Former F1 boss indirectly alleges Mercedes has a source inside the FIA that warned of its new directive to address porpoising

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone speaks with Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff during the Canadian Formula One Grand Prix. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone speaks with Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff during the Canadian Formula One Grand Prix. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

Bernie Ecclestone is certain that Mercedes were tipped off about the FIA’s technical directive by one of their former employees working with the organisation. Similar to Ferrari, the F1 supremo believes the appointment of former Mercedes advisor Shaila-Ann Rao as interim secretary general of motorsport was a compromising move by the FIA.

Speaking to Jonathan McEvoy of Daily Mail UK, the Briton commented on Rao's appointment, saying:

“It's bloody dangerous. 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 company when I was running things. But the teams went mad because he was Ferrari's man. It was seen as a conflict of interest, so how can she do this job?”

Citing conflict of interest, Ecclestone is certain Rao tipped Mercedes about the FIA’s technical directive. Red Bull and other rival teams have been suspicious about the timing of the directive and how the Silver Arrows had a second stay ready to fix onto their floor.

Helmut Marko claimed he was surprised to see a second stay on the Mercedes W13, but Ecclestone is certain the team were tipped off by their former employee. Although the FIA and Mercedes have denied it, it is speculated that Toto Wolff’s former employee resumed her new job without any gardening leave. Ferrari had also expressed their concerns about her appointment prior to the Canadian GP.

Speaking at a press conference at the Azerbaijan GP weekend, Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto commented on Rao’s appointment saying:

“Certainly it's a concern. She is a great person, she's got a lot of experience, she will certainly be capable of doing the job. It's down to them 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."

Bernie Ecclestone dismisses Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton’s claims about the backache in Baku

While Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes complained about the backache caused due to the bottoming on the car in Azerbaijan, Ecclestone dismissed the claim. The 91-year old believes George Russell should have been more prone to it than the seven-time world champion. He also stated that the theatrics surrounding that claim reminded him of Nigel Mansell.

Upon being asked about the porpoising row in the paddock and Hamilton’s backache in Baku, Ecclestone said:

“George is taller and if it was going to happen to anyone it would have happened to him. There was a bit of Nigel Mansell about it. At least with Nigel, he would get out of the car and rub his left leg as if he had broken it. Next moment, it would be his right leg.”

The F1 supremo has been known to hurl hand grenades from the far end of the world. However, he's also one of the few who has had the best understanding of the sport and the politics of the paddock. Having run the sport in an autocratic fashion for decades, there is nobody more familiar with the political ploys and team strategies off-track than Ecclestone himself.

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Edited by Nicolaas Ackermann