Mercedes seek Clarification of the Regulations

Haas Ferrari

photo credit: redditor /u/dunkm1n

Back in late May, there were rumors swirling around F1 that Ferrari were utilizing the HAAS F1 teams current lack of Wind tunnel Restrictions as a means to develop their own car. The story was written by Italy’s Omnicourse, and led to an inquiry by the FIA.

Ferrari International Assistance almost immediately cleared the Red team of any wrongdoing, but in October, Paddy Lowe filed an official letter to Charlie Whiting seeking clarification on several of the rules written into the Sporting Code. This 5 page letter is attached, and asked some interesting questions. Although careful not to name Ferrari/Haas the document is clearly an outline of what the Death Star (and most of the rest of the paddock) feel that the prancing horse have been up to with their American Cousins.

Because cooperating on listed parts is forbidden by the regulations, it becomes important to define when exactly one becomes a competitor, which turns out to be one of many remarkable oversights in the regulations

Slow Down and Use Small Words



Of course that’s only the first of many missing definitions, all of which point to the somewhat more than underwhelming ability of the FIA to write regulations.



Apparently we here at TJ13 are not the only ones to be more than occasionally baffled by the seeming use of Google Translate to do the English version of the regulations.  Drilling down a bit more, Mercedes is very interested to know about the movement of personnel between teams and if there are any restrictions on what may be shared. What they miss however is the fact that even in the listed parts table, Floor, Diffuser and Wings have no definition (or mention) in the sporting regs. (H/T @SomersF1 for that).

Equally entertaining, is Charlie Whiting’s response to Paddy. It is less than a page, and gives no answers. He states:


“I regret that I am unable to respond to your questionnaire, the questions of which do not fall within my remit, but that of the competent bodies for binding interpretations (stewards).”

Of course, that would be a not so oblique reference to tyregate which saw Mercedes’ carefully waged defense of an allegedly illegal tyre test rest almost entirely on opinions from CW himself, not that he’s bitter or anything. And the stewards’ absolutely do have the regulatory authority to make such a determination, with an appeal possible should anyone be less than happy with the outcome.

Of course, Mercedes’ are at great pains to make sure everyone understands it’s nothing to to with anyone, just that they are really, REALLY, worried that they might do something naughty by accident


It’s not you, it’s me!!

“The Heart of the Matter”

Mercedes endgame is either to ban this or allow it so they can play, too, but along the way they come across with some astonishingly ingenious ideas, like designing the surface of something is separate from designing the object itself. So, for example if you design a diffuser and I design the aero surface for it, have I designed a listed part. And if you thoroughly test that surface in a wind tunnel on, say, a different continent and elect not to use it, but I decide I like it, who gets charged with wind tunnel time for that, me you or both of us? Dancing on the head of a pin to be sure, but certainly more than a bit of history behind this.



“Request of Settlement of a Matter”

The document Mercedes submitted to the Stewards is much more comprehensive than the letter Paddy sent to Charlie. It is eleven pages of legalese, along with copies of Paddy’s initial letter, Charlies response, and  copies of Appendix 6 & 8 of the sporting code, totaling 33 pages. This was put together by a legal team, not Paddy.

The Stewards now must make a series of decisions that has the potential to impact F1 in massive ways. If interpreted liberally it would essentially allow for the formation of partnerships that would destroy the Listed Parts table and make a mockery of current wind tunnel restrictions, though the argument could be made that by allowing teams to cooperate, costs could be cut for both sides. On the other hand, it would in essence give Bernie his customer teams and there are clearly downsides to that as well, at least from the point of view of many midfield teams. It is likely no surprise then, that one of the 3 stewards this weekend, Steve Stringwell, has extensive judicial experience, not only as a Justice of the Peace, but as Chairman of the MSA Judicial Panel. He is also Permanent Chairman of the Stewards for Porsche Supercup with the nickname “Judge Dredd”. On second thought, perhaps it’s no wonder Mercedes waited till now, with the only unanswerable question being did the chicken of Mercedes’ quest come before the egg of Stringwell’s appointment. Or maybe it should be other way round?

Regardless, the floor has been opened to all comers and a decision will be rendered pre-race. Looks like Mercedes have finally figured out how to give us an exciting Grand Prix.


Abu Dhabi GP stewards:







The stewards have officially received Mercedes “Request for settlement”, and have invited any other teams to join their inquiry, which Force India have promptly done. This is little surprise, as FI would be the likely “B” team Mercedes would use in the same vain as Ferrari is using HAAS.

We will know more in the morning, however according to Charlie’s letter, if anything changes in the interpretation of the Code, the matter will have to go before the Strategy Group and the F1 Commission. That can only go poorly.


The full documentation is linked below, order of document:

1-2 Stewards response to Mercedes inquiry.

3-12 Mercede Inquiry letter

13-18 Paddy’s letter to Charlie

19-20 Charlie’s response to Paddy

21-23 Stewards decision from 2013 as defense of stewerds responsibility

24-33 copies of appendix 6 & 8 from Sporting Code for reference.


18 responses to “Mercedes seek Clarification of the Regulations

  1. Now I’m wondering if they have adequately defined ‘aerodynamic surfaces’…..

    Interesting to see the suggestion (funny red highlighted sentance) that there still may be un-named teams yet considering joining in for 2016…and here was me worrying the book was closed and we’d have a shrunken grid 😀

    Truth really is far more bizare than fiction!

  2. The comments on GPToday say that Mercedes is whining and cheating again. Its good to see that people here just see it as rule clarification.

  3. this is the best site. I am glad it is not petty or a lewis hamilton gossip spot and actually gives technical data and articles that have meaning. Ok that is enough brown nosing

    • On behalf of the commenters, welcome.

      Yes, it’s true… this isn’t a Lewis Hamilton gossip spot. No pettiness around here. I don’t think Lewis even gets a mention outside of fair-minded congratulatory missives on his varied successes.

      Enjoy the ride… see you on the field.


  4. Aside from the obvious veracity of the question asked, C Whiting Esq is (1) finally realising he should be buttoned up and (2) being extremely disengenuous in directing matter to meeting stewards, as matter is beyond – like completely out of – their orbit.

    Come on, Chucka, give it to 3 freeloaders tagging along for the glory, airfare, free booze, lunch, lodgings and schmooze? Whatever next. Better to give it to the SKY crew. Hill, Herbert, Brundle individually have credentials far exceeding the glitterati you’ve tasked…….

  5. “Ferrari International Assistance” haven’t seen that use in a longtime. But this is Ferrari up to their old tricks again and I doubt they’ll be punished.

    Like DC said yesterday, “even if they’re guilty and punished, you can’t unlearn what you’ve already learned”

  6. As discussed on twitter. I can’t believe it’s illegal to swap people. Specially not if they get fired by ferrari, hired by haas, fired by haas, re-hired by ferrari. Impossible to outlaw this… F1 is build on people leaving one team and joining an other. This is just a perfect loophole.

  7. So the upshot is yet more proof that the pinnacle of motorsport* operates on a set of regulations that are catastrophically porous.

    I reckon the big teams would employ a team to think of ways to gap the rules and rate the chances of being spring or ratted on. Just another business decision.

    So we’re going to get another ruling along the lines of something plainly dodgy has been deemed “not in the spirit of the regulations” rather than a technical breach ‘coz the rules are so badly written.

    It makes me nostalgic for the days of such straightforward cheating as second fuel tanks, hidden traction control and spring- loaded front wings.

    *May contain traces of b*llsh!t.

    • My guess is they have just realised how ferrari have caught them. They have used the development of the Hass car to evaluate their own parts or learn what works by using more wind tunnel time than Ferrari would be allowed.
      Bottom line is Ferrari found another loop hole (Ferrari found loop hole allowing in season development due to no homologation data in 2015 rules) that FIA Stewards have now closed. Well done Ferrari.
      It is a pity the innovation is coming from the lawyers not engineers.

      • It all kinda bodes well for Haas as well. Straight to mid-field, points finished, etc?

        Which makes it all not so bad for F1 in the USA – makes me wonder if certain individuals have kept their mouths shut even if the knew something was up. Ferrari close the gap to MB, Haas get a head start… #yagottabehappywiththat

  8. What a load of cock. If Mercedes were really concerned about the Haas/Ferrari tie up, why did they wait until the end of the season before making a complaint? Not so much shutting the stable door as shooting themselves in the foot. Paddy Lowe will never be another Ross Brawn all the time he’s got a hole in his arse.

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