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Page last updated at 17:40 GMT, Friday, 10 September 2010 18:40 UK

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone makes team orders hint

Fernando Alonso passes Felipe Massa

Alonso passes Massa for German GP lead (UK users only)

Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has hinted that the rule banning team orders may be abolished when it is reviewed at the end of the 2010 season.

Debate over team orders has raged since Ferrari appeared to illegally tell its drivers to swap positions in Germany.

Echoing comments made by McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh at the Hungary Grand Prix, Ecclestone said: "We should let teams run their own strategy.

"Teams will respect the rule as much as they can as long as it remains."

Ferrari were fined $100,000 (£65,100) for appearing to give driver Felipe Massa a coded message to allow team-mate Fernando Alonso through to win at Hockenheim in August.

The FIA, world motorsport's governing body, on Wednesday upheld the fine but called for a review of the team orders rule.

Ecclestone maintained: "It was the right decision, it was a unanimous decision."


However, Whitmarsh, despite being among the team bosses who want an end to team orders, admitted he was confused by the FIA's decision not to inflict further punishment on Ferrari.

Whitmarsh said: "We don't have clarity - if anything it's more muddy.

"They [Ferrari] are either guilty and should be given a penalty, or they're not guilty and should be given back the fine they received.

"Superficially it doesn't seem as logical a ruling as one would have expected but it has no impact on anything I'm going to do this weekend."

The FIA released the full verdict into the Ferrari team orders hearing on Thursday.

It confirmed that Ferrari were not punished further because there had been other incidents of teams orders that had passed with censure before.

It also stated that Ferrari viewed the incident as 'team tactics', not team orders, because Massa was never explicitly ordered to let Alonso pass.

However, Massa was given the message that Alonso was faster than him no less than four times before he finally let him by and Alonso was on an engine setting that gave him more power in the laps immediately preceding the incident.

It has also emerged that Williams and Sauber had both written letters supporting Ferrari to the FIA.

Williams team owner Sir Frank Williams said: "We supported, not necessarily Ferrari's particular move, but the principle of team orders being permitted.

"We are no friends of Ferrari, we just thought a total ban on team orders is not necessary.

"The issue has been referred to F1's sporting working group, and they are expected to come up with a solution that effectively removes the rule.

There may, however, be some attempt to limit the use of team orders in some way.

Williams added: "It's all up for discussion. One provisional thought is it should maybe be applicable just in the second half of the season.

"It's not often, it's most rare, you have two drivers of equal performance in the same team, but we have paid a heavy price, as we found out with Mansell-Piquet [in 1986]. It cost us."

In 1986, Williams had the fastest car but ended up losing the world championship because Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet took points off each other. McLaren's Alain Prost won the title at the final race of the season.

All of the drivers have been asked about the use of team orders over the past couple of days, provoking a mixed response from the paddock.

While Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, who set the pace in practice at the Italian Grand Prix on Friday, refused to be drawn into the debate, McLaren driver Jenson Button was stridently opposed to any relaxation in the regulations.

"If the regulation changes so you can have team orders then it will be very strange," said Button. "It does change Formula 1.

Asked directly whether he would quit, Button replied: "I will be racing for the next year or so in F1, and I will enjoy it, but it does change your views of the sport a little bit if it ever happened."

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see also
Ferrari escape further punishment
08 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
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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