“Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understand?”
Those were the words Felipe Massa heard from his engineer Rob Smedley, moments before Fernando Alonso passed his Brazilian teammate to take victory at Hockenheim yesterday.
It was the biggest talking point of the race, and an incident for which Ferrari were fined $100,000, despite both drivers denying that team orders were given.
Ferrari’s actions have been widely condemned, with BBC pundit Eddie Jordan calling for both drivers to be disqualified from the race.
“It was unlawful and was theft,” Jordan told the BBC. “They stole from us the chance of having a wheel-to-wheel contest between the drivers.
“Ferrari should be ashamed. This was a team order. For me, it is cheating and these two cars should be excluded.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was similarly disappointed by Ferrari’s decision.
“That was probably the clearest team order I’ve ever seen, especially when you’ve got the team apologising to the driver [Massa],” Horner said. “It’s wrong for the sport. The drivers should have been allowed to race.”
However, Martin Brundle admitted in commentary that if he was Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali, he would have made the same call.
So let’s throw it out there for a good old-fashioned argument. Anyone want to stick up for Ferrari? Yes, team orders are banned, so they’ve been rightly punished for breaking the rules – but F1 is a team sport, so shouldn’t the team be allowed to dictate strategy? Or are they just a bunch of cheaty cheating cheats?