Merc boss approved tyre test
MERC BOSS BRAWN: He OK'd the Barcelona tyre-test that has put his team before a tribunal for alleged out-of-season testing. Image: AFP
Author: JULIAN LINDEN
MONTREAL, Canada - Mercedes boss Ross Brawn confirmed on Friday that he made the decision for his team to be part of a Pirelli tyre-test in Spain that is being investigated as a possible breach of the sport's rules.
He also, however, reaffirmed his belief that the team had done nothing wrong and was confident it would be cleared of any wrongdoing when it goes before an International Automobile Federation tribunal.
"There have been some rumours before and nothing's happened," Brawn told a news conference after the first day of practice for Sunday's 2013Canadian GP. "We should say 'let's wait and see what the tribunal finds' and then take it from there. It was my decision to do the test so that's a fact."
'INTEGRITY IMPORTANT TO US'
Brawn also shot back at suggestions the tests were conducted secretly. "It was a private test," he said. "It wasn't a secret test. Anybody who believes you can go to Barcelona and do three days of testing and not have anybody become aware, is very naive.
"Sporting integrity is very, very important to us, very important to Mercedes. When the facts become apparent, people can make a better judgment of the situation."
While Brawn defended himself at a packed news conference Pirelli boss Paul Hembery, also scheduled to appear at the conference, pulled out on legal advice.
"We're going to a tribunal," he explained to reporters. "If ever you're going to a tribunal any lawyer will tell you at that point you have a formal process to follow, which we're happy to follow."
'FACTS WILL BECOME APPARENT'
Under F1 rules, teams are not allowed to conduct any tests outside of race weekends because it would give them an unfair advantage over their rivals but both Mercedes and Pirelli, the sole supplier to the 11 teams in the championship, insist that it was a Pirelli test from which Mercedes gained no benefit.
Brawn said: "I wouldn't say it is very pleasant at the moment but I'm comfortable and confident that once when we get to the tribunal the facts will become apparent and people can make a better judgment.
"We would not have done the Pirelli test unless we believed we could. When we get to the tribunal you will have your answers."
Christian Horner, principal of the Red Bull team that is one of two that launched a formal protest against Mercedes, revealed that he was also approached by Pirelli to do a similar test but he turned down the offer.
"Pirelli asked several teams to test, ourselves included, but we declined. We felt it wasn't in line with the regulations, certainly with the current car.
"The important thing is that there needs to be absolute clarity in what you can do and what you can't, what is testing and what isn't, and I think that is more crucial than anything to be fully resolved."
'YOU'LL LEARN SOMETHING'
Horner, speaking at the same conference as Brawn, disputed Brawn's insistence that Mercedes did not benefit from being part of the test. "With the amount of technology and with the amount of data analysis there is, you're always learning." Horner said. "So, even if you're testing a component for another supplier, you are learning.
"F1 has moved an awfully long way over the last few years to ensure fairness and equality to all entrants. If a team carries out an extra 1000km with a current car then you are going to learn something."
The auto federation announced on Wednesday that it would carry out a full enquiry into the three-day test, in which Mercedes used its current race car and drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Ferrari conducted a similar 1000km test at the same Barcelona circuit in April but was cleared of any wrongdoing because an old car was used and that did not contravene the regulations.
No date was set for the tribunal, which could impose stiff sanctions against Mercedes if the team is found to have acted illegally. Mercedes will have at least 15 days to submit its own observations once charges have been laid.
The prosecuting body then has a further 15 days to respond, with another 15 days elapsing before any hearing, although the tribunal president can reduce or extend the time limits.
Pirelli, already under fire for its quick-wearing 2013 tyres, has been pressing to be allowed to test with more up-to-date cars to it can prepare for the significant challenge of a new V6 engine in F1 in 2014.
The Italian company has yet to agree a contract with the teams and the federation for 2014, however, which has added to its frustration.
Mercedes boss Ross Brawn confirmed on Friday that he made the decision for his team to be part of a Pirelli tyre test in Spain