Button and Hamilton hit out at 'team orders' as fall-out from Ferrari controversy rages on

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The Independent Online

jenson button has joined the growing chorus of criticism regarding team orders that may yet result in severe sanctions being taken against Ferrari.

The famous Maranello marque was yesterday punished for fixing the German Grand Prix by stewards who fined them $100,000. The matter, however, has been referred to the World Motor Sport Council that, if it chooses to pursue the case, has unlimited powers of punishment at its disposal.

The incident that saw coded messages being passed to Felipe Massa that eventually resulted in him slowing to allow team-mate Fernando Alonso to pass and claim victory left a bitter taste in the mouth and infuriated millions of Formula One fans worldwide.

Button said: "Personally I think team orders in Formula One are wrong, in any motor sport category, although sometimes they are inevitable. We all want to win, and I know that every team wants to win, both the constructors' and drivers' championships.

"But they have to give both their drivers the same opportunity to do so. This was very early in the season. How early is it going to start in the future?"

For any driver given the message "your team-mate is faster", as was the case yesterday to Massa from his race engineer, Rob Smedley, the natural reaction is speed up, not slow down.

"If I was told my team-mate is faster, I would think my team-mate is faster, so I would keep driving and hope he doesn't overtake me," added Button.

Echoing his team-mate's sentiments, championship leader Lewis Hamilton said: "My reaction would be to go faster, that I need to find the time. For me if my engineer came across the radio, and just because I know how things are in our team, the message would be 'Jenson's faster, you've got to find time in the first and second sector'.

"As simple as that, which means pick up the pace if you can. It's encouraging rather than telling you. It's a lot different."

The fact is, no matter Ferrari's protestations to the contrary, it is clear for the remainder of this season that Alonso will be their favoured driver and Massa will have to play second fiddle. That could count against McLaren who have consistently adopted a policy of treating both drivers equally, even if it proves to be detrimental to their championship chances.

"All I can say is for us we're still in the best position overall," added Hamilton, who leads Button by 14 points and with McLaren 28 clear of Red Bull in the constructors' standings. "Although we're not the fastest, both myself and Jenson are going in the same direction, we're both fighting, so there's two horse power rather than one."

In 2007, however, it has long been claimed McLaren's insistence on equality cost Hamilton or Alonso the title as both finished a point behind eventual champion Kimi Raikkonen, then with Ferrari.

Hamilton disagrees, citing other factors that came into play that season, and instead is proud to drive for a team that in his eyes plays fair. "There were races when I messed up and lost points. There were a lot of mistakes on either side," added Hamilton.

"If you're both going full pelt then one of you is going to do a better job and finish ahead. But I don't feel if one had been favoured more than the other one of us would have won the championship.

"And it was definitely not the case of me being favoured over him. It was a good experience for the team, and we've really come on in leaps and bounds since then.

"I think our team management, and the way it conducts itself, is probably the most professional I've ever seen in Formula One. I'm delighted and very proud to be a part of that."