The FIA is set to clamp down on dummy pit stops in Formula 1 after Mercedes appeared to breach the sporting regulations during Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
When battling with Williams for the lead of the race at Silverstone, Mercedes sent its mechanics out into the pit lane on lap 14 in a bid to trick its rivals into stopping in response.
However, all of the cars continued out on track in the same order before Mercedes eventually made its first stop with Lewis Hamilton on lap 19.
Williams pitted race leader Felipe Massa one lap later in response, only to lose a position to Hamilton, who would ultimately go on to win the race.
Although Mercedes eventually went on to secure a one-two finish, some questions were asked about the legality of the team’s decision to send its mechanics out before bringing them back in.
As per article 23.11 of the F1 sporting regulations: “Team personnel are only allowed in the pit lane immediately before they are required to work on a car and must withdraw as soon as the work is complete.” This was introduced for the 2012 season.
Team boss Toto Wolff admitted after the race that Mercedes had tried to bluff Williams into making an early stop, only to receive a text from wife and Williams test driver Susie Wolff in response.
“We know that Williams has more difficulties in making the tires last at the end and we knew that triggering an early stop would make them think, ‘are we able to do that?’ It could trigger them into a pit stop,” Wolff is quoted as saying by motorsport.com.
“It was a bit of a game, which didn’t function. My wife sent me a message saying: ‘You guys think you can fool us, ha ha ha.'”
FIA race director Charlie Whiting admitted to BBC Sport that proving there was a breach of the regulations during a race would be difficult, but he planned to speak to the teams about it at the Hungarian Grand Prix later this month.
“Going into the pit lane like this, i.e. for no valid reason, is not allowed but the difficulty would be proving it was a clear breach,” Whiting said.
“I will talk to all the teams at the next race in Hungary about this and warn them that we will want to see and hear evidence that they were actually intending to stop.”