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Formula One’s Tire Row Threaten Mercedes and Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Pirelli F1 boss, is embroiled with a Formula One Tribunal regarding an alledged ‘secret’ and illegal tire test.

During the two-week break between the Canadian Grand Prix and the British Grand Prix, the big news in Formula One is the International Tribunal hearing that will take place on Thursday. Here Pirelli and Mercedes Benz will answer to charges of breaking testing agreements, which states that the use of current cars is forbidden, after Spanish Grand Prix.

Pirelli and Mercedes Benz are adamant that they have done nothing wrong, Mercedes Benz executive team director Toto Wolff has been quoted by Sky Sports that “there are some facts that will become apparent in the tribunal…and then things will become clearer”.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s Motorsport Director similarly told Sky Sports “there are a lot of things being said that aren’t quite correct and we would like the opportunity to explain our situation…”

In the Pirelli statement issued after the scandal broke they claimed that “The car utilized by Mercedes was the result of direct communication between the FIA and the (Mercedes Benz) team itself.”

If the decision goes against Mercedes Benz, technical director Ross Brawn has already held his hands up and said he was responsible for making the decision to use 2013 cars. His position within the team, that he saved from going under in 2009 when Honda quit the sport, might well come under threat.

Mercedes Technical Director Ross Brawn.

Both parties are keeping an open mind as to the outcome of the hearing while several teams are expecting Mercedes Benz to be sanctioned should the Tribunal find that Pirelli and Mercedes Benz have breached the FIA’s sporting code.

My opinion is that this is a typical Formula One storm in a teacup. Pirelli wanted to run tests on new tyres for the 2014 season after the Spanish Grand Prix and Mercedes Benz agreed since it is within the commercial agreement between Pirelli and the Formula One promoters to do so.

All the other teams are simply fuming a lot of hot air because they were not the ones chosen to run the test.

Wither Kimi and Lotus in 2014? 

Where will Kimi go in 2014?

Looking forward there are but six months until next seasons cars will be unveiled ushering in a new era of V6 turbocharged powered Formula One cars featuring multiple energy recovery systems.

While most teams now know which power trains they will be using next year, it is surprising that the team with an outside chance of winning this years drivers championship, Lotus, have yet to make any announcement about it’s plans.

The logical choice for Lotus would be to use Renault motors as they have this year however with the Renault motors alleged to be considerably more expensive than Mercedes Benz power trains on offer Renault seem to be baulking at committing to it’s current supplier.

Renault has deals in place with Red Bull and Torro Rosso for next season and is likely to be supplying Caterham, with whom it has a number of agreements outside Formula One and have stated they have the capacity for one more team if needs arise.

Lotus’ other power train option is to join Force India and Williams and go with Mercedes Benz power plants for the next couple of seasons. Both Lotus and Williams are said to be exploring the possibility of using Honda engines alongside McLaren from 2016.

At the same time Kimi Räikkönen has yet to commit to the Lotus team for next season, he is unlikely to be offered the opportunity to rejoin Ferrari, by whom he was handsomely bought out of a contract in 2009, as Fernando Alonso’s de facto number two.

The only other top team with a driving vacancy for 2014 at this stage is Red Bull with whom Sebastian Vettel has just signed to remain until 2015.

There is chance Kimi could be offered a deal to team up with Sebastian at Red Bull but it hard to see how that will improve Kimi’s chances of winning a second championship.

My best guess is that Kimi will be in a Lotus next year but which power train he has behind him is too close to call.

Jose Froilan Gonzalez October 5, 1922 – June 15, 2013

Jose Froilan Gonzalez

The motor racing community was sad to hear that Argentinian driver Jose Froilan Gonzalez died aged 90 in Buenos Aires last weekend.

Known as the “Pampas Bull” by his fans and El Cabezón (Fat Head), by his close colleagues Gonzalez will forever be remembered by Ferrari Tifiosi as the man that delivered the first Formula One victory to Ferrari.

He crossed the finishing line aboard his Ferrari 375 at Silverstone, England, on the 14th of July 1951 to win the British Grand Prix 51 seconds ahead of fellow Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio who was driving an Alfa Romeo.

From 26 starts Gonzalez only other Formula One win was at the wheel of a Ferrari 625 at the British Grand Prix in 1954 a win that came a month after his victory in the 1954 Le Mans 24 hours where he shared a Ferrari 375 Plus with Frenchman Maurice Trintignant.

Motorsports Unplugged extends condolences to Jose’s family and friends.

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