Ecclestone says 'bloody dangerous' FIA official tipped off Mercedes

Bernie Ecclestone (GBR) on the grid. 17.11.2019.
© XPB 

Bernie Ecclestone believes that recently appointed FIA official Shaila-Ann Rao - a former Mercedes executive and personal advisor to Toto Wolff - gave the latter a heads up on the technical directive published by the governing body ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix.

In Montreal, the FIA introduced on the grounds of safety a TD intended to combat the porpoising and bouncing of F1's cars, and with the aim of eventually eradicating the phenomenon.

But when Mercedes rolled out its W13 on Friday morning, the car which has been severely impacted by porpoising was fitted with a second floor stay to help mitigate the silver arrows' bouncing.

The element was fitted as a result of the Brackley squad's interpretation of the FIA's TD. But Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto questioned how Mercedes was able to manufacture and fit the element overnight, just a few hours after the dissemination by the FIA of the TD.

"What I can say is that Ferrari would not be capable of doing it," said Binotto at the time. "No doubt I’m surprised that a team is so strong in doing that overnight. I can maybe only trust what he’s saying."

With protests looming over the German outfit, and with the floor stay not proving beneficial, Mercedes took the element off its car.

But Ecclestone is convinced that Shaila-Ann Rao, who recently replaced on an interim basis outgoing FIA F1 executive director Peter Bayer, spilled the beans to Mercedes before the TD was officially published.

"It's bloody dangerous," Ecclestone told the Daily Mail, referring to the former Mercedes F1 executive's appointment by the FIA.

"Toto started all this nonsense about the cars needing to change. She told them about the new directive, obviously. She worked with Toto for two or three years.

"I wanted to get Luca di Montezemolo as chairman of the [F1] company when I was running things, but the teams went mad because he was Ferrari's man," recalled Ecclestone.

"It was seen as a conflict of interest, so how can she do this job?"

Ecclestone wasn't the one surprised by Rao's nomination, with Binotto also expressing his concerns over the former Mercedes legal advisor's arrival at the FIA.

"It's a concern, but I think it's down to them [the FIA] to make sure that there will be no conflicts of interest at all, to behave properly, and it's down to the president to ensure it," said the Scuderia chief.

"I've got to trust that they will do it. As Ferrari we are concerned, but I'm pretty sure that through the behaviours, through the decisions, they will prove it's a wrong concern."

As for Wolff, the Mercedes F1 boss says he's fully respectful of the FIA's decisions.

"The FIA is changing its structure and organisation and then the president has to make his decisions and we certainly shouldn’t interfere into any of the decisions," he said.

"For Shaila-Ann, she was at the FIA before she joined us. She was chief executive officer of one of the largest sports agencies before and the positive of having Shaila-Ann in this position is she’s one about governance and transparency. She’s a lawyer.

"I think this is something we have always criticised in the past, that things weren’t always as transparent and as clear for the teams.

"This is one of the key topics she will be trying to implement. And that is good news for all of the teams."

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter