Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has responded to the controversy over the Mercedes team helping with a three-day test in Barcelona by claiming that everything was within the letter of the law.

Raceday in Monaco sparked into life with the revelation that both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had been on track immediately after the Spanish Grand Prix, as Pirelli racked up 1000km of evaluation on tyres largely destined for 2014, but also including those the company plans to introduce, on safety grounds, in Montreal next month.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner claimed that no-one else had been aware of the test until now [ see separate story], and the secrecy appears to have caused as much anger as the test itself, with no mention of the test having been made by team, drivers or tyre supplier despite excessive degradation being the biggest issue facing Mercedes at present, and therefore being the subject of much media interest.

Hembery, however, insists that there was nothing underhand about the session, with the option to run having been extended to teams other than Mercedes.

"It's completely regular in that we are allowed to do a 1000km tyre test with any team," he told journalists in the Principality, "In the World Rally Championship contract, it's exactly the same. We can do it with a representative car. We've done it before with another team, and we've asked another team to do some work as well."

Moreover, Hembery insisted that Mercedes would have gleaned very little useful information from the test, with the decision to throw the Canadian GP tyres into the mix having been taken at the last minute following ongoing problems with the 2013 rubber in Spain.

"In reality, we were looking at next year's solutions and trying a variety of different things, so Mercedes haven't a clue what on earth we were testing," he claimed, "Ninety per cent [of what was tested] was for 2014."

In a separate interview with veteran journalist Adam Cooper, Hembery confirmed that Mercedes had only been involved because they were among the minority to take up the offer to help Pirelli with its development programme, and the fact that it had had a nightmare with its tyres in Barcelona was merely a coincidence.

"Last year, we wrote to the teams saying [Pirelli was allowed to do 1000km of testing] and inviting teams to say yes or no, whether they were willing to do it," he explained, "Some teams said yes, and some didn't reply. They were one of the teams that said they would do it. It's really that. We were in discussions to do some other testing with another team in the future."

Unwilling to reveal who else had replied in the affirmative, despite Sky Sports reporting Mercedes' Niki Lauda suggesting Ferrari had already run in the wake of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Hembery maintained that there were no grounds for a protest, despite Red Bull's Christian Horner saying it was a likely course of action because the test involved a current specification car.

"That was not our situation - we asked for a 'representative' car," Hembery pointed out, "What do you expect us to do? The rules are very clear, it's existed in the FIA contracts for years, and we just used it."

With Pirelli still chasing agreement from the teams to extend its contract beyond the end of 2013, could this latest row, ultimately, prove to be the straw that breaks its resolve to carry on?


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