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AF Corse Fined for Concealment of Personnel in Qatar

Vista AF Corse found to have improperly declared three engineers as part of crew in Qatar…

Photo: Julien Delfosse/DPPI

The FIA World Endurance Championship has fined Vista AF Corse €60,000 ($64,800 USD), half of which suspended for the rest of the season, for concealment of personnel during the season-opening Qatar 1812km.

The infringement has been linked to the No. 54 Ferrari 296 GT3, which finished fifth in the LMGT3 class with Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci and Davide Rigon behind the wheel.

Outlined in a document published in the wake of the opening race at Lusail International Circuit, the stewards state that three engineers linked to the AF Corse squad were not declared as part of the list of operational staff as required by WEC sporting regulations.

An initial list submitted by the team listed the three engineers, identified as Mr. Paolucci, Mr. Bedogni and Mr. Zaccaria, as non-operational staff despite them having been declared as engineers previously.

AF Corse then submitted a second list on which Bedogni was no longer listed as either operational or non-operational, before a third list was approved in which all three names disappeared from the list altogether.

The three men were then found during an inspection by the FIA sporting delegate during the Qatar race seated “behind their computers and working on technical matters linked to race cars as technical aerodynamic data.”

Furthermore, the report states that the individuals were not wearing the appropriate pink wristband used as the identification system for operational staff, while their computers were plugged into the internal network.

The stewards’ report stated the individuals identified themselves as marketing personnel when questioned by the sporting delegate, claiming that their event passes were issued by Ferrari.

After initially summoning AF Corse sporting director Ron Reichert to a hearing immediately after the race, the stewards determined that three men involved were “undoubtedly engineers and not marketing people.”

Additional investigations by stewards revealed that the three names involved were put on a list of names supplied from Ferrari to the WEC promotor “in order to buy passes to access the Ferrari villa receptive which were delivered mentioning ‘Manufacturer.'”

Further video hearings were held involving Reichert, team manager Francesco Gromenada and Ferrari representative Mauro Barbieri.

During that meeting, the document outlines that Reichert claimed the three men “were not part of his engineering team and that they never intervened during the Qatar race for one or the two cars of the team.”

Barbieri, meanwhile, explained the answers given by the team members when questioned by the sporting delegate by stating that the people in question were “young engineers [and] very impressed by the sporting delegate.”

The stewards rejected this view, as it was noted that one of the engineers had been working for Ferrari for six years prior to the Qatar event.

They furthermore determined that AF Corse should have declared the three engineers as operational staff, as stated in Appendix 7, Article 2 of the WEC sporting regulations.

The stewards added: “The lie of the three engineers about their qualities presenting themselves as marketing people has no other meaning that an attempt to cover up the reality of their activity at the time they were surprised by the FIA sporting delegate.

“Especially as this one mentioned in the report he recognized technical aerodynamic data on their computers plugged to internal ethernet network.”

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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