Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner has confirmed that his operation turned down the opportunity to go testing with Pirelli for fear that its involvement may be in breach of the F1 regulations.
Speaking from a position of hindsight, knowing – and protesting - that Mercedes ran its 2013 car during a controversial three-day session in Barcelona last month, Horner revealed that RBR and others had been approached about the possibility of aiding the tyre supplier with its development programme, but had decided not to proceed on the grounds of legality due to Pirelli's desire to use a current F1 car in place of the ageing hacks it had been saddled with previously.
“Our feelings were fairly clear because we raised a protest about it in Monaco,” Horner told journalists in Montreal, “We believe that it is the responsibility of the entrant to comply with the regulations so, when it came to light that a test with a current car had taken place, our interpretation of the regulations is that that was in clear breach of them and therefore we raised a protest prior to the race for it to be dealt with as an issues by the FIA.
“Pirelli have asked several teams to test, ourselves included, but we have declined to do so because we felt that it wasn't in line with the regulations, certainly with a current car.”
Irked as much as anything by the perception that Mercedes' involvement was shrouded in secrecy – a point Ross Brawn prefers to refer to as 'privacy' – Horner called for clearer confirmation of what was and was not permissible when it came to in-season testing.
“I think the lack of transparency is disappointing, that you get to learn these things second hand,” he sighed, “If a supplier has issues then it obviously needs to deal with them but, when all entrants are supposedly equal, it's only right and proper that information is made transparently clear.
“[However], I think the important thing is that there needs to be absolute clarity moving forward, what is testing and what isn't testing. I think that's more crucial than anything, [and] it has to be fully resolved.
“Whenever you run the car, when you're not allowed to test, when you have limited mileage, when the rules are written as they are, when you run a current car of course, the way that F1 is, with the amount of technology and with the amount of data analysis there is, you're always learning - whether it be reliability, whether it be endurance, whether it be performance. So, of course, even if you're testing a component for a supplier, you're learning.
“I think F1 has moved an awfully long way over the last few years to ensure fairness and equality to all of the entrants, [but] I think that, if a team does carry out 1000km of additional testing with a current car, you're going to learn something.”
The matter will now be referred to an FIA Tribunal, and Horner is hopeful that his desired clarity will be one of the outcomes of the investigation into Mercedes and Pirelli's activities.
“It is a new process, so I think the most important thing is that it's dealt with quickly and we achieve clarity in terms of what's possible moving forward,” he concluded, “Are we allowed to test out 2014 engine from our third-party supplier next week? There's certain things that need clarification.”