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Williams 'sincere' about supporting Ferrari

11 September 2010

Williams 'sincere' about supporting Ferrari

Sir Frank Williams has insisted that supporting Ferrari at this week's World Motor Sport Council hearing was not motivated out of any great love for the Scuderia, but more because he would like to see the rule banning team orders removed from F1.

Details of the meeting in Paris, which resulted in no further punishment being levied on Ferrari following its decision to switch the positions of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso at Hockenheim, revealed that both Williams and Sauber wrote letters of support for the Prancing Horse. While the Swiss team's backing is understandable given its engine partnership with Maranello, Williams' motivation was less clear, but its veteran patriarch maintains that he was working for what he believed in.

"We wrote it because we were sincere," he told Reuters reporters as the F1 field reconvened at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, "We are no friends of Ferrari, but we just thought a total ban on team orders is not necessary. We support, not necessarily Ferrari's particular move, but the principle of team orders being permitted."

The move may not have gone down well with current team leader Rubens Barrichello, who helped trigger the ban when he was told to move over for then Ferrari team-mate Michael Schumacher in the 2002 Austrian GP, but Williams insists that being able to determine the best result for the team was vital.

"It's not often that you have two drivers of equal performance in the same team, but we paid a heavy price when we found that with [Nigel] Mansell and [Nelson] Piquet," he pointed out, "Drivers think of themselves, great, but then we all want world championships. There are two in every year and there is the team as well. If you win a world championship, open the door because the money is going to flow in, but, if you don't make any good results at all, it is terribly difficult to survive."

Asked what he would like to see happen to the current regulation, Williams admitted that removing it completely may not be workable, but came up with his own suggestion.

"It's all up for discussion," he confirmed, "but one provisional thought is that maybe [the rule should only] be applicable in the second part of the season."

The FIA's decision not to inflict further punishment on Ferrari was met with scorn from other quarters of the grid, with Red Bull team boss Christian Horner insisting that it opened the door to similar actions over the remaining six races, but the Italian team's lawyer, Nigel Tozzi, argues that the letters of support from rival operations underlined the Scuderia's claim that F1 is, first and foremost, a team sport.

"I think everyone in F1, certainly the top three teams, will have to consider it," Horner admitted to ESPN, "I wish we had known [how leniently team orders would be treated] before Istanbul! Ferrari said they would look idiots if they lost the title by five points but, if we end up losing the title by five points, after allowing Mark [Webber] and Sebastian [Vettel] to race, then we are going to look like idiots."

Ironically, the man who perhaps benefited most from team orders during his lengthy stint with Ferrari, including being able to recover from trailing by fully half a lap in that infamous Monza race, has said that he would be happy to have a say in rewriting the rules.

"I have a very clear position on what I think about team orders, but I don't think there is a very clear rule or comment that would clarify easily everybody's interests," Michael Schumacher was quoted by PlanetF1.com, "It needs really a thoughtful discussion and not many people spreading out ideas without any sense. So there is no point now to give you some hints.

"I would like to sit together with the right people and discuss it then, if you don't mind, and then come up with a very clear situation. This would be ideal - but I don't think I am going to be too much invited."


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