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  Sunday, 23 June, 2002, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Ferrari still cheating F1
Rubens Barrichello leads Michael Schumacher across the line at the Nurburgring
Another stage-managed finish did no-one any favours
Jonathan Legard

Rubens Barrichello stood on the top step of the Nurburgring podium and the crowd cheered.

Michael Schumacher was smiling alongside on the second step and the grandstands loved that too.

Ross Brawn, Ferrari's technical director, claimed that the world championship had moved on from Austria, where the team had pulled the plug on Barrichello's winning drive.

But if this was the Brazilian's payback for moving over at the A1-Ring, it was also another display of Ferrari team orders in reverse - and it cheated the crowd in a less controversial and obvious manner.

Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello on the podium in Austria
Ferrari had Wednesday's FIA hearing on their minds

This result was a clear nod in the direction of the Parisian courtroom where Ferrari go next week to explain their conduct six weeks ago.

It was entirely different from last month's race in Austria, where Barrichello was decisively fastest and entirely deserving of victory.

After the worldwide outrage of their manoeuvre in Austria, Ferrari did not dare to repeat it, regardless of the world championship standings.

Twenty-seven points was a big enough lead on 12 May 2002. Forty-six points - as Schumacher's lead stands now - is out of this world.

Make no mistake, Barrichello drove impressively at the Nurburgring.

His first-corner swoop past the warring Williams pair was stunning but in this race Schumacher was the faster Ferrari driver.

He probably was as much as three quarters of a second faster than Barrichello.

And in another car for another team, would he have held back as he did, even before the order came to hold station for the last 10 laps?

Ferrari's reluctance to open up the competition to include both cars does them no favours
Jonathan Legard

Because of their misguided use of team orders in Austria, Ferrari found themselves boxed into a corner.

And by far the lesser of two evils, with the FIA World Council no doubt monitoring their every move, was to stage manage the "perfect" Ferrari one-two finish.

Barrichello "deserved" his victory, Schumacher "earned" redemption and Ferrari demonstrated even-handedness. Or so it appeared.

Williams may want words with Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher about their first-corner clash but at least they were racing each other for position.

The reluctance of Ferrari - and seemingly Schumacher - to open up the competition to include both red cars does them and their massive following no favours.

The European Grand Prix was a two-horse race - between Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher.

Williams and McLaren were both chasing shadows.

But the row over team orders hung like a cloud over the closing stages when the sun should have been shining on a gripping duel to the chequered flag.

Team orders are hugely difficult to police.

It has been suggested that the World Council will try to regulate their usage.

Ralf Schumacher leads one of the McLarens
Williams and McLaren were completely destroyed by Ferrari at the Nurburgring
This might include a public pre-race statement that they will be used - and then only in the last four races or when the championship is truly at stake.

But the move in Austria was unnecessary and only complicated the issue - for the sake of just four points.

Technically, Ferrari broke no rules.

But the breach of podium protocol and the alleged infringement of the spirit of competition have prompted informed sources to whisper the word suspension as a likely outcome of next week's hearing.

Rubens Barrichello might suffer as the pawn in proceedings.

Michael Schumacher might be brought to book as the podium offender.

Ferrari could be charged with bringing the sport into disrepute.

On these things, only the World Council can decide.

Their verdict, with implications for both the British Grand Prix in two weeks's time and the championship, is expected before lunchtime on Wednesday.

That is just as Barrichello's beloved Brazilian football team kick off their semi-final in a World Cup that has been dogged by controversy over refereeing decisions.

On both sides of the globe, the ball is in the officials' court.

In-depth guide to the 2002 Formula One season

On-track action

News and reaction

Jonathan Legard

F1 2002
See also:

12 May 02 | Formula One
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