A major controversy has erupted in Monaco after it emerged that Mercedes conducted a secret three-day test with Pirelli at Barcelona after the Spanish GP.
Pirelli’s viewpoint is that it is allowed to call on a team to help with testing in a situation that it faced after Barcelona, when there were moves to make changes and understand the issues that had led to tyres losing treads.
Clearly the test would also have helped Mercedes with the specific issues that it has suffered recently.
However rivals are angry that they were not informed – and the fact that Mercedes has got on the front row again has clearly inflamed passions.
Indeed it’s extraordinary that in the modern era a team could test in secret without anyone knowing.
“We found out secondhand last night,” said Christian Horner. “I think there’s confusion between what is contractually permissible and what isn’t, and what a team when it enters the World Championship is allowed to do within the sporting regs. It’s a situation that we need clarification on, and our position is that we are going to request that clarification.
“I can understand Pirelli wanting to test the tyres – they’ve obviously got issues with the tyres. What’s disappointing is that it’s been done in not a transparent manner. A three-day test has taken place running a current car on tyres that are going to be used in the next Grand Prix. Irrelevant what you call it, that’s testing.
“First of all we need to deal with it through the proper channels, so that’s what we’ll look at doing.”
Asked if he thought the test had helped Mercedes, Horner said: “They’ve got both cars on the front of the grid, so it’s not hurt.”