PARIS (AP) — Mercedes and Pirelli on Thursday must answer charges that they breached Formula One rules by testing tires together.
The governing body of motorsport, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), convened the hearing of its international tribunal. The disciplinary body meets in Paris on Thursday morning and has summoned Mercedes and Pirelli to appear.
A key question is whether Mercedes gained a competitive advantage from testing tires with Pirelli in Barcelona from May 15-17. An FIA inquiry determined "the conditions of this testing may constitute a breach of the applicable FIA rules."
Red Bull and Ferrari protested about the test. The FIA asked its tribunal to adjudicate. Pirelli denied any rules-breach and said it believed the 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) of testing offered no advantages to Mercedes. The German team has struggled at times this season to make Pirelli's rubber last.
Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said the tire compounds tested are not going to be used in the 2013 season. "The focus was on 2014," Hembery said. "These tests were actually performed blind. Mercedes had no idea and has still no idea what was being tested. There was no benefit to them. The benefit was for Pirelli and F1 in general."
The FIA also looked into another Pirelli tire test involving Ferrari in Barcelona in April. But FIA President Jean Todt, who worked for Ferrari from 1993 to 2009, closed that case. The FIA said the Italian team used its 2011 car for the test, breaching no rules.
The FIA said the tribunal ruling "will be published as soon as possible after the hearing."