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”.
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.”