Ferrari escape further punishment over team orders
Ferrari have escaped further penalty for their use of team orders at the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim last month.
The FIA, Formula 1’s governing body, decided to uphold a £65,000 fine after confirming the breach of article 39.1 at a World Motor Sport Council disciplinary hearing in Paris.
Ferrari were fined after the race for appearing to give driver Felipe Massa a coded message to allow team-mate Fernando Alonso through to win the race.
An FIA statement read: “The judging body has decided to confirm the stewards’ decision of the $100,000 fine for infringing article 39.1 of the sporting regulations and to impose the payment of the costs incurred by the FIA.
“The judging body has also acknowledged that article 39.1 should be reviewed and has decided to refer this question to the Formula 1 sporting working group.”
Ferrari had earlier been confident that no further action would be taken against them, despite many within the sport calling for the Italian team to be punished further, with some going as far as to say F1 fans were robbed of wheel-to-wheel racing, and that Ferrari had contributed to the further derision of the sport’s integrity.
A points’ deduction for the team and a suspended ban should have been the correct decision, based on recent incidents with Renault and McLaren and breaches of article 151c, but the WMSC focused on the more talked-about issue of team orders.
The WMSC’s decision could have been influenced by the other 11 teams who are keen to portray an image of harmony in dealings with the FIA and CVC after years of disagreement and infighting that almost led to a breakaway series coming to fruition.
As it stands, there is the potential for teams to continue using team orders knowing a fine of £65,000 is the punishment, citing precedence from the Ferrari hearing this week.
The overwhelming opinion of the teams is that the rule should be removed as it is too difficult to enforce, with the teams self-regulating team orders by not deploying them as much as possible.
Ironically, the ban on team orders came after former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt ordered Rubens Barrichello to let team-mate Michael Schumacher through at the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix.
Now FIA president, Todt was in Paris for another meeting of the WMSC, but took no part in the Ferrari proceedings to avoid a conflict of interest.
For both Ferrari and Alonso, the ruling provides an outside chance of regaining the world championship with the team just 80 points behind leaders Red Bull, while Alonso is just 41 behind McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.