Team owners Sir Frank Williams and Peter Sauber sent the World Motor Sport Council letters supporting Ferrari over the use of team rules at the German Grand Prix, as revealed in the detailed account of Wednesday’s disciplinary hearing.
The Judging Body at the hearing upheld the steward’s decision to fine Ferrari $100,000, but chose to issue no further punishment. The issue of team orders has been referred by the FIA to the F1 Sporting Working Group to review.
At the meeting, Ferrari argued that there had been no direct order to Felipe Massa to allow teammate Fernando Alonso past, and that the Brazilian had made the decision to slow down based on the information given to him by his race engineer. They also argued that, with 18 laps to go in the race, Fernando Alonso was the fastest driver, and may well have won the race, hence there was no indication that this manoeuvre had interfered with the race result.
The FIA argued that several incidents throughout the German Grand Prix indicated that team orders had been used, including a duel on track between the two Ferrari drivers on Lap 21, Massa letting Alonso past him on Lap 49, radio communications, the mood of both drivers on the podium, and answers in the post race press conference. From this they concluded that Ferrari were guilty of manipulating the results of the race, in clear defiance of Regulation 39.1.
In the reports of Wednesday’s ruling it also emerges that Massa was told four times that “Fernando is faster than you” before the now infamous “Fernando is faster than you, confirm you understood the message?” that was broadcast to the world.
Ferrari had chosen not to appeal against the $100,000 fine imposed by the stewards in the interests of the sport, although they believed that they had not breached the regulations. This was also taken by the WMSC as an indication of guilt.
As reported on Wednesday, the WMSC decided not to increase or reduce the $100,000 fine imposed by the stewards. Throughout the hearing, the Judging Body quickly agreed that the drivers should not be punished for the team’s actions but, despite considering further fines and a possible suspended points deduction, they recognised it would not be appropriate to increase the overall penalty, owing to the ambiguities in the rule. As Ferrari were found in breach of the rules, they were ordered to pay costs.
The full report from the WMSC is available here from the FIA website.