Ferrari denounce their critics as ‘hypocrites’
Italian team boss di Montezemolo comes out fighting and finds an ally in Bernie Ecclestone
As the world of Formula 1 debates how exactly Ferrari should be punished for their shameless issuing of team orders in Sunday's German Grand Prix, the team's president Luca di Montezemolo has come out fighting and condemned his team's critics as hypocrites.
Ferrari have already been fined £65,000 and their case has been referred to the World Motor Sport Council who have unlimited powers to impose further sanctions.
But Montezemolo has dismissed the charges against his outfit. "Enough of this hypocrisy. This has always happened," he said. "If one races for Ferrari, then the interests of the team come before those of the individual."
The manoeuvre which saw Felipe Massa give way to his team-mate Fernando Alonso, allowing him to win the Grand Prix, means that the Spanish driver is now back in a five-way fight for the driver's championship.
And one of Alonso's rivals has added his voice to the growing chorus of disapproval at Ferrari's actions.
McLaren's Jenson Button, who lies second in the title race, said he disagreed with Ferrari's tactics. "Personally I think team orders in Formula One are wrong, in any motor sport category, although sometimes they are inevitable," he said.
"We all want to win, and I know that every team wants to win, both the constructors' and drivers' championships. But they have to give both their drivers the same opportunity to do so," he said.
Montezemolo, however, remained defiant in the face of criticism, saying: "The polemics are of no interest to me. These things have happened since the days of Nuvolari [a Ferrari driver in the 1930s] and I experienced it myself when I was sporting director, in the days of Niki Lauda.
"I can well believe that some people might well have liked to see our two drivers eliminate one another, but that is definitely not the case for me or indeed for our fans.
"I am very happy for all our fans who finally saw two Ferraris lead from start to finish as they dominated the race."
But as the campaign against Ferrari gathers momentum, they have received support from the ringleader of the F1 circus, Bernie Eccleston, who has controversially said that the laws against team orders should be reviewed.
"I must confess I would agree," he said. "We make people call it a team. We say it's got to be a team. Both cars have to be exactly the same. The drivers wear the same overalls. Everybody has to look like a team - a team of people who are racing.
"I believe what people do when they are inside the team and how they run their team is up to them. Of course, if a team does something that's dangerous then they're going to be in trouble. Otherwise, get on with it."
Whether his comments are completely sincere, or a cynical attempt to keep the sport (of which he owns a share and is president) in the papers is another matter. But Ferrari will take heart from the fact that Ecclestone is a key member of the WMSC that will ultimately decide Ferrari's fate. ·
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