Ecclestone confused by FIA/Ferrari agreement: 'What does that mean?'

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Former Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has criticised the FIA for how it handled the investigation into the legality of Ferrari's 2019 engine.

As pre-season testing ended in Barcelona last month, the governing body sent out a press release announcing a settlement had been reached with the Italian team, which they later clarified was because they couldn't definitively decide if their power unit was legal or not.

That led to a backlash from initially all seven F1 teams not linked to Ferrari, before Mercedes left the group, though the remaining six are continuing to threaten legal action against the FIA, something Bernie himself has previously suggested.

“I think what the FIA have done, and shouldn’t have done, they came out with a press release saying that they’ve reached an agreement with Ferrari,” RaceFans quoted Ecclestone as telling Autocar, offering his reaction to the story.

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The Briton then admitted his confusion at why the FIA had reached such an agreement in the first place.

“What does that mean? An agreement for what?" he asked. "Either it was within the regulation but they don’t think it should be allowed, therefore, they just ban it for the future. Otherwise, I don’t understand what agreement you can have.

“You can have an agreement say: ‘Well, you were definitely cheating 100% and there’s not much we can do about it, now, because it’s happened, but we’re going to fine you for that’.”

Ecclestone then compared the situation to 'Spygate' back in 2007, involving McLaren and Ferrari, explaining how he got involved in the British outfit's retrospective punishment.

“There was a team, I believe, which, unfortunately, I got the blame for because I suggested they should be fined $100m,” he said.

“What was the alternative? At the time, the president of the FIA, Max [Mosley], wanted to chuck them out the championship.

“I said, ‘You’re going to chuck them out for two years. The least that they go for. They’re gone for two years or more. Which is really not the way. Why don’t we punish them and take away their money that they would otherwise make because of whatever happened?' Which is what we did."