Mercedes avoid stern FIA sanctions over “Testgate”

21 Jun 2013 | by Caroline Sweeney

Mercedes have avoided stern sanctions for their involvement in last month’s tyre test in Barcelona after the FIA announced they were to receive a reprimand.

The decision comes after the FIA’s International Tribunal sat yesterday to determine whether Mercedes and Pirelli broke Formula 1’s rules prohibiting competitors entered in the Championship from running their current cars during in-season testing.

The FIA claimed that Mercedes and Pirelli were never granted official permission by the governing body to conduct a three-day, 1,000 km tyre test last month at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.

The tribunal found that Mercedes had broken article 22.4 of the sporting regulations by running an illegal in-season test with a current car, despite receiving “qualified approval” from the FIA to run the test.

The tribunal found that there was no intention by Mercedes to gain “any unfair sporting advantage” and they did not act in bad faith.

The Telegraph quoted: “Mercedes’ barrister, Paul Harris QC, even felt so bold as to close by suggesting a few “appropriate” sanctions for the tribunal’s five judges to chew over with dinner last night. Harris said that a “reprimand might be proportional” given the total lack of clarity from the FIA over whether or not they should be allowed to use a 2013 car at the test. Failing that, perhaps their running at the next Young Driver Test should be curtailed. Any penalty more severe than that, Harris said, should surely be suspended given the inconsistencies in the FIA’s case. To be honest, he had a point.”

Mercedes have also been banned from competing in the forthcoming young driver test session to be held at Silverstone on 17-19 July, the world governing body confirmed in a statement.

Paul Harris QC and Fiona Banks acted on behalf of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix.

The case has been widely covered in the media, including:

BBC

The Guardian

The Independent