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No decision from Tribunal on Thursday

20 June 2013

The formal announcement of the decision in the FIA International Tribunal proceedings on matters arising from the 'secret' test conducted by Mercedes and Pirelli at the Circuit de Catalunya last month won't be made until Friday, the president of the tribunal Edwin Glasgow QC has confirmed.



The Tribunal had previously said that it would hand down its decision as soon as possible, but officials at the FIA's headquarters in Place de la Concorde stated over lunch that the decision would probably not come today and that the panel instead wished to take its time reviewing the evidence and deliberating.

After a break for lunch, proceedings resumed in the afternoon with Pirelli's turn to take to the stand and give testimony.

Pirelli's lawyer Dominque Dumas immediately asserted that "we do not come under the jurisdiction or authority of the FIA," and therefore are not subject to the Tribunal's proceedings or any sanctions they might hand out.

That's because the Tribunal is a body of the sporting authority, the FIA, but Pirelli is not a competitor but rather a contractor appointed under commercial contract.

Dumas cited precedent from the 2009 "Crashgate" case against former Renault boss Flavio Briatore as evidence that the FIA can't take action against third parties and non-licence holders without it being overturned in civil court.

Pirelli's opening statement indicates the the tyre manufacturer is at the end of its tether regarding its recent treatment by the support and is preparing a no-holds-barred robust defence of its actions -no matter who they might embarrass or what the consequences may prove to be.

Dumas also picked up on an issue raised in the morning by Mercedes, stating that Pirelli's contract with the FIA places no restrictions about what car can be used for its permitted tests - in other words, that the FIA has no right to dictate to the company how and when it can test its products.

The FIA's lawyer, Mark Howard QC, countered Pirelli's argument by claiming that "Pirelli's submissions are confused and miss the point."

Earlier in the day, Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn took to the stand to give his own testimony in the matter, asserting the argument that the test was a Pirelli matter and not under the control of or beneficial to Mercedes in any way. The team's lawyers produced emails between FIA technical head Charlie Whiting and FIA lawyer Sebastien Bernard that appear to be in support of their assertion.

However, Brawn did express regret for the decision to have both of the team's drivers - Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg - switch to anonymous black helmets while conducting the test, which he admitted gave the three-day session an aura of 'black hat' secrecy.

Brawn went on to explain that this was not intended, but was purely because the lack of bodyguards and security staff at the circuit after the end of the Spanish Grand Prix two days earlier meant that the team wanted to keep the session low key and not attract any intrusive fan attention.

Brawn added that even in the event that the Tribunal did find against Mercedes in its ruling, in this view the team had demonstrated that it had taken all reasonable steps to get permission to participate in the test from Whiting and the FIA and that any sanctions imposed should be relatively minor.


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