Ferrari's decision to intentionally incur a gearbox change penalty on Felipe Massa's car by breaking an official FIA seal was a controversial one, and was criticised by many as being "not sporting." But at the same time, it was effective.
By forcing the FIA to hand Felipe Massa
a five place starting grid penalty for the start of the 2012 F1 United States Grand Prix
in Austin, Texas, the team managed to boost Fernanso Alonso up a position on the grid.
That bumped him off the dirty line and and onto the clean side of the grid in seventh place, which he was promptly able to convert to fourth place by turn 1 that then set him up for a much-needed podium finish to keep his championship hopes alive for another week.
"This decision has been taken to maximise the potential at the start for Fernando," Ferrari
communications chief Luca Colajanni bluntly admitted to the media before the race, rather than pretend that the gearbox had failed for technical reasons.
"I did not want to lie, I just wanted to tell the truth," said team principal Stefano Domenicali of the decision to come clean and not hide the truth behind the team's decision. "It would have been easy to do that, but that is not my style.
"I think because of the situation at Ferrari
it is clear that the team is the most important thing in this situation and considering the data we had about the left side of the grid we knew there was very bad grip," Domenicali added. "Considering the situation we had last night, I think the objective had to be to take the fight to the last round.
"I think at the end of the day, in my shoes, if any other team principal [says that they] would do a different thing, they are lying."
Alonso said that he was proud that the team had not only made the difficult decision, but that they had not attempted to obfuscate the reasons behind the controversial strategy afterwards.
"I am very proud of the decision and very proud of the team for telling the truth," he told Sky Sports F1
. "Not many teams when they made that decision would have done that."