JUNE 7, 2013
Mercedes integrity on trial in Montreal paddock
'Tyregate' was the predictably hot topic of conversation in the Montreal paddock on Thursday.
Mercedes issued a statement after the FIA said it will convene the international tribunal to consider the apparent breach of the sport's rules regarding in-season testing.
"Sporting integrity is of primary importance to Mercedes-Benz and we have the utmost confidence in the due process of the FIA," said the German team.
But Thursday's events in Canada showed that there are many outstanding questions about Monaco winner Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton's highly controversial running in the 2013 car at Barcelona.
Why, for example, did the drivers not wear their usual helmet liveries?
"Don't want to comment on that. Sorry," Rosberg told La Gazzetta dello Sport's Paulo Ianieri.
And there is also the matter of Hamilton's 'tweet' from Orlando, Florida, while he was actually testing at the Circuit de Catalunya. And why the circuit entrances were blacked out with cloth?
And contradictory statements.
Team boss Ross Brawn said in Monaco that the Brackley based team had no idea what tyres were being tested in Barcelona.
"You are given codes. You don't know what tyres you are testing," he had said.
Pirelli agreed, saying in a statement that Mercedes was "in the dark, which means that (the team) had no information on which specifications were being tested or about the goal of the testing".
But Rosberg completely contradicted Brawn and Pirelli on Thursday, revealing: "Of course I was aware of what their (Pirelli's) ideas were and what they were testing to be able to pinpoint for them what was going on and what directions are likely to be best for them".
It is not known when the FIA hearing will take place, but many voices in the paddock admitted they expect Mercedes to be penalised.
"I think it would be absolutely wrong to take Nico's victory from him," world champion Sebastian Vettel said, "so it's more a matter of (how to penalise) the team.
"What do you do, exactly? I don't know but maybe (deduct) points? I don't know," he added.
Germany's Bild newspaper also mentioned the possibility of a fine, or a race ban.