Ferrari scores 1-2 victory at Hockenheim F1 GP amidst team-order controversy! Vodafone-McLaren not on podium!

25.07.2010 / Hockenheim - Abu Dhabi - Cairo / Fernando Alonso controversially led a Scuderia Ferrari one-two victory at the German Grand Prix after an apparently slower Felipe Massa appeared to be given orders to let his team-mate past.

German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel was third, 5.1 seconds behind the Spanish Ferrari driver.
Both British Vodafone McLaren Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button never threatened the leader trio, but Lewis Hamilton's fourth-place result guaranteed him to maintain the lead in the drivers’ standings.

Unfortunately, the race was flawed by the uproar over Ferrari, who were fined $100,000 for breaching sporting regulations and implementing banned team-orders.

The result was a first one-two for Ferrari since the opening race of the season in Bahrain, a race Alonso also won, after the leading Red Bull driven by Sebastian Vettel suffered a technical defect, thus helplessly handing a sure victory to Spaniard. This time, the Spaniard's victory in Germany was soured by the coded team orders given with 18 laps to go.

Ferrari, however on the other hand, insisted the incident was "a driver decision" and said no instructions were given to their drivers.

Massa, who trailed his team-mate by 31 points prior to the race, was told by his Ferrari race engineer, Rob Smedley, over team radio: "Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understand this message?" - to which he immediately responded by letting teammate Fernando Alonso through on Turn Six of lap 49 moments later by NOT pushing down the throttle completely when he accelerated out of the corner.

Following the move, Smedley added: "Good lad. Just stick with it now, sorry."

Formula 1's governing body the FIA, state in Rule 39.1: "Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited," and, after an extensive post-race stewards inquiry, Ferrari were issued with a fine.

But why this fuss about Formula1, whereas other disciplines of motorsport suffer exactly the same team order problem, but with much less dramatic media attention and financial penalty?

During the final day of the WRC event in Jordan, the rally degenerated into a farce after both Ford and Citro?«n deliberately incurred time penalties for their No.2 drivers. That allowed each team's second driver to run ahead of their lead drivers and sweep the roads clean for them. A number of observers slammed this move, calling it an unsporting manipulation of the results.

As a result of the controversy, the FIA bulletin reinforced to the teams that they are obligated to comply with Article 151 (c) of the International Sporting Code that relates to sporting behavior and the potential for bringing the sport into disrepute.

The bulletin stated: "Please be advised that the [rally] stewards, at their sole discretion, will investigate any activity during the competition that they [think] falls into this category. The stewards have supreme and sole authority to decide what penalty to enforce."

That was it. No more and no less!

The controversy overshadowed what was in fact a superior power play by the Scuderia Ferrari as the Italian team was consistently quicker than their rivals.

Massa took advantage of a battle between Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel to take the lead at the start by passing both from the outside, but on lap 21 the Ferrari pair traded places on Turn Six before Massa regained the lead - resulting in Alonso stating on team radio: "This is ridiculous".

Asked to comment on the call afterwards, Felipe Massa, who was denied a potential win one year to the day after he fractured his skull in the spectacular crash at the qualifying session of Hungarian GP, said: "I don't need to say anything about that. He passed me."

Fernando Alonso added: "Sometimes you are quick, sometimes you are slow. It's a very strong result for the team. I think it was a good weekend overall, we improved the car a lot. We performed very well."

Alonso's win took him to within 34 points of Hamilton, who leads the drivers’ standings on 157 points. Defending champion Button is second with 143 points, while Webber and Vettel are equal on third position with 136 points for each one of them.

And 2008 world champion Hamilton was philosophical about his performance.
"Unfortunately the guys in front were phenomenally quick, and I was struggling a little bit with the balance throughout the race. Nevertheless we look forward, we scored some relatively decent points," he said.

Meanwhile, Red Bull's Mark Webber was sixth after engine problems, while the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher finished in eighth and ninth place respectively.

Robert Kubica was seventh for Renault with his team-mate Vitaly Petrov completing the top
Schumacher, a four-time winner at Hockenheim, began the race brightly, gaining three places at the start phase of the race but the seven-time world champion began losing time half way through and fell behind team-mate Rosberg after a miscalculated pit stop.

Kamui Kobayashi took 11th in the BMW Sauber, ahead of Williams' Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg.

Out of the six German drivers racing at their home Grand Prix it was Vettel who finished top, securing a place on the podium for the first time in front of his home crowd.

And the 23-year-old said: "Finishing on the podium is very special for me, it's very nice and I am very emotional."

Now, we will just have to wait until next week on the Hungaroring and see what Ferrari will surprise us with this time.


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