Binotto: We proved legality of our engine

Rather than losing out to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes again, or the nightmare of Brazil where its two drivers finally clashed, it is the continued questioning of the legality of its engine that has Ferrari still bristling with indignation.

Though the Italian team and the FIA insist that the engine was legal, fans and much of the media point to the obvious drop-off in performance once the technical directives started flowing as ‘proof’ that something was amiss.

However, speaking at his team’s media lunch, team boss Mattia Binotto insists that the legality of the engine was proven beyond all doubt.

“If I look at the whole season, we have been one of the most checked teams, both before and after the TD had been worked up,” said the Italian.

“When you have got a performance advantage, and certainly we had it for the whole season because we’ve had a power advantage compared to our competitors since the first race, being checked is normal and it is somehow good because through the checks you are proving your legality after the TD has been issued.

“The number of checks on our cars have multiplied,” he continued, “the results have been shown to the FIA and the details have been discussed. So whatever could have been done through collaboration with the FIA has been done.

“We have never changed our way of operating the engine for the last part of the season,” he insists, “showing that our power unit is fully legal. Had that not been the case, if there would have been any non-legality, it would have come out at the very first check.”

Looking back to the first season of the hybrid formula, Binotto points out that such was Mercedes domination similar questions were raised.

“In the first year of hybrid formula we were down on horsepower. Back then it was simply a matter of clarifications, a matter of addressing even further the regulations, more TDs and more discussions. But that’s exactly what can happen in F1 when you have a competitive advantage.

“In 2014, we had a big gap to Mercedes, which I remember was above 80 horsepower at the time and we recognised it. We put a lot of effort and investment into our power unit to try to address it and to improve.

“Today we have a smaller advantage compared to what they had at the time, simply because we worked very hard as a team. I think I am somehow very happy for what we achieved.”

Meanwhile, Ferrari CEO, Louis Camilleri admitted his frustration at the ongoing speculation.

Ferrari is a public company, it’s known worldwide,” he said, “integrity and compliance is key.

“I think people need to factor that in when they try to look at these allegations which have grown as the months evolved, stronger and stronger.”