Ecclestone continues to claim Mercedes helped Ferrari

2016 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Bernie Ecclestone continues to claim Mercedes have given assistance to Ferrari, stating in an interview the world champions gave “a lot of information” to their Italian rivals.

Speaking to former team principal Eddie Jordan in an interview for Top Gear, Ecclestone claimed Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff made the contact with Ferrari.

“I think they wanted to see Ferrari be a little bit more competitive,” said Ecclestone, “better at beating other people down the field, and Ferrari was happy to get the information it got. Because it got a lot of information from Mercedes.”

Wolff denied the claim when speaking to the official Formula One website last week. “Bernie always says that we’ve helped them – but not enough,” he said. “Of course we didn’t.”

However in the same interview Ecclestone said: “Everything in this business is about rumours. Toto says that Mercedes didn’t help Ferrari, so they didn’t give any help – obviously. Because he is saying the truth.”

“What I am saying is what I have heard. And it’s good that they helped them. I’d say they should have helped them a little more.”

Jordan also asked Ecclestone whether he enjoyed “causing aggravation”. Ecclestone replied: “If somebody says, ‘You like putting out fires,’ and I say, ‘It’s not a case of liking it, but I do put them out, and if there aren’t fires left I make them, so I can put them out.’ It’s what we do.”

2016 F1 season

Browse all 2016 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

36 comments on “Ecclestone continues to claim Mercedes helped Ferrari”

  1. Ecclestone once again talking nonsense. How can he so easily say such things? These are serious allegations, which could shake F1 world and it wouldn’t do any good to the sport, why is he trying to destroy it?

    1. Bernie should be hauled up in front of the FIA to provide the evidence he has for such a claim. Based on this the FIA should either conduct a proper investigation or reprimand Bernie for bringing the sport into disrepute.

      If neither happen then we can only assume the FIA is corrupt or incompetent.

      1. I would trust an FIA investigation just about as much as the quoted word from Mr. Ecclestone.

    2. I know that I read this somewhere: “Sport Bild suggests Mercedes may even have slowed its own development programme over the winter, and recommended that Ferrari sign up its hybrid specialist Wolf Zimmermann.”
      The leap in performance Ferrari had over 2014/15 winter was incredible.

  2. Good to see there is somebody with a conscience in F1 with the courage to be a whistle-blower.

    1. @coldfly, I do hope you are joking with your comment – I expect that most people won’t able to tell which is more of a joke, the idea that Mercedes would choose to help Ferrari or the idea that Bernie has a conscience…

  3. As I understand, Mercedes refused to sell their engines to Red Bull because they did not want to make some money. Instead of that, they revealed some secrets to Ferrari for free so that Ferrari could make powerful engines as well. As a result, Red Bull got stronger and Ferrari got weaker.

    All of that totally makes sense.

    1. 100% agree! But let’s not forget this was only possible because aliens are wearing red hats upside down!

    2. @girts Noone said Ferrari got the help for free and Ferrari hasnt gotten any weaker.

    3. Well, it fits how things are done in F1 (making no sense at all)

  4. I have no way of knowing if Mercedes did indeed help ferrari. But I do know that if they did they did a very poor job of it.

    1. Maybe Mercedes told Ferrari: “look, I’ll tell you a little secret but just be quiet, okay? we’ve been using pistons made out of cheese. They work wonders, we’re hitting 1000 HP with them… why don’t you give them a try? but remember, you didn’t get the information from us, okay?”

      So they gave Ferrari some clues… just not good ones :P

      1. Cheesy pistons…? Ahhhh so that’s what’s wrong with my Golf..
        Thank you

      2. “So they gave Ferrari some clues… just not good ones :P”

        Which was exactly my point, they did a very poor job of it.

    2. Although this article doesn’t mention it explicitly, I think the help referenced is in relation to the power unit, and to be fair, Ferrari’s unit isn’t bad at all.

      It’s the rest of the car that is the issue, and *if* Mercedes did help Ferrari, it’s because they know as well as the rest of us do that Ferrari can’t build a chassis to the same standard as Mercedes or Red Bull, and even with a more competitive engine they’re less of a threat to Mercedes than Red Bull are.

  5. What a bizarre, fascinating enigma of a man Bernie is. He only ever says things like this for a reason. My guess would be it’s yet another dig at Mercedes, it’s a little hobby of his. If there are no fires to put out then he makes them – and that’s come from his own mouth, wow.

  6. Dear Bernie: We all know you’ve read Machiavelli’s The Prince, no need to give us a(nother) demonstration…

  7. Common guys! Only 3 more years, let him enjoy his fantasy world! :)

    1. Ryan Fairweather
      12th September 2016, 16:00

      £££ more years. Then a thank you from liberty media giving him a contract extension.

  8. Lol so what’s the idea here…Mercedes helped Ferrari so that they’d keep RBR at bay? Or so that Mercedes wouldn’t appear so dominant and have the regs changed on them to stop said dominance?

    Curious that BE would propagate this particular rumour then, since RBR seems stronger than Ferrari, and the regs are indeed changing. Good try Bernie, but that fire is already out.

  9. The rumour I read, sometime ago, was that Mercedes referred Ferrari to a key subcontractor on the energy recovery side, and I imagine waived whatever non-disclosure / exclusivity agreement was in place.

    This would make both Bernie and Toto truthful, by F1 standards, in that Merc haven’t helped Ferrari directly. I wouldn’t be surprised if Merc have given Renault a hand too.

    Then there’s what they said that Toto and Bernie talk every day! F1 is so much more than circuit racing.

    1. @lockup, would it be possible for you to provide more details about those claims?

      The only outsourcing which I was aware of Ferrari doing in 2015 was subcontracting a large chunk of the work on the ignition systems, combustion chamber optimisation and dyno work out to an Austrian company (AVL, a specialist mechanical engineering firm). However, the indication is that it was one of Ferrari’s suppliers that recommended AVL to them – Mercedes, as far as I am aware, doesn’t have any commercial links with AVL (moreover, AVL was helping with mechanical design changes, not electronic ones).

      As for the electronic components, I would not be surprised if most manufacturers were actually using the same electronics suppliers for certain components – the production of some components is limited to only a handful of companies, so it is actually quite common for them to supply multiple manufacturers. Not all of them are prepared to sign any sort of exclusivity deal either – it is too much of a commercial risk when you have such a small pool of teams you can sell those designs to.

      As one example, during the V8 era, Mercedes, Ferrari, BMW, Renault and Cosworth all used the same supplier (Mahle) for their pistons (only Toyota produced their own pistons in house) – however, it doesn’t mean that they were using the exact same piston design. Similarly, Zytek have supplied both Mercedes HPE and Nissan with motor-generator units for use in F1 and the WEC – although Zytek deals quite heavily with Mercedes HPE, they are quite happy to work with other manufacturers as well.

      My initial feeling is that somebody might have seen Ferrari have switched one of their suppliers to an outfit that is used by Mercedes and has made an extreme leap of logic to assume that Mercedes must have recommended them to Ferrari.

      As for Bernie and Wolff having regular chats, when you consider the importance of Bernie’s role at FOM and Wolff’s role in directing all of Mercedes’s motorsport activities – including both the F1 team and the engine division – why shouldn’t they be talking on a regular basis?
      Furthermore, if I am not mistaken he also tends to chat to senior members of Ferrari and Renault, along with other major teams like McLaren – I don’t think that Mercedes are being treated that differently from the other major teams.

      1. I can’t put my finger on anything specific now, sorry. Anyway it adds up, afaic. Toto doesn’t want to win by too much, after all, he needs F1 to be appealing and he probably feels confident that his team can outperform Ferrari consistently with or without a helping hand. In 2014 only Merc had a big enough turbo, let’s not forget, and were harvesting far more than anybody else.

        Naturally Toto might not want his team to be appearing superior, arrogant and condescending, by admitting to it.

        I know Bernie talks to all the teams, I was just struck that it was every day, or more, with Toto. Perhaps that’s part of what winds up Horner, along with the on/off engine deal :)

  10. Could someone ask if Mercedes “game some information about the PU to Ferrari or people connected with Ferrari?”. Helping and giving information are different things… they maybe didn’t *help* per se…

  11. I think Ecclestone and Mosley did the most dirty deal ever in F1. 100 years of commercial F1 rights with an operating profit of nearly a billion dollars per year in return for a 3 million dollars payment per year.

    How on earth both them are not in jail is beyond me.

  12. It’s certainly in Mercedes’s interest to have 2nd place in the constructer championship be tightly disputed between Ferrari and RBR.

  13. >Jordan also asked Ecclestone whether he enjoyed “causing aggravation”. Ecclestone replied: “If somebody says, ‘You like putting out fires,’ and I say, ‘It’s not a case of liking it, but I do put them out, and if there aren’t fires left I make them, so I can put them out.’ It’s what we do.”

    The most honest thing he’s ever said: that he’s not honest!! Awesome: what *else* do you need Bernie to say?

  14. This would place both teams in the proverbial hot water. On the broader point, it’s about time the performance differentiator between the cars was whittled down to a gap realistically bridgeable by, at worst, midfield teams in the course of half an F1 season.

  15. I just hope this guy will die soon, bonus point if he suffer a lot through it.

  16. Even if this rumour was true, it just goes to show how rubbish a team like Ferrari really is. Those guys cannot build a championship winning car even if they had access to the Blue prints of the PU and chassis of all the front running cars.

    I really hope Mclaren can take the 3rd spot away from them next year. I would pay good money to see a grinning Alonso overtake a sulky Seb.

Comments are closed.