“Are Mercedes F1 Cheating” is a question that is often asked. Mercedes is one of the most dominant and successful teams in Formula 1 history. They have won seven consecutive constructors’ and drivers’ championships from 2014 to 2020.
However, the team has also faced several accusations of cheating or breaking the rules over the years. Some of these have resulted in penalties or controversies. Despite this Mercedes F1 team has never been involved in a serious reputational damaging enquiry.
In this article, we will examine some of the most notable cases of cheating allegations against Mercedes. We also look at how they have affected their reputation and performance in F1.
Are Mercedes F1 Cheating – The Tire Test Controversy – 2013
In 2013, Mercedes conducted a controversial tire test with Pirelli, the sole tire supplier of Formula One. The test took place after the Spanish Grand Prix, where Mercedes had qualified on the front row.
The team had struggled with tire degradation and finished sixth and 12th with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton respectively.
Mercedes and Pirelli claimed that the test was legal and authorized by the FIA, the governing body of Formula One. The parties did it for safety reasons after several tire failures during the season.
However, Mercedes’ rivals asked the question “Are Mercedes F1 Cheating?”
They claimed that the test was illegal and gave Mercedes an unfair advantage.
This was because Mercedes used its current car and drivers, which was against the sporting regulations.
The FIA launched an investigation into the matter and summoned Mercedes and Pirelli to a hearing. They held the hearing at the International Tribunal in Paris on June 20, 2013.
The Tribunal found Mercedes guilty of breaching the sporting regulations and the International Sporting Code. The reason was that they conducted the test without the consent of all the teams. The Tribunal imposed a reprimand on Mercedes and Pirelli. They banned Mercedes from participating in the young drivers’ test later that year.
Are Mercedes F1 Cheating – The DAS System – 2020
In 2020, Mercedes introduced a novel device on its car called the Dual Axis Steering (DAS) system. The system allowed the drivers to adjust the toe angle of the front wheels. They did this by pushing or pulling the steering wheel. They designed the system to improve tire performance, stability and balance.
Mercedes debuted the system during pre-season testing in Barcelona, where it caught the attention of its rivals and the media.
Some teams questioned the legality of the system. They argued that it breached the rules on suspension systems, aerodynamic influence and driver aids.
The FIA examined the system and declared it legal, as it complied with the technical regulations. It did not constitute a movable aerodynamic device or a driver aid. However, the FIA also announced that it would ban the system for 2021. They reasoned it did not fit with the original purpose of steering.
Mercedes used the system throughout the 2020 season, which was shortened and disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The team won 13 out of 17 races and secured its seventh consecutive title double with Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Are Mercedes F1 Cheating – The Brake Duct Saga – 2020
In 2020, Mercedes had another controversy over its brake ducts. Brake ducts are components that help cool down the brakes and influence aerodynamics.
In 2020, brake ducts were classified as listed parts. This meant that teams had to design them themselves and could not copy them from other teams.
Other teams accused Racing Point, one of Mercedes’ customer teams, of copying Mercedes’ brake ducts from 2019. Racing Point had a close technical partnership with Mercedes, which included buying some non-listed parts from them.
Racing Point claimed that it had legally acquired Mercedes’ brake ducts in 2019. In 2019 the parts were not listed. They used them as a reference for its own design in 2020.
FIA investigated the matter and found Racing Point guilty of breaching the sporting regulations by using Mercedes’ brake ducts without designing them itself.
The FIA Fined Racing Point
The FIA imposed a fine of €400,000 and deducted 15 points from Racing Point’s constructors’ championship tally. They reprimanded Racing Point for using Mercedes’ brake ducts at each race.
The FIA did not punish Mercedes directly for its role in supplying Racing Point with its brake ducts. The team faced criticism and resentment from some of its rivals, who felt that Mercedes had helped Racing Point gain an unfair advantage and compromise the integrity of the sport.