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Continued: Mercedes pleads for leniency as it answers 'Tire-gate' charges at F1 hearing in Paris

  • Article by: JOHN LEICESTER , AP Sports Writer
  • Last update: June 20, 2013 - 1:10 PM

"If we did these nefarious things to the fundamental principles (of sports fairness) it cannot be the case that Ferrari didn't also do them," Harris said.

Howard, the FIA lawyer, called the Ferrari test "a complete red herring." FIA said it did look into a 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. FIA said the Italian team used its 2011 car for the test, which didn't violate the ban on current cars being used for track testing.

Harris, however, said 2011 and 2013 cars are very similar, the performance differences "minuscule."

"They haven't even been charged by the FIA," he said of Ferrari. "It is not fair, we respectfully suggest, to treat us in a disproportionate manner different to Ferrari. It would send completely the wrong message out to the sport and to the wider world."

Another point of contention was whether Mercedes got prior approval for the test from the FIA. The team insisted it did — from Charlie Whiting, a veteran FIA executive who directs the running of F1 races, backed by the FIA's legal department. Howard, however, said Whiting's opinion wasn't binding and he wasn't the right person to authorize such a test.

Howard said none of the other F1 teams was invited to the testing and none was aware it was taking place.

"If Pirelli and Mercedes had been transparent and open about what was going on" other teams would have been able to say beforehand if they objected, he said.

Harris, for Mercedes, conceded: "We can see now with the benefit of hindsight how other teams may have become suspicious."

He acknowledged that Rosberg and Hamilton were asked to wear black helmets, masking their identity, for the testing. Mercedes now regrets that "and we apologize for that," Harris said. "That was not the smartest move, and I can see that, and we take that on the chin."

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