Ferrari await their fate in team orders hearing 08 Sep 2010
Ferrari will appear before the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) in Paris on Wednesday afternoon in a disciplinary hearing relating to their controversial one-two result at Julys German Grand Prix.
Felipe Massa, who had been leading the Hockenheim race, moved aside to allow team mate Fernando Alonso past on Lap 49 shortly after race engineer Rob Smedley had told him "Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?"
Seconds later, after Alonso had taken the lead, Smedley was back on the radio to the Brazilian, saying, Good lad. Just stick with him now. Sorry. Cries of team orders swiftly reverberated around the paddock and the incident was investigated by the Hockenheim stewards.
They decided the Italian team had contravened Article 39.1 of the sporting regulations, which states that "team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited", and Article 151 (c) of the International Sporting Code, which outlaws "any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally".
The stewards immediately imposed a fine of US$100,000 - the maximum fine they are empowered to impose on a competitor - and additionally forwarded their decision to the WMSC for its consideration.
In the post-race aftermath, Ferrari maintained their innocence, with Massa stating it was his decision to allow Alonso through. In my opinion this was not a case of team orders: my engineer kept me constantly informed on what was going on behind me, especially when I was struggling a bit on the hard tyres: so I decided to do the best thing for the team, and a one-two finish is the best possible result, isnt it?
Team boss Stefano Domenicali will be in Paris on Wednesday alongside the obligatory lawyers, while both drivers could make themselves available via video/telephone links. It is the FIAs first major F1 hearing to be held under the Presidency of former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt, who took over the position from Max Mosley last October. However, the hearing will be chaired not by Todt but by FIA Deputy President for Sport, Graham Stoker.
Should the WMSC decide Ferraris actions warrant further sanction, the team face a variety of possible penalties, ranging from a further fine, to having points deducted, disqualification from the German Grand Prix or even the championship.
News on the outcome of the hearing is expected early Wednesday evening.