|Vettel and Hamilton in Melbourne|
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton says the Ferrari engine legality scandal could be "handled better".
It is now emerging that, following a call between Fiat president John Elkann and Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius, Mercedes has withdrawn itself from the seven teams who were threatening legal action against Ferrari.
Lewis Hamilton says the scandal, involving most other teams effectively accusing Ferrari of cheating and the FIA of corruption, has not affected his relationship with Sebastian Vettel.
"Seb has already said it but the respect between us doesn't change," said the Mercedes driver.
"What goes on in the background between teams and the governing body is a separate issue. I think it could have been handled better for sure, but again that's really something that should be directed to Toto (Wolff).
"Naturally all the teams are different in performance but you want to feel that you're playing on a fair ground," Hamilton added. "That's the approach that we have but I won't add too much more because it just causes more trouble."
But with Mercedes' official complaint waning, it is Red Bull who is now leading the charge against the way the secret settlement between Ferrari and the FIA was reached.
"All we got was a very superficial (FIA) statement," Dr Helmut Marko told Osterreich newspaper. "But what can you expect, given the entanglements with Ferrari?"
No matter the cause, it does appear obvious that the tangible outcome of the political wrangling is that Ferrari's new engine for 2020 is down on power.
"It seems like they have definitely taken a bit of a step back power-wise," Hamilton said. "But maybe the car is better, so we'll see."
Marko also thinks 2020 will be a two-way battle between Mercedes and Red Bull.
"We see ourselves as the first challenger of Mercedes, ahead of Ferrari who lack the speed," he said.
"We have an aggressive car with huge potential and our Honda engine has progressed, but the favorite remains Hamilton with the best overall package.
"Now I hope that we can race," added Marko, referring to the coronavirus situation.