Mercedes have accused Formula One’s governing body of “throwing them under a bus” after the FIA revealed specific details of their concerns with rivals Ferrari.
It was confirmed on the eve of the Monaco Grand Prix that Lewis Hamilton’s championship rival Sebastian Vettel will face no punishment after the FIA cleared his team of breaking any rules.
Mercedes believed that the Italians may have been deploying an illegal power boost this year, and raised the matter with F1’s sporting federation ahead of last month’s race in Azerbaijan. They did not launch an official protest.
Although the FIA conceded there had been “concerns” over Ferrari’s complex battery system, they subsequently cleared the Italians of any wrongdoing.
On Saturday, the FIA’s race director Charlie Whiting named James Allison, the Mercedes’ technical director who had two spells at Ferrari before moving to Mercedes in 2017, as the man who approached them.
Asked if he felt the FIA had thrown his team under a bus, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff replied: “Yes. One of my roles is to protect my people and if they are named it is disturbing.”
Wolff also felt the FIA’s version of events were “not true”. “Some of the things that were said were cherry-picked,” he said.
The Austrian continued: 7“The FIA has made a public statement and as the governing body they are entitled to do that. No judgement has been made on anything. No protest. No investigation launched. No verdict. We trust them.
“The normal modus operandi is that teams ask about issues every single day and that is what has happened in this instance.”
Suspicions over alleged foul play gathered pace at last month’s Chinese Grand Prix after Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen secured Ferrari’s second consecutive front-row lockout.
Vettel was more than half a second clear of the Mercedes cars at a track which, up until this season, the German constructor had dominated.
Vettel, who won the opening two rounds, was again on pole at the following race in Azerbaijan.
Mercedes are closely aligned with Ferrari in their future vision for the sport – its terms are up for renewal after 2020 – but Wolff hopes their relationship has not been affected.
“It is like rugby,” Wolff added. “You scrum but then have a beer together afterwards.”