After seven of Formula One's 10 teams called for greater transparency from the FIA over its recent investigation into the legality of Ferrari's power unit, the governing body has explained why it decided to reach a settlement with the Italian team rather than pursue the case.
In response to a joint statement from the seven teams on Wednesday, the FIA gave further information on how it reached a settlement with Ferrari -- details that had previously been kept confidential between the Italian team and the governing body.
It said the FIA held suspicions over the legality of Ferrari's power unit, but decided to agree to a settlement rather than bring them in front of the International Tribunal. It added it was not satisfied by Ferrari's defence of its engine's legality, but was not convinced it would reach a conclusive outcome by taking the issue further.
"Following yesterday's announcement by seven F1 teams, the FIA would like to make the following clarifications," the FIA statement read. "The FIA has conducted detailed technical analysis on the Scuderia Ferrari Power Unit as it is entitled to do for any competitor in the FIA Formula One World Championship.
"The extensive and thorough investigations undertaken during the 2019 season raised suspicions that the Scuderia Ferrari PU could be considered as not operating within the limits of the FIA regulations at all times. The Scuderia Ferrari firmly opposed the suspicions and reiterated that its PU always operated in compliance with the regulations.
"The FIA was not fully satisfied but decided that further action would not necessarily result in a conclusive case due to the complexity of the matter and the material impossibility to provide the unequivocal evidence of a breach.
"To avoid the negative consequences that a long litigation would entail especially in light of the uncertainty of the outcome of such litigations and in the best interest of the Championship and of its stakeholders, the FIA, in compliance with Article 4 (ii) of its Judicial and Disciplinary Rules (JDR), decided to enter into an effective and dissuasive settlement agreement with Ferrari to terminate the proceedings.
"This type of agreement is a legal tool recognised as an essential component of any disciplinary system and is used by many public authorities and other sport federations in the handling of disputes.
"The confidentiality of the terms of the settlement agreement is provided for by Article 4 (vi) of the JDR.
"The FIA will take all necessary action to protect the sport and its role and reputation as regulator of the FIA Formula One World Championship."
Last year, rival teams held suspicions over the way Ferrari operated its power unit, believing the Italian team had found a way to circumvent strict fuel consumption regulations to boost engine power. But with all teams guarding the workings of their power units with complete secrecy, the suspicions were hard to back up.
Toward the end of the season, Red Bull posed questions to the FIA over the legality of potential systems it believed could be used to circumvent the fuel regulations, which were met with technical directives -- essentially amendments to the regulations -- that confirmed such systems would be illegal.
In-season investigations into Ferrari's fuel system followed, but did not uncover any wrongdoing. However, in an attempt to quell the suspicions ahead of the 2020 season, the FIA introduced a requirement for teams to fit a second fuel-flow meter to police the 100kg-per-hour limit in the regulations.
The settlement between Ferrari and the FIA is also intended to stop any potential breach of the regulations this season.
Ferrari has always claimed its power unit is entirely legal. At the end of last year, speaking long before the announcement of Ferrari's settlement with the FIA, team principal Mattia Binotto said his team had been one of the "most checked" on the grid and that it had proved to the FIA that its power unit was legal.