Jenson Button blasts Ferrari ‘orders’
Jenson Button has joined the growing chorus of criticism over team orders that may yet result in severe sanctions against Ferrari.
Stewards fined the famous Maranello marque $100,000 for allegedly telling their driver and race leader Felipe Massa to let team mate Fernando Alonso through.
The matter has been referred to the World Motor Sport Council who, if they choose to pursue the case, have unlimited powers of punishment at their disposal.
The incident saw coded messages being passed to Massa on the team radio. A short time later, Alonso passed to claim victory, to the fury of F1 fans worldwide.
Button said: “Personally, I think team orders are wrong in any motor sport category, although sometimes they are inevitable.
“I know that every team wants to win both the constructors’ and drivers’ championships, but they have to give both their drivers the same opportunity to do so.
“This was very early in the season. How early is it going to start in the future?”
The message from Massa’s race engineer Rob Smedley on Sunday was that Alonso was faster.
Button said: “If I was told my teammate is faster, I would keep driving and hope he doesn’t overtake me.”
His McLaren team mate, championship leader Lewis Hamilton, agreed: “My reaction would be to go faster, that I need to find the time.
“For me, if my engineer came across the radio, and just because I know how things are in our team, the message would be: ‘Jenson’s faster, you’ve got to find time in the first and second sector’.
“As simple as that, which means pick up the pace if you can. It’s encouraging, rather than telling you. It’s a lot different.”
The fact is, no matter Ferrari's protestations to the contrary, it is clear for the remainder of this season Alonso is their favoured driver and Massa will have to play second fiddle.
That could count against McLaren, who have consistently adopted a policy of treating both drivers equally, even if it proves to be detrimental to their championship chances.
“All I can say is, for us we’re still in the best position overall,” said Hamilton, who leads Button by 14
points and with McLaren 28 clear of Red Bull in the constructors' standings.
“Although we’re not the fastest, both myself and Jenson are going in the same direction. We’re both fighting, so there’s two horsepower rather than one.”
It has long been claimed that in 2007 McLaren’s insistence on equality cost Hamilton or Alonso the title, as both finished a point behind eventual champion Kimi Raikkonen, then with Ferrari.
Hamilton disagrees, citing other factors that came into play that season. Instead, he says, he is proud to drive for a team that in his eyes plays fair.
“There were races when I messed up and lost points.
“There were a lot of mistakes on either side,” he added.
“If you’re both going full pelt then one of you is going to do a better job and finish ahead.
“But I don’t feel if one had been favoured more than the other one of us would have won the championship.
“And it was definitely not the case of me being favoured over him.
“That was by far not the case.
“Instead, it was a good experience for the team and we’ve really come on in leaps and bounds since then.”