At a time, following the decision by Austin race stewards to penalise Max Verstappen for his last lap move on Kimi Raikkonen, 'Ferrari International Assistance (FIA) is being bandied about again on social media and message boards, Bernie Ecclestone has made an astonishing claim in reference to the Italian outfit's improved form this season.
The former F1 supremo claims that Mercedes helped Ferrari improve its engine.
In an exclusive interview with Italy's La Repubblica, when asked if Ferrari's improvement this year owed anything to outside help, the Briton replied: "In this case, no one can know except the one who did, certainly at one point a hand with the engine was there."
Asked to reveal more, he admitted: "Mercedes... and for good reason, a world championship won against Sauber is one thing, one won against Ferrari is another."
However, the master of smoke and mirrors was quick to add: "I do not know... I say maybe. In the past it has already happened with Honda. And if Mercedes had decided to translate technology to Maranello, I say it was a good move. It is also certain that with the friendly situation between the two teams, the best thing for Stuttgart in 2017 was to make sure that that Red Bull did not have the most powerful engines and Ferrari was competitive enough to be a credible rival to beat.
"Helping Ferrari has always been the smartest thing to do," he admitted. "And it always has always been done through the technical regulations.
"Teams are important for F1, but Ferrari is the most important. That's why over the years, many things have been done that have helped Maranello win."
Asked if Charlie Whiting has favoured British teams, Ecclestone replied: "No. Charlie has always done what he was supposed to do. Instead, Max (Mosley) has often helped Ferrari. And I too. We all wanted Ferrari to win. A season won by Ferrari is more valuable than a season won by others.
"Teams have an interest in challenging a competitive Ferrari," he insisted. "It is one thing to win against Sauber, but another to win against a red car from Maranello."
When it was put to Christian Horner that, according to Ecclestone, Mercedes and Ferrari had essentially conspired to stifle Red Bull's efforts, the Briton said: "Well, it's usual Bernie thinking... I would say, in the way that he's pieced that together.
"It's very clear that there's a very tight relationship between Ferrari and Mercedes," he continued, "the way they operate in meetings, one won't lift the hand up without the other one being in agreement these days. So there is that dynamic.
"It's not the first time that's happened in Formula One, it won't be the last time. As far as whether or not one has helped the other, that's not our business. I've got no idea. I'd be surprised but yeah... what you see with Mercedes and Ferrari today, they're very aligned in all of their thinking."
"He's the only one who is able to sit on the other side of the world and throw a hand grenade and it actually lands in the paddock," said Toto Wolff of Ecclestone's claim, according to Reuters. And I like it.
"These stories are fantastic and I've missed them a little bit," he added. "I've missed the hand grenades and the pop-up meetings and the crisis situation and the rule and divide."
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