Formula 1

Ferrari defiant amid new push for engine settlement release

by Matt Beer
3 min read

The Ferrari Formula 1 team is facing renewed calls to sanction the publication of the details of its settlement with the FIA, as its two main rivals – Red Bull and a ‘not happy’ Mercedes – reiterated their desire for transparency.

But Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto insisted his outfit has no intention to grant such a release, on the grounds of IP confidentiality.

The announcement during pre-season testing of a confidential settlement between the governing body and Ferrari regarding the legality of the team’s 2019 F1 engine left other teams in the paddock shocked, prompting a joint statement from seven teams that raised the possibility of legal action.

The matter was put on hold by the developing outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic that postponed the start of the 2020 season, but now that F1 cars have hit the track in Austria, Ferrari’s rivals have made it clear the issue was not forgotten.

And with it being known that the publication of the settlement would require Ferrari’s blessing, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has called on Ferrari to do so – claiming the FIA was already in favour.

“It does sit uncomfortably that there is an agreement that has been entered into about the legality and conformity of a car,” Horner said.

“That immediately draws you to think – what is in that agreement, what does it comprise? Because obviously in our mind a car is either legal or illegal.

“Now obviously the questions have been raised with the FIA, the FIA have said that they’d be happy to disclose that document but of course they need the clearance from the other signatory.

“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 that everybody sees what it comprises.

“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.”

Ferrari F1 Austria 2020

Reports around the time of the cancelled Australian Grand Prix suggested Mercedes had backed away from pursuing the issue, but team boss Toto Wolff has made it clear his side was still “monitoring” the situation.

“We didn’t back off, 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,” Wolff said.

“I would very much agree with what Christian and Zak [Brown, who backed Red Bull’s stance] 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 difficult to cope, and therefore let’s wait and see how the season starts and gets going and we will then reassess for ourselves, and probably the other guys, where it stands.”

McLaren CEO Zak Brown, joining Horner and Wolff in a Friday press conference, also called for the release of the statement, but added: “In today’s transparent world, I think it would be good to understand what was the case, but it doesn’t seem like that that’s going to be coming forward from them any time soon.”

And with Binotto appearing in the second part of the press conference, Ferrari’s stance was made clear.

“The answer is straightforward,” Binotto said. “First, there was no clear breach of 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 is IP, intellectual property, to our project, to our power unit.

“And I think that no one in the paddock would be happy to release information that are designs in that project.

“So it’s confidentiality. It’s intellectual property protection. And that’s the reason why we’re not keen to do it.”

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