Currently reading: Renault F1 boss not satisfied with FIA’s Ferrari ‘cheat’ explanation
Tension remains high after row over fuel-flow legality of 2019 Ferrari car erupts ahead of new season
Damien Smith
News
4 mins read
6 March 2020

The Ferrari 2019 ‘cheating’ scandal in Formula 1 looks certain to rumble well into the new season after Renault Formula 1 boss Cyril Abiteboul told Autocar that he isn't yet satisfied with the explanation given for a “settlement” agreed between the Italian team and motorsport’s governing body, the FIA.

Speculation about Ferrari’s performance advantage early in the second half of last season was inflamed last Friday when the FIA issued a statement revealing that, following an investigation into the matter, it had “reached a settlement” with Ferrari but also declared that “the specifics of the agreement remain between the parties”.

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Seven of the ten F1 teams – Renault, Mercedes, Red Bull, Alpha Tauri, McLaren, Racing Point and Williams – then united to respond with a strongly worded statement that suggested possible legal action against the FIA, if details of the Ferrari investigation weren’t explained publicly.

Yesterday (Thursday), the FIA issued a response to the teams that essentially explained it “was not fully satisfied” that Ferrari’s car had been running legally at all times during 2019 – but could not prove it.

Speaking exclusively to Autocar, Abiteboul said the FIA needed to go further in its explanation before tension with the other teams could be resolved.

“I don’t think we want this to become a legal matter,” he said. “What we’d like is to get to a place where both the FIA and F1, for the reputation of the championship, appreciate that they need to provide light on this story to put this matter behind us. We want to put this matter behind us, but we need a bit of reassurance before we do that.

“We’ve made a statement and the FIA has responded, which confirms the fact it was something not clear, because otherwise it would not [have made] such a settlement. So what’s the next move? We will discuss with the six other teams because it does not really respond to what we ask for.”

The controversy is focused on the mandatory fuel-flow meter that limits fuel to the powertrain at a maximum rate of 100kg per hour. It has been claimed that Ferrari found a way to circumvent the system to increase flow beyond the regulated limit and thus increase power. 

The original FIA statement last Friday said: “The FIA and Scuderia Ferrari have agreed to a number of technical commitments that will improve the monitoring of all Formula 1 power units for forthcoming championship seasons as well as assist the FIA in other regulatory duties in Formula 1 and in its research activities on carbon emissions and sustainable fuels.”

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The response from the seven teams this week said: “We strongly object to the FIA reaching a confidential settlement agreement with Ferrari to conclude this matter. Therefore, we hereby state publicly our shared commitment to pursue full and proper disclosure in this matter, to ensure that our sport treats all competitors fairly and equally. We do so on behalf of the fans, the participants and the stakeholders of F1.

“In addition, we reserve our rights to seek legal redress, within the FIA’s due process and before the competent courts.”

Abiteboul told Autocar: “Clearly, the statement last Friday came as a surprise, and what’s important for us is to try to understand the governance that led to it. Also, while complaining [about] that arrangement between the FIA and Ferrari, not necessarily to change it, we’d like to understand if it is something that would be available for everyone. 

“Also, because it refers to some extra measures that are being taken to police what is going on from the teams’ side, we’d like to make sure we comply. Regulations and access to them should be the same for all participants.”

The second FIA statement issued this week has been met with widespread shock.

The statement said: “Extensive and thorough investigations undertaken during the 2019 season raised suspicions that the Scuderia Ferrari power unit could be considered as not operating within the limits of the FIA regulations at all times.

"The Scuderia Ferrari firmly opposed the suspicions and reiterated that its power unit always operated in compliance with the regulations.

"The FIA was not fully satisfied but decided that further action would not necessarily result in a conclusive case due to the complexity of the matter and the material impossibility to provide the unequivocal evidence of a breach.”

In response to the team’s legal threat, the FIA added that it would “take all necessary action to protect the sport and its role and reputation as regulator of the F1 world championship”.

The new F1 season is due to kick off on 15 March in Melbourne, Australia.

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Old But not yet Dead 6 March 2020

Embarassment

Gifted more money for historic reasons, regulator in their pocket and still they cannot win. Why does F1 need Ferrari. Gives me even more of a reason to rejoice when Vettel stuffs it yet again.

david RS 6 March 2020

Ferrari International

Ferrari International Assistance is back ?

Renault is unloved by the FIA moreover.

It was scandalous that the mass dampers was banned by the FIA for aerodynamics reasons, whereas it's a passive mechanical principle.

Two weights, two measures.

 

Peter Cavellini 6 March 2020

The Rutting season.

 Always some playground antics when it gets near the start of the season.