Bernie Ecclestone has made it clear that he believes that Mercedes rather than Pirelli is to blame for the testing controversy.
Although initially reluctant to express an opinion, Bernie emphasised that Mercedes could have turned down the chance to risk breaking the FIA’s Sporting Regulations.
Ecclestone is known to have an uneasy relationship with Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn after a commercial disagreement during the Brawn GP days, and some have suggested that he wouldn’t mind seeing the former Benetton and Ferrari man carry the can for what happened.
“Wait until the tribunal, they’ve got all the facts,” Ecclestone told this writer. “If you offer me stolen goods, it’s up to me to decide whether I want to accept them or not. It’s not up to anyone to tell me what I should do. I should know what I should do.
“Pirelli were doing the right thing, obviously. They couldn’t get out of a tyre problem, if there had been proper testing, which there should be, they wouldn’t be in this problem. It’s only because there’s no proper testing that they’re in this problem. As people have been complaining, the obvious thing to do was to get out of it by testing. And they asked.”
Asked if he felt Pirelli had done anything wrong, he added: “Not at all.”
Ecclestone and the F1 organisation have a significant commercial deal with Pirelli for signage and so on, but he denies that has impacted his opinion.
“I don’t care. It makes no difference to me. What is right, is right, you know. The one thing an unmarried girl has got is the right to say ‘no.’ You would have to reckon that Mercedes were in that position…”
Meanwhile Ecclestone played down suggestions that Michelin – a company known to be friendly with Jean Todt – is waiting in the wings to replace Pirelli.
“No idea. I haven’t got a clue. I haven’t spoken to anyone. We have a long-term contract with Pirelli, as the FIA do. And I think most of the teams have – I think they’ve done a deal with all the teams they want to do a deal with.”