Montezemolo defends driver switch

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has defended his team’s decision to change the order of its drivers during yesterday’s German Grand Prix.

The stewards of the meeting fined Ferrari $100,000 for the move. The World Motor Sports Council will investigate whether the team acted improperly by giving a coded instruction to Felipe Massa telling him to let Fernando Alonso past.

Montezemolo said:

I am very happy for all our fans who finally, yesterday, saw two Ferraris lead from start to finish as they dominated the race. The result is down to the efforts of all our people, who never give up. Now we have to continue working like this, to improve the car so that is competitive at all the circuits we will encounter.

Alonso and Massa also did very well, giving their all throughout the weekend. The polemics are of no interest to me. I simply reaffirm what I have always maintained, which is that our drivers are very well aware, and it is something they have to stick to, that if one races for Ferrari, then the interests of the team come before those of the individual. In any case, these things have happened since the days of Nuvolari and I experienced it myself when I was Sporting Director, in the days of Niki Lauda and not just then??

Therefore enough of this hypocrisy, even if I can well believe that some people might well have liked to see our two drivers eliminate one another, but that is definitely not the case for me or indeed for our fans.
Luca di Montezemolo

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182 comments on Montezemolo defends driver switch

  1. LSL said on 26th July 2010, 19:32

    *read, not reads, but there are other grammar errors in it, ofc, english isn’t my first language

  2. Manu said on 26th July 2010, 19:32

    I read today in the Gazzetta dello Sport that at the 1936 Hungarian GP, Enzo Ferrari himself instructed Mario Tardini to let Tazio Nuvolari, his team mate, go past him.

    The thing is that, as there were no radio or indication panels, Enzo Ferrari waved a hammer (!) at Tardini to instruct him to hand his position to his team mate.

    Domenicali should have done the same; it would have been more original :D

    • sumedh said on 26th July 2010, 19:40

      Oh my God!! A hammer!!

      Perhaps drivers should bargain for more money / other luxuries while bring given team orders.

      Team Radio will be even more funnier

      Rob Smedley: Felipe baby, $1,000,000 + Ferrari FXX

      Felipe: $2,000,000 + 2 Ferrari FXX + White Visor, otherwise I cannot see!!

      Rob : $1,000,000 + 2 Ferrari FXX + White Visor.

      Felipe: Deal.

    • Jim N said on 26th July 2010, 19:45

      Yes but the whole point is that during the time of Nuvolari and of Lauda, team orders were perfectly legal and an accepted part of GP racing. Now they are explicitly illegal, exactly the same as running under weight, or using illegal fuel or using the wrong tyres. The whole of the Ferrari establishment seem either not to understand that, or to consider that because they are Ferrari it doesn’t matter and they can do what they want.

      • Steven said on 26th July 2010, 20:44

        Get it into your head! Mclaren and RBR have also given team orders this year! Why should the others be allowed to do it when Ferrari is not?

        Stop being such a hypocrite!

        “Save fuel”
        “Defend, dont attack”


        • Jim N said on 26th July 2010, 23:22

          I cant’t remember any red bull, McLaren or a car of any other team this year slowing down to let a team member past. Infact with both Red Bull and McLaren we have had dramatic demonstrations that there are no team orders with wonderful fights between the team members

        • Sharon said on 27th July 2010, 10:45

          Trying not to stoop to the same levels of rudeness you display to anyone who disagrees with you is not easy….

          Perhaps you should read the stewards report from Monaco 07 which clarifies that ‘hold station’ does NOT count as a contravention of 39.1.

          If you are so disgusted by the ‘British bias’ you perceive on this blog, please feel free to go elsewhere.

  3. There is a fundamental problem in F1 and it isn’t the problem of team orders.

    Ferrari clearly see themselves as a team, with fans who care that the team wins, but frankly I couldn’t give a driving monkey which teams wins as long as one of my drivers is in the seat.

    I would like to see Massa do well because he seems like a nice fella, I would like to see Alonso fail miserably because he doesn’t. That they are both in red cars means nothing to me.

    • John H said on 26th July 2010, 20:23

      F1 is and has always been both a team sport and an individual one.

      Although you don’t give a driving monkey, I could probably find many people in the world who support Ferrari more than any of their drivers… and there are of course people such as yourself and me who care more about who is at the wheel.

      It’s both, but it’s not a ‘fundamental problem.’

      • beneboy said on 26th July 2010, 22:12

        I could probably find many people in the world who support Ferrari more than any of their drivers…

        I’d be one of those :-)

        I still don’t support their actions this weekend, in fact my heart sank when I heard Felipe being advised that Fernando was quicker than him as I knew it meant that Felipe would have to give Fernando the win.

        It ruined the race for me and has also left me feeling pretty disgusted at Alonso, I never wanted him to join the team but I had slowly began warming to him over the last few races. Hearing him complaining to the team while being unable to pass Felipe has got me back to the situation I was in before the season began; there’s a guy driving for Ferrari and I don’t want him to win or even do well. It’s very difficult to balance this with my desire to see the team do well.

        I watched the race with some friends who are also Ferrari fans and up until the message had been sent we were really enjoying the race and we were so happy that Felipe was going to get the win. The guy has been with the team for about a decade now and he has always been a team player and has shown a great deal of respect towards the team and the fans and we thought it would be a great boost to him if he were to win this race, especially given the significance of the date in relation to his accident last year.

        Had the result not been changed the team would now have two drivers sitting 5th and 6th in the drivers championship and the team would be in the same position in the constructors championship, as it stands the drivers are 5th and 8th, the team are yet again being publicly disgraced, have been fined for cheating and could face an even more serious punishment from the WMSC.

        In all honesty I’m more ****** about this than I have been about anything the team have done in years as it appears to me they’re putting the interests of Alonso ahead of the interests of the team – although my dislike of Alonso may make me a little biased…

        • John H said on 27th July 2010, 0:17

          Nice comment to read Beneboy. I was also really hoping that Massa would win the race and can’t help feeling he has been, if not exactly stabbed, somewhat prodded in the back by the team he did so proud in 2008 (a team that partly lost him the championship one could argue).

          He’s clearly still got the pace/start reactions/racing ability to win the championship – why else would he have been in the lead in the race? I think it’s quite sad, but then again my dislike of Alonso probably makes me a little biased too.

          • beneboy said on 27th July 2010, 21:55

            Thanks John !

            I agree with what you’re saying mate.

            While Felipe was leading my friends and I were talking about how we thought that this result was exactly what he needed. He’s been struggling at a few races this year and (in my opinion) Felipe’s biggest problem is his confidence; if he believes he can win then more often than not he will and lately he just hasn’t looked like he believed it.

            My big fear now is that this destroys his confidence and self belief and he ends up as another Barrichello instead of being a genuine race driver for the team.
            I understood why, after so long away from the top, we needed to rebuild the team around a great driver like Schumacher but that’s no longer the case; we’ve got a great design team, test team, manufacturing team and two of the worlds best drivers, we may have had a bad start to the season but there were plenty of points left and no real need to do this other than to keep Alonso happy.

            That doesn’t sound like the best interests of the team to me, especially if the WMSC decides to make an example of the team in a few weeks time.

            And apologies for the stared out comment in my post above, I got a little carried away again. Although I also got CODT again so I may try getting carried away a little more often but maybe with a little more editorial restraint ;-)

        • David BR said on 27th July 2010, 0:21

          beneboy, I can relate to you liking the team, in your case Ferrari, but do you really get more excited about them winning the WCC than one of their drivers, or another driver, winning the WDC? I mean it a serious question, great if you do. It just doesn’t matter to me much – actually, at all! – if my favourite team misses out on the constructor’s championship. So, to be honest, like Andrew I couldn’t care less about the teams winning points. All of which is to say, I’d happily see the WCC scrapped, but I guess a lot of fans would object. And the teams presumably.

          • beneboy said on 27th July 2010, 21:34

            I got into motorsport because of the Ferrari F40, when I fell in love with that car was about the time I was old enough to sit and watch a full race so I became a Ferrari fan. The team have always come first since then.

            When I first started watching there were loads of great drivers and Senna eventually became my favourite and I always wanted him to do well but I still wanted Ferrari to win. After Senna died I didn’t have a favourite driver again until Schumacher agreed to join Ferrari :-)

            Having the misfortune of being a Ferrari fan who was born in 1979 I had to wait until I was 21 until Ferrari won the Championship again and I can honestly tell you that it meant more to me than any drivers championship. I still get excited about the drivers championship but it doesn’t mean as much to me as the constructors because I don’t have the same emotional attachment to the drivers that I have to Ferrari.

            Senna is the only driver I’ve ever really loved, Schumacher came close but there’s never really been anyone else I’ve felt that way about. I’ve loved Ferrari for about as long as I can remember.

    • Nick said on 27th July 2010, 1:05

      100% agree with that. Well said.

  4. Just to clear up one thing that keeps appearing in comments – 100.000 is the maximum fine stewards can impose, the real punishment will come from WMSC.

  5. US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 26th July 2010, 19:53

    How ’bout a new nickname for Luca? Instead of the Horse Whisperer he could be the Mad Hatter… “CHANGE PLACES!”

  6. Nick said on 26th July 2010, 20:00

    “Alonso and Massa also did very well, giving their all throughout the weekend.” – Montezemolo

    Lap 49 must of slipped his mind. Poor sap!

  7. US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 26th July 2010, 20:06

    Uh oh! When first Michael Schumacher, and now Bernie Ecclestone come out publicly defending Ferrari’s decision, you know it was immoral.,19528,12433_6280597,00.html

    • John H said on 26th July 2010, 20:25

      To be fair to Bernie, he’s saying that the rule should be scrapped and not defending Ferrari’s actions.

      This is different and something many would agree with.

    • Mike said on 27th July 2010, 11:16

      Schumacher’s interview after the race made it seem like he found it amusing :D

      Thanks for the links btw.

      Oh, and Bernie is clearly wrong, if what Ferrari did was legal, it would still cause a lot of people to be upset and a media frenzy. (as it did in 2002)

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th July 2010, 12:48

      Brundle is also calling for the FIA to get rid of this rule in his BBC Blog, as well as Andrew Benson.

  8. sato113 said on 26th July 2010, 20:07

    Massa was only around 12 points (old system) behind alonso before Hockenheim. i think the new system confuses people into thinking the gap is massive.

    • John H said on 26th July 2010, 20:27


      When you think that Kimi was 17 points behind with two races to go in 2007, it does make you feel even more sorry for Felipe.

      • Todfod said on 26th July 2010, 20:37

        Well… Felipe was around 80 points down on the championship leader. Which is over 30 points down on the old system. With 8 races to go and 5 very competitive drivers in front of him, his chances of winning were next to none.
        Raikonnen had a chance as there were only 2 self destructive drivers in front of him in an equally competitive car.

        Do you honestly believe Felipe has a realistic chance of fighting for the WDC given his current form and championship standing???

        • Patrickl said on 26th July 2010, 20:43

          He got the betetr of Alonso (and the rest this race) Why wouldn’t he be able to do it again?

          Obviously the car is completely transformed. It’s now stable and faster than the Red bull.

          Massa is the perfect driver to put the fastest car of the field on pole and win from pole.

          With his good starts (and Red Bulls poor starts) he could even come from P3 and jump into the lead.

          Besides, I think Alonso is doing even worse on engines than Massa is.

        • John H said on 27th July 2010, 0:20

          I see your point of view. Alonso has got 2 titles, so he probably is best to take the fight to the rest.

          But to me, this was a race too early to start favouring one driver over the other. The other teams now know what hand Ferrari have dealt.

  9. SPIDERman said on 26th July 2010, 20:15

    FIA throw the kitchen sink at ferrari NOW please….

  10. Jim N said on 26th July 2010, 20:50

    To me the most astonishing thing is Ferrari’s lack of contrition. They are not appealing the fine and so de facto are admitting that they broke the rules. But there has been not one word from anybody at Ferrari saying something like “we got it wrong and shouldn’t have done it”. Instead there have just been variations along the lines of “we are a long established team, we don’t like the rule so we will do what we want”. That lack of contrition probably more than anything is what annoys me. The rule is a poor rule, but so are lots of others and teams should not be able to pick and mix which rules they obey. If they had admitted they shouldn’t have done it then in the circumstances I would have been content with a light punishment. But because of the “we should be able to do it” attitude I hope that the FIA throw the book at them…. unfortunately I don’t think that they will.

    • sumedh said on 26th July 2010, 21:15

      Contrition won’t do the team any good now. Accepting that what they did was wrong will perhaps give some sort of satisfaction to me and millions of other fans but it will cost Ferrari dearly.

      Accepting their fault will mean even stricter punishment by the WMSC. WMSC is not going to give them a lighter punishment just because the accused has shown remorse. Since you see, Ferrari have a history of team orders. Any remorse and admission of guilt will not be taken seriously by the WMSC or the fans.

      Mclaren were very quick in suspending the engineer who was involved in spygate and Ron Dennis himself called Max Mosley and confessed about all of Mclaren’s activities. And the team got the harshest possible punishment from the WMSC.

      Ferrari have already made a big mistake. Accepting it isn’t going to undo it. They just have to stick to whatever story they have cooked up, and pray that WMSC doesn’t disqualify them from this year’s championship.

      • Ilanin said on 26th July 2010, 21:26

        But if their defence is that they did nothing wrong, aren’t they torpedoing it by not appealing the stewards’ judgement from Hockenheim? The current position appears to be “yes we broke the rules but we didn’t do anything wrong” which the WMSC may not look kindly upon.

        • sumedh said on 26th July 2010, 21:39

          Ferrari’s stand as I see it is, “yes, we made a mistake, and we will pay what you want us to, please don’t punish us any more”.

          That is why they have mutely accepted the stewards’ penalty.

          • John H said on 27th July 2010, 0:22

            “mutely accepted the stewards’ penalty”

            Well, apart from Luca!

  11. Matt said on 26th July 2010, 20:53

    The car should never have passed scrutineering anyway. Watch the end plates on the Ferrari’s and the Red Bull in the onboard footage. The end plates flex downwards because of the amount of wing behind them, you can see it at high speed.

    • John H said on 27th July 2010, 0:28

      Have you got any footage of that? I’ve just been watching the F1 forum again and for both Ferrari and RBR they seem to flex only a very tiny amount it seems.

      Certainly nothing in comparison to McLaren in 2008 for example.

  12. Butler258 said on 26th July 2010, 20:57

    Ok, so “The team comes first” Seems to be the line from ferrari. Fine.

    But as far as im concerned, the fans should come first, the fans where robbed of a proper fight between the two drivers, and robbed of a real result, without us, they would have no f1, they wouldn’t be here, there would be no money from sponsor who pay the team, to put the product on the side of the car, so the fans see it.

    And Ferrari are team who’s whole image is based on F1, a team who dont market there cars because the use F1 as a giant ad for their products, and without the fans, they wouldn’t have that. so they should try should be trying harder not to pee us all off by thinking they are the most important thing in the sport.

    Im rambling, that probably didn’t make sense, it makes sense in my head, so hey ho.

  13. manatcna said on 26th July 2010, 21:07

    Make all teams have a minimum of X amount of fuel, then they can’t run out -OR- use this “save fuel” order as part of strategy

    • John H said on 27th July 2010, 0:48

      They have different engines

      • graigchq said on 27th July 2010, 12:10

        i have been wondering this, as it would contribute to the explanation of Red Bull’s quli pace compared to race. As the Renault engine is less fuel economic than the ferrari or mercedes, they effectively need more fuel at the start of the race, and therefore their pace is relatively slower than their quali pace (i’m sure some clever fuel-corrected calculations can support this) than the slightly lighter fuelled McLaren’s for example who are slower in quali, but then even out at the start of the race and are often able to keep pace to the front even tho in quali were 0.7s per lap slower.

        i have also wondered why more teams don’t go for hard tires to begin with. As it seems that a long stint on heavy fuel with long lasting tyres then a dash to the end on super-softs would be the fastest way to the end?? obviously losing a few spots on the grid to pay for it, but able to leapfrog all the front runners at the two thirds distance when they swap to the softs? what do you lot think about that?

  14. f1yankee said on 26th July 2010, 21:09

    Jerez 1997: McLaren order David Coulthard to let Mika Hakkinen past to win
    Australia 1998: McLaren order Coulthard to let Hakkinen past to win
    Belgium 1998: Jordan order Ralf Schumacher not to race Damon Hill for the lead
    Austria 2002: Ferrari order Rubens Barrichello to let Michael Schumacher past to win
    Monaco 2007: McLaren order Lewis Hamilton not to challenge Fernando Alonso for the race win
    Brazil 2007: Ferrari manipulate Felipe Massa’s pit stop to put Kimi Raikkonen into the lead so he can win the world title
    Germany 2008: Heikki Kovalainen lets McLaren team-mate Hamilton through so he can win the race following an error in team tactics
    Singapore 2008: Renault order Nelson Piquet to crash to cause a safety car period that helps Alonso win
    China 2008: Raikkonen hands Massa second place behind Hamilton so he is in a better championship position heading into the final race

    once again, i am astounded by the hypocrisy displayed by casual fans. “my guy is squeaky clean, your guy is as dirty as it gets.” pathetic.

    even if we set aside the ethical issue and focus on legalities, the bbc list post-2002 shows a score of:
    ferrari: 2
    mclaren: 2
    renault: 1

    of course, the popular english-speaking opinion is that mclaren and hamilton can do no wrong, and always the victim of evil conspiracies. hamilton chops another driver, or runs him clean off the road, and he’s “brilliant” but when schumacher did it he’s a menace. time and time again, the team has been found guilty of lying, cheating and stealing. where was your moral outrage then?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th July 2010, 21:26

      If Kovalainen at Germany is on that then why not Heidfeld at Montreal the same year? Or Toyota’s attempt to switch their drivers around in 2006? And shouldn’t we count McLaren telling Hamilton to let Alonso past at the start of qualifying in Hungary in 2007? And… and… and…

      But even if that list were complete I don’t think that since article 39.1 was written we’ve had a situation like yesterday’s. That was, to all intents and purposes, Austria 2002 all over again. Team mates on the same strategy, both in contention for the world championship being told to swap positions.

      So I don’t agree with you when you say the reaction is pure “hypocrisy”. I think Ferrari have pushed the interpretation of the team orders rule further than anyone else has up to this point – and they may be about to get their fingers burnt because of it.

      That’s my point of view at the moment. I’ll do more on that in article after I’ve had chance to think it through fully.

      hamilton chops another driver, or runs him clean off the road, and he’s “brilliant” but when schumacher did it he’s a menace

      The way I see it, Schumacher pushed the boundaries of acceptable driving standards further than what had been seen before, in some respects at least (e.g., he obviously didn’t invent ramming your championship rival to win the title).

      Once he did certain things and got away with them, his rivals and their rivals had no choice but to copy him. They’d be fools not to, otherwise they’re just giving the opposition an easy means of beating them.

      It’s clearly wrong to suggest that only Lewis Hamilton has adopted Schumacher’s tactics as his own. Fernando Alonso, Robert Kubica, Felipe Massa… – we’ve seen them all chop other drivers and push them off the track. I don’t like it now any more than I did 15 years ago but these are the standards of driving the FIA is happy to tolerate.

      • f1yankee said on 26th July 2010, 22:08

        thanks for taking the time to reply. i hope the site is doing well with these spikes in interest.

        as for dirty driving, all i wish to add is “1989, japan, turn 1.”

        now that i’ve had a day to digest yesterday’s incident, my opinion is there’s a method to ferrari’s recent madness.

        i think ferrari wanted a change in how race control and stewards manage the race, and by taking the alonso/kubica incident to it’s maximum, they got that change. by the way, the sport is better with the 90 second timer on such decisions.

        similarly, i think ferrari wanted transparent team orders in the sport. i also think the sport is better for it, since subterfuge cannot add integrity. since the rule is obviously un-workable, i’ll eat my hat if team orders are banned in 2011.

        to that end, ferrari was prepared to take the brunt of the backlash to get the changes they wanted, while maximizing the chances of one of their drivers winning the title. alonso and massa will go unpunished, and ferrari are willing to throw away anything less than 1st place in the constructor’s championship.

        • Mike said on 27th July 2010, 11:37

          What a load of rubbish!

          “i think ferrari wanted transparent team orders in the sport.”
          No, The only reason we know about this, is because Smedley and Massa didn’t like it, and made it so obvious, If it had happened how Stefano had wanted, we would never have known.

          “to that end, ferrari was prepared to take the brunt of the backlash to get the changes they wanted”
          Then Luca would have openly said that he was against the rule, in fact, so would have Stefano, considering he was probably behind the decision.

      • W-K said on 27th July 2010, 8:20

        Plus you have the opposite happening as well, where drivers deliberately drive off the track to gain an advantage. Kimi at Spa et al.

  15. mark said on 26th July 2010, 21:21

    ferrari haven’t broken a rule technically speaking just the spirit of the rule. They haven’t gained points and it is up to them on the order their drivers finish. In valencia hamilton overtook a safety car, broke a rule, beat rivals by doing it. This was unsafe, far worse and if any points are taken he should lose all points from valencia.

    • Ilanin said on 26th July 2010, 21:28

      Ferrari have very definitely broken rule 35.1, and have as much as admitted this by not appealing the judgement of the Hockenheim stewards that this was the case.

    • John H said on 27th July 2010, 0:54

      Hamilton passed the safety car ‘just’ after the line.. it was pretty much touch and go and hard to say whether he did it deliberately or not… perhaps he did, I don’t think its clear cut though. He got penalised, but Ferrari were just unlucky at Valencia. It happens sometimes.

      This is different. Ferrari take the public and the stewards for fools by saying it was Massa’s decision alone to move aside. It’s that refusal to admit they did wrong that gets people.. something Hamilton admitted to at Melbourne 2009.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th July 2010, 16:54

      From what the Stewards ruled, they broke 2 rules. The team order rule was obviously infringed. The team instructed Massa to let his team mate pass him (asked for confirmation of order understood). It may be a case for the judge to decide how hard the evidence is when Massa, Smedley and the team stay with their line, that it was a voluntary desicion by the driver.
      The other rule Ferrari evidently broke (look at the bad press everywhere from Italy to Britain to the whole wide world) is bringing the sport in disrepute. That one is very easy to prove and to penalize with watever penalty the FIA feels fit the crime.
      Last time they got 1 million and TO were not even illegal as such, so Ferrari might be into a lot heaverier fine as well as possible suspended race bans and points losses.

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