Mercedes facing points deduction in tyre-test row
Mercedes could find their encouraging early success in the World Championship standings undermined by a points deduction over the Pirelli tyre-test row.
Lotus team principal Eric Boullier yesterday made it clear that he firmly expects that the international tribunal will eventually decide to sanction the Anglo-German team for breaking sporting rules.
The FIA, the sport's governing body, decided last week that Mercedes must face an official investigation into the tyre test it conducted for Pirelli after last month's Spanish Grand Prix.
The hearing, which may be heard on June 20, has been called after Red Bull and Ferrari protested against Mercedes' use of a 2013 car to assist Pirelli in the 1,000km test, allegedly of next year's range of tyres, in Barcelona between May 15 and 17.
Should Mercedes be found guilty, penalties range from a heavy fine to deduction of World Championship points and even exclusion from a race or the championship, with the middle option currently felt the most likely.
"It's good to have a hearing, parties talking officially," Boullier said. "But there is clearly a breach somewhere, and then you expect to see a sanction."
A points deduction would hit Mercedes badly as they currently sit fourth in the constructors' standings, just three points behind Lotus in third, while their drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are fourth and sixth respectively in the drivers' table.
But Boullier is adamant that Mercedes must face some sanction. "Fundamentally for me there is a big issue, which is a breach of the sporting code," he added.
"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."
The feeling in the paddock is that the situation with Mercedes needs to be resolved quickly in everyone's interests, and 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.
Yesterday's opening practice session for tomorrow's Canadian Grand Prix was characterised by changing conditions as the Montreal track dried out steadily throughout the 90 minutes.
Scotland's Paul di Resta was able to just pip Jenson Button to the fastest time. After Di Resta in his Force India had lapped in 1 minute 21.020 seconds, Button clocked 1:21.108, just 0.088 seconds short. (© Independent News Service)
Canadian Grand Prix, Live, tomorrow, Sky Spts F1, 5.30/BBC1, 6.15