What lies ahead at the International Tribunal
19 June 2013 – Although just over a week remains until the British Grand Prix, the Formula 1 fraternity is currently focused on the International Tribunal (IT) which is meeting for the first time in Paris on Thursday. Both Mercedes and Pirelli are to be questioned over a private post-Spanish Grand Prix tyre test, completed with a 2013 chassis.
Unlike the spy-gate and crash-gate scandals of recent times, which were handled by governing body the FIA's World Motor Sport Council, the test-gate drama is the first to be ruled on by the International Tribunal. It will meet in the French capital tomorrow morning, with the legal process getting underway at 9.30am local time (GMT +2).
As a preview to the hearing, GPUpdate.net has provided an overview of the IT, a recap of the Barcelona testing controversy plus the sanctions that could be applied.
What is the International Tribunal?
The International Tribunal was formed in 2010 by the FIA General Assembly. It is part of a refreshed judicial system and one that deals with situations passed on by race stewards, as was the case at the Monaco Grand Prix with the current tyre-gate drama.
UK-born Edwin Glasgow is the President of the IT, with Monaco's Laurent Anselmi holding the Vice-President role. The panel is made up of 10 further members from the following nations: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the USA.
At the upcoming hearing, members from Germany and Italy will not be allowed to take part, with Mercedes registered as a German entrant and Pirelli an Italian company.
'The International Court of Appeal is the final appeal tribunal for international motor sport. Established under the FIA Statutes and the FIA’s International Sporting Code it resolves disputes brought before it by any of motor sport’s National Sporting Authorities world-wide, or by the President of the FIA. It can also settle non-sporting disputes brought by national motoring organizations affiliated to the FIA.'
The IT is also detached from the FIA, with its statutes stating: "The IT operates totally independently from the other bodies of the FIA and the members of the FIA."
The key areas of the Mercedes/Pirelli case
Test-gate erupted in Monaco when the first reports of a private tyre test emerged. It was later revealed that Mercedes completed 1,000km of running on prototype 2014 compounds following the Barcelona race weekend, with a 2013 chassis being used.
Red Bull and Ferrari lodged protests, questioning the use of current machinery and also suggesting that all 12 teams had not been offered the same opportunity to test. A subsequent meeting with the stewards led to responsibility being passed to the IT.
Mercedes quickly responded to the complaints by stating that the FIA had given the green light for the test, with rumours circulating of an e-mail from Race Director Charlie Whiting. In terms of parity, sole tyre supplier Pirelli also alluded to previous communications with all 12 teams that offered the chance to conduct running.
Although there are many fine details to the test, rivals are adamant that use of a 2013 car broke the rules, highlighted by Ferrari being able to escape with few questions about a similar post-Bahrain Grand Prix outing as it had supplied a 2011 chassis.
What have Mercedes and Pirelli said?
As has always been the case during his time in Formula 1, Ross Brawn remained calm under interrogation during the latest Team Principal press conference at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, stating that it was his own decision to complete the test.
Although rival teams have piled on the pressure, the Brackley-based outfit has at least publicly stated that it is confident no rules have been broken, while also shunning suggestions that the use of a current driver is not at present permitted in the rules.
"I am comfortable and confident that once we get to the tribunal, the facts will become apparent and people can make a better judgement," Brawn said of the test-gate situation last week. "We would not have done the Pirelli test unless we believed we could do the Pirelli test. When we get to the tribunal, you will have your answers."
On the tyre front, Pirelli says it is looking forward to explaining its part in the test, stating that a vast number of comments made in the paddock "aren't quite correct".
"There are a lot of things being said that aren't quite correct," Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said in a recent interview with Sky Sports. "We would like the opportunity to explain our situation in particular and we will participate with willingness."
What penalties can be applied?
The International Tribunal has vowed to announce its decision as soon as possible, although it is not out of the question that no outcome is reached on Thursday.
Upon confirming its final verdict, the IT has the ability to hand out the following:
a reprimand, fines, a time penalty, exclusion, suspension and disqualification.
Governing body the FIA also covers the International Tribunal's options, stating:
"For the FIA Formula One World Championship, a penalty consisting of the withdrawal of points over the whole of the Championship may be imposed. The International Tribunal may also directly impose bans on taking part or exercising a role, directly or indirectly, in events, meetings or championships organised directly or indirectly on behalf of or by the FIA, or subject to the regulations and decisions of the FIA."
Stay tuned to GPUpdate.net for the latest news from the International Tribunal