• FIA World Motor Sport Council

No clarity over team orders - Whitmarsh

ESPNF1 Staff
September 10, 2010 « Red Bull running stiffer floor at Monza | »
Martin Whitmarsh: "Ferrari are either guilty and should be given a penalty, or they're not guilty and should be given back the fine they received" © Getty Images

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh believes the World Motor Sport Council's (WMSC) decision not to further punish Ferrari for using team orders has only served to confuse the situation over the rule.

At the German Grand Prix Felipe Massa conceded the lead to Fernando Alonso after being repeatedly told that his Ferrari team-mate was faster than him over the pit-to-car radio. The stewards of the meeting considered it to be a breach of Article 49.3, which outlaws the use of team orders to alter the outcome of the race, and slapped the team with a $100,000 penalty.

The issue was then referred to the FIA's WMSC for further consideration, but on Wednesday it decided against taking further action while leaving the $100,000 fine in place.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner said the decision had set a precedent, indicating that if any team wanted to use team orders and flout the rules, it would simply have to pay a fine of $100,000. Whitmarsh agreed that the ruling had raised more questions than it had answered.

"We don't have clarity - if anything it's more muddy," he told BBC Sport at Monza. "They [Ferrari] are either guilty and should be given a penalty, or they're not guilty and should be given back the fine they received. Superficially it doesn't seem as logical a ruling as one would have expected but it has no impact on anything I'm going to do this weekend."

FIA president Jean Todt cited a lack of evidence as the reason for not taking further action, while the official FIA statement said previous unpunished incidents of team orders meant a bigger sanction would be unfair. It added that Ferrari's actions could be considered as "team tactics" rather than team orders as Massa was not explicitly asked to move over.

A review of team orders is set to take place because of the "uncertainty and complexity" of the issue and it has emerged that Sauber and Williams both sent letters to the Ferrari hearing backing a rethink.

"The judging body of the World Motor Sport Council was made aware that there was clear support for team orders in some quarters," the FIA confirmed.

1992 world champion and former Williams driver Nigel Mansell, now occasionally an F1 steward, backed the review.

"Team orders were in F1 from the start and they exist in sports cars and at Le Mans, where a team can switch drivers if one of their cars breaks down," he told the Express. "If it is all out in the open, everyone will know what's going on and that's better for F1."

Renault's Robert Kubica agrees: "At least then teams would not need to make strange comments on the radio."

Asked if he would move over if ordered by his team, the Pole told Spain's El Pais: "I don't see a problem. Sometimes in life you have to do things you don't like. Many kids don't want to do their homework, but they have to."

Sauber driver Pedro de la Rosa has a similar opinion.

"Team orders have always existed, they still exist and everyone has been using them when they were banned. For me it's important that we're telling the truth because at the moment we're deceiving people."