Sebastian Vettel has no doubts that Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will have significantly profited from their recent Pirelli tire test.
After welcoming the fact that the FIA has decided to open disciplinary proceedings against Mercedes for its running of a 2013 car at Barcelona last month, Vettel says that suggestions his rivals did not benefit cannot be taken seriously.
When asked about just how much a driver would learn from being able to take part in a dedicated tire test, Vettel said: "I don't know exactly the tires they used, but I think you always learn when you are on the track. At some point, you use tires that you have already used or that you will use in the future, so in that regard, every lap matters.
"We all know how important testing is in the winter. The quality of the testing is not the same because the conditions are different. The cars are very early in their development, so if you have the chance somewhere in the middle of the season to have a test, or three days, then it's a big help."
Vettel's teammate Mark Webber was also adamant that any in-season mileage would be of assistance to both the drivers and the team.
"There's no beating around the bush – it's a nice scenario to go to the venue you have just competed at, that's quite an attractive option to take your race drivers and get a feel for it," he explained. "There is no [tire] reference point, apparently, that's how Pirelli do their tests, but you would assume the baseline is pretty close to what we are racing. So you're going to get a pretty good idea if something is moving in a good or negative fashion.
"You're not going to learn nothing as a driver. It's not probably as powerful for a driver as a normal test because then everything is more transparent, especially from a factory point of view, but I think you can also test some options from a car side. From a team perspective that's a lot more powerful than it is for the drivers."
Vettel added that he had been taken aback when news of the Mercedes test emerged in a meeting between the FIA and the Grand Prix Drivers' Associatio directors on Saturday in Monaco.
Asked about his feelings on the matter going to the FIA International Tribunal, Vettel said: "It's the way it has to go from a formal point of view. Surely as a driver you are aware of the rules on track when it comes to flag signals, etc. But we are not aware of the all the rules written in the sporting regulations. It was very surprising when we found out on Saturday afternoon."