Sauber says its decision to write a letter in support of Ferrari's case at last week's FIA World Motor Sport Council hearing was motivated purely by its desire to see the team orders rules clarified rather than its loyalty to Ferrari.
Letters of support from Sauber and Williams played a key part in Ferrari's defense at the hearing into its use of team orders in the German Grand Prix, when Felipe Massa openly ceded the lead to teammate Fernando Alonso. The FIA chose to uphold the Hockenheim stewards' imposition of a $100,000 fine, but not to add any further penalties, and also announced that it would review the relevant regulations.
Sauber and Ferrari have long had a close relationship, with Sauber using Ferrari engines this year after BMW's departure – in a renewal of the Sauber-Ferrari partnership that had previously run from 1997 to 2005, and it was suggested that its letter to the FIA was partly due to its political allegiance to Ferrari.
But Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber's managing director, said her team made an independent decision to state the case for the team order rules to be revised while it was in the spotlight as a result of the Ferrari hearing.
"We certainly discussed the matter, because it was a matter that was debated in the paddock, and we felt that it could be seen as an opportunity to give an impetus to the FIA to review this rule and to look at its interpretation, see if it's still correct, and maybe clarify it," she said. "So that was the main intention, and we felt that with this question being raised like this, we would have the opportunity to do so.
"We also did not write it in name or in favor of Ferrari. We wrote it as an interested party to the whole matter, because it is a matter that we feel concerns us all."
Williams also wrote to the FIA in support of Ferrari's position, but Kaltenborn said that while Sauber had heard suggestions that other teams were making submissions, it was not specifically aware that Williams was doing so.
"We had heard so, but we didn't have confirmation on that," she said.
Team boss Peter Sauber confirmed that his outfit's stance was that the current rule should be rescinded, and the team order regulations returned to "the same situation as we had before the problem with team orders in Zeltweg [in 2002]."