Triple F1 World Champion Niki Lauda has warned his former employer Ferrari that it faces 'a pasting' from the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) early next month for having flagrantly transgressed the rules and 'mocked' the sport's fans with its cynical manipulation of the result of the 2010 German Grand Prix.
With Felipe Massa leading Fernando Alonso at Hockenheim last month, the Brazilian's race engineer Rob Smedley hinted to his driver over the team radio that the Spaniard was faster – the inference being that the 2008 world championship runner-up should move out of the way to hand the seven extra points for victory to his title-chasing team-mate, which he duly did, albeit not in especially good humour.
The manner in which Massa moved aside on the straight, indeed – if not in quite the same league of blatancy as when Rubens Barrichello dramatically slowed just before the finish line to let Michael Schumacher past to 'triumph' in the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix, the incident that saw team orders banned from the top flight in the first place – left little room for ambiguity.
Smedley subsequently thanking the Paulista for having been so 'magnanimous' practically sealed the Scuderia's
fate, and Massa's post-race argument that he had made the decision of his own volition consequently convinced nobody, his words belied by his furious body language up on the podium and in the press conference.
Found guilty of contravening Article 39.1 of the Sporting Regulations regarding 'team orders which interfere with a race result' – as well as Article 151c of the International Sporting Code, on the subject of bringing F1 into disrepute – race stewards fined Ferrari $100,000 for its indiscretion, but further sanctions could await the Maranello-based outfit in front of the FIA WMSC in Paris on 8 September, just before the team's home grand prix at Monza.
Lauda contends that the governing body must come down hard on the Prancing Horse in order to uphold the regulations, maintain the sport's credibility and make an example of the team for having so crudely and arrogantly insulted the intelligence of millions of F1 fans all around the globe.
“What they did at Hockenheim was against all rules,” the Austrian – who claimed two of his three drivers' crowns at the highest level with Ferrari in 1975 and 1977 – insisted in an interview with the official F1 website. “Either the rules are changed or everybody observes them. What they've done is wrong and they got an immediate punishment – and they will get a pasting from the World Council, that is for sure.
“You have two models of how to race in F1 as a team – if you approach it politically then you are in the Ferrari mould, or you try to give both your drivers equal opportunities and the fans an exciting sport, as Red Bull are doing in letting their drivers compete with each other. That is what makes this sport a crowd-puller, because they see the best guys in the best cars racing each other with a 'may the best man win' philosophy – not mocking the fans with a collusive result.”