A secret settlement clause has gagged Formula 1 from revealing the truth of its investigation into Ferrari cheating accusations.
A secret settlement clause has gagged Formula 1 from revealing the truth of its investigation into Ferrari cheating accusations.

Secret deal reveals Ferrari cover-up

Ferrari has blocked Formula 1's oversight body from revealing the truth of its investigation into accusations the team "cheated" in 2019.

The Formula 1 world has been in a spin about Ferrari's controversial 2019 power unit ever since seven teams complained the team was breaking technical regulations.

The only teams that did not officially protest Ferrari's engine were Haas and Alfa Romeo, who also use Ferrari power units.

Ferrari in November had parts and technical equipment confiscated by a team of FIA investigators - the organisation that governs international motorsport competitions, including Formula 1.

Red Bull rival Max Verstappen even cheekily suggested Ferrari's hot and cold finish to the 2019 season was the result of the FIA ordering the team to make changes to its engine.

"You get that when you stop cheating," Verstappen said.

"It's now being carefully watched, but we have to keep an eye on it."

It was then revealed in March that Ferrari and the FIA had agreed to a private settlement which allowed Ferrari to avoid any Formula 1 sanction.

 

The FIA said at the time it did not find enough evidence to support taking further action against the Italian team, who finished second again in the constructors championship in 2019 behind rivals Mercedes.

FIA president Jean Todt has now revealed the settlement reached with Ferrari includes a gag-order that forbids him from releasing the conclusions reached by the investigating team.

Todt has told Autosport he wants to release the information, but is being blocked by Ferrari.

"If you ask me, I would love to be able to give all the details of the situation, but they [Ferrari] opposed," Todt said in his first interview since the settlement was announced.

"So, I mean, they have been sanctioned but we cannot give the detail of the sanction.

"And clearly we could have said nothing.

"But we felt that it would have been wrong not to say that the Ferrari case had been discussed and that there had been a sanction.

"Honestly, it's very simple. Very simple. We have put so much effort to come to our conclusions, which they [the teams] do not agree.

Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel are teamming up again in 2020.
Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel are teamming up again in 2020.

"Unfortunately, it is very much a fait accompli of technical matters, because our technicians say 'we cannot for sure demonstrate as much as we should that they [Ferrari] were not legal'."

The FIA's original statement in March left the sport with no clue about the accusations actually made against Ferrari.

"The extensive and thorough investigations undertaken during the 2019 season raised suspicions that the Scuderia Ferrari PU could be considered as not operating within the limits of the FIA regulations at all times," the statement began.

"The Scuderia Ferrari firmly opposed the suspicions and reiterated that its PU always operated in compliance with the regulations. 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.

"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 FIA, in compliance with Article 4 (ii) of its Judicial and Disciplinary Rules (JDR), decided to enter into an effective and dissuasive settlement agreement with Ferrari to terminate the proceedings."

Originally published as Secret deal reveals Ferrari cover-up


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