The FIA’s head of F1 technical department Charlie Whiting insists he only discussed Mercedes team members inquiring about the Ferrari energy recovery system (ERS) because he believed it was public knowledge.
In explaining that the FIA had been satisfied by Ferrari over its ERS setup in Monaco, Whiting confirmed that the original issue had been brought up by Mercedes, with engineer Lorenzo Sassi — who had moved to the team from Ferrari — identified as being central in raising the topic. While Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff described the FIA’s naming of individuals as “disturbing,” Whiting says Sassi’s involvement appeared to already been known when he addressed the media on Saturday in Monaco.
“I didn’t think it was any secret,” Whiting (pictured at left, above, with Wolff) said. “I think in fact when we had a little chat with the guys [on Saturday], it was they who came up with the Ferrari man’s name.
“The fact that James [Allison]… it was wrong to say that he was a whistleblower or something like that. He just, as many engineers do, came up to us and said, ‘This guy started working for us and he says this team might be doing that,’ and we go and check, and it’s not the case. This is a regular thing.
“It was just one of those normal conversations that you have with somebody: ‘We think Ferrari may be doing this, this and this because of that,’ and we went and checked, and we thought, ‘Actually they could be doing that, so let’s have a check and make sure.’
“It’s taken us a little while to get to that, but as I say, it’s a pretty routine kind of thing for us, for people to come to us, especially when they’ve had staff members come from another team.
“Don’t forget Lorenzo, his information is at least eight months old, which in Formula 1 terms is quite old.”
Whiting reiterated he felt the topic had been blown out of proportion by being circulated around the media by one of the parties involved.
“I think we’re aware that the story has got around a bit,” Whiting said. Like I said, it’s a sort of wildfire through the paddock. I don’t think it was justified.
“It hasn’t really been that long. It’s been in the news and a lot of people have been talking about it, but a lot of people talking about it don’t know what it’s all about. Three or four years ago, for example, there was an issue with a Red Bull floor, you may remember. That took three races to sort out.
“It’s not that we didn’t understand it. We just said, ‘We didn’t like this, so change that.’ We went to the next race and they hadn’t quite changed it like what we said. So we said, ‘Get this fixed for the next race,’ and the next race it was right. That’s a very simple way of getting what you want, but it took three races. This year is no different.”