London — Seven of Formula One’s 10 teams united in a joint statement on Wednesday threatening legal action against a confidential settlement between the governing FIA and Ferrari over the Italian team’s 2019 power unit.

The teams — all those not powered by Ferrari engines — said they were  “surprised and shocked” by an FIA statement issued at the end of the final day of preseason testing in Spain last week.

The FIA statement provided little information, other than stating that the governing body and Ferrari had reached a settlement after technical investigations into the team’s engine. “The specifics of the agreement will remain between the parties.”

The seven teams, including champions Mercedes, made clear that situation is unacceptable, with the sport preparing for the first race of the season in Australia on March 15.

“An international sporting regulator has the responsibility to act with the highest standards of governance, integrity and transparency,” they said.

“After months of investigations that were undertaken by the FIA only after queries raised by other teams we strongly object to the FIA reaching a confidential settlement agreement with Ferrari to conclude this matter.”

‘Legal redress’

The teams added that they had a shared commitment “to pursue full and proper disclosure in this matter, to ensure that our sport treats all competitors fairly and equally”.

“In addition, we reserve our rights to seek legal redress, within the FIA’s due process and before the competent courts.”

Ferrari’s engine was the subject of much speculation in 2019, with rivals suspecting the team were circumventing fuel flow sensors to gain performance. Ferrari denied doing anything illegal.

The team had started the 2019 season as early favourites after impressive times in testing and a clear straight-line speed advantage.

The performance appeared to tail off, however, after the FIA issued several technical directives concerning fuel flow sensors later in the year.

They have also been slower than Mercedes on the 2020 testing time sheets.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said in December they had been one of the most checked teams on the grid and had not changed their way of operating the engine towards the end of last season. Ferrari finished runners-up to Mercedes in 2019, with three race wins.

Formula One MD Ross Brawn, a former Ferrari technical director as well as ex-principal of Mercedes F1, could not shed any light on the settlement when asked by Reuters.

“I don’t know and there’s nothing I can say,” he replied.


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