“If we were wrong, we are sorry” – Mercedes
Mercedes and Pirelli faced the music at the governing body’s brand new international tribunal in Paris on Thursday, and the outcome was expected immediately afterwards.
But “With proceedings having gone on late into Thursday afternoon, that verdict will now come on Friday”, read a report on F1’s official website.
The FIA’s lawyer argued strongly that Mercedes’ Pirelli tyre test in Barcelona last month broke the rules, and most insiders are expecting the Brackley based team to take a penalty.
It seems Mercedes is also expecting the same, despite its lawyer arguing that the German carmaker “should actually be applauded” for helping Pirelli to improve the safety of F1’s tyres.
Nonetheless, Mercedes said a “reprimand” might be an appropriate sanction, but also offered to sit out next month’s young drivers’ test at Silverstone to “level the playing field”.
“If we were wrong, we are sorry,” said Mercedes’ lawyer.
“If there is to be any sanction, it has to be a minor one, as the procedures have not been clear to anybody.”
Red Bull’s Christian Horner, however – who attended Thursday’s hearing – urged the FIA to reject Mercedes’ offer of skipping Silverstone in July.
“They’ve already done their test with senior drivers so being banned from a young driver test probably isn’t much of a sanction,” he told Sky.
Mercedes, however, was not only apologetic as it charged hard against the Jean Todt-led FIA’s apparent double standards in failing to rebuke Ferrari.
Indeed, it emerged on Thursday that test driver Pedro de la Rosa was not the only driver involved in Ferrari’s post-Bahrain test with a 2011 car at Barcelona, but that Felipe Massa was also in action.
“They (Ferrari) are not criticised but apparently we are,” said Mercedes’ lawyer.
“If we did these nefarious things to the fundamental principles (of sporting fairness) it cannot be the case that Ferrari didn’t also do them,” he insisted.
F1’s tyre supplier Pirelli, meanwhile, indicated it was furious at the FIA for the charges.
“Pirelli cannot accept and will not accept that its image and the quality of its products and its credibility be tarnished because of a case which is not admissible and which is unfounded,” the Italian marque’s lawyer said.