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Whitmarsh: Team orders rule now 'more muddy than previously'

14 September 2010

Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) chairman Martin Whitmarsh believes that far from helping to clear up any grey areas, the FIA World Motor Sport Council's decision last week not to punish Ferrari any further than the $100,000 it had already been fined over the Hockenheim team orders controversy has if anything rendered the regulations on the matter 'more muddy than previously'.

Whilst conceding that Ferrari had in all likelihood employed illegal team orders in suggesting four times to race leader Felipe Massa that his pursuing, world championship-chasing team-mate Fernando Alonso was 'faster' than him and then asking the Brazilian whether he understood the information in the closing stages of the German Grand Prix in late July, the WMSC resolved that ultimately, it was powerless to mete out any further sanctions to the Scuderia due to 'ambiguities in the rule and inconsistencies in its application' in recent years [see separate story – click here].

Off the back of that, the Sporting Working Group has been instructed to look into the regulations regarding team orders, but Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner argues the governing body's verdict has effectively given teams carte blanche to henceforth use team orders under the threat of no more than a nominal fine [see separate story – click here] – and McLaren-Mercedes counterpart Whitmarsh agrees that the ruling has sent out confusing signals about just what is and isn't permitted in the top flight now.

“I don't fully understand it,” the Englishman confessed to BBC Sport. “I think it would appear that there is enough evidence in people's minds to find them guilty, and therefore there should be a penalty, or [if] they're not guilty they should be given back the fine that they received – superficially, it doesn't seem too logical. It's a rule this year and it will have to remain in-place. We were hoping to have clarity, but now it's more muddy than previously.”


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