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Ferrari checked with FIA before changing Austin grid

  • Published on 19 Nov 2012 09:51
  • comments 0
  • By: Rob Veenstra
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, Ferrari's team boss had approved mechanics breaking a seal on Felipe Massa's gearbox not to fix the unit, but simply to create a penalty 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 his 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 pissed 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. (GMM)

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