Formula One: Jenson Button calls for end to team orders confusion after Ferrari ruling
Jenson Button yesterday called for clarification of the rules regarding team orders, as the FIA president Jean Todt was forced to admit that there had simply not been sufficient evidence to punish Ferrari further after they instructed Fernando Alonso to overtake team-mate Felipe Massa to win the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in July.
Afterwards, Ferrari were fined $100,000 (£65,000) for employing team orders and thus bringing the sport into disrepute, and it was telling that the fines were not rescinded at the World Motor Sport Council meeting in Paris on Wednesday.
"Before you say you are guilty, you need to be able to prove that you are guilty," Todt said. "And if you understand all the parts that have been asked, everyone has denied that it was a team order."
Ferrari's team chief Stefano Domenicali said yesterday: "We take notice of the decision of the World Council who have confirmed the decision of the stewards and appreciate the fact that the World Council have taken into consideration the fact that the team orders rule has to be amended to make it much clearer." Button said it was crucial that the governing body clarified the rule, so that everybody operated under the same understanding and interpretation.
"Obviously it was not down to us, so our opinion doesn't matter in this situation, the decision was down to FIA," he said yesterday. "But the important thing is we get a clarification, so we are all working with the same regulations."
Alonso, once again the beneficiary at the epicentre of controversy, after he was involved in the race-rigging scandal in Singapore in 2008, was more interested in drawing a line under his German victory, believed by many to have been gifted to him by a reluctant Massa, and was in truculent form.
"We are aware of the decision of the FIA and just have to respect it," he said. "I think we talked already too much in the August break about the Germany incident – as my colleagues said, I am happy that the FIA will try to go into the rules and try to clarify if there is any sort of something that is not completely clear in the rules. We can then be all more clear – there is no special feeling."
"Playing team strategy is something which is part of this business and part of this sport. In my opinion, I don't think the federation should impede the teams playing with team orders. It's true that it is a sport, but it's turned into a business, and there are teams that are spending a lot of money to develop a car, to make the drivers win, and to promote their sponsors."
He added: "It's true it's sad for the supporters to see what happened at Hockenheim. But this is part of the business, and you can see it in every sport anyway – probably in a different way, not so obvious as it was at Hockenheim, but it's still happening."