Ferrari escape further punishment

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The Independent Online

The FIA decided today not to impose any further sanction on Ferrari for breaking rules on team orders at the German Grand Prix, the head of Italy's motorsports federation said.

Angelo Sticchi Damiani said FIA's World Motor Sport Council only upheld the $100,000 fine that was imposed on July 25 at Hockenheim when Ferrari driver Felipe Massa let teammate Fernando Alonso overtake him to win the race.

The council could have stripped Alonso of the victory or docked the team points or imposed a further fine.

Speaking to reporters after the three-hour hearing, Sticchi Damiani said the council proposed that the rule banning team orders should be eliminated.

Massa led for 49 of 67 laps in Germany before allowing Alonso to pass him following Ferrari radio messages.

Had Alonso been stripped of the race victory, he would have fallen 66 points behind current leader Lewis Hamilton in the drivers' standings.

But with six races left in the season, including Sunday's Italian Grand Prix in Monza, Alonso remains 41 points behind Hamilton - who leads with 182 points.

Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali and team lawyers attended the Paris hearing.

Domenicali has maintained Ferrari didn't give explicit orders to Massa at the German race, although the Brazilian driver received a message from race engineer Rob Smedley saying Alonso was faster than him.

The radio message was seen as a clear order to let his teammate pass him, but Massa said after the race it was his decision to slow down.

"In my opinion this was not a case of team orders: my engineer kept me constantly informed on what was going on behind me, especially when I was struggling a bit on the hard tires," Massa said. "So I decided to do the best thing for the team."

The FIA ban on team orders was introduced following the 2002 season after Ferrari ordered Rubens Barrichello to hand victory to Michael Schumacher in the Austrian Grand Prix.