Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali has again defended the Scuderia's pit-stop procedures following two controversial moments at the European Grand Prix, and received the support of several peers who claimed that fuel and tyre stops were an integral part of grand prix racing.

After Felipe Massa was released 'in an unsafe manner' in Valencia, coming close to a collision with Force India's Adrian Sutil, and Kimi Raikkonen bowled his refueller over in his haste to rejoin, much had been made about Ferrari's systems, particularly the use of automated lights in place of the traditional 'lollipop'. Domenicali, however, insisted that, not only did he believe that there was little wrong with Massa's exit, but also there was no problem with the traffic light system.

"As I said after the race, we respect the FIA decision, but it was not an unsafe release of the car because there was plenty of space," he said, "It was a very small entry and you can see, in the past, [there have been] much worse situations, but this is part of the racing.

"With regards to Kimi's situation, unfortunately these things happen - and this is a key point. Any time there is a pit-stop, it shows how easy both mechanics and drivers can make mistakes because the tension is very high and you are fighting. This is really a very tense moment for everyone."

The whole question of whether pit-stops for fuel and tyres should play a part in the future of Formula One was raised by David Coulthard between races, and was raised during Thursday's press conference, where four drivers claimed that they should remain, if only to promote 'overtaking'. When the point was raised again for debate by the four team principals present for Friday's media gathering, it received a similar, if more detailed, response.

"For sure, it is a sensitive point but, as I said before, on the technical matter we don't have to overreact after a certain number of situations," Domenicali commented, "At the moment, I think the pit-stop situation, with fuel and tyres, is really part of racing and it is difficult to think, in this condition, that we have to take it out.

"In a way, it is more team work because strategy, the work of the mechanics and engineers, is part of our job. If you take that away, maybe you are going back to a situation where, in a way, that effect is not part of the race anymore."

McLaren and Ferrari appeared to be on the same page, with the former's CEO Martin Whitmarsh suggesting that pit-stops needed to remain, albeit with the view to making changes in future if next year's new technical package promoted greater overtaking on track.

"I agree with Stefano, [but] I think we should wait until we see what happens next year," Whitmarsh insisted, "Obviously, we have refuelling and stopping next year because cars are already being designed around the regulations, so we should see how successful the OWG regulations are.

"I guess there is a point that, if it was very easy to overtake during the race, you would quickly put the cars in order, with the quickest at the front, and then they would just spread out over the track. If it was very easy to overtake, there is actually an argument to have a pit-stop and the strategy and how that would influence perhaps slightly more exciting races.

"On the other hand, I accept that pit-stops themselves can be inherently dangerous for the points we have just been discussing. But we will have them as part of the show next year and we should then decide during the course of the year whether we can change the regulations in the future."

Toyota's John Howett added his agreement to the argument, while Honda team boss - and former Ferrari master tactician - Ross Brawn insisted that pit-stops added to the drama of race day.

"I think it's a pretty exciting part of the event for the spectators, for viewers and for the team," he claimed, "It's a part of the race that all the team get involved in. There is a small risk involved, but I don't think that the injuries that have occurred so far are terribly serious. I just think a race could easily be very boring without the pit-stops.

"The scenarios that evolve around safety cars, because of the pit-stops; the scenarios that evolve around qualifying, what weight do you qualify with? All those sort of things, if they disappeared, would [possibly make] the racing even more tedious than some of the races we have now. Valencia was a pretty boring race, but some of the events that happened which we have spoken about today wouldn't have occurred without pit-stops.

"I think it's quite an entertaining part of the sport and, before we take it away, we shouldn't be looking back with rose-tinted spectacles, thinking it was all so wonderful a few years ago - because it wasn't."


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