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Ecclestone expects F1 teams to respect orders rule

Ecclestone expects F1 teams to respect orders rule

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone expects teams to respect the team orders rule until it is altered despite confusion thrown up by the FIA's decision to let Ferrari escape with just a fine for breaking the regulation at the German Grand Prix.
Ecclestone was in the FIA's Paris headquarters Wednesday when the governing body agreed to limit Ferrari's punishment to a $100,000 fine after the team used coded messages to ensure Fernando Alonso passed Felipe Massa in a 1-2 finish in Hockenheim.
"Of course it was the right decision, it was a unanimous decision," Ecclestone said. "We should let the teams run their own strategy in the way they want."
But several leading team principals have questioned the move. Red Bull's Christian Horner believes a precedent has been set with six races left in the season.
"The rules are still in place. I think the teams will respect the rule as much as they can as long as it remains," Ecclestone told The Associated Press after Friday's Italian Grand Prix practice.
Like Horner, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh also questioned a confusing decision that made the situation "more muddy."
FIA said in its final ruling that "there were many examples of what could have been said to be team orders in F1 in recent years, and therefore there has been inconsistency in its application."
Ecclestone said the original regulation _ set in 2002 following a backlash against Ferrari for ordering Rubens Barrichello to let Michael Schumacher pass on the final straight and win the Austrian GP _ should never have been introduced.
Three-time champion Jackie Stewart agreed the rule was wrong but said that the FIA's decision was worse.
"If you insist on it and somebody breaks the law they have to be disciplined and they have to be punished. The fine doesn't match the crime," Stewart told the AP, adding that Alonso should have been docked points. "It would have ruined this world championship for Alonso but, I'm sorry _ the regulation was broken."
After a season relatively free of scandal, Stewart believes the decision threatened to damage F1's moral standing, which has been tainted by sex and race-fixing scandals in recent years.
"It's a huge investment for a Formula One team to be in the sport but you've got to be responsible to all of those (sponsors)," Stewart said. "There are enormous amounts of money for advertising, for promotion, for prestige _ and that has all been questioned on integrity."
Ecclestone disagreed with Stewart's assessment.
"I think the public understand and appreciate these things. People make a rule and sometimes they don't realize the side effects of these rules," Ecclestone said. "What Ferrari did is no different than what people do all the time except the guy was a bit stupid with what he said on the radio. If he hadn't said those things we wouldn't have had those problems."
Alonso trails overall leader Lewis Hamilton of McLaren by 41 points.


Updated : 2021-03-09 03:50 GMT+08:00