Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has said that he 'does not care' what others in F1 may have to say about the tactics employed by the Scuderia, insisting that at least his team is open in its decisions.
Hinting that rival teams may not be quite so transparent in their activities, particularly when it comes to favouring one driver over another, the Italian admitted that he was breaking one of his cardinal rules by speaking out, but felt that it was time to respond to barbed comments from elsewhere in the paddock.
While no-one has been left in any doubt that Fernando Alonso is Ferrari's number one priority, matters came to a head when the Spaniard was gifted a more beneficial position on the USGP grid by the team's decision to break the seal on team-mate Felipe Massa's gearbox, thereby incurring a five-place penalty for the Brazilian. The ploy, within the regulations but questioned on sporting grounds by rivals, succeeded in its mission by allowing Alonso to make a better start and go on to secure third place in the race, thereby taking the title fight to the final round in Brazil.
Even after the Interlagos finale, Ferrari's motives were called into question as it decided to pursue clarification of an alleged illegal overtaking move by Alonso's sole rival, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, that allowed the German to claim the points he needed to take a third straight championship. The move, on Toro Rosso midfielder Jean-Eric Vergne, was subsequently shown to be legal, but di Montezemolo insists that there was no wrongdoing in asking the FIA to clear the matter officially.
“[Not talking about the other teams] was one of the things I learned from Enzo Ferrari," the Italian revealed, "In Brazil, we only asked for clarification, and accepted the response of the FIA, but that's not able to be clean and honest.”
On the subject of favouring Alonso, di Montezemolo insists that the decision has never been a secret.
"Since I returned to Ferrari in 1991, I have always said that the drivers did not run for themselves, but for Ferrari,” he pointed out, “Where one can win, the other must help. Whoever does not like it, I do not care. Others are critical, but they do the same, albeit though less transparent means.
"In Austin, we interpreted the sporting rules to the limit, as others do, but we did it openly. We could have lied, but still they disliked our explanation and called it 'dirty tricks'.”
Although Ferrari's reputation for employing clear number one and number two drivers has been sullied in the past by the way in which it favoured Michael Schumacher over his team-mates, di Montezemolo maintains that it is the most sensible way to go racing if success is to be achieved, although he insists that there are some boundaries that the team would not cross.
"We have done it before, and we will do it again, but never in the first three races or first half of the year,” he noted.
Backing his president, team principal Stefano Domenicali singled out Ferrari's biggest rival when questioning discrete favouritism in other areas of the grid.
"Why does Mark Webber have so many problems with his car?” he asked of Red Bull's 'other' driver, “Because the newest parts are reserved for the driver having better results? This is normal to us, so it seems logical that we never say anything about it. We do not speak of the other teams, but they still like to talk about us.
"In Austin, we did the only thing possible. What was not fair is that condition of the track meant that Alonso, who qualified on the 'dirty' side, would lose 25 metres [at the start]. We had to do everything possible within the rules."