Mercedes may be pulled up

Mercedes may be pulled up

Red Bull and Ferrari protested against Formula One rivals Mercedes on Sunday after accusing the Monaco Grand Prix winners of breaking the rules by carrying out a secret tyre test with Pirelli last week.

Stewards said in a statement, after Germany’s Nico Rosberg had celebrated his victory, that they would send a report to the governing FIA, who could bring the matter before the sport’s International Tribunal.

Mercedes -- whose other driver is 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton -- could face a heavy sanction, including possible exclusion from the championship, if found to have acted illegally. The race results were, however, declared official.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said he had found out about the test in Barcelona only on Saturday after the details leaked out in a meeting of the Grand Prix Drivers Association.

He told reporters, amazed that the test had been kept secret in a sport full of prying eyes, that Mercedes had behaved in an “underhand way” and suggested they had gained an unfair advantage.

“We feel testing in Barcelona in a current car with current tyres is in breach of the regulations,” he said. “It’s effectively a contravention of the rules that affect the championship.”

The regulations ban in-season testing but Pirelli said their contract allowed them to do a number of 1,000-km private tests with a ‘representative’ car and the three days in Spain were therefore legal.

“Whenever you run these cars you are learning about reliability, about the mechanical side of the car and how these tyres act and behave. For Mercedes to claim they didn’t benefit from that test would be difficult to believe.”

Mercedes GP non-executive chairman Niki Lauda said the team had sought and obtained permission from the FIA.

“It is very simple. We were asked by Pirelli, we asked the FIA: ‘Are we allowed to do the test?’ The FIA confirmed it and said ‘yes’ and so therefore we did the test. We think other teams have been asked too,” he said

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