Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

FIA was wrong to go public over Ferrari power unit deal – Ecclestone

2020 F1 season

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Former Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone has criticised the sport’s governing body for revealing its private settlement with Ferrari over its power unit.

A group of Ferrari’s rivals reacted with fury when the settlement was made public during the final minutes of pre-season testing. They have since exchanged letters with FIA president Jean Todt demanding more details of its investigation into Ferrari’s power unit be made public.

However Ecclestone said the FIA should have kept quiet about its investigation in the first place.

“I think what the FIA have done, and shouldn’t have done, they came out with a press release saying that they’ve reached an agreement with Ferrari,” he told Autocar.

“What does that mean? An agreement for what? Either it was within the regulation but they don’t think it should be allowed, therefore, they just ban it for the future. Otherwise, I don’t understand what agreement you can have.

“You can have an agreement say: ‘Well, you were definitely cheating 100% and there’s not much we can do about it, now, because it’s happened, but we’re going to fine you for that’.”

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“There was a team, I believe, which, unfortunately, I got the blame for because I suggested they should be fined $100m,” he added, referring to McLaren’s record sanction over the ‘Spygate’ controversy in 2007.

Ecclestone defended the decision to fine McLaren, saying it was preferable to excluding them. “What was the alternative?” he asked. “At the time, the president of the FIA, Max [Mosley], wanted to chuck them out the championship.

“I said, ‘You’re going to chuck them out for two years.’ The least that they go for. They’re gone for two years or more. Which is really not the way. Why don’t we punish them and take away their money that they would otherwise make because of whatever happened. Which is what we did.”

Whatever Ferrari had done with its power unit last year “was brilliant, because it worked”, Ecclestone added.

Read the full interview with Bernie Ecclestone in the upcoming April 15th issue of Autocar

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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...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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  • 24 comments on “FIA was wrong to go public over Ferrari power unit deal – Ecclestone”

    1. Oh shut up Bernie. You are responsible for the secret agreements in F1, when they are rare in other sports. F1 has secret payments and secret rules all bought about by Bernie so he could control and bully everyone involved. Bernie’s days have gone. It’s time the sport tidied up the mess he left it in.

      1. I’d have to partially agree with you. The lack of transparency, under the table dealings and political manipulation are the most distinct characteristics of the Bernie Ecclestone era. He took the sport to great heights and then gradually destroyed it with his shady approach to doing business.

        But on the other hand, Bernie is also right. If the FIA were going to make a shady deal with Ferrari, they should have taken a page from the Bernie Ecclestone era and not made a press release. There isn’t a problem if no one knows about it. If every scam under the Bernie era was to be made in to press releases, we wouldn’t be following races, but instead we’d be glued to the political game of thrones that was F1.

        1. I see what you are saying @todfod but I disagree with:

          There isn’t a problem if no one knows about it.

          I do understand your point, that there would be no fuss and no outcry. But 1) it would likely come out eventually (crashgate). And 2) regardless of whether it did come out or not, this is exactly the kind of thing that gave rise to the FIA/Ferrari rumors to begin with. At least if it is all in the open, we can judge what is going on. When things are done in secret, they damage the sport. Good things look shady, and bad things can ruin seasons.

        2. Bernie did NOT take F1 to great heights, he in fact held it back. F1 was bigger than both the MBA and NFL COMBINED when bernie stole control, now the worst nba team can sell for over half a billion while Williams would be lucky to sell for 100M. Bernie was not good for F1.

          1. @megatron

            F1 was bigger than both the MBA

            Glad to know it was bigger than a degree… XD . Sorry .. I’m bored. Typo jokes make me laugh now.

    2. I actually agree with Bernie this time; not with the headline comment, but with the following statements:

      Either it was within the regulation but they don’t think it should be allowed, therefore, they just ban it for the future.

      (Or you) can have an agreement say: ‘Well, you were definitely cheating 100% and there’s not much we can do about it, now, because it’s happened, but we’re going to fine you for that’.

      And summarising – which I think should be the title:

      Otherwise, I don’t understand what agreement you can have.

      1. @coldfly The FIA already explained the 3rd posisble scenario. They knew Ferrari were cheating but to actually get them convicted for it would damage the sport tremendously. So they settled.

        1. Not to mention, what agreement does BE not understand? An agreement was made. He doesn’t have to understand it. FIA and Ferrari understand it, and the teams that had read the release from the FIA, questioned them on it, and got the same response back, now understand it too. Nothing could be proven but at least FIA investigated enough to figure that out, and could have just stopped investigating and said nothing to see here. They couldn’t prove anything but they got Ferrari to stop in exchange for confidentiality on what they were doing that they can see benefiting them commercially. I’m fine with that. Ferrari has been stopped from their alleged cheat.

          1. @robbie 6 of the teams understand the FIA’s response to be illegal, and are likely to sue once they can get a case into the Swiss Court of Arbitration. So, there’s that.

    3. Bernie loved Ferrari best.

      1. Correction, Ferrari make the most money for Bernie and Bernie loves money tge best.

      2. Bernie always did what wa s best for Bernie and tried to play it off like it was for the sport. But the only sport Bernie truly valued was the cash going in his pocket.

    4. Whatever Ferrari had done with its power unit last year “was brilliant, because it worked”, Ecclestone added.

      And that’s why I watch F1. I want to see the best drivers drive and the best engineers engineer!

      1. Yes and we all should know about it so it can be compared with the rules. We all want to see innovation especially smart ones that skirts the lines of the rules, but we can’t have that if we don’t know how it works.

        And sometimes the way rules are interpreted is important and subjective but they still need to be open so everyone can see it.

        You really should not need settlements for this.

      2. @blik We don’t watch F1 to see people cheat.

      3. Nothing brilliant or best about what Ferrari did. What Ferrari did was akin to stepping on the FIA weigh scales while running an underweight car.

    5. Agreeing with Bernie.. what is the world coming to.

    6. I know Bernie, but people call me names when I say such things.

    7. Almost an ideal living symbol of everything that is going wrong with humanity. At least he’s honest about it, as ironic as it is.

    8. Bernie F1 tsar for all these years thinks his way of doing things is still the way,and no matter how you can look at this,his statement above not withstanding, were he still in the hotseat, that Ferrari deal would have certainly remained secret. It’s easy to say what he said when you look from the outside in, but if he was in the inside, he would have kept it a secret 100%, unfortunately for him,F1 is more open albeit this particular matter of not disclosing the details of the Ferrari agreement.

    9. Bernie showing he is out of touch with 2020 reality.. An attempt at secrecy would have looked even worse when it inevitably came out..

    10. I think the FIA has been quite open compared to what BE would have done, as he totally disregards the other teams with his commentary above. To him FIA should have just swept things under the carpet like the very teams who suspected something back last year don’t even exist. Like they would have just sat on their hands and let it go if only the FIA hadn’t made that press release updating everyone on the situation.

      FIA couldn’t prove wrongdoing, but acknowledge it existed, so they couldn’t go back retroactively and take anything away from Ferrari points-wise or monetarily, without proof, so they did the next best thing which was to stop Ferrari from continuing using what they were using.

      BE says either it was within the regulation but they don’t think it should be allowed in which case just ban it…well…I say they banned it as it was very questionably within the regulations, or else it would have been allowed. They just couldn’t prove it’s illegality with 100% certainty.

      Then BE speaks to if they were 100% cheating, and obviously, again, FIA could not prove that unequivocally, and if they tried to fine Ferrari then likely Ferrari would have said ok see you in court then, and it would seem such were the technicalities of this, they may have had to reach a stalemate anyway, after spending a ton of time, energy, and money in court.

      I know with BE he would like the black and white dictatorial type solution, where it suits him of course, and otherwise with his own run-ins with the law he is happy if shades of grey on a matter work for him. In this case he is disregarding the middle ground where FIA sits on this matter. And he is disregarding the other teams and their reactions if he thinks FIA could have just left it at ‘what they did has been banned’ or ‘it was 100% cheating and they’ve been fined.’ In either case the teams’ first reaction would be to ask to see exactly what Ferrari was doing that has been banned so they know what not to waste money on, or alternatively that had them cheating, in which case let’s talk about altering the results of last year then, which would require proof of cheating, which it seems would be elusive.

      Just as BE would have done, FIA made a decision and when teams pressed them on that decision they basically repeated the same things they said in their original release. That’s their final answer, and BE was great at those.

    11. The more I think about this I don’t think F1’s statements have been truthful. I think they are revealing half truth to protect themselves and Ferrari. I believe F1 does know exactly how Ferrari was cheating although it took them all season to figure it out. They didn’t catch the fuel weight differential by accident at the end of the season. F1 was guilty of not checking fuel weights more frequently during the season to catch the kind of cheating Ferrari was doing. If F1 came down hard on Ferrari at the end of the season and detailed how Ferrari was cheating the fuel monitors and using more than the maximum allowed fuel flow, other teams and fans would be looking for Ferrari to lose points. It would have been a complete mess.
      After Bernie’s comments, one has to wonder how many deals Bernie did with Ferrari over the years.

    12. The FIA was obliged to go public on the Ferrari deal, per its own Statutes. Unlike Bernie, the FIA actually has some.

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