Mercedes and Red Bull still want answers over Ferrari’s controversial settlement with the FIA regarding the use of its 2019 Formula 1 engine.

Just as pre-season testing came to a close in Barcelona at the end of February, the FIA announced it had reached a private settlement with Ferrari following an investigation into how it was using its power unit throughout the season amid suspicions its engine was illegal.

The seven teams not powered by Ferrari engines expressed their anger at the nature of the settlement and demanded transparency, before FIA president Jean Todt responded by confirming it was not possible to prove whether a breach of the regulations had occurred, and said further information would be released only if Ferrari agreed.

Mercedes appeared to back away from the matter prior to the planned Australian Grand Prix, however, Toto Wolff stressed the German manufacturer is still seeking clarification along with Ferrari’s fellow rivals.

"We didn't back off," Wolff explained on Friday ahead of this weekend’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.

"We decided in Melbourne that for the start of the season, this additional controversy, plus coronavirus starting to get really bad in Italy, it was not the opportune moment.

"In this day and age of transparency, it's extremely important, and good governance is extremely important. It may well have been good governance, but if you don't know, it's difficult to judge.

"The position that we are in is that we are monitoring the situation. We are not happy about last year. It has stretched all of us to a point to be competitive against Ferrari, where it was difficult to cope.

"Let's wait and see how the season starts and get going, and we will then re-assess for ourselves and probably with the other guys where it stands.”

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said Ferrari’s unwillingness to cooperate with the FIA by releasing further details “does nothing but promote suspicion.”

"It does sit uncomfortably that there is an agreement that has been entered into about the legality and conformity of a car," he said.

"That immediately draws you to think what is in that agreement, what does it comprise of. In our mind, a car is either legal or illegal.

"The questions have been raised with the FIA. The FIA have said they would be happy to disclose that document, but of course they need the clearance from the other signatories.

"It does nothing but promote suspicion when there are private agreements about legality and conformity, so the healthiest thing would be to get it on the table so everybody sees what it comprised of.

"The FIA said they were willing to do that. It would be great if Ferrari were willing to do the same so it puts it all to bed.”

But Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto defended his team’s position, adding: "I think that the answer is straightforward. First, there was no clear breach of regulations, otherwise we would have been disqualified.

"The reason we don't want to open is simple because whatever we need to explain [is] our IP, intellectual property to our project, to our power unit, and I think no one in the paddock would be happy to release information on their design and their project.

"I think it's IP, it's confidentiality, it's intellectual property protection, and that's the reason we're not keen to do it."

 

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