Formula 1’s governing body the FIA has defended the private settlement it reached with Ferrari over the manufacturer’s power unit, following the legal threat issued by seven teams.
The performance of Ferrari’s power unit through 2019 raised suspicions from rivals and the FIA launched a lengthy investigation in an attempt to determine its legality and to appease concerns.
Last Friday, the FIA revealed that it had reached a confidential settlement with Ferrari and that the matter was considered closed, though no details of the inquiry were released.
Seven Formula 1 teams – all of those not equipped with a Ferrari power unit – issued a joint statement on Wednesday demanding further information and threatening legal action.
On Thursday, the FIA responded and outlined in greater detail the reasons why it had reached a private settlement.
It confirmed that “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.”
Ferrari, for its part, “firmly opposed the suspicions and reiterated that its PU always operated in compliance with the regulations.”
The FIA confirmed that it 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.”
It used Article 4 (ii) of the Judicial and Disciplinary Rules (JDR) in order to “enter into an effective and dissuasive settlement agreement with Ferrari to terminate the proceedings.”
This was done “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.”
Article 4 (ii) of the JDR states that “the prosecuting body” – in this case the FIA – may decide to “close the case, bring the matter before the International Tribunal, or enter into a settlement agreement to terminate the procedure.”
The FIA stressed that “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.”
That piece of legislation states that “the prosecuting body and all persons taking part in the inquiry are bound by an obligation of confidentiality vis-à-vis persons or organisations not concerned with the inquiry.”