F1: Mercedes Not Found Guilty Of Rule Breach, Michelin Not Ruling Out Return Photo:
TMR Team | Jun, 26 2013 | 0 Comments

Mercedes was not found 'guilty' of breaking the rules, Niki Lauda insists.

The German team has been banned from the forthcoming young drivers test at Silverstone, and was officially reprimanded for running its 2013 car and race drivers in a secret test with Pirelli at Barcelona last month.

"There was no rule violation," triple world champion Lauda, the Brackley based team's chairman and a co-owner, told Austrian broadcaster ORF.

"We got a warning -- not even a yellow card which could lead to a red card. We were excluded from the young driver test, which is a judgement that we can live with absolutely."

Lauda said the international tribunal made its verdict with the 'sport' - as opposed to the political intrigue that has filled the headlines in the past days - in mind.

"All the intrigue and the stories were not fair, because everything was done correctly in the sense of how we came to do this test," he insisted.

Lauda therefore slammed those who were heavily critical of Mercedes' behaviour, like Red Bull who reportedly wanted a $100 million fine and hefty points deductions.

"Red Bull went with this story very aggressively," he said, "interpreting everything that could be interpreted into it.

"The paddock is a snake pit but the FIA tribunal is a court, which clearly decided that it was not a rule violation, but a different interpretation of various regulations."

However, Lauda said the outcome of the tyre-dominated situation in F1 this year is that Pirelli is now unable to adjust its tyres.

"They wanted to bring new tyres to Montreal, and then they should have been in Silverstone, now they are not.

"So if it gets really hot at Silverstone, which can sometimes happen, the problem with the many pitstops will likely continue," he insisted.

"So I don't understand this rule," said Lauda, referring to the need for unanimity in the paddock before changes to the tyres can be made immediately.

"If Pirelli says we want to have a different tyre because it's better for us (Pirelli), for the cars, for everyone, then someone is always going to say no.

"So this rule is a disaster," he charged.



Illegal test threat only a joke - Marko

Dr Helmut Marko has said he was only joking when he suggested Red Bull might boycott the young drivers test and use its race drivers at a private test.

On Monday, following a report in The Times newspaper, the Austrian was moved to deny Red Bull was so furious at Mercedes' light penalty in the 'tyre-gate' hearing that it was considering also breaking the rules to its advantage.

"Of course we wouldn't break the rules," Marko told Sport Bild.

He told Germany's Welt newspaper that he had only made the suggestion of mirroring Mercedes' illegal test because the benefits might outweigh the light penalty.

"It was purely sarcastic," he insisted.

"I wanted to demonstrate that, with such a judgement (of the international tribunal), it might be worth the risk.

"We are frustrated that someone is found guilty on all counts and then sentenced to a punishment that they themselves proposed," added Marko.

Indeed, Welt correspondent Simon Pausch suggested that the only truly punished party in the entire affair is Mercedes test driver Sam Bird, who must now sit out next month's Silverstone session.



Michelin not ruling out F1 return

Michelin has not denied rumours it might be shaping up to succeed F1's increasingly frustrated and out-of-favour official tyre supplier Pirelli.

Indeed, some reports have even hinted that the French company's candidature is being championed by FIA president Jean Todt.

But Pascal Couasnon, Michelin's competition boss, said the marque would not consider returning to F1 simply to rescue the sport amid its Pirelli crisis.

Asked, however, if he can categorically rule out coming back to the pinnacle of motor sport, he told Speed Week: "No.

"We all live in the same world, and it is clear what formula one is in terms of visibility -- in this area formula one is a long way ahead.

"Also when it comes to technology, this (F1) could be extremely interesting," added Couasnon.

However, he insisted that Michelin would not simply decide 'yes' and push ahead with an F1 foray.

"We would be willing to sit down and make some suggestions," said Couasnon, indicating that Michelin would like to change some of the rules.

Asked what he meant, he explained: "In terms of the type of tyres in terms of visibility, and what is the right mix for the spectacle and the challenge for tyre manufacturers.

"We might suggest, for example, to change the tyre dimension for formula one. Today in F1 there are 13 inch wheels, but that doesn't interest us. 18 inches is a whole other thing," he said.

Couasnon also indicated that the current rules do not fit with F1's moves to become more 'green'.

"A tyre that lasts only seven laps is difficult to relate to the idea of 'green'," he said.

"We would only be interested (in F1) if we are able to have smart regulations in terms of the tyres.

"It is not enough to return as the 'saviour' of formula one. If there is another way, then we could say 'why not?'" added Couasnon.



Pirelli set to sign final 2014 contracts - Hembery

Amid growing rumours Michelin could return to the grid, Paul Hembery on Tuesday announced that Pirelli is in fact set to remain F1's official supplier.

While at the same time expressing frustration with the situation in F1, and in the days after the 'test-gate' scandal and a FIA reprimand, Pirelli's three-year contract is coming to an end.

That has triggered rumours Michelin - apparently supported by FIA president Jean Todt - could find its way back into the paddock.

But Pirelli's motor sport director Hembery said on Tuesday: "We have signed agreements with the vast majority of the teams.

"Within two weeks we should complete all the contracts. So we're staying in formula one," he told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Even so, Pirelli's controversial 2013 campaign continues. The latest charge has come from Lotus, who have accused the Italian supplier of making overly conservative compound choices for the next races.

"Let's not forget," Hembery responded, "that the cars are faster than what we expected early in the season. And our compounds are more aggressive than in 2012."

He denied the move is bowing to pressure from Red Bull and Mercedes, who have complained often bitterly about the heavily-degrading 2013 tyres.

"No," said Hembery when asked if the more conservative choices are to help those teams.

"Those cars are still aggressive with the tyres. It is true that Lotus is better in the heat, and we are expecting typical Silverstone weather with clouds, cold and a bit of rain.

"Our goal is to have no more than 2 or 3 pitstops, so we're going in that direction."

Nevertheless, with teams like Lotus having refused to allow Pirelli to tweak its compounds mid-season, Hembery acknowledged that a confusing four stops per driver is a possibility at Silverstone.

"Last year we saw two stops, so with softer compounds there is sure to be three, maybe four," he said.

He did admit that the planned tweaked tyres, fitted with kevlar rather than a steel belt, have been shelved.

"Unless there are surprises (they won't be seen again)," said the Briton.

"Instead we're using a new glue that binds the tread, which should have solved the problem of delamination.

"We're also going to try a prototype hard compound at Silverstone that has a longer lifespan," added Hembery.



Silverstone test ban a blow to Mercedes - Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton on Tuesday said Mercedes' inability to test at Silverstone next month is a blow to the Brackley based team.

Red Bull, angry at the German outfit's light penalty at the end of the 'test-gate' scandal, said sitting out the young drivers test will not hurt Mercedes.

"You can't really try anything in the young drivers test," Dr Helmut Marko said this week.

"The drivers at the wheel are just learning about formula one, while Mercedes had three days (in Barcelona) with their regular drivers."

But Hamilton, although not eligible to test next month, insisted on Tuesday that having to sit out Silverstone will hurt Mercedes.

"That does suck a little bit," the 2008 world champion told reporters at Mercedes' Brackley factory.

"It's important because we had a lot planned, upgrades and stuff, on those three days," he is quoted by Reuters.

"It definitely puts us back a little bit but we're going to have to try to figure out a way to recover it elsewhere."



McLaren must not 'lose' 2014 season too - Perez

McLaren must not 'lose' another whole season by bungling the development of its next car, new team driver Sergio Perez has warned.

The young Mexican joined the Woking based team this year, just as it launched the uncompetitive MP4-28.

Despite calls that it would be the most sensible solution, McLaren has so far refused to write off the current car in order to focus on the all-new rules of 2014.

Asked how far McLaren is from winning a race in 2013, Perez answered: "I think far away.

"We need to make major improvements; breakthroughs.

"We are currently one second per lap slower," he is quoted by Brazil's Totalrace.

"You don't win races when you're a second slower than everyone else."

Perez suggested the time might be coming when McLaren must draw a line under the MP4-28 and begin to ensure that 2014 is not similarly poor.

"We have to give our best for the next couple of months, but at some point we'll have to focus on the 2014 car," he said.

"We can't risk losing another year."

In terms of his development as an F1 driver, however, Perez admitted that 2013 has not been a totally 'lost' year.

"I think I'm happy," he said, "because I've learned a lot, and grown a lot as a driver.

"Even though I have half the points that I had last year, I'm in a better position as a driver.

"When I came here with such a different car I realised that, compared to Jenson Button, I was not good enough," he is quoted by EFE news agency.

"So I had to learn about that and work at it. Now I'm driving very differently to how I was at Sauber."


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