Maurizio Arrivabene brands Ecclestone’s cartel comments “ridiculous”

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Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has hit back at Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone’s accusation that the major manufacturers in the series are operating like a cartel.

In an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper in the UK last month, Ecclestone said that Ferrari and Mercedes were acting like a cartel by preventing changes being pushed through for F1, such as the introduction of an independent engine supply.

“This sort of thing is what is commonly known as a cartel,” Ecclestone said.

“And cartels are illegal. We are running something that is illegal. On top of all that it is anti-competitive.”

When asked about Ecclestone’s comments during Friday’s FIA team personnel press conference in Australia, Arrivabene called them “ridiculous”.

“I think this talk of a cartel is simply ridiculous. Simply ridiculous,” Arrivabene said.

“Everybody, they are doing their job, they try to do their best. We are talking here about brands who have a long story. They are not going to throw out of the window their story, their reputation for this comment that they don’t deserve even one word.

“I have to say, it’s strange because in this world you have to be careful sometimes because, if you are talking a bit more with somebody, if I’m going to go to the dinner with Toto or Cyril, I do a cartel? It’s simply a dinner!

“We have to learn something from rugby, that when you are in the field, you play very hard, you punch, whatever you have to do. And then afterwards, they go to the dinner and no-one is talking about having a cartel or creating some mismatch during the match. It’s simply ridiculous.”

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was similarly dismissive, saying that the comments caused a media stir but had no real foundation.

“I don’t think there is any cartel around here, nor is the sport run as a cartel. Bernie is always good for controversy and throwing one in,” Wolff said.

“If that were to run like a cartel we wouldn’t be sitting here. Some of us are part of multi-national global companies and we’re taking compliance very seriously. So it just causes headlines but nothing else.”