The FIA has stated that it could not conclusively prove Ferrari’s engine had been operating outside the rules in 2019. Their statement comes in reaction to the threat of legal action from teams dissatisfied with their investigation.
The FIA’s enquiry had ended in a private settlement with Ferrari, with no conclusion over the legality of the engine. Seven F1 teams were unhappy with the lack of transparency and apparent failure to address suspicions over the power unit, and issued a joint statement on Wednesday demanding clarification.
On Thursday, the FIA explained that while it believed the engine may not have been operating within parameters, Ferrari insisted that Formula One’s governing body proved its case. The FIA admitted it could not do so in their statement:
“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.”
The FIA decided not to pursue the issue any further “to avoid the negative consequences that a long litigation would entail, especially in light of the uncertainty of the outcome of such litigations and in the best interest of the championship and of its stakeholders,” the statement added.
That the settlement remained private was covered by F1’s judicial and disciplinary rules, the FIA maintained. “The prosecuting body and all persons taking part in the inquiry are bound by an obligation of confidentiality, vis-a-vis persons or organisations not concerned with the inquiry,” their statement read.
The seven teams – Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Racing Point, Renault, AlphaTauri and Williams – issued a strongly-worded statement on Wednesday. The only rival teams who did not contribute were Alfa Romeo and Haas, both of whom use Ferrari engines.
“We, the undersigned teams, were surprised and shocked by the FIA’s statement of 28 February regarding the conclusion of its investigation into the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One power unit,” the statement said.
“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.”
Ferrari are yet to release any official comment on the FIA’s statement, or the seven teams’ protests. With the F1 paddock now heading to Australia for the first round in Melbourne on 15 March, further reaction is not expected until early next week.