Crash.Net F1 News
International Tribunal hearing date set
10 June 2013
The FIA International Tribunal hearing into the conduct of Mercedes and Pirelli over a tyre test the two conducted in Barcelona last month will take place in Paris on Thursday, June 20 at 9.30am.
The hearing will take place at the offices of the FIA Salle du Comité in the Place de la Concorde.
The FIA confirmed the widely-anticipated location, date and time in a statement on its website on Monday afternoon. It means the case will be heard the week before the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
The FIA statement announcing the hearing details doesn't say when the Tribunal's verdict will be known, only that it "will be published as soon as possible after the hearing."
Mercedes and Pirelli must appear before the independent panel to answer charges that the controversial test they held at the Circuit de Catalunya the week after the Spanish Grand Prix breached FIA sporting regulations about in-season testing using current F1 equipment.
The Tribunal announcement states: "On 5 June 2013, further to protests lodged during the 2013 Monaco GP by Red Bull Racing and Ferrari Scuderia Team against cars #9 and #10 (Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team) for having conducted with Pirelli a three day tyre-testing using a 2013 car on 15, 16 and 17 May in Barcelona, the President of the FIA, acting as the FIA Prosecuting Body, sent to the President of the International Tribunal a notification of charges against Pirelli and a notification of charges against Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team.
"On 5 June 2013, Pirelli and Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team have been convened by the President of the International Tribunal to appear before a judging panel of the International Tribunal."
Mercedes insist that they have done nothing wrong and rumour persist that they have documentation from the FIA - possibly in the form of an email from Charlie Whiting - authorising them to proceed with the test.
The FIA has vehemently denied this, and Mercedes' rivals have been pressing hard for a serious punishment to be handed down to the Mercedes team for allowing the test to go ahead knowing that it it would likely breach the current regulations.
The hearing is new ground for the Tribunal, which was set-up as part of the 2011 reforms to the FIA's disciplinary procedures in late 2011. If the ruling goes against Mercedes then the Tribunal has a wide array of options with which to punish the team's infraction, ranging from a simple fine to outright exclusion from the F1 world championship.
It's also an uncomfortable moment for Pirelli, who are currently bidding to maintain their exclusive contract for the provision of tyres to the world championship beyond the end of 2013.
However it's not entirely clear under what grounds the Tribunal is hearing any case against Pirelli, which is not a competitor and therefore not subject to adjudication under the sporting regulations in the same way that Mercedes is.
Pirelli's position in the sport is via commercial contract with the FIA and therefore any sanctions against the company - or even the termination of their services - would likely have to go through formal business legal proceedings rather than under the auspices of the International Tribunal, which at best could probably only make a non-binding recommendation to the FIA President Jean Todt over how he should proceed in the matter.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has since attempted to make it clear that his team's original complaint to the FIA was only against Mercedes and was never directed at Pirelli.
"I think the issue is nothing to do with Pirelli," he said. "They asked for a car to be used, and it is the entrants' responsibility to ensure that that car complies with the rules.
"Our issue is not to do with Pirelli, it is to do with the current entrant," he added, referring to Mercedes. "They broke the rules."