Mercedes dismiss Ecclestone’s ‘Ferrari helped by Mercedes’ claim
Mercedes, McLaren and Renault have dismissed Bernie Ecclestone’s claim that Ferrari was externally helped by Mercedes to succeed this year.
He told an Italian newspaper that Mercedes had helped Ferrari with its engine, because every team wants to beat a competitive Ferrari.
However, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff quickly dismissed the speculation, and suggested that Ecclestone was causing mischief and reminding the paddock of his influence.
"Ecclestone is 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, and I like it," said Wolff. "These stories are fantastic. I've missed them a little in the past.
"I've missed the hand grenades, and the pop-up meetings, and the crisis situation, and the divide and conquer. It is a good story."
Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Skysports.com he was not aware of it, and although Mercedes and Ferrari are ‘best mates’, he felt the idea of Mercedes helping Ferrari was a little far-fetched. He also added some humour by saying, "We have never received that kind of help because at the end of the day we are just an energy drinks company."
Even though it remains a question whether Mercedes did help Ferrari, Mercedes previously openly offered help to Honda, but the Japanese manufacturer was quick to reject their offer.
Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul also refuted the claims, and suggested that if it had happened properly then information would have leaked out.
"I think there has been a lot of speculation about that, but I think it is not a new story - it is an old story and I don't think there is any leg," he said.
"When you look at everything that Mercedes is doing, I don't see Mercedes doing that and in the world in which we are living, it is very difficult to keep a secret. We've seen, when there was a possible collaboration between Mercedes and Honda, it took a couple of days for everyone in the paddock to become aware of that.
"I would be surprised, and if it happened then they would have been super good at keeping a secret."
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier suggested that ‘poaching’ staff from other teams is different from sharing knowledge, and believes that is what Ecclestone is referring to.
"I can't comment on a translated interview from Bernie in Italian," he said. "It's his opinion, he's got his one. I think what he's referring to, it's the same as for the teams.
"When you sometimes poach somebody from another team - we all have heard of a few engineers leaving Mercedes to go to Ferrari a couple of years ago. That's what I think he was referring to."