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Disqualifying Merc would have been the easy call

As soon as the FIA announced that Mercedes were being investigated following the Italian Grand Prix, Formula One was in a no-win situation.

What ever decision was made someone, somewhere, would have contested it.

It was a difficult decision for the race stewards and one that took over twice as long as the race itself.

The easy decision for the race stewards would have been to disqualify Mercedes, that decision would have pleased the majority.

It would have handed the race victory to Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari could have celebrated a famous home win at Monza, the global Ferrari brand would have rejoiced.

Formula One Management would have liked to have seen this result too as what's good for Ferrari is good for FOM, but also if Hamilton had lost the race victory he would also have lost 25 points in the Formula One World Championship, dramatically closing the gap to team-mate Nico Rosberg.

A DQ for the reigning champion would have closed the 2015 title hunt back up, extending the potential intrigue later in the season, improving future global television figures at a time when figures are dropping.

On a point of simplicity, a precedent had already been set in F1 feeder series GP2 with drivers being disqualified and the point could have been very black and white, a rule was broken and here is the standard penalty.

It was after all a technical infringement not a sporting infringement, which was why the Williams incident with Bottas running three tyres from one compound and one tyre from another was not a comparable incident.

So how did the Italian race stewards end up making the harder call and to actually allow the result to stand?

The Mercedes team were summoned to the race stewards as both cars were found to have their left rear tyre pressures below the minimum pressure guidelines set by Pirelli.

Pirelli stated that teams must start the race with tyre pressures of 19.5psi or above.

Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton was found to be 0.3psi below that threshold, whilst Nico Rosberg was 1.1 psi under.

The fact that the same tyre on both cars was found to be under could have proved a pattern, an advantage could have been made with a lower pressure on the left rear on a clockwise circuit.

Not only was it a performance decision, although the actual benefit Hamilton would have seen would have been minimal, it was more important a safety issue.

Tyre pressures had been under the media spotlight following Sebastian Vettel's dramatic blow-out in the closing stages of the race in Belgium. Due to this Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli increased the minimum tyre pressure that teams were allowed to race under this weekend.

It seemed following Sky Sports F1's live coverage that all the teams in the paddock believed it was an open and shut case and Mercedes would be disqualified.

But this was before all the details had come to light.

Under the supervision of the Pirelli Team Tyre engineer, Mercedes had actually complied with the regulations.

At the time of fitting the tyres to the car in the garage the tyres were at the minimum start pressure recommended by Pirelli.

What had happened was that Mercedes had disconnected the tyre warming blankets from their power source, due to this the tyres were significantly below the maximum permitted tyre blanket temperature at the time of the FIA’s measurement on the grid was taken.

This meant that the tyre pressure fell, prior to the race. But as this followed procedure and was supervised by Pirelli, Mercedes had done nothing wrong.

The argument will undoubtedly continue over what guidance should be given to the teams regarding measurement protocols, but Mercedes proved their innocence, even if some would call it a technicality.

"We followed the procedure established with Pirelli, which was to have the tyres in the blankets, check the pressures together with Pirelli," Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said to the media.

"The pressures were well above the minimum because safety is important for us. The tyres on the car - for whatever reason, maybe because the tyres cooled down - a different pressure was found on one of the tyres. It was a tiny discrepancy."








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The Journalist

Writer: Red5 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday September 7 2015

Time: 10:26AM

 

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