The confidential settlement reached between the FIA and Ferrari over a specific technical aspect of the latter’s 2019 power unit has reportedly generated an angry reaction from the Scuderia’s rivals.
The FIA made the bombshell announcement on Friday in Barcelona, stating that it had “concluded its analysis of the operation of the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 Power Unit and reached a settlement with the team.”
The crux of the matter evolves around the suspicion that Ferrari used a clever ploy last year to circumvent engine fuel flow limitations, allowing the Italian outfit’s unit to significantly increase its power output under specific circumstances.
As a reminder, Ferrari won three races on the trot after the 2019 summer break, and engine performance was very much at the center of its rivals’ attention.
The FIA published two technical directives ahead of last season’s US and Brazilian Grands Prix to clarify fuel flow restrictions and outlaw a potential ploy that would have allowed for a flow increase.
Oddly, Ferrari’s power advantage appeared to mysteriously evaporate after the publication of the relevant TDs.
But the confidential agreement just sealed by the FIA and Ferrari has not gone down well with F1’s teams according to BBC F1 correspondent Andrew Benson who says that teams were left “shocked” and “angry” by the settlement, the terms of which are secret.
Benson adds that “teams believe fundamental questions are raised by the way the FIA has chosen to end the Ferrari investigation”.
The FIA’s lack of transparency opens a can of worms that not only questions the legality of Ferrari’s engine but also the governing body’s integrity, and its ability to clearly rule on whether the Italian outfit’s unit breached the technical regulations or not.
Furthermore, the teams’ curious minds would rightfully like to know what the “settlement” between the two parties exactly encompasses.
Was Ferrari given a free pass in exchange for a financial compensation, or the promise of bringing its engine back in line with the regs?
The optics of the agreement – or rather the arrangement – clearly look awful for the FIA and set a muddy and dangerous precedent which the teams will judge as unacceptable as it potentially undermines their confidence in motorsport’s institution.
A crisis could be brewing. Watch this space…