Ferrari, Schumi, Barrichello summoned by FIA

By Time of article published May 13, 2002

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By Alan Baldwin

London - Formula One's ruling body has summoned Ferrari and the team's drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello to explain their conduct at Sunday's controversial Austrian Grand Prix.

Brazilian Barrichello led the race from the start but, after being ordered to move over by Ferrari, slowed in the final few metres to allow Schumacher, the world champion and leader of this season's standings, to take the chequered flag.

Ferrari were pilloried by rival teams and spectators at the track for cynical manipulation of the sixth race of the season.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA), which has in the past been unclear about whether "team orders" are allowed, said in a statement that Ferrari had been summoned to appear before their World Motor Sports Council in Paris on June 26.

The Italian team will be asked to explain what the FIA termed the "incident" on the last lap and also incidents during the winner's ceremony.

An embarrassed Schumacher, chasing a record-equalling fifth world title, was reluctant to take the trophy at the ceremony and offered top place on the podium to Barrichello as spectators booed.

An FIA spokesman declined to give further details of the June hearing, saying it would be inappropriate at this stage.

There are three more races before the hearing, including the most famous grand prix of all, Monaco, in 13 days which could give Ferrari the 150th victory in their Formula One history.

Echoes in Austria

Last weekend's controversy echoes one in Austria last year when Barrichello, in second place, was also ordered to move over for Schumacher.

Three years ago, the FIA tried to clarify the position on team orders after outrage followed the 1998 season-opening race in Australia when David Coulthard moved over to allow McLaren team mate Mika Hakkinen to win.

"There is no prohibition of team orders as such," the FIA said in a reminder dated August 26, 1999.

But it added that "any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition" was prohibited and would be penalised.

"It is perfectly legitimate for a team to decide that one of its drivers is its Championship contender and that the other will support him," the note said.

"What is not acceptable, in the World Council's view, is any arrangement which interferes with a race and cannot be justified by the relevant team's interest in the Championship.

"Any arrangement between teams which might interfere with the race would also be unacceptable."

A spokesman confirmed the note remained the FIA's official position on the subject.

At the end of the 1997 season Schumacher had his points removed after apparently trying to run Jacques Villeneuve off the track in the decisive race for the title, which Canadian Villeneuve won.

Schumacher, however, was allowed to keep his race victories for that season.

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