Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ferrari to learn team orders fate

Fernando Alonso passes Felipe Massa

Alonso passes Massa for German GP lead

Ferrari will find out at a Formula 1 disciplinary hearing in Paris on Wednesday whether they will be punished further for using banned team orders.

Ferrari were fined $100,000 (£65,100) for appearing to give Felipe Massa a coded message to allow Fernando Alonso through to win the German Grand Prix.

The case was subsequently referred to the World Motor Sport Council.

But Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali is confident the council will not impose further sanctions.

"We're sure the World Council will understand our position," he said.

Ferrari have been charged with breaking two sections of F1's rulebook after Massa moved over to let Alonso pass him on lap 49 of the 67-lap race at Hockenheim on 25 July.

One is article 39.1 of the regulations, which states that "team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited".

The other is article 151.c, which says "any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition, or to the interests of motorsport generally" can be punished.

F1 team orders explained

F1 team orders explained

Massa was told by his Ferrari race engineer, Rob Smedley, over the team radio: "Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understand?"

The Brazilian responded by letting Alonso through after Turn Six moments later.

Following the move, Smedley added: "Good lad. Just stick with it now. Sorry."

The incident provoked a widespread backlash against Ferrari, with some teams saying the incident damaged the sport's credibility.

Domenicali explained after the race that the team had only wanted to keep Massa aware of the latest race developments and that Ferrari didn't give him explicit instructions.

"And because we have already seen in the past that certain situations could not give the best result for the team, that was the information that we wanted to give and we leave the drivers to understand and take notice of it in order to make sure that the team in terms of the result is the best," he said.

The fine Ferrari were given in Germany was the maximum the stewards were allowed to impose immediately after the race.

Now the WMC has to decide what path it now follows, from taking no further action to excluding the team from the championship.

Ferrari could use a similar incident at the Australian Grand Prix, when Massa did not yield position to Alonso despite being told the Spaniard was the faster of the two Ferrari drivers as part of their defence.

"As we did in Melbourne, so too in Hockenheim, we informed the drivers about the situation on track," stated Domenicali.

"After that, it was up to them to take certain decisions, based as always on the best interests of the team."

There is a sense amongst other F1 teams that neither Ferrari nor their drivers should be penalised further.


The 12 teams within the paddock are keen to operate in the harmonious atmosphere that has been fostered since the formation of the Formula 1 Teams' Association (Fota) in 2008.

There is also a feeling that the teams would prefer the rule banning team orders to be abolished because it is difficult to enforce.

If the rule was removed, the teams would instead tacitly agree not to use team orders as much as possible.

There is, however, understood to be a conflict within the FIA over the preferred outcome of Wednesday's disciplinary hearing.

FIA president Jean Todt has extricated himself from the process to avoid a conflict of interests arising from his previous role as Ferrari team boss. Deputy Graham Stoker will preside over the Paris hearing.

Max Mosley, Todt's predecessor as FIA president, has told German newspaper Die Welt that both Ferrari drivers should lose the points they gained from their controversial one-two at Hockenheim.

The hearing into the charges facing Ferrari will be the first major ruling since Todt took over from Mosley last October.

In his first year in power, Todt has - in marked contrast to his predecessor - adopted a conciliatory tone in his dealings with F1 and has been comparatively low-key.

The FIA decision could be critical to Ferrari's championship chances this season, which has only six races left to run.

They are 80 points behind leaders Red Bull in the constructors' standings, while Alonso is 41 points behind McLaren's Lewis Hamilton in the drivers' title race, with Massa 32 points further back.

There are 25 points available for a win.

Potenshöjande medel - potenshöjande medel

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