Commentary on # Ferrarigate and the role of Mercedes and Red Bull
It could become the biggest Formula 1 scandal …
One thing is already certain: #Ferrarigate shakes Formula 1’s foundations because it’s an occurrence that never happened before.
Background: The Scuderia came under strong suspicion of fraud regarding its highly complicated hybrid drive in 2019. The FIA investigated the case apparently the suspicion was well-founded but failed to provide hard evidence. So the FIA and Ferrari agreed on a settlement, but both parties agreed to keep the content a secret – Bizarrely, the fact of it was publicly announced. It was not only bizarre but blue-eyed at the same time. Because the public statement showed little respect for fairness and transparency of the sport.
As a result of it, something is now happening that has never occurred before in this form. Teams that don’t otherwise even come close to trust each other unite and demand clarification and full disclosure. A unique bond, in the spirit of the sport in which they invest hundreds of millions together. So that means ALL teams – except teams that are supplied by Ferrari.
The bad thing: The Ferrari opponents who want to keep their sport clean are being accused of foul play. Most of the fans – as in football – they love the great clubs with traditions, much more than those upstarts with sponsors, supported by new money. That is the case in F1 as well, where Ferrari is being hailed in this whole abstruse affair. True to the motto: As long as the fraud is not proven, it isn’t a fraud. The accusers? They are just bad losers. Mercedes in particular is under attack.
However, one can hardly say that the image of a sore loser is appropriate. Indeed, the world champion is – if at all – a bad winner. A fact that reveals the absurdity of the charges against Ferrari opponents. For Mercedes, it’s hardly in it for the money nor for lost success: it is about justice and the image of the whole sport.
In 2019, I experience myself, not once but several times how Mercedes head of motorsport Andy Cowell had to justify himself why not he but Ferrari built the best Formula 1 engine. In such situations, the always friendly and always positive-looking boss of Mercedes High-Performance Powertrains often seemed close to despair because he had no logical explanation for Ferrari’s sudden power advantage. He simply couldn’t explain it, without the use of unfair means.
For Mercedes, the hybrid drive is the marketing tool par excellence. It is the pride of Daimler Benz tradition and engineering ingenuity. If Ferrari did a better job, Cowell would be the first to admit it. That’s how I rate him. What annoys him: If he is wrongly caught in the crossfire.
The fan criticism of Mercedes, Red Bull, and Co. is, therefore, isn’t justified. The suspicions against Ferrari seem to weigh so heavily that even the FIA could not sweep it under the rug without making a public statement. It also means: No gray areas were used here, as Mercedes did with the burning of fuel in the past. This is not about simple clarifications of the rules. It’s about cheating. About fraud!
Everyone knows this in the Formula 1 paddock. That is why it is right that the teams demand clarification. Fairness and transparency are cornerstones of every sport. Formula 1,s too.