The FIA has reached a “settlement” with Ferrari over the way it operates its power unit, following speculation regarding its legality last season.
Technical directives issued towards the end of the year appeared to target Ferrari’s power unit usage, with the Scuderia enjoying a significant straight line speed advantage and showing a clear improvement in performance after the summer break. While team principal Mattia Binotto vehemently defended the engine’s legality, a somewhat bizarre statement was issued by the FIA on Friday evening just before the conclusion of pre-season testing.
“The FIA announces that, after thorough technical investigations, it has concluded its analysis of the operation of the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 Power Unit and reached a settlement with the team,” the statement read. “The specifics of the agreement will remain between the parties.
“The FIA and Scuderia Ferrari have agreed to a number of technical commitments that will improve the monitoring of all Formula 1 Power Units for forthcoming championship seasons as well as assist the FIA in other regulatory duties in Formula 1 and in its research activities on carbon emissions and sustainable fuels.”
The statement was released with 10 minutes to go on the final day of the test, and with Ferrari and the FIA having already carried out a number of press conferences during the week. As such, the timing allows both parties to avoid facing the media until the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.
The wording of the statement suggests the Ferrari power unit was exploiting a loophole in the regulations, and while not strictly illegal, warranted the FIA feeling the need to make changes. In November the FIA tightened its policing of fuel flow by forcing teams to run a second fuel flow sensor from this season onwards.
After the first week of this year’s pre-season testing, Mercedes claimed Ferrari was running its power unit at a lower mode than its customer teams, something Binotto denied during the second test.