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SBD Global/June 21, 2013/Franchises

Mercedes Defends Pirelli Tire Test, Accuses Governing Body FIA Of Double Standards

Mercedes will know its fate Friday "after coming out fighting" at an int'l tribunal against accusations that it staged an illegal tire test, according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. The team refuted charges that it had gained an advantage over its rivals by taking part in a 600-mile test with Pirelli, F1's tiremaker, and accused the FIA "of double standards in allowing Ferrari to get away with taking part in similar test sessions." Mercedes was in the dock at an inquiry into the so-called "Tyregate" scandal. If found guilty, "the team could face punishments ranging from a simple reprimand to heavy fines, a ban or even disqualification from the constructors' world championship." Tribunal President Edwin Glasgow said that "he would announce the verdict of the five judges" on Friday. Mercedes had turned defense into attack by telling the inquiry that Ferrari had conducted two similar test sessions -- "one last year and one in April before the Spanish Grand Prix" -- with Pirelli, yet escaped sanctions. Attorney Paul Harris also "dismissed arguments that the team did not have permission to carry out the test." He said that FIA Race Dir Charlie Whiting and FIA Legal Dir Sebastien Bernard "had given the go-ahead" (LONDON TIMES, 6/20).

RED HERRINGS: In London, Tom Cary wrote Harris said that the FIA had been guilty of a number of "red herrings." Harris: "This was not a test undertaken by Mercedes. The Pirelli test was not a test undertaken by Mercedes. It is irrefutable it was a test undertaken by Pirelli." Harris said that as the test was organized, paid for, and run by Pirelli, "Mercedes cannot be ruled to be in breach." He added that this view was backed by the FIA's own lawyer, Sebastien Bernard, who advised that Mercedes could indeed run its '13 car as, "for the purposes of the Pirelli test, it would not be judged a competitor's car" (TELEGRAPH, 6/20). REUTERS' Alan Baldwin wrote FIA legal representative Mark Howard opened the hearing by telling the four judges and tribunal President Edwin Glasgow that the action "was a clear breach of the ban on teams testing during the season with a current car." Glasgow: "There is not much room for doubt that the Mercedes 2013 car was a car covered by the regulations and that the car was subjected to track running time in Barcelona. Track testing is deliberately defined as track running time. It is a term used deliberately because it is unambiguous ... any running on the track is deemed to be testing" (REUTERS, 6/20).

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