Max Verstappen kept his cards close to his chest when asked about his reaction to Ferrari’s recent settlement with the FIA but admitted he and other drivers want to ensure everyone is on a “level playing field”. Ferrari and the FIA sent shockwaves across the motorsport world earlier this month when it was announced they had agreed a closed settlement following an investigation into the engine the Italians used over the course of the 2019 F1 season.
Ferrari’s pit-lane rivals who do not utilise an engine supplied by them – Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Renault, Racing Point, AlphaTauri and Williams – released a joint statement calling for “proper disclosure” of the details of the investigation and subsequent settlement.
The FIA responded, insisting they had merely followed the guidelines all teams signed up to and that they had taken the action to avoid a drawn out process, despite not being “fully satisfied” by Ferrari’s answers to their questions.
Red Bull driver Verstappen, previously an outspoken critic of Ferrari, has now been asked for his thoughts on the settlement ahead of Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix and he’s revealed there’s a universal stance on the need for fairness in F1.
“I think it’s important for us to have a level playing field, so that’s what we all want,” Verstappen said at a Red Bull event in Melbourne.
“That’s all I can say. I think both of the parts have been making the right decisions so let’s see what the teams and the FIA come up with.”
Verstappen’s comments come after the FIA insisted last week that they had followed protocol by entering into a settlement with Ferrari, whose engine customers Alfa Romeo and Haas did not object to it.
A statement released on Thursday read: “The FIA has conducted detailed technical analysis on the Scuderia Ferrari Power Unit as it is entitled to do for any competitor in the FIA Formula One World Championship.
“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 Scuderia Ferrari firmly opposed the suspicions and reiterated that its PU always operated in compliance with the regulations.
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“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.
“This type of agreement is a legal tool recognised as an essential component of any disciplinary system and is used by many public authorities and other sport federations in the handling of disputes.
“The confidentiality of the terms of the settlement agreement is provided for by Article 4 (vi) of the JDR.
“The FIA will take all necessary action to protect the sport and its role and reputation as regulator of the FIA Formula One World Championship.”
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