F1: Team Order Scandal Erupts As Ferrari Wins In Germany, Not Appealing Stewards' $100k Penalty Photo:
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Mike Stevens | Jul, 26 2010 | 2 Comments

Sunday's German Grand Prix began amid a flexible wing saga, and ended with a new scandal about team orders.

After a team one-two, and soaked in champagne, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali was hounded in the Hockenheim pitlane by reporters accusing him of illegally ordering Felipe Massa to hand his victory to Fernando Alonso.

"This is not true," Italian Domenicali told an angry Eddie Jordan on British television BBC.

F1 Race Stewards, however, disagree, slapping a $100,000 penalty on Ferrari.

Red Bull's Christian Horner, earlier accused by his rivals of running an illegally-flexing front wing on the RB6 in Germany, said, "That was the clearest team order I've ever seen. As clear as 2002," referring to the Austrian Grand Prix of that year, when then Ferrari team boss Jean Todt ordered Rubens Barrichello aside for Michael Schumacher.

Fascinatingly, Todt is now President of the governing FIA.

"The difference with 2002 was that there was no rule (about team orders) then," said Jordan. "This is ten times worse."

The alleged team order at Hockenheim began with Alonso pleading on the radio that sitting behind Massa was "ridiculous".

Shortly afterwards, Massa's engineer Rob Smedley told Massa on the radio: "Ok, so, 'Fernando is faster than you'. Can you confirm you understand that message?"

Massa, 29, then deliberately slowed down on a straight and let Alonso pass.

Asked if he thought he deserved to win on Sunday, which is the one-year anniversary of his horror qualifying accident in Hungary last season, Massa answered: "Well, I think so."

As for whether he deliberately moved aside, the Brazilian said: "Well, I don't think I need to say anything about that. He passed me."

So obvious was the team order, Smedley actually apologised - "good lad, sorry" - to Massa after the race.

"The apology is just that I'm sorry it happened, I'm sorry he (Alonso) came through," Smedley, who also called Massa "very, very, very magnanimous" on the radio, explained to the BBC.

Alonso, despite asking on the slowing-down lap if Massa was ok, also denied he had been deliberately let through.

"I don't know what happened; I saw Felipe a little bit slow and I took the opportunity," said the Spaniard.

Massa added: "We work for the team, that's the only thing I feel."

Schumacher said he is still very close to his former Ferrari teammate Massa, but admitted he would have done "exactly the same" if he had been sitting on the pitwall on Sunday.

"In principle I fully accept it (team orders). There is only one target: winning the title," said the seven-time world champion.

In the Championship, the McLaren drivers retain their lead over the now points-tied Red Bulls, ahead of Hockenheim winner Fernando Alonso.



Ferrari Not Appealing Stewards' $100,000 Team Order Verdict

Ferrari is not appealing its $100,000 penalty for imposing illegal team orders in the German Grand Prix.

The stewards, also directing the matter to the World Motor Sport Council, found the Italian team guilty of both team orders and disrepute.

The team denies the charge, arguing that Felipe Massa made the decision to let Fernando Alonso pass him at Hockenheim after struggling on the hard tyres and receiving advice from his race engineer that Alonso was faster.

"In the interests of the sport, we have decided not to go through a procedure of appealing against it (the decision), confident that the World Council will know how to evaluate the overall facts correctly," said team boss Stefano Domenicali.

With just three days now until the F1 circus re-congregates in Hungary, the other story to emerge is that Massa might now be considered Alonso's number two.

When asked specifically about playing a longer-term subordinate role to the Spaniard, Brazilian Massa said on Sunday: "Well, I cannot say that I'm there fighting for first position in the championship."

He also denied that his decision to give way to Alonso will damage his reputation.

"For sure not, for sure not," said Massa, the 2008 championship runner-up.

"I'm very professional and I've shown in my career how professional I am. You (reporters) are professional as well, you work for a company.

"I believe you are doing what you have to do, so I'm professional and today I showed how professional I am. That's it," he insisted.


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