Ferrari Fuel Cheating Scandal
March 4 2020 , 11:51 pm
Seven Formula One teams have threatened to take Ferrari and the governing body, the FIA, to court for hushing up a potentially illegal Ferrari engine – in the sport’s biggest ‘cheating’ accusation in a decade.
In an unprecedented public affront to the FIA’s authority, all the non-Ferrari supplied competitors, including Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team, Red Bull and McLaren, issued identical statements at precisely 10am in a show of solidarity.
At the heart of the dispute is the legality of Ferrari’s engine last season and the FIA’s investigation into the potential breach of fuel-flow pressure that seemingly gave the world’s most prominent team a straight-line speed advantage.
Matters came to a head last week when the FIA issued a brief note saying they had investigated the matter and ‘reached an agreement with (Ferrari),’ adding: ‘The specifics of the agreement will remain between the parties.’
That lack of transparency – and the timing of the notification late on a Friday afternoon, when F1 personnel were leaving pre-season testing in Barcelona – led to Wednesday’s detonation.
The statement from the teams read: ‘We, the undersigned teams, were surprised and shocked by the FIA’s statement regarding the conclusion of its investigation into the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One 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.
‘In addition, we reserve our rights to seek legal redress, within the FIA’s due process and before the competent courts.’
The Gang of Seven’s statement was the product of concerted work and meetings between team bosses, senior engineers, communication executives and lawyers earlier this week.
The FIA have long been known to doubters in the paddock as ‘Ferrari International Assistance’, such is the supposed help they are believed to have been given the Scuderia over the years. The FIA have always denied all such accusations.
Ferrari and the FIA have so far declined to comment.
Last season, there were plenty of suspicions from Ferrari’s rivals that they were obtaining a power advantage by exceeding the maximum fuel flow and hiding the true figures from the FIA sensor.
Their drivers, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, were gaining half-a-second over their closest rivals on the straights in qualifying.
Although the Ferrari pair didn’t challenge for the title, as Hamilton waltzed to his sixth world championship, Mercedes and Red Bull were particularly angered about how Ferrari were gaining an edge, though they didn’t make a formal protest at the time.
The issue came to a head at the US Grand Prix in October, when the FIA issued a rules clarification in response to pressure from Red Bull. A series of technical directives were issued and a new double fuel-flow sensor rule was put in place.
An FIA clarification was issued on the morning of qualifying in Austin, and, later that day, Ferrari’s run of six straight pole positions came to an end.
Ferrari didn’t figure on pole in the final two races of the season in Brazil or Abu Dhabi. Ferrari denied all accusations of rule-bending.