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Pirelli may yet sue
The drama and intrigue of the inaugural International Tribunal’s hearing on Thursday may have been best epitomised after lunch when Pirelli, the last to be called, opened their defence by boldy challenging the jurisdiction of the FIA and the Tribunal to rule on whether they had breached article 151c or article 22.
The Telegraph newspaper reports that tyre supplier Pirelli, “may yet decide to sue the FIA” for having wrongfully pressed charges and damaging its image.
There have been voices in the senior hierarchy of the Italian supplier unhappy with the consistent criticism they have received this year, now they have been reprimanded by the sport for something they believe they were entitled to do.
It appears both Pirelli and Mercedes have been adamant and confident about their legal position from the minute Red Bull protested. It also appears as though the FIA don’t fully understand their own regulations. Neither do they understand the modus operandi of how F1 interacts with the FIA to obtains consistent clarifications of grey areas.
This has been embarrassing already for the Federation, and there have been no calls within the F1 media for heads to roll.
Yet if it were to be proven they don’t even have proper jurisdiction, in black and white, to bring the charges against Pirelli – surely questions must be publically voiced. Who decided to pursue this Tribunal and who called for Pirelli to charged?
It was not the remit of the IT to necessarily establish jurisdiction, this would be done at the International court of Appeal.
TJ13 does not believe Pirelli will challenge the FIA, if the comments of Paul Hembery following the verdict are to be believed. However, it is not Hembery’s decision alone and of course Pirelli as yet have no agreement with the FIA for tyre supply beyond this year.
Out with the F1 ‘Old brigade’
Max Mosley speaking on ‘The F1 show” comments on the verdict of the IT says, “I don’t like criticising my successor, in fact I’ve never done so. However, where you get a breach – a clear breach of the sporting rules and people get an advantage from it which they’ve admitted – then you would expect a penalty of some kind”.
So, Max now feels it is time to criticising Jean Todt over the ‘testgate’ affair. Interestingly, Mosley does not address the ‘loophole’ and communication problems the FIA clearly have, but criticises the verdict of the independent International Tribunal.
But what is Mosley inferring? Were he President that he would ensure some influence he would have brought to bear to ensure the verdict gave Mercedes, “a penalty of some kind”. Well Mercedes did receive a penalty, Max means a harsher penalty. In fact he goes on to suggest a points deduction should have been expected, but cleverly does not make it clear whether 10 or 100 would in his opinion be appropriate.
TJ13 has at times wondered were Max still in charge of the FIA, whether the chaos over cost reduction, the Concorde Agreement and a plethora of other matters would now be resolved whilst we have seen Todt silent.
Yet in this interview, all that was wrong with F1 in days of yore comes flooding back, and how powerful voices would bring pressure to bear for the outcome they believed was appropriate.
On the morning before the hearing, we learned that Lauda had somehow ‘done a deal’ to avoid the tribunal were the management of Mercedes to admit to being ‘guilty’, but Brawn and now it appears crucially Wolff – refuted this offer.
We don’t know the terms of the penalty demanded by Mercedes in this ‘deal’, but had they taken it the impression given would have been they had something to hide and the full facts of the emails and letters would never have become a matter for public scrutiny.
The irony of the matter is Mercedes knew they would be found guilty, because the remit of the court was to decide if regulations had been breached. Further, the court’s jurisdiction did not allow them to test whether the Pirelli testing agreement with the FIA superseded the sporting regulations; hence a guilty verdict for Mercedes was predictable.
Mosley further demonstrates he is out of touch with the way F1 is now managed on a day to day basis. Graeme Lowden revealed on the same TV programme, “I written to Charlie Whiting twice this week asking for clarification on something”, and it is this ‘oiling’ of the F1 regulatory machine which is the norm unlike days gone by when formal protest after formal protest were lodged.
Lowden sees this current process and the tribunal’s verdict as ‘hugely problematic’ for the teams. He states, “you have to make that decision every day when you’re running a team, and that opens us a huge grey area.”
Mosley argues Whiting can only give and opinion, and in the regulations he is correct. However, there is a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ which has seen Charlie elevated – rightly or wrongly – to a higher plane.
If Charlie Whiting was merely the source of opinion, why did we see FIA tape covering the ‘informally’ protested Red Bull holes, surely it should have been Red Bull tape – following Charlie’s opinion the holes were illegal.
This is not a satisfactory state of affairs, because this is not – and should not be – Charlie Whiting’s remit. Yet the teams have agreed formal protests prior to races brings confusion and F1 into disrepute, so this agreement has been maintained by all except Red Bull – and Ferrari.
There is a lot of work for Todt and the FIA to do if they wish to prevent a constant flow of ‘clarifications’ being asked of the World Motorsport Council whose members will be most upset if they are forced to play less golf and meet for business more often.
But the days of Mosley pulling the strings and Lauda doing ‘back door’ deals must be finished if F1 is to move forward and face the huge challenges it indeed faces.
There were a number of things to come out of the International tribunal which were previously unknown. The FIA received a letter from the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association signed by Vettel, Button and Pedro de la Rosa expressing grave concern over the safety of the tyres. This was written and received some time prior to the Barcelona race weekend.
The result was that Charlie Whiting emailed Pirelli instructing them to “ensure the tyres provided for the Canadian Grand Prix are safe”.
Pirelli then changed their schedule, they had previously offered to introduce revised tyres following the Canadian GP. Now the offer was to provide ‘new’ tyres for racing during the Canadian GP.
This position was forced to change again when Pirelli discovered the teams would not agree to this, and so provided tyres for evaluation in Canada for use in FP1 and FP2 only.
The Pirelli test was a result of the email from Charlie Whiting instructing them to ensure that the tyres were safe.
Lauda and Marko’s bet
The German media re reporting that Niki and Helmut had a wager of 50 euro’s on whether Mercedes would receive a penalty from the International Tribunal.
Taunting his fellow Austrian that Mercedes had indeed escaped punitive measure, Lauda text Marko following the judgement demanding payment.
Marko responded to the verdict as, “outrageous”, stating “we expected a harsher punishment”. On the matter of ‘honour’ however, Marko insists, “punishment is punishment” and that Lauda should “put the money in the envelope”.
No ruling is required on this matter from TJ13, as children are not subject to the jurisdiction of this court. Maybe they should be reported to the International Tribunal for a resolution.
Shambolic timing from Renault F1
Earlier this year a number of people were invited to hear the sound of the new Mercedes V6 Turbo F1 engine. The resounding opinion was that it was loud, such that if you choose to wear ear plugs at present at a formula 1 circuit, you will need to do so in 2014 and beyond.
Renault have been complaining they do not get enough publicity and recognition for being the engine supplier that has won the past 3 world constructors’ and drivers’ F1 titles. Yet, for some bizzare reason, somebody in the organisation decided to reveal their 2014 turbo engine to the world the day following the F1 International Tribunal hearing. This of course became the day of the verdict.
Red Bull asked for a huge penalty
TJ13 has maintained Red Bull could have sought to resolve this matter in a less confrontational manner. They appeared to in haste make a formal protest just a few hours after having discovered the Pirelli/Mercedes test and ensured they did this prior to the start of the Monaco race. Presumably, the timing of this was to allow the FIA the penalty of excluding Mercedes from the Monaco race result.
Red Bull could have taken some time and seek further information prior to making their protest, or indeed allow the issue to be dealt with via the FIA disciplinary committee.
Bild is revealing that Red Bull petitioned the International Tribunal to fine Mercedes $100m and deduct them 150 points from the constructor’s championship. Clearly the mood in Milton Keynes must be one of desperate disappointment.