Ferrari checked with FIA before Austin grid fiddle

Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Ferrari General Director. Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday 10 May 2012.Nov.19 (GMM) Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali had his head held high when he answered a clear “yes” to a post-race question from the media on Sunday.

Just before the race, Domenicali had approved mechanics breaking a seal on Felipe Massa’s gearbox – not to fix the unit, but simply to invoke a penalty for Massa that would benefit Fernando Alonso.

Asked if that is within the so-called ‘spirit’ of the rules, Domenicali insisted: “Yes, otherwise I would not have done it.

“It is something that is within our possibility to do it,” said the Italian, revealing that the famous Maranello based team even checked with the FIA beforehand.

As ever in F1, the purists were split over the decency of the Massa ‘sabotage’, but most had to agree that legendary team founder Enzo Ferrari would have approved.

But a rival team boss is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport: “That is not what the gearbox rule is for.”

McLaren‘s Martin Whitmarsh was happy to put his name to the critique.

“Lest we forget, when Fernando was with us it was not doing those things that meant that Fernando left us,” he said.

“You all have to go racing the way you see fit. But I think if I had qualified on the fast side of the grid and then been moved to the slow side I would have been very p*ssed off.”

Britain’s Daily Mail said the Massa drop is “at odds with the wider sporting ethos”, while the Times said F1 should be about racing on track “as fairly as possible”.

Domenicali pointed out that Ferrari was at least honest.

“We could have easily simulated something but we wanted to be completely transparent. If another team boss said we did not make the right decision, he’s lying.”

Indeed, Domenicali said Ferrari made the decision so late in the day because there were rumours Red Bull was ready to respond by breaking into Mark Webber’s gearbox.

“That’s part of the strategic decisions. It’s part of the game,” he insisted.

Massa, who has signed on for another year in 2013, took the decision on the chin but admitted he was not “jumping for joy”.

“It’s difficult to find a driver like me,” smiled the 31-year-old, whose countryman, friend and former Ferrari number 2 Rubens Barrichello was in the paddock on Sunday.

Subbed by AJN.

  • nihar

    it was FILIPE’s greatness that he let them do that and still come out in fourth!!
    to think about it LEWIS would have let WITHMARSH do that…..

  • John

    Fairly unsporting behaviour from Ferrari. It might have been allowed within the rules, but the rule is there for when you have a problem with the gear box, not when your Prima Donna doesn’t like where he qualified.

    There was a simple solution to this. Alonso, Massa is quicker than you. Do you understand? Or, use your considerable talent to over take the opposition.

  • quattro

    That is funny that Whitmarsh is saying that. Was it not his Paddy Lowe who was saying, not many months ago, that there is nothing called “the spirit of the rules”, when responding to those saying Red Bull’s were consistenting operating outside of the “spirit of the rules”? As we all know RB have on many occations enjoyed having the unfair advantage of racing with parts that are deemed illegal/outside spirit of the rules…
    How about the advantage RB have in operating four cars, while all others are only allowed two? The two STR cars will always happily open the door wide open for VET, and close it firmly for anyone else.
    How about when RB took off the front wing from WEB and gave it to VET, when VET damaged his?
    How about the fact that it is 99% of the time WEBs car that is having reliability problems, indicating it is used more as an experiment vehicle than a racing car?

    It seems the morale preachers should either start opening BOTH eyes, or shut up altogether.

  • shinzo

    No Martin, you’re team simply stole all Ferrari’s technical data instead

  • Disgusted with 2012

    Why would RB be “rumored to be breaking into MW’s box”? He was on the clean side already. As far as Ferrari making the call? The net result was more to put Massa behind Fernando, as the clean/dirty side issue turned out to be irrelevant – as Button noted before the start and Lewis proved clearly – there was no issue with starting from the left, he kept pace with Seb from the start to turn one just fine. Regardless of Ferrari rationale for throwing Massa under the bus, or whether the action was legal, it has a stink to it, as many team tactics using FIA rules to manipulate grid positioning, regardless of what color the livery. In this regard, the RBR move to start Seb from the pit exit in order to allow setting adjustments was similar in nature – So if you want to legitimately bash on Red Bull, at least bash on them proper issues – not irrelevant minutia or conspiratorial nonsense.

  • quattro

    “Why would RB be “rumored to be breaking into MW’s box”?”
    To put ALO back on the dirty side.

    “The net result was more to put Massa behind Fernando”
    No, that can easily be achieved during the actual race, totally within the rules.

    ” the clean/dirty side issue turned out to be irrelevant”
    Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it?. With this high stakes, you do not want to rely on hope and guesses. The consensus after qualy (as Hamilton among others were pointing out) was that starting on the drity side would give a much bigger penalty than usual.

    “Regardless of Ferrari rationale for throwing Massa under the bus”
    Given the (total lack of) achievments from Massa for the last three years, that is on the boarder of disgraceful, he should be happy to still be a Ferrari driver. Just collect your paycheck and put a smile on while doing it – you certainly have not deserved it!

  • Speedo

    When Lewis was penalised for under fuelling he started the race on the grid P24. But when Vettel was penalised Red Bull started from the pit lane so that they could take an advantage and adjust the settings and tyre options which is within the rules. But when Ferrari decides to change Massa’s gearbox to gain advantage which they clarified with FIA and within the rules, there seems to be criticism. The irony is that Vettel benefited although penalised. Vettel should have started from p24 just as Lewis did. I thought a penalty is a punishment and not an advantage. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.

  • Ahmed Ginnah

    It is very funny that when Ferrari does anything “within the rules” everybody hypes a,d when others do it nobody even worries, or even knows: When Vettel was caught out by the FIA with insufficient fuel in his car after Qualifying at the other GP, he was demoted to LAST on the grid. BUT THE TEAM ELECTED TO START HIM FROM THE PITLANE. do you know WHY? So to be “within the rules” and tamper with the car settings, change tyres, change etc, tyres, fuel, etc, etc and etc, WITHIN THE RULES. RBR gid just that to Vettel’s car and they changed it from being a good qualifyer – for single runs’ to a good all in all top speed racer, which no other car on the grid was set up for. All the other cars were set up for qualifying and race conditions so each car is compromised for both qualifying and the race. Vettel’s car was a pure racer and NOT a qualifyer. That was a major reason Vettel got from the Pitlane to the podium. Yes, it was all “within the Rules”. Ahmedg

  • unsportsmanlike

    Yes all the teams have little work-a-rounds that give them advantages and still remain within the rules. but seriously I would have preferred Ferrari not be honest, as it makes them look all the more stupid. With there current mindset they will never win a WCC, WDC is within there grasp, but they will never be close to the WCC, unless they grow up and accept that you have to have 2 drivers in a team not 1 and a half. (that is not saying massa does not have talent, he does, albeit not as confidant after his accident, but his car is second rate, more so than other teams, and he is not allowed to succeed).