Dr. Helmut Marko has weighed in on the Mercedes test and it’s not a glowing review as you would expect. F1.com has the Q&A:
Q: Helmut, can you sum up how Red Bull Racing sees the Mercedes tyre test issue? The dust still hasn’t settled yet…
Helmut Marko: This test is a clear breach of the sporting regulations – and that is why we launched a protest. Firstly we want clarification, and secondly – if it is really a significant breach – we want to see punishment by the FIA.
Q: Formula One teams do have a habit of sailing close to the wind – was that too close?
HM: To push the limits is nothing unusual, but that was clearly too close for comfort.
Q: What advantage did that test bring? Was there an advantage at all? How do you assess an advantage?
HM: Formula One cars are very complex machines and every kilometre you can run – especially in the season – is delivering information. Whether this information can be transformed into a direct gain in time is impossible to tell from a distance, but if we were to do something like that I know that our car would be faster.
Q: In other words, if you ran such a test you know that you would gain something…
HM: Very clearly, yes. Every kilometre run brings valuable information.
Q: Red Bull Racing, and to a lesser degree Ferrari, made a big deal out of that Barcelona test. Why are McLaren so silent?
HM: I expect because they run a Mercedes engine and depend on the goodwill of Mercedes next season.
Q: Could the test also be important for 2014 development?
HM: We simply don’t know enough about the test yet.
Q: It is said that Red Bull Racing were also offered such a test, but dismissed it. Did it never occur to you that there could be ‘broader’ options in such a test – for example running your current car?
HM: It is correct that we were offered such a test. We decided that by committing such a breach of regulations, we – as championship leaders – would be confronted with consequences and thus did not follow that route.
Q: How can such an issue be dealt with in a way that is satisfying for all sides?
HM: That is a case for the International Tribunal. When they have all facts and information I expect them to come to a finding that satisfies all parties involved.
Q: If you look at the situation from your point of view, isn’t the next logical step the law of the jungle and no FIA-controlled rules?
HM: Well, first of all the sporting regulations have been broken. Then there is a test agreement among all the teams – a gentlemen’s agreement that we haven’t even mentioned – that also has been clearly violated. And if this test is waved through without consequences all the talks about cost reductions would go out of the window – it would be the reopening of Pandora’s box which would be hard to ever close again. Renault would definitely like us to test their new engine, and so on and so forth…
It will be difficult to avoid the issue that every mile driven is a chance to tweak your car and learn something. What I am most perplexed by is the FIA in this matter and the approval of using a 2013 chassis. Surely Pirelli could have completed the test with a 2-year-old car but then it would not be the same as a current format. It’s a difficult situation to be sure.
I also understand Monisha’s point at Sauber. The teams are right in the heat of their 2014 chassis development and a chance to get a sniff of the proposed rubber for next year could be huge. What do you think?