Horner: Penalty not good enough

2013-06-27 09:09

LONDON, England - Formula 1's governing body must lay down the law on in-season F1 testing because the punishment handed to Mercedes in June 2013 was too lenient to deter rule-breakers.

That's according to Red Bull's team principal Christian Horner who said: "They've deemed it illegal to test but the sanction for doing that test doesn't in our opinion fit the crime. I think we need further clarity from the IAF to clear up what is and isn't permitted."


A tribunal in Paris reprimanded Mercedes and ordered the team to miss a three-day young-driver test in July 2013 for taking part in a 1000km Pirelli tyre test with its 2013 car and current race drivers.

Mercedes argued the test was carried out by Pirelli, which is not a competitor in the championship, so participated in good faith after verbal assurances from the IAF's technical head Charlie Whiting.

The rules ban testing with current cars during the season and the sanction was mocked by rival Ferrari, which had joined Red Bull in protesting against Mercedes, as little more than a "rap across the knuckles".

Horner said: "The verdict was, I believe, right. They found them (Mercedes) guilty of breaking the sporting regulations and the sporting code. What is slightly confusing is the leniency of the penalty. The problem with the penalty such as the one Mercedes have been given is that it is not a particularly strong deterrent to break the sporting regulations.

"I should think it was met with a huge sigh of relief at Brackley (the Mercedes factory)."


The Times newspaper published an interview with F1 commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone in which he replied: "Just a reprimand is it? That's great".

It also said a relieved Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff told Ecclestone he would buy dinner at Silverstone.

Mercedes principal Ross Brawn said that the penalty was "pretty severe" and more significant for his team than rivals were suggesting.

Horner said: "Yes, it's probably annoying for them to miss it (the young-driver test), but it pales into insignificance compared to the benefit you would see from running your race drivers around a race track for 1000km on a circuit that has been rubbered-in two days after a grand prix weekend."

"You don't test with young drivers over the winter for a reason. You have a limited amount of test mileage with your cars and you choose to put your race drivers in because they give you the most relevant feedback."


Horner also questioned Ferrari's use of a 2011 car in a separate Pirelli test in Barcelona before the Spanish Grand Prix, which the Italian team then won.

He said: "The most important thing moving forward is to get some kind of clarity on what you can and can't do, not just with the 2013 car, but also the 2011 car and tyre testing in general."

"Ferrari, within the regulations, ran that car. But is it right for a competitor to be doing over 1000km of testing on tyres you are potentially racing within the heat of a championship battle?"

Asked whether a win for Mercedes this weekend would be 'tainted' by what had happened, Horner avoided a direct reply.

He pointed out that at the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, Mercedes had locked out the front row in qualifying and then sunk in the race with their cars suffering from high tyre wear.

Horner said: "The very next grand prix (after the test) they had one of the lowest degradations. That might purely be coincidence, and I'm sure the circuit (Monaco) lends itself more to that."

"But in Montreal (the race after Monaco), they didn't experience the tyre issues they previously experienced, so let's see."

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