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Page last updated at 17:15 GMT, Wednesday, 8 September 2010 18:15 UK

Ferrari receive no more punishment on team order charge

Fernando Alonso passes Felipe Massa

Alonso passes Massa for German GP lead

Ferrari have escaped further punishment for using banned team orders.

The FIA, world motorsport's governing body, upheld Ferrari's $100,000 (£65,100) fine, but will review the rule banning team orders.

F1's Sporting Working Group will look into the rule that forbids a team to tell a driver to cede to his team-mate.

Ferrari had been fined for appearing to give Felipe Massa a coded message to allow Fernando Alonso through to win the German Grand Prix.

"The judging body has decided to confirm the stewards' decision of the $100,000 fine for infringing article 39.1 [the ban on team orders] of the sporting regulations and to impose the payment of the costs incurred by the FIA," the FIA said in their statement.

"The judging body has also acknowledged that article 39.1 should be reviewed and has decided to refer this question to the Formula 1 sporting working group."

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Wednesday's decision was made at a World Motor Sport Council disciplinary hearing, presided over by FIA deputy president Graham Stoker.

FIA president Jean Todt, who was in Paris for another World Motor Sport Council meeting and had excluded himself from the process to avoid a conflict of interests arising from his previous role as Ferrari team boss, claimed there was insufficient evidence on which to prove any guilt on Ferrari's part.

"Before you say someone is guilty you need to be able to prove it," said Todt. "Everyone has denied that it was a team order."

Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali welcomed the outcome, adding: "We appreciate the world council has taken into consideration the fact that the rule has to be amended to make it much clearer and this is an important step towards transparency."

The Italian team had been charged with breaking two sections of F1's rulebook after Massa moved over to let Alonso pass him on lap 49 of the 67-lap race at Hockenheim on 25 July.

The first is article 39.1 of the regulations, which states that "team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited".

The second is article 151.c, which says "any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition, or to the interests of motorsport generally" can be punished.

Massa was told by his Ferrari race engineer, Rob Smedley, over the team radio: "Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understand?"

Rule must be amended - Domenicali

The Brazilian responded by letting Alonso through after Turn Six moments later.

Following the move, Smedley added: "Good lad. Just stick with it now. Sorry."

The incident provoked a widespread backlash against Ferrari, with some teams saying the incident damaged the sport's credibility.

BBC pundit and former team owner Eddie Jordan told BBC Radio 5 Live: "It was very blatant. If Alonso goes on to win the championship by two points it will always be seen to be a sham, where breaking the rules pays off, and that is something that can never be acceptable.

"What Ferrari did was they showed no respect to the public, they treated us all like muppets, they broke the rule."

Domenicali explained after the race that the team had only wanted to keep Massa aware of the latest race developments and that Ferrari didn't give him explicit instructions.

"And because we have already seen in the past that certain situations could not give the best result for the team, that was the information that we wanted to give and we leave the drivers to understand and take notice of it in order to make sure that the team in terms of the result is the best," he said.

The fine Ferrari were given in Germany was the maximum the stewards were allowed to impose immediately after the race.

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The WMC upheld the fine but decided not to take any further action- a decision which will boost Alonso's already dwindling title hopes.

There was a sense before the hearing among other F1 teams that neither Ferrari nor their drivers should be penalised further.

The 12 teams within the paddock are keen to operate in the harmonious atmosphere that has been fostered since the formation of the Formula 1 Teams' Association (Fota) in 2008.

There was also a feeling that the teams would prefer the rule banning team orders to be abolished because it is difficult to enforce.

If the rule was removed, the teams would instead tacitly agree not to use team orders as much as possible.

Not enough evidence - Todt

The hearing into the charges facing Ferrari was the first major ruling since Todt took over from Max Mosley as FIA president last October.

In his first year in power, Todt has - in marked contrast to his predecessor - adopted a conciliatory tone in his dealings with F1 and has been comparatively low-key.

The FIA decision could be critical to Ferrari's championship chances this season, which has only six races left to run.

They are 80 points behind leaders Red Bull in the constructors' standings, while Alonso is 41 points behind McLaren's Lewis Hamilton in the drivers' title race, with Massa 32 points further back.

There are 25 points available for a win.



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see also
F1 team orders explained
01 Aug 10 |  Formula 1
Bosses want change on team orders
30 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Ferrari boss slams F1 'hypocrisy'
26 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Ferrari fined but result stands
25 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso secures controversial win
26 Jul 10 |  Formula 1


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