Williams backed Ferrari on principle, F1 team says
Monza: Williams supported Ferrari at a hearing this week because the former champions oppose the current ban on ‘team orders’ in Formula One, principal Frank Williams said on Friday.
The Italian team were fined USD 100,000 by German Grand Prix stewards in July for ordering Brazilian Felipe Massa to let team mate Fernando Alonso past to win the race in a Ferrari one-two at Hockenheim.
An International Automobile Federation (FIA) hearing in Paris on Wednesday decided not to impose a further sporting penalty, thanks in part to letters of support from Williams and Sauber.
Sauber are powered by Ferrari engines but the motivation behind the letter from Williams was less obvious -- particularly with Brazilian Rubens Barrichello as one of their drivers.
Barrichello, Formula One’s most experienced driver, suffered from team orders repeatedly when he was Michael Schumacher’s team mate at Ferrari.
“We wrote it because we were sincere,” Williams told reporters at the Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari’s home race.
“We are no friends of Ferrari but we just thought a total ban on team orders is not necessary.
“We support, not necessarily Ferrari’s particular move, but the principle of team orders being permitted,” added the Briton.
Williams are far from the championship battle, and have not won a race since 2004, but they have had plenty of experience in the past of handling world champions and team mates with considerable egos.
“It’s not often that you have two drivers of equal performance in the same team but we paid a heavy price when we found that with (Nigel) Mansell and (Nelson) Piquet,” said Williams.
He emphasised that Formula One is a team sport and a championship can make a massive difference to a team’s financial security and attractiveness to sponsors that they could not afford to jeopardise.
“Drivers think of themselves, great, but then we all want world championships. There are two in every year and there is the team as well,” said the Briton.
“If you win a world championship, open the door because the money is going to flow in... but if you don’t make any good results at all it is terribly difficult to survive.”
The FIA said on Wednesday the rule banning team orders that influence the outcome of a race would be reviewed.
“It’s all up for discussion... one provisional thought is that maybe (the rule should) be applicable in the second part of the season,” said Williams.