Seven F1 teams threaten legal action against FIA over secret settlement between with Ferrari in power unit investigation

FIA kept details of a ‘settlement’ with Ferrari private following accusations of an illegal fuel flow sensor system, infuriating their rivals enough to trigger a stern pushback

Jack de Menezes@JackdeMenezes
Wednesday 04 March 2020 11:16
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Seven Formula One teams have signed a strongly-worded letter regarding the secrecy of the FIA’s investigation into Ferrari’s 2019 power unit after a “secret settlement” was reached, in which they threaten legal action against Formula One’s governing body.

Ferrari were subjected to complaints from rival teams over the legality of their fuel flow sensor, having possessed a significant speed advantage over the Mercedes, Renault and Honda power units last season, though the results of the FIA’s investigation were not published last week.

The news emerged at the end of the pre-season test in Barcelona, with the secrecy of the settlement infuriating the rest of the paddock, and all seven teams who do not use Ferrari power units have signed a joint-letter to the FIA expressing their anger at the situation.

McLaren, Mercedes, Racing Point, Red Bull, Renault, Alpha Tauri and Williams all consented to being part of the response. Neither Haas nor Alfa Romeo Racing signed the letter, given they are current customers of Ferrari power units.

The letter, released on Wednesday morning, read: “We, the undersigned teams, were surprised and shocked by the FIA’s statement of Friday 28 February regarding the conclusion of its investigation into the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 Power Unit.

“An international sporting regulator has the responsibility to act with the highest standards of governance, integrity and transparency.

“After months of investigations that were undertaken by the FIA only following queries raised by other teams, 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 Formula One.”

The letter also adds that the teams will consider legal action “within the FIA’s due process and before the competent courts” if they feel it necessary, with the row set to drag into the new season that gets underway next weekend in Australia.

An FIA statement issued on the final afternoon of pre-season testing triggered the fury after it was announced the details of the agreement would be contained to the governing body and Ferrari only, leaving the rest of the nine teams in the dark over any rule violation and, if proven, by how much.

The statement, issued last Friday, read: “After thorough technical investigations, (the FIA) has concluded its analysis of the operation of the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One power unit and reached a settlement with the team. The specifics of the agreement will remain between the parties.

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

The punishment has been described as F1’s version of community service, with the Italian team required to dedicate a certain proportion of their time towards the FIA’s research, but that has not gone down well to the teams who believe they were at an unfair disadvantage last year.

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