Daily #F1 News and Comment: Sunday 23rd june 2013

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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.

New evidence

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.

However, here for TJ13 readers on tj13TV is a soundtrack of what we can expect from their cars next year.

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.

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18 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Sunday 23rd june 2013

  1. I do miss the ‘Mad Max’ and Bernie days, mostly for the entertainment value, but must admit that – as much as politics has always been a fundamental aspect of F1 – it’s far more enjoyable when the racing is in the lead role and the shenanigans of the FIA, FOM, et al, are the supporting cast.

  2. also, by suspending the Mercedes outfit this hurts the young drivers who would have tested. Spare a thought for those guys who have been denied a chance in an F1 car due to the FIA.

  3. quote: “It appears both Pirelli and Mercedes have been adamant and confident about their legal position from the minute Red Bull protested.”

    Why the deliberate omission of the fact that Ferrari protested for the same (IMHO legitimate) reasons at the same time. Why do you slag off RB for not resolving this in a less confrontational, when Ferrari did just the same? I can understand that some people are fed up with the same winners over and over again, but that’s no reason to abandon all principles of serious journalism and join the RB hate bandwaggon. I had become used to a better quality of articles around here, but lately I could have just read the claptrap on F1Pitstop.

    • Danilo, how does the fact Ferrari protested make any difference to the point being made that Pirelli/Merc were confident. From what I have heard, Red Bull are the ones that are most aggrieved and vocal on the unfair decision, Ferrari are much less upset and seem like the secondary protesters to me, with Red Bull being the ringleaders. For correctness, Ferrari could have been inserted, but it did not affect the point being made.

    • Vettel got the scoop, told Marko who studied the rule book all night, went to Ferrari, Horner turned up to the hearing, Dominicali didn’t, Red Bull asked for $100m fine and 150 points deduction, then came out and Horner said it was not for them to tell the tribunal what to decide, omitting to inform us of their petition to the tribunal for the above penalty.

      Mmm. Sometimes you have to accept the facts. Red Bull were driving this one all the way.

      Wonder if we’ll see FIA tape over the next Newey innovation which is dubious, or a formal protest before the race?

      You roll the dice, you gotta be prepared to lose. I’d say as the team ‘informally’ protested against the most RB have more to lose – and didn’t think this through in their haste to gain an advantage in Monaco.

      • At the end of the day, the two teams who these tyres hurt the most are RB and Merc. If Merc had suddenly learnt everything about these tyres in that test then there would be less of a voice to change the compounds.

    • The point made in the article is that Pirelli and Merc were confident the very second that the tyre-test-scandal began, and as you will remember it was RBR that was the first to file a formal protest, so ‘from the minute Red Bull protested’ simply refers to a moment in time…

      In the meantime the Horse Whisperer has spoken, and at least Ferrari dare to criticize the IT’s decision, much unlike RBR who have been very mellow in their reaction, it shows you once more the difference in attitude: Ferrari is in F1 for the long run and take a sincere interest in the sport, RBR was only hoping for a harsh Merc penalty in their own interest and have given up “from the minute the IT decided”…

    • Because, unlike Red Bull, Ferrari backed off of their initial position, ultimately requesting a clarification. Also likely, based on what I saw in the media at the time, was that Red Bull were pushing behind the scenes very hard for this and therefore becoming identified (rightly or wrongly) as the main complainant, regardless of how other’s felt or reacted.

      A casual reader of the news would have had this same impression, and at a guess, this is the point of view.

      Still, you are correct that Ferrari also initially protested, just ultimately not germane to the line of argument that is being made in the article, at least in my opinion.

      • As I’ve said previously, TJ13 calls it as it is and McLaren, Caterham, Force India (Mallya), Williams, Ferrari (gearboxgate + Alonso tweet + wind tunnel farce) Mercedes (Wolff and Lauda shocking handling of the Wolff/Lowe joining the team)…. and other individuals and scenarios have all felt the sharp tap of the gavel.

        If anyone is precious about a driver or team, they will be upset at some point by what is written here.

        To me… the vociferous nature and righteous indignation of Red Bull over this matter before finding out the facts was pathetic and looked like they were merely sound bites out to grab news headlines.

        They soon dropped the continuous emphasis and polemic of a ‘secret’ test when they learned of Ferrari’s 2 tests. Mmm.

        Then their accusations that Mercedes had been ‘fraudulent’ was way over the top and not required.

        It smacked of the way teams related to each other in times gone by.

        This is on top of Red bull ‘lying’ (sorry re-writing history) saying they have only ever been interested in the safety of the Pirelli tyres and not performance related matters. It’s distasteful and they are transparent in this disingenuous behaviour to the rest of F1.

        If any one of the teams represents a petulant and toys out of the pram attitude it is not Mercedes but Red Bull – I suggest they behave with a tad more propriety – and maybe they won’t be so universally disliked.

        • Completely agree. I’d have much more respect for them if they:
          a) had the cop on to think strategically about the situation before diving into their course of action, and
          b) having the testicular fortitude to accept that they seriously misjudged the situation.

          I don’t like the spin they are engaging in now, effectively trying rewrite history.

          And Ferrari, have a bit of a cheek too. But nothing new there….

  4. “I had become used to a better quality of articles around here, but lately I could have just read the claptrap on F1Pitstop.”
    I’m not acquainted with F1Pitstop but if it is poor by your standards I certainly won’t bother. It seems sad you have to choose between the lesser of the two evils. Perhaps you need your own site…
    Many people judge (no pun) the quality of articles by how much they agree with their own views… while others, methinks, doth protest too much. 😉

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