Whilst the majority of the F1 world was quick to condemn Ferrari over last month's crassly-handled Hockenheim 'team orders' controversy, the Prancing Horse has at least found two allies in the shape of former grand prix aces Gerhard Berger and Nelsinho Piquet, both of whom argue it was the only logical move to make.
Ferrari found itself fined $100,000 for having distinctly unsubtly manoeuvred race leader Felipe Massa out of the way in the German Grand Prix in order to enable team-mate Fernando Alonso to triumph, thereby boosting the Spaniard's chances of a third world championship crown at the highest level as the season sprints towards its last seven races – but in so doing clearly contravening the ban on team orders in the top flight that had been brought in back in 2002 for a similarly blatant crime, also committed by the Scuderia
The team could yet face further sanctions in front of the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) at a disciplinary hearing in Paris early next month – but Piquet and Berger contend that in such a tight battle for glory as it is this year, it is only natural to favour the driver who is comfortably the better bet in terms of the title chase.
“It's hard for Massa that Alonso came into the team later but is faster,” acknowledged Piquet – who similarly 'helped' the Oviedo native to the top step of the podium in Singapore two years ago by so famously orchestrating a deliberate crash that brought out the safety car and almost earned Renault an outright ban from the sport – in an interview with Brazilian news magazine Istoe
“Ferrari will not miss an opportunity to give a driver the opportunity to close the gap to the championship leaders. If Massa doesn't want this to happen, then he has to work out a way to go faster than Alonso – there's nothing else he can do. If he had been ahead of Alonso in the championship, it would have been him going past.”
“Let's not kid ourselves – Alonso is clearly the better man in the team, their only chance for the world championship,” agreed ten-time grand prix-winner Berger, speaking to German publication Auto Motor und Sport
as he hinted that the 2005 and 2006 title-winner would not have moved to Maranello on the understanding that he would be anything other than the number one driver there. “[Ferrari President Luca di] Montezemolo went shopping for him, and he is going to play this card as hard as he can.”