This past Sunday at the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa finished 1-2 in the race, securing the top spots for Ferrari. In the 50th lap, a message came from Massa’s crew that he should let Alonso pass, with a message saying that “Fernando is faster than you” which was the sign that Massa would let Alonso pass. Both drivers went on to finish the race in the top 2 positions, but Ferrari was fined $100,000 for giving team orders that affect the outcome of the race.
Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo came on later to say that there was no orders, but the option had been given to Massa who has a slower car, to let Alonso pass by but ultimately it was Massa’s decision. The importance of Ferrari breaking the rules set in place by FIA are shocking because they are the reason that the rule is in place, in 2002, Rubens Barrichello was ordered to allow Michael Schumacher to pass in the Austrian Grand Prix. That season Schumacher had won 5 of the first 6 races and was far ahead in the standings, and Ferrari wanted to keep it that way setting him up for the victory though it wouldn’t have affected the overall outcome of the season, helped put in place this rule to stop team ordered race fixing. There was a million dollar fine, and clear remorse from both the drivers and fans at the race.
38 points ahead of Massa, Alonso is seen as the the driver that could lead Ferrari to a championship title. Ferrari made it clear that the drivers have to do what is best for the team, even if that means giving up a race.
Hopefully this kind of thing can be stopped, or by increasing the fine to a sum that is somewhat comparable to what Ferrari earned for the race, it could stop teams from issuing team orders, or making drivers “make their own decisions.” The race was a good one for the majority, but when there is a competitive rivalry going on, and one racers stands down it gets pretty hard to stay and watch the rest of it. These two drivers, as well as the whole Ferrari organization need to be held to a different standard if this happens again, because other teams are losing out on valuable points through these acts. A possible race disqualification may still be in order, though that would be harsh, but raising the fine for repeat offenders might convince Ferrari to rethink their tactics to winning a championship.