Michael Schumacher has defended Ferrari’s use of team orders in Hockenheim – while admitting that the team might sometimes have got it wrong in his era.
Schumacher said he totally understands Ferrari’s quest to win the title with Alonso, but in effect conceded that Austria 2002 – the pass that led to the ban – was over the top, because the team was so dominant at the time.
“Watching TV occasionally [on the big screens] I saw Felipe be in first position,” said Schumacher. “I felt obviously happy because he’s a friend of mine. Then hearing Alonso has won the race I was wondering what kind of strategy was that?
“I have been criticised in the past, for exactly that. I have to say I understand 100% and I would do exactly the same if I would be in their situation. Because at the end of the day what are we here for? It’s fighting for a championship. There’s only one that can win the championship. By the end of the year if you think you have lost the championship for exactly that point you will ask yourself, not only yourself but all the fans, all the TV, all the journalists and so on, why didn’t you do so?
“And I think if you go back to other years in other teams in other situations, in the last race for example, there were clear team orders. And everybody accepts those. That’s normal, that’s the last race, and so on. So whether it’s the last race or second last race or even earlier, what’s the point [of criticising]?
“I can see like in the years where in the years when we did it, we were leading so much and people thought it was unnecessary. I can agree on that one in a way. But in principle I fully accept and agree [with] what’s going on.
“You have to do it in a way that’s maybe nice and not too obvious, make it a nice fight, but there’s only one target. And that’s winning the championship.”
Co-incidentally his former team mate Eddie Irvine echoed that last statement exactly tonight…