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FIA lifts team orders ban

NEWS STORY
10/12/2010

In the light of the row that threatened to overshadow the 2010 season, the FIA's World Motor Sport Council has decided to lift the ban on team orders.

While team orders have been part of motor sport ever since it began, it is only in recent times that they have caused outrage. In 2002, Ferrari ordered race leader Rubens Barrichello to slow down in the final corner of the Austrian Grand Prix, thereby handing victory to his teammate, Michael Schumacher.

Even though the German had won four of the previous five races, the cynicism of the move caused outrage in the grandstands and throughout the world's media. The Italian team was subsequently fined however, this was in relation to the farce that was the podium ceremony - when Michael Schumacher changed places with his teammate - rather than for the manipulation of the race result.

Nonetheless, stung into action by the worldwide condemnation of what happened on track, the FIA imposed a ban on team orders. However, teams continued to manipulate their drivers though now reverting to various secret but equally cynical methods.

During this year's German Grand Prix, Ferrari once again fell foul of race fans and the media when Felipe Massa was told to defer to teammate Fernando Alonso. While the race stewards imposed a fine straight after the race, the Italian team subsequently found itself in the dock in front of the FIA in Paris. To the surprise of many, the Maranello outfit escaped further punishment, the sport's governing body now ruled by the same man who headed the Italian team back in 2002, Jean Todt.

In the closing stages of the season, many, including former FIA president Max Mosley, claimed that should Alonso win the title his victory would be tarnished by what happened in Germany, while there was open talk of both Red Bull and McLaren using team orders as their drivers battled for the title.

Realising that the whole team orders issue is virtually unpoliceable, the FIA has now opted to lift the ban though teams are warned that blatant manipulation will be punished. "Teams will be reminded that any actions liable to bring the sport into disrepute are dealt with under Article 151c of the International Sporting Code and any other relevant provisions," said the FIA in its announcement.

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