The FIA would not be “wise” to severely punish Ferrari at Wednesday’s disciplinary hearing.
That is the opinion of 1996 world champion Damon Hill, who at Spa in 1998 won the Belgian grand prix after then team boss Eddie Jordan ordered teammate Ralf Schumacher to hold station.
But that was before F1’s governing body banned team orders in 2002, after Ferrari so crudely ordered Rubens Barrichello to give up a deserved win to Michael Schumacher in Austria.
The Italian team imposed a similar order at Hockenheim in July, in the form of Rob Smedley’s radio message to Felipe Massa that “Fernando is faster than you”.
According to Britain’s Daily Express, Ferrari has “spent a lot of time” since Hockenheim quietly explaining that its behaviour was not unusual.
The newspaper said McLaren sent a coded message to Lewis Hamilton in one race, informing the British driver that the “cat was out of the house” before he drove past compliant former teammate Heikki Kovalainen.
“Every team in the pitlane gives team orders,” David Coulthard is quoted by the Wall Street Journal. “Anyone who says they don’t is lying.”
It’s for that reason that Hill, speaking to the Telegraph, thinks the World Motor Sport Council should go easy on Ferrari.
“(The FIA) flexing their muscles because they can is not necessarily wise,” he said, when considering a severe sporting sanction as the potential outcome of the hearing.
“I don’t think a punishment that big would fit this particular crime,” added Hill.
Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport is hoping not only that Ferrari escapes Wednesday intact, but that the team order regulation is looked at in order to spare teams from having to sidestep it.
“Perhaps there can be a clarification which overcomes this hypocrisy, so that team orders are allowed as long as they don’t harm other competitors,” said the sports daily.
© RIF | GMM