Ferrari is believed to have ruffled more than a few feathers inside the F1 paddock with its annual Fiorano media day last week, during which double world champion Fernando Alonso drove the newly-updated F10 around the Scuderia's
Italian test track for the first time.
Although all in-season testing has been banned since the beginning of last year in favour of cost-cutting, promotional or demonstration events are exempt from the rule.
According to The Daily Telegraph
, there are concerns amongst rival teams that Alonso's run at Fiorano exploited that very loophole in the regulations in order to gain extra knowledge of the new, Red Bull-style low exhaust system that the Prancing Horse is due to officially introduce in this weekend's European Grand Prix in Valencia – and by extension, therefore, gain an unfair competitive advantage just as it is endeavouring to get back on terms with title adversaries McLaren-Mercedes and Red Bull Racing.
'Fernando did a few laps of the track at the wheel of the F10 for promotional purposes, filming not only for partners of the Reds but also for some novel features which will soon enliven the new section on the Ferrari website, dedicated to F1,' read an official statement on the matter from Maranello.
'Even though he only completed very few kilometres – further limited by the demands of the film script – it was nevertheless Fernando's debut at the Fiorano circuit at the wheel of a Ferrari F1 car...you have to make the most of any opportunity in this era of the testing ban!'
Whether Ferrari's publicity stunt was indeed against the spirit of the rules, was simply taking full advantage of a grey area or was merely just that – a publicity stunt – it seems competitors are now rapidly trying to find ways to play catch-up, perhaps by introducing new 'media days' of their own...