June 18th, 2013 (F1plus/ E. Black).- This topic is far too detailed to get into specifics. Let's recap the facts;
- A test was conducted in Barcelona after the Spanish GP with Pirelli and Mercedes AMG Petronas.
- The rules allow for a 1000 km in season test for tyres, with a two year old car, if there are safety concerns
- The test was conducted with a current 2013 car which is understood to be outside of the regulations.
- Permission was allegedly attained by both parties involved in the test, but we are uncertain if all the aspects of the tests were clear to all parties.
- Mercedes used it's race drivers and not reserve or test drivers for the test.
- The drivers used unmarked helmets.
Now, draw a line in the sand. Here is where things get interesting. This reporter was present at the team principle press conference at the Canadian GP and witnessed this first hand.
It is important to note that Pirelli Director of Motorsports Paul Hembery was not present at the conference as was originally planned. He was under the advisement of legal counsel which recommended it would be in his best interest to decline participation.
Ross Brawn was very calm during the session while Christian Horner was about 10psi away from blowing a gasket. Many questions were asked about the test and most were deferred by Brawn who simply indicated that the facts will all become apparent in the Tribunal. Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali, Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn and McLaren main man Martin Whitmarsh was also in attendance.
Of importance, Brawn mentioned the following:
1.- The test was private, not secret. He indicated that it would be impossible for anyone to conduct a secret test at a circuit in Barcelona especially immediately following a GP held at the same venue.
2.- This was a Pirelli test, not a Mercedes test. Clearly Brawn wanted to make this point very clear.
3.- The decision for Mercedes AMG to participate in the test was solely his decision.
The biggest bone of contention for the other participants is the lack of transparency. The feeling that trust has been broken and that things appear to have been done under a cloak of secrecy.
If one wants to get caught up conspiracy theories it would be quite easy. It can go as far back as 2011 when Pirelli entered the sport. Jean Todt wanted French company Michelin to be the sole tyre supplier while Bernie wanted Pirelli. Pirelli won that round but could this "TestGate" be what Todt needs to block Pirelli from signing an extension contract? Currently, as many of you know, the Italian outfit does not have a binding agreement with the FIA, F1 and teams beyond this season.
On to Scapegoats; Could Paul Hembery and Pirelli be the sacrificial lambs of this pissing match between Bernie and Jean Todt? If Bernie is found guilty of bribery in his pending court case in Germany and faces jail time, could he no longer be helpful to Pirelli to stay in the sport?
With the recent hiring activity of high level and very capable management at Mercedes, could Ross Brawn be the scapegoat or sacrificial lamb? There is no shortage of predecessor within the team already.
And if one were to really reach...could this all be planned by Brawn as an exit strategy? If Brawn sees his position threatened, would it be feasible to plan his own execution complete with a handsome severance package and victim story?
Of course we are not suggesting any of the above is true. We are merely playing the role of devil's advocate and provoking thought.