Ferrari’s engine saga could be about to take a dark turn with claims in the Italian press stating they have been victims of industrial espionage.
The Scuderia’s 2019 power unit was the envy of the Formula 1 paddock but a series of Technical Directives issued by the FIA correlated with a sudden drop-off in performance towards the end of the campaign.
The performance drop has carried over to the 2020 season and, after months of citing other weaknesses away from power unit, Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto finally conceded at the Hungarian Grand Prix that the TDs have impacted their engine.
“I think that the regulations are very difficult and complex,” Binotto said in the team principals’ press conference at the Hungaroring.
“I think there are areas of the regulations where maybe clarifications are still required. It’s an ongoing process which has always existed in the past, and will exist in the future.
“Since last year a lot of TDs [FIA technical directives] have been released, eventually clarifying some of the areas of the regulations. I think that through those TDs we had to adapt ourselves.
“I don’t think it was only the case of Ferrari, I think looking at the power output of this season I think most of the other manufacturers had to adapt themselves. Certainly as Ferrari we had to adapt, and as a simple output of that we lost some of the performance we had.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff called bull**** on those claims, while other teams have said that the TDs have not had a negative impact on their performance.
But how was the Ferrari engine placed under so much scrutiny in the first place? Well, according to Italian publication Corriere dello Sport, the information was obtained illegally by a rival team with the Scuderia’s computer system being breached.
That information then formed the basis for the FIA to launch an official investigation into the power unit. The details of the investigation were never made public as the FIA and Ferrari came to a ‘private agreement’ together.
Binotto said the private agreement was arranged as the information involved a lot of detail about Ferrari’s Intellectual Property.
He said: “First, there was no clear breach of the regulations. Otherwise we would have been disqualified.
“The reason we don’t want to open is simply because whatever we would need to explain is IP, intellectual property to our project, to our power unit and no one in the paddock would be happy to release information on their design and their projects.
“It’s IP, it’s confidentiality, it’s intellectual property protection and that’s the reason why we are not keen to do it.”
Ferrari announced on Wednesday that a staff reshuffle has taken place as the Scuderia look to address the plethora of performance issues facing them.