Though Ferrari denied using team-orders to allow Fernando Alonso to beat Felipe Massa to the chequered flag at the German Grand Prix, the team have been fined US$100,000 (Rs 46 lakh) following today's German Grand Prix for a breach of the FIA sporting regulations and the International Sporting Code.
The Spaniard trailed his Brazilian team-mate for much of the race and appeared increasingly frustrated by his Ferrari counterpart's slow pace. At one point he complained to his pit crew over the in-car radio, saying: "This is ridiculous!" It prompted intense discussions on the Ferrari pit wall, only for Massa to respond with a sequence of hot laps. But then, approaching the halfway point Alonso again began to reel in Massa and, after 44 laps, the gap between the pair was 0.8sec.
On the anniversary of the crash in Hungary a year ago that came close to costing him his life, Massa was then forced to settle for second best at Hockenheim when he eventually gave way to Alonso.
On lap 47 Massa received a message from the Ferrari engineer Rob Smedley who said: "OK, so, Fernando is faster than you." The inference of a team order, as Alonso was 31 points clear going into this race and in with a greater shot of the championship, was apparent though it has been denied by Ferrari. Two laps later Alonso finally made his move, getting close enough to a very slow Massa coming out of the hairpin to then pass his team-mate down the straight. Smedley then radioed in again to Massa to say: “Good lad. Sorry.”
After the race, however, Ferrari claimed that it had been Massa's decision to let Alonso pass. But after the Spaniard won by 4.1sec, Massa gave him the cold shoulder in the parc fermé as Alonso attempted to embrace him before the pair eventually hugged on the podium. Asked about Alonso's pass later, Massa replied: “I don't need to say anything about that. He passed me.”
On the Ferrari one-two he added: “We're doing a good job for the team. We're pushing hard, this was a very good track for us, but the car is becoming faster and faster. The best you can do is first and second.”
Alonso said: “In some parts of the race we were fighting for first and it was a little bit dangerous. I don't know what happened, but at the exit of turn six [the hairpin] I saw Felipe a little bit slow. Sometimes you are quick, sometimes you are slow, and in some parts I was quicker than him, so it's very difficult to judge.” The victory helped Alonso to a 23rd career win, and was his second this year, putting the double world champion firmly back in the title hunt as he now trails — by 34 points — the championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who is 14 ahead of Jenson Button.
Don’t forget these incidents
2007 Brazilian GP: Felipe Massa was ordered to pit three laps earlier to hand over the lead to teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who was a contender for the driver's title. Räikkönen went on to take the title by a point.
2002 Austrian GP: Ferrari were fined $1 million (Rs 4.6 crore) after the staged finish in which Barrichello was ordered to let teammate Michael Schumacher pass. On the podium, Schumacher insisted Barrichello take the top spot. Schumacher took the trophy for first place and gave it to Barrichello, who then took the second-place trophy.
2001 Austrian GP: Barrichello was running second and was asked to cede to Schumacher so the German could get maximum points. Barrichello conceded at the final corner and finished 3rd. Coulthard won the race.
1998 Belgian GP: Jordan teammates Damon Hill and Ralf Schumacher were driving a one-two when the latter started to catch up. The team then ordered the German not to overtake Hill so a one-two finish was guaranteed for Jordan.
1982 San Marino GP: Ferrari drivers Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi were running a one-two when the latter was ordered by the team not to overtake the leader, to prevent mechanical problems.