Mercedes seek clarification on F1 rules amid Ferrari/Haas concerns
World champions meet the stewards in Abu Dhabi to discuss "a number of ambiguities" over wind tunnel testing and listed parts; Rivals thought to have Ferrari-Haas concerns
By James Galloway in Abu Dhabi
Last Updated: 28/11/15 12:35pm
Mercedes have asked the FIA to clarify what they believe are a "number of ambiguities" regarding F1's rules over wind tunnel testing and outsourcing.
The matter, which is being heard by race stewards in Abu Dhabi, has come to light amid rival teams' concerns over Ferrari's technical relationship with newcomers Haas, who are joining the F1 grid next season.
After writing to the stewards at the season finale asking for clarification, following previous correspondence with FIA race director Charlie Whiting, Mercedes met with the four-man panel ahead of final practice. Other interested parties were also invited to make submissions to the stewards before qualifying with the FIA hoping to provide the requested clarification before Sunday's season-ending race.
Mercedes do not point the finger at any team in their submissions, which were issued to the media as part of a 57-page document by F1's governing body, and believe a "binding interpretation" on the issues raised will be a "benefit for all teams competing in the championship".
"Mercedes considers there to be a number of existing ambiguities in Appendices 6 and 8 of to the Regulations," the world champions wrote. "It is possible that such ambiguity may be exploited by a team give it a competitive advantage at any event, including at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2015, prior to the points being clarified by the stewards."
The appendices in question in F1's Sporting Regulations relate to the design and manufacturer of listed car parts, and wind tunnel and CFD testing - areas which are all subject to restrictions.
Although teams have long established relationships with rivals, the new partnership between Ferrari and Haas has been viewed as particularly wide-ranging with the American newcomers taking the Scuderia's full powertrain and a number of car parts.
Having not been a formal part of the World Championship until they lodged their 2016 entry in early November, Haas' development was not governed by F1's regulations - meaning they were not limited to the same wind tunnel restrictions as existing outfits. The American outfit have used Ferrari's wind tunnel as part of their arrangement.
It is understood rivals first flagged up concerns that Ferrari might be benefiting from Haas's wind tunnel work following May's Spanish GP. However, a subsequent visit to the Maranello outfit's wind tunnel by a representative from the governing body gave the team a clean bill of health.
Mercedes say they want clarification on the regulations as they are considering external relationships of their own. The Brackley outfit have recently added backmarkers Manor to their customer engine supply.
"Resolution of the ambiguities is of the utmost importance to Mercedes as it is currently considering the possibility of collaborating with third parties on its testing programme, including the sharing of staff and knowledge, which it believes could be permitted under the current regulations as drafted," the team added.
"It is understood by Mercedes that other Formula 1 teams may also be considering operating in a similar manner."
Analysing the issue on Sky Sports F1, 1996 world champion Damon Hill said it was normal for teams to keep close tabs on what their rivals were up to away from the track.
"They all oversee what the others are doing," Hill said. "Let's say, for example, there was some close relationship between Ferrari and another team, it might be going through some of their rivals minds that 'oh, we better check Ferrari aren't using up some more wind tunnel hours than they should be through some other teams, some other way through'.
"I think there is a lot of policing and double checking going on."
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