Mercedes face points deduction as Pirelli avoid teams showdown

Lotus boss expects the Anglo-German outfit to be punished for wrongly helping tyre supplier

Montreal

Pirelli again created the headlines at a grand prix yesterday, when motorsport director Paul Hembery pulled out of a post-practice press conference on the advice of the company’s lawyers.

The Italian tyre manufacturer has been beleaguered ever since they  organised a test after the Spanish Grand Prix last month in which Mercedes participated on their behalf, supposedly testing 2014 tyres.

A lively debate was in store in the conference as McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh, Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali and Red Bull’s Christian Horner, were expected to grill Hembrey and fellow team principal, Ross Brawn of Mercedes, about the test, in the wake of the governing body FIA decreeing last Wednesday that the Anglo-German team must face an official investigation. Hembrey, however, withdrew minutes before it was due to start.

The investigation was ordered after Red Bull and Ferrari protested against Mercedes’ use of a 2013 car to assist Pirelli in the 1,000km test, something which Lotus team principal Eric Boullier had earlier in the day said breached the rules.

And he believes that when the International Tribunal decide on Mercedes’ fate – a meeting could be convened on 20 June – they will punish the team for breaking sporting regulations. Should the team be found guilty, a range of penalties is open to the tribunal. These range from a heavy fine through deduction of world championship points to exclusion from a race or even the championship. The middle option is the most likely.

“It’s good to have a hearing, parties talking officially, and then we will see the outcome of this,” Boullier said. “But there is clearly a breach somewhere, and then you expect to see a sanction.

“Fundamentally for me there is a big issue, which is a breach of the sporting code. Testing is banned. You have a sporting code and a testing agreement signed by all the teams. Clearly, testing today is key in some way. Limited mileage forces you to change the process by which you design your car, the way you race. For many years performance was just aero [aerodynamics]. Now, you still need aero, but for the first time you need to consider the management of the tyres to make your weekend a success. So by doing testing you have a serious gain of the understanding of the tyres, and that’s something which is not fair.”

Boullier also pointed out that Pirelli’s data on their 2013 tyres was made available last year to every team, and that Lotus [together with Ferrari] chose to optimise their car around the rubber it would run, whereas others chose still to focus more on aerodynamics.

He also said that he had no problem that Ferrari, who also conducted a test in Barcelona with Pirelli and were initially asked to assist in the FIA investigation, had been let off the hook as they complied with the regulations by using a 2011 car, even if it was driven by third driver Pedro de la Rosa.

“I think Ferrari pushed the envelope,” he said, “but they are not in breach. They respected the regulation, and if you do that, then fine. With Pirelli it’s different because they are supposed to be fair and treat everybody equally, which is borderline with their contractual agreement.”

The feeling in the paddock is that the situation with Mercedes needs to be resolved quickly in everyone’s interests, so that the teams can all then sit down with Pirelli and discuss a way forward. “We can still trust them, but we maybe have to sit down again and remind everybody of their needs of the agreement,” Boullier said.

On the track ahead of tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix,  Fernando Alonso snatched the fastest time from Lewis Hamilton in yesterday’s second practice After Formula One’s most underrated driver, Paul di Resta, had excelled to beat Jenson Button to fastest time in a wet-but-drying morning session, Alonso wound up his Ferrari for a lap of 1min 14.818sec as the track stayed dry throughout the afternoon.

The Spaniard, who could not better seventh place recently in Monaco, said: “We need four or five consecutive races on the podium or close to the podium to recover some of the points we have missed. This weekend, we must score good points.”

Hamilton was happier with the braking performance of his Mercedes, comfortably setting the pace with 1:14.830 before Alonso upstaged him with  1:14.818 as Monaco winner Nico Rosberg managed only fifth on 1:15.249.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test