Mercedes braced for FIA verdict after tribunal opts for extra time

FORMULA One constructor Mercedes and tyre supplier Pirelli are set to discover today whether they are deemed to have carried out illegal in-season testing, after governing body, the FIA, took extra time last night to re-examine evidence given at a tribunal.

Mercedes, home to British former world champion Lewis Hamilton, were given conditional permission to carry out three days of tyre testing in Barcelona last month, the tribunal heard, on one of its 2013 cars, which would normally contravene strict F1 rules.

Sporting director Ron Meadows and team principal Ross Brawn both contacted the FIA race director Charlie Whiting, who gave them the go-ahead, provided Pirelli invited all of Mercedes’ rival teams to test and were able to demonstrate they had done so.

But FIA counsel Mark Howard said yesterday: “There was no attempt whatsoever by Mercedes to involve the other teams in order to ensure that no perception of an advantage was obtained.”

However Mercedes, currently third in this season’s Constructors’ Championship behind Red Bull and Ferrari, argued: “The Pirelli test was not a test undertaken by Mercedes. It is irrefutable it is a test undertaken by Pirelli.”

If found guilty the German manufacturer, and consequently Hamilton, could be expelled from this year’s world championship.

The defence from Pirelli’s counsel, Dominique Dumas, centres around their belief the FIA has no authority or jurisdiction over a supplier.

A guilty verdict for Pirelli could be met by a substantial fine.