Mercedes and FIA have history, when Mercedes was BAR

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The team now known as Mercedes heads to this week’s FIA Tribunal having been in hot water with the FIA before, but not as Mercedes.

They’ve had to accept rulings from the FIA under an earlier guise of British American Racing, in that team’s first (1999) and last (2005) year on the Formula One grid.

Six degrees of Kevin Bacon separates Mercedes from BAR. Here’s the backstory: Mercedes bought out Ross Brawn’s majority stakeholder role in what was Brawn GP, the Cinderella 2009 Formula One World Champions. Brawn saved Honda’s team from the scrap heap after 2008, when Honda pulled out as a manufacturer.

Honda, of course, had bought out the former British American Racing team, and that’s where the most recent issue with the FIA occurred at the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix.

Jenson Button had finished third in the race, but was summoned to the race stewards and found to be under the 600 kg minimum weight once the car was drained of fuel. BAR provided the stewards with data to clear its name, but the FIA appealed to send them to court.

There, despite the FIA’s wishes to have the team banned from the rest of the season, only a two-race ban was imposed for Button and teammate Takuma Sato. Both drivers were disqualified from the San Marino Grand Prix from third and fifth place.

The earlier issue with BAR occurred before its first ever race in 1999. Craig Pollock’s dream was to have a team with separate liveries, Lucky Strike for Jacques Villeneuve and 555 for Ricardo Zonta, two give British American Tobacco’s two brands equal play. The idea was shot down by the FIA and what resulted afterwards was a “split livery” with the two brands opposite each other on the chassis.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

SMP Racing
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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.