Toto Wolff, Christian Horner and Zak Brown rallied together to know more about the deal FIA made with Ferrari as Mattia Binotto put it down again.
At the end of F1 pre-season testing, the FIA dropped a bomb: the 2019 Ferrari engine settlement. But for the last several months, that figurative bomb has sat un-detonated as the coronavirus pandemic put racing on hold.
And now, we’re starting to finally see the beginnings of this detonation, as F1 teams are starting to speak out more, calling for more transparency from the FIA and Ferrari, who had vaguely described a clandestine agreement in their end-of-testing statement.
One of the figures to have been highly critical of the settlement is Wolff. The Mercedes team principal called once again in Austria for the FIA and Ferrari to disclose the details of the agreement, explaining that he hasn’t given up on this cause.
From the list of F1 teams who put out a joint statement, it was said that Mercedes have backed-off but it isn’t the case as per Wolff. “We didn’t back off,” he said. “We decided in Melbourne that for the start of the season, this additional controversy plus Corona starting to get really bad in Italy, it was not the opportune moment.
“I would very much agree with what other teams have said. In this day and age transparency is extremely important and good governance is extremely important. And it may well have been good governance, but if you don’t know it’s difficult to judge. So the position that we are in is that we are monitoring the situation.
“We are not happy about last year. It has stretched all of us to a point to be competitive against Ferrari, where it was all difficult to cope. And therefore let’s wait and see how the season starts and gets going and we will reassess ourselves and probably with the other guys where it stands,” summed up Wolff.
Red Bull team principal Horner was equally critical, stating that this whole controversy could easily be solved if Ferrari merely opened up on their F1 engine from last year which they’ve repeatedly stated was legal.
“It does sit uncomfortably that there is an agreement that has been entered into about the legality and conformity of a car,” said Horner. “That immediately draws you to think: What is in that agreement? What does it comprise of? Because obviously in our mind, it carries either legal or illegal.
“The questions have been raised with the FIA. The FIA said that they’d be happy to disclose that document but, of course, they need a clearance from the other signatories. So obviously it does nothing but promote suspicion when there are private agreements about legality and conformity.
“So the healthiest thing would be to get it on the table so everybody sees what it’s comprised of. The FIA have said they’re willing to do that, it would be great if Ferrari were prepared to do the same so it puts it all to bed,” said Horner.
McLaren’s Brown agreed with his peers: “It would be good to understand exactly what happened, what they found, what the solution is. It was last year so hopefully we see on the data maybe what we saw last year so I think at some point you do close last year out as long as you feel it’s been addressed, but in today’s transparent world I think it would be good to understand what was the case, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to come forward from them any time soon.”
The situation spiraled out of control, so much so, that Jean Todt had to speak up and clear out his and the FIA’s name from the controversy. Still, the deal between them and Ferrari remains, out the purview of the public.
Ferrari team principal Binotto argues that the rival F1 teams have nothing to worry about simply because – had their engine been operating illicitly – teams would know because his team would have been disqualified.
“I think the answer is straightforward,” said Binotto. “First of all there was no clear breach of the regulations, otherwise we would have been disqualified. The reason why we don’t want to open up is simply because whatever we need to explain intellectual property to our project to our power unit.
“I think no one in the paddock would be happy to release information on their design and the project. So it’s confidentiality, it’s intellectual property protection and that’s the reason why we’re not keen to do it,” summed up Binotto.
Here’s what Jean Todt had to say regarding the Ferrari deal
Here’s what FIA had said after the settlement
Here’s what the seven F1 teams said against the settlement
Here’s Toto Wolff tired of Mattia Binotto’s comments
The story was edited by Darshan Chokhani