Former World Champion Damon Hill hopes that the FIA World Motor Sport Council refrains from giving Ferrari a hefty penalty for its alleged use of team orders in the German Grand Prix when the governing body considers the matter today.
Ferrari was fined $100,000 by the Hockenheim stewards, who adjudged that article 39.1 – the rule prohibiting team orders – had been breached when Felipe Massa slowed to allow Fernando Alonso to take the lead, having been informed over the radio that his teammate was faster than him. Today, Ferrari will learn if the WMSC will increase its punishment, but the British Racing Drivers' Club president Hill hopes the FIA shows restraint.
"Flexing their muscles because they can is not necessarily wise," Hill told Britain's Daily Telegraph. "I don't think a punishment that big would fit this particular crime."
Hill believes there are too many gray areas in the current team orders rule, for while Ferrari's place exchange at Hockenheim was carried out very openly, other position swaps between teammates are believed to have taken place via deliberately slower pit stops and other more subtle tactics in recent years.
"Teams say they are not implementing team orders but we all suspect that what they are doing is indicating to the driver how they would like them to perform, which can't be construed as an order," said Hill. "It is an issue which has been creeping up for some time and has not been addressed and I think Ferrari might get off because the rules aren't clear."
He added that Formula 1 should have addressed the issue sooner rather than waiting for the flash point of a controversy like Hockenheim.
"This is where the sport doesn't do itself any favors," Hill said. "It needs a media circus to make the necessary changes. I mean, this is happening four days before the Italian Grand Prix."