA’s legal department. They said yes, end of story.
Mercedes admit asking their drivers to run with ‘unmarked helmets’ was wrong. They argue if they are to be charged with article 151c, then so should Ferrari as their test because there is not a ‘substantial difference’ between their 2011 and 2013 cars. The FIA counter Ferrari didn’t break any test rules therefore cannot be charged under 151c.
Mercedes accuse Ferrari of testing other components for the 2013 car during the test. They claim their test was tyres alone.
Mercedes defence is that this wasn’t a test by an entrant and regulation 22, which refers to in-season testing, is not relevant because this wasn’t a test by a team. It was a test solely by a tyre manufacturer.
Article 22 states, ‘Track testing shall be considered any track running time not part of an Event undertaken by a competitor entered in the Championship, using cars which conform substantially with the current Formula One Technical Regulations in addition to those from the previous or subsequent year. The only exception is that each competitor is permitted up to eight promotional events, carried out using tyres provided specifically for this purpose by the appointed supplier, to a maximum distance of 100kms per event.’
Brawn takes the stand.
TJ13 comment: Just thinking, all this fuss and high drama and $100,000’s in legal bills would have never happened had Nico not let something slip to Vettel in the GPDA meeting – or did it really ‘slip’ out? What we need to know is which FIA rules trump the other rules which are contradictory – then we’ll be done….
Brawn states, “Charlie Whiting is the reference point on all matters concerning the Sporting Regulation. We often don’t follow up such enquiries with Charlie in writing”.
The tribunal is told by Paul Harris of Mercedes that the team sought advice from the FIA, via Charlie Whiting, over the regulations governing the running of the 2013 car. Charlie then had an exchange with the in-house legal team at the FIA. The submission from Charlie Whiting to Sebastian Barnard, who’s the FIA’s legal advisor, was to the effect, ”in my view any such testing could not actually be undertaken by competitors, it would be argued that this was done by Pirelli”. He asked Bernard if this position is valid.
The response from Sebastian Barnard was again in effect, ‘yes we could take this position, it is not an undertaking from the ‘competitor’. In other words this sits outside of article 22’s definition of a competitor testing.
Advice appears to have been given by the FIA that this test could take place because it would be a Pirelli test governed by their commercial contract with F1 and it wouldn’t involve the competitor Mercedes. Therefore they would not be in breach of the regulations for competitors.
The FIA argued earlier the only way this exemption to the rules can be granted is from the FIA World Council or the Tribunal themselves.
Next up Pirelli – the Tribunal is already running behind schedule – judgements may not be today.
Testgate UpDate #3
TJ13 Opinion: This is beginning to look as though the remit of the tribunal may be the deciding factor on how this goes. If they can only make a black and white decision – ‘breach or no breach’ then Mercedes may be undone – whatever Pirelli have to say.
Charlie Whiting looks to be off the hook as he is a conduit of information rather than a provider of expert opinion.
Interesting re-reading my opinion given on the morning after the Monaco race in. “Pirelli & Mercedes development test leads to F1 Hysteria & FIA headless chicken impersonations” (Still that may be a bold assertion prior to hearing what Pirelli have to say).
Pirelli bluntly open their defence. “We do not come under the jurisdiction or authority of the FIA”. They cite the 2009 F1 case against former Renault boss Flavio Briatore as proof the FIA can’t take action against third parties/non-licence holders.
Pirelli are not covered either by the recently introduced FIA ‘senior team personnel’ license holder arrangements.
Dominque Dumas, Pirelli’s lawyer has a swagger in his demeanour and also points out that there are no regulations in Pirelli’s 1000km test agreement with the FIA about what car can be used for its permitted tests.
TJ13 comment: And of course Pirelli are not governed by the sporting regulations
UPDATE: Sri Lanka have slumped to 167-7 in the 48th over of their champions trophy semi final against India
Okay we’ve had a lot of legal wranglings – akin to the importance of what it is to know anything – and can anything really be known by humanity at all .. or something like that…
Ross Brawn says whilst knowledge was indeed gained, this has not given them competitive advantage.
The FIA have accused Pirelli of submissions that are “confused and have missed the point”. They say their understanding is that Pirelli’s contract is subject to the Sporting Regulations [according to the FIA – no evidence provided] and they can’t be ignored, especially if they are involved with a current team.
The FIA argue – It is one thing for Pirelli to test tyres, but quite another to involve an entrant – and if they do that, it is effectively an in-season test, which is banned.
The FIA thank Ross Brawn for his “frank and truthful” testimony and in the same breath suggest that it has “given the game away”.
Mercedes replied they thought the FIA were living in “An Alice in wonderland world” and had no clue how the day to day matters of Formula One was transacted.
Edwin Glasgow QC closes the tribunal, and confirmed there will be no verdict before tomorrow.
The FIA representative would like to discuss what exactly tomorrow really means (that was a joke 🙂 ).
Comments after the event
Ferrari sent a legal team, but no one else, yet Christian Horner was present from Red Bull though he took no part in the proceedings.
When asked was he persuaded by Mercedes arguments, Horner replied, “Not really but it’s down to the tribunal now.”
It was suggested to him the FIA had contributed to the problem and didn’t come out of this particularly well and Horner said, “There’s perhaps a degree of ambiguity, but the rules are very clear”.
The remit of this tribunal appears to be narrow, that said this is the inaugural sitting and the independent nature of the judges may give them the belief that they can make an all encompassing ruling.
If this were the case, there is no doubt Sebastian Bernard and Charlie Whiting – as officers of the FIA – have given Mercedes the green light to take part in a legal Pirelli test with a 2013 car.
Yet, the FIA are not in the dock, and as such whether the tribunal can rule officers of the organisation have mislead a competitor which then lead to a breach of article 22, I believe to be outside their remit.
Even so, Pirelli have argued their testing arrangements are agreed with the FIA and this agreement does indeed allow them to run a 2013 car in these tests. However, the conundrum is that no team can supply them with such a car under article 22.
So, is the Pirelli contract outside the jurisdiction of the FIA?, Well Pirelli themselves asked the FIA for clarification and as the note posted on a wall in Monaco revealed, the governing body agreed to a 2013 car being used in their test with the caveat that all teams be given an “equal opportunity”. No mention was made today of the second condition in that note that the FIA be informed this offer to all the teams had been enacted.
So Pirelli look to be in the clear. Further, the opinion expressed by Sebastian Bernard and Charlie Whiting then is valid.
If this line of reasoning holds sway ie “it is a Pirelli test – not subject to article 22”, then Mercedes should be in the clear.
However, Ross Brawn conceded it was wrong to have Lewis and Nico drive in unmarked helmets and it is to this which the FIA counsel were referring when they accused him of “giving the game away”.
What is clear, if the ruling goes against Mercedes – setting aside appeals etc for now – the many informal resolutions of sporting regulation issues such as holes in the floor and engine mappings will no longer be dealt with by way of Charlie and Sebastian’s opinion.
We will see a return to regular formal protests of the nature Formula 1 used to suffer in yesteryear.
The teams agreed to refrain from these protests a number of years ago and to use the more informal channels now available. This consensus approach will die an instant death.
At the time of the formal protest from Red Bull I commented that this was a bold step, because they could have sought ‘clarification’ without making a formal protest and that prior to the race. Yet they chose to set the wheels in motion that have lead to today’s hearing.
It is ironic that the team under scrutiny more than any other team in recent years for design regulation informal queries has been Red Bull. However none of these matters have resulted in formal hearings such as today.
Will it be the case that Newey will face a barrage of formal protests every time there are strange tyre hopping marks seen from the RB9/10, holes in the floor, switches that appear to have no apparent use or adjustment devices capable of being operated during pit stops.
Whatever happens, things in F1 will change from hereon. If Mercedes are cleared, testing will become almost unfettered. Should Mercedes lose, a raft of formal arrangements will be required for matters currently negotiated informally and under the ‘gentleman’s agreement’.
Whatever happens, once again the FIA look like the shambles of the bloated organisation they really are; characterised by bureaucratic pomposity and incompetence and incapable of serving the purpose for which they exist.