F1 manufacturers have dismissed commercial rights boss Bernie Ecclestone’s criticism describing them as “a cartel”, with Maurizio Arrivabene labelling the accusations “ridiculous”.
Power unit constructors, especially Mercedes and Ferrari, have come under repeated attacks from Ecclestone in recent months, as the 85-year-old lambast their growing influence over the sport and rule making process.
Ecclestone went as far as saying “F1 is the worst it has ever been” and calling the current organisation “a cartel”, which should be “illegal”. Speaking in Friday’s press conference, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff and Ferrari team principal Arrivabene were quick to reject the F1 supremo's latest comments when asked about the issue.
“I don’t think there is any cartel around here, nor is the sport run as a cartel,” Wolff said. “Bernie is always good for controversy and throwing one in. If that were to run like a cartel we wouldn’t be sitting here. Some of us are part of multi-national global companies and we’re taking compliance very seriously. So it just causes headlines but nothing else.”
Arrivabene was actually even more vehement in his reaction, saying high competition on track should not prevent people involved in F1 from enjoying an amicable relationship off it.
“I think this talk of a cartel is simply ridiculous,” the Ferrari boss replied. “Simply ridiculous. Everybody, they are doing their job, they try to do their best. We are talking here about brands who have a long story. They are not going to throw out of the window their story, their reputation for this comment that they don’t deserve even one word.
“I have to say, it’s strange because in this world you have to be careful sometimes because, if you are talking a bit more with somebody, if I’m going to go to the dinner with Toto or [Renault managing director] Cyril [Abiteboul] I do a cartel? It’s simply a dinner!
“We have to learn something from rugby, that when you are in the field, you play very hard, you punch, whatever you have to do. And then afterwards, they go to the dinner and no one is talking about having a cartel or creating some mismatch during the match. It’s simply ridiculous.”