Mercedes tyre test saga continues and plot thickens
The furore over Mercedes’ secret Pirelli test looks set to deepen, as rival teams claim they were not informed by F1’s tyre supplier.
As it refused to rule out “penalties“, the FIA said Pirelli and Mercedes would have got the green light for the test “provided every team” was also offered the same opportunity. It has emerged Ferrari did a secret test for Pirelli before Barcelona with a 2011 car, with Pedro de la Rosa at the wheel.
And Red Bull confirmed it was asked about conducting a test for Pirelli, “but we very clearly said no,” Dr Helmut Marko told Austrian television Servus TV. “In our opinion, such a test is not covered by the regulations. It is a clear violation.”
There are reports that Pirelli distributed an email about the possibility of tyre testing, but many teams reportedly deny ever receiving it. “We feel cheated,” Sauber founder Peter Sauber is quoted by 20min.ch.
According to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, Williams also denies knowing about the possibility of Pirelli tyre testing. And asked if his team was consulted, Lotus boss Eric Boullier is quoted by Brazil’s Totalrace: “No.” Force India’s Bob Fernley said the issue came up in a FOTA meeting, but it was not a formal invitation to test. “I don’t remember getting a letter from Pirelli on the subject,” he insisted.
In fact, the Telegraph newspaper refers to an email to teams from the teams association FOTA, explicitly warning that in-season testing is not allowed unless there is “unanimous” consent by all teams. The matter is now in the FIA’s hands. “I don’t expect there to be a judgement before Montreal,” Marko said. “I would say by Silverstone at the earliest.”
Red Bull and Ferrari are reportedly proposing that, if Mercedes was allowed to test, they should as well. “We want to have the same test in order to get to the same level,” said Marko. But it is clear that not all teams, particularly those who are happiest with Pirelli’s difficult 2013 tyres, will agree to that remedy. “There will certainly be a penalty, because Mercedes’ tyre advantage in Monaco was obvious,” Marko is quoted by Bild newspaper. “There is also a question of cost, because such a test costs nearly a million euros.” Another factor, said Marko, is the long-life engine rule, with Mercedes’ three race distances at the secret test supposedly now excluded from its allocation of eight engines per driver. “There is a long list of things,” said the outspoken Austrian. “We also want to have this test. Logistically, it can only happen at Silverstone, which means that we have lost two races until we have the same knowledge.”
Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda, meanwhile, is accusing Red Bull of sour grapes. “Red Bull was also asked (about the test) but we were simply faster to accept,” he said. “So they are just sore losers. “I have made a bet with Helmut Marko – 50 euros – that there will be no consequences for Mercedes,” the Austrian legend added.
Finally, Marko said Red Bull is not questioning the validity of Nico Rosberg’s Monaco win. “We deliberately put in the protest before the race, because our protest is about the test, not Nico Rosberg’s victory. It was a great performance and we can live with second and third places,” he insisted.
Info: GMM, Image: Mercedes GP