Over the years we’ve been used to hearing Bernie Ecclestone say some fairly ridiculous things. But since Liberty Media took over and effectively ousted him from power we’ve thankfully been free of his silly suggestions, like adding shortcuts to circuits, or ditching the points system and giving drivers medals instead.
He hasn’t stopped completely though, and recently made an incredible claim that Mercedes has helped Ferrari to be more competitive.
Bernie’s reasoning is that Mercedes will look better if it beats a rival as illustrious as Ferrari. He told Italian paper La Repubblica:
“Certainly at one point they had help with this engine. It’s the same for Mercedes as it is for the others – a world championship win against Ferrari is always worth more.
“If Mercedes decided to transfer technology to Maranello, I say it was a good move,” he said. “What is certain is that this friendly situation between the two teams is the best thing for Mercedes. It means Red Bull did not have the most powerful engines and Ferrari was competitive enough to be a credible rival to beat.”
He doesn’t stop there though. Oh no.
For years now the long-running joke has been that FIA stands for ‘Ferrari International Assistance’, and Bernie claimed that those in the sport (with the exception of race director Charlie Whiting) have been helping to keep Ferrari a front-running team.
“F1 is Ferrari, and Ferrari is F1. Helping Ferrari has always been the smartest thing to do. It was always done through the technical regulations. The teams are important to F1, but Ferrari is more than that. So many things have been done over the years that have helped Ferrari to win.
“Charlie has always done what he has to do. But Max [Mosley] has often helped Ferrari, and I too wanted them to win. There can be a season won by others, but even the other teams have an interest in challenging a competitive Ferrari. It’s one thing to win against Sauber and quite another to win against a red car.”
If his claims somehow turned out to be true, it perhaps wouldn’t be entirely surprising – after all, Ferrari does have a veto on technical regulations, and also gets extra prize money just for being Ferrari.
There have been times though (namely in 2003 and 2005) where the rules were changed specifically to hurt Ferrari. Also Bernie always has been one for stirring things up a bit, and given that he’s not especially keen on the direction Liberty have taken F1 (he said “I built a five star restaurant and they are turning it into McDonald’s”), there’s a chance he’s just trying to unsettle things a bit.
Plus, if Mercedes has helped Ferrari this year, it’s been doing a terrible job of it since Singapore!