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Ecclestone: I don’t believe Ferrari cheated

Deposed Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has defended Ferrari amid accusations of cheating, reportedly instigated by Mercedes and taken up by Red Bull.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen made the “cheating” claim recently, but there is no doubt the FIA is now responding to questions about the legality of the Italian team’s power unit.

Ecclestone told La Gazzetta dello Sport these types of accusations were not new, “I don’t believe Ferrari cheated.

“It’s always the same in Formula 1. If a team is faster than the others, then the ones who are losing suspect the winning team of cheating. It’s always been like that,” the 89-year-old added.

Ecclestone thinks part of the reason for the current furore is that F1 is missing Charlie Whiting, who died suddenly in March.

He said some teams have always managed to find an advantage by interpreting the regulations more intelligently than their rivals.

“Teams used to do that but then Charlie was on top of it,” said Ecclestone. “He was always very good at anticipating things like that.”

Meanwhile, accusers in chief, the Red Bull team, are not letting up. While Verstappen has obviously been told to hold fire but his boss Christian Horner suggested that Ferrari’s surge in form this year is, at the very least, suspicious.

“It’s pretty difficult to understand,” Horner told Auto Motor und Sport. “The three other engines have really moved closer together – only Ferrari stood out with a huge lead. You cannot catch up like that over a winter.

“For two races now Ferrari’s straight-line speed has shrunk for whatever reason, and everybody can have their own opinion about that,” Horner added.

When asked about the matter by Sport Bild, Verstappen said, “I prefer not to comment further. I am looking forward to the last race of the season and it’s good that the FIA is now on top of these issues.”