Jenson Button says Nico Rosberg and Mercedes would have won the Monaco Grand Prix even without the three-day testing session with the tyre supplier, Pirelli, that so enraged Red Bull and Ferrari at the weekend.
"Mercedes have done a great job and even without that tyre test I think they would have won the race," the McLaren driver said. "I think the teams that protested are more surprised that it happened. I can't see the result changing. I don't know what they can do, if anything at all.
"Maybe a slapped wrist. I think the teams that protested just wanted clarification because we'd all love to do 1,000km to understand [the tyres] a bit more because we're all so limited on testing."
The Red Bull consultant Dr Helmut Marko said on Sunday that Mercedes could have gained a one-second-per-lap advantage by testing between the Spanish and Monaco races and the FIA is conducting an investigation into the matter, with the likelihood that it will be referred to the World Motor Sport Council.
Mercedes and Pirelli are maintaining a posture of injured innocence. Mercedes' stance is that they were little more than a test tube in what was, essentially, a Pirelli experiment. Pirelli's position is that it must test – it has to be on top of next year's tyres by the beginning of September and it has not got a contract for 2014 yet. And what it did after the Barcelona race was within the rules, it says, even though it was working with a 2013 car, which most people understand is forbidden.
Mercedes, according to Autosport, were warned last year that there was no scope in the F1 regulations for private in-season testing by a single team. An email written by the Formula One Teams' Association, clarifying the testing procedure, was sent out in April last year, according to Autosport.
The email makes clear that a tyre test can take place only if there is unanimous support among the teams.
It reads: "Pirelli is entitled under the terms of their agreement with the FIA to offer teams 1,000km of tyre-testing, subject to each team being treated equally. However, there are no provisions within the sporting regulations for such testing to take place in-season."
If Mercedes are found guilty of a transgression they could be punished in a number of ways, from a fine or a points deduction to being thrown out of the championship, though that is most unlikely.
If nothing is done, Ferrari want to make the most of the situation. Their team principal, Stefano Domenicali, said: "We will be the first to raise our arms to make sure we can do the same. As you know Ferrari has always been very pushy to try to do in-season testing. So this is the reason why we want to understand the situation, why we protested, for clarity, no more than that."Meanwhile, Rosberg's team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, is less concerned about tyres than his own form. Asked about Rosberg, he said: "I don't think he has been a surprise. I expected him to be competitive, I just expected myself to be more competitive.
"I'm not concerned about it [the tyre testing row], that's for the team to worry about it. I just have to focus on myself and try and get my shit together."
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