McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh believes any lingering disagreements over Ferrari's use of team orders in the German Grand Prix should not be allowed to overshadow this year's World Championship if Fernando Alonso goes on to win the title.
Points leader Alonso took the Hockenheim win after his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa pulled aside for him. Although Ferrari was fined for the incident, which was technically in breach of the anti-team orders rules, the FIA chose not to apply any form of points penalty and said it would look at adjusting the regulation in the future.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has remained frustrated over the incident, saying in an interview, "It would be frustrating [if Alonso won the title] because we've obviously worked under the auspices that team orders are illegal."
Whitmarsh said that as far as he was concerned, the Hockenheim furor was in the past, and even if that result proved key to an Alonso World Championship victory, no one should consider the championship tainted.
"We shouldn't detract from what really, probably, is one of the greatest Formula 1 championships in our history, with issues about what teams did or didn't do during the course of the year," said Whitmarsh during the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in teleconference.
"It's been a fantastic championship. Genuinely, at the moment, there are a number of contenders from three different teams, competing for this championship, and I think that's been fantastic and we've had three one-twos, some great moments, we've had some struggling moments. Red Bull has had moments of triumph and tragedy, and so has Ferrari, and that's moved around during the year."
He added that even if he privately disagreed with what occurred at Hockenheim, he would not believe that the Hockenheim incident should overshadow Ferrari's other achievements.
"I have lots of private views on the outcome [of the title battle]. I think if anyone other than a McLaren driver wins the championship it will be very frustrating..." Whitmarsh said.
"I'm not going to cast aspersions on what others have done. We run our team as we wish to, and we understand the rules in one sense. It may well be that other teams have got a different view on that, but at the end of the day, Red Bull has produced a fast car and they've been highly competitive all year, and you've got to give Ferrari credit.
"Regardless of the team order debate and all those other things, Ferrari was really struggling midseason, they've had a resurgence and they've looked very competitive – and Alonso is a formidable competitor."
Whitmarsh still feels the championship remains wide open, even though McLaren and its drivers have lost ground to Ferrari and Red Bull recently.
"We're in a fierce championship at the moment," he said.
"Ferrari and Red Bull won't stand still, they'll be doing everything they can to win, and I think frankly that's the great thing about this championship – no one, I think, with high levels of confidence, whether you're inside a team or outside, can predict which car will be quicker around Interlagos between a McLaren, a Ferrari and a Red Bull."