Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne says that F1 fans have reason to feel cheated following Ferrari's decision to impose team orders during the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.
The team elected took the decision to move Fernando Alonso ahead of Felipe Massa during the race, with Massa being asked to 'confirm he understood' a message from engineer Rob Smedley that Alonso was quicker behind him before slowing out of the hairpin on the following lap to allow the Spaniard through.
While he admitted that team orders have always found in the sport in one form or another, Gascoyne said Ferrari's big problem was how it went about making the switch – with it being blatantly obvious to onlookers that the result of the race was being decided on the pit wall.
“There are team orders and we have to accept that there will be,” he told the Press Association
. “It was just handed very badly. Of course, there will come a point in the season when you have to prioritise one driver because he has the best chance of winning a championship. You've got to do what's best for the team.
"In this case they were going to get a one-two anyway. But is this the right stage of the season to be doing what they did? The bottom line is if you are going to do it then do so far more cleverly than they did.
"Obviously it is a team sport and you have to get the best result for the team, in particular when you are at the front and racing for a championship. But it is clear the fans feel cheated by it when you do it like they did, which was just ridiculous."
As soon as the move was made by the team, Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa and Ferrari became three of the top trending topics on popular social networking website Twitter
and Gascoyne said it was a clear sign that fans didn't like what had happened.
"Ferrari and Formula One have to learn that the people watching do not like it,” he said. "I'm on Twitter
and the feedback was unanimous, that the fans feel cheated.
"The team bosses have to take note that people don't want to see it, but if you are going to do it then you have to do so cleanly and fairly. As professionals you have to handle it differently."
"If they are going to win the drivers' championship, Fernando is the only one who is going to do it and you have to prioritise. But you just do it in a much better way. Don't announce things over the radio to the world's media, and if you do, expect to get slaughtered for it."