Ferrari exploit loophole to stay in F1 title race

Last updated 14:32 19/11/2012
Formula 1 2012
Getty Images Zoom
Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing leads the field up the hill towards the first corner.

Relevant offers


Hampton Downs owner says NZ Grand Prix will not grow at Manfeild Hayden Paddon makes clean start to defence of Rally Argentina crown Big day for Ellesmere Speedway hampered by 'bizarre' crash Hayden Paddon on 'maximum attack' to get WRC season back on track at Rally Argentina The New Zealand Grand Prix is staying at Manfeild Scott Dixon finishes second in IndyCars race at Alabama Boy, 11, dies in karting accident at F1 driver Fernando Alonso's track Mostert claims Phillip Island V8 win as Kiwis encounter mistakes and misfortune Scott Dixon qualifies fourth for IndyCars Alabama race Fabian Coulthard wins chaotic Supercars race at Phillip Island

Ferrari promised to pull out all stops to help Fernando Alonso claim the Formula One drivers title and with the help of a rulebook loophole they head to the season finale still in the fight.

Bending the rules to their advantage, Brazilian Felipe Massa took a five-place grid penalty at the US Grand Prix to help team mate Alonso stay in the title chase with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

Just prior to Sunday's race, Ferrari said they had broken a seal on Massa's gearbox, incurring the mandatory penalty, for "strategy considerations, with the objective of maximising Alonso's start potential."

The penalty meant Alonso started in seventh place and, crucially, on the "clean" side of the grid.

Alonso seized the opportunity to finish third behind Vettel and race winner Lewis Hamilton to trail Red Bull's championship leader by 13 points and everything to play for in Sao Paulo next Sunday.

"We know our championship keeps alive maybe thanks to the first laps," Alonso told reporters.

"We always qualify around seventh or eighth and we finish the first lap in the first three or four positions normally and then after that the race becomes a little easier.

"I think this podium, after all the difficulties we went through this weekend, is like a victory for us.

"Losing three points maybe was in no-one's thoughts I think yesterday night or Friday night after seeing the practice, so we are really happy again to have a very good Sunday and score again good points."

While the decision to take a penalty to gain an advantage may hint at a lack of sportsmanship, the move fell within the rules, Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali offering no apologies and making no attempt to hide his plan.

"I didn't want to lie. I just wanted to say the truth. It would have been easy to (lie) but that is not our style, my style," he said.

"I think because of the situation that is very clear in Ferrari, there is just the team that is the most important thing in this situation.

"The data we had we knew the left side of the grid was very bad. I wanted to be totally honest.

"If in my shoes other team principals would say a different thing, they are lying."

"Once again the more we think about it, the more it was the right thing to try to keep the championships open until the last moment."

If Ferrari's gamesmanship rubbed Red Bull the wrong way they offered no hint at being angry, dismissing the move as part of the price of doing business in F1.

"It was within the regulations, it was a technical move, they obviously made that decision to get Fernando onto the right side of the grid and it worked well for him," said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner with a shrug.

Ad Feedback

"It's within the rules, obviously hard on Felipe but their priority is Fernando."

Vettel will win the 2012 championship if:

- He finishes fourth or better in the final race in Brazil.

- Alonso finishes second in Brazil and Vettel finishes at least seventh.

- Alonso finishes third in Brazil and Vettel finishes at least ninth.

- Alonso finishes fourth or worse in Brazil.

- Reuters

Special offers
Opinion poll

Who is your favourite V8 Supercars driver?

Scott McLaughlin

Shane Van Gisbergen

Fabian Coulthard

Jamie Whincup

Mark Winterbottom

Craig Lowndes

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content