Bosses Want Grey Area of Team Orders Cleared Up

As the Championship enters the home strait, Formula One bosses want black and white rules to distinguish permissible team tactics from banned "team orders".

Bosses Want Grey Area of Team Orders Cleared Up

As the Championship enters the home strait, Formula One bosses want black and white rules to distinguish permissible team tactics from banned "team orders".

With Williams test driver Marc Gene replacing Ralf Schumacher in Saturday's qualifying for Sunday's race and the three top teams all having second drivers out of title contention, the issue is causing concern.

Team orders were banned after Ferrari caused outrage at last year's Austrian Grand Prix by ordering Brazilian Rubens Barrichello to move over for Michael Schumacher. But Formula One is a team sport with tactics playing an increasingly important part as the season unfolds.

"I think it's potentially a very difficult area," Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn told a news conference after Williams counterpart Patrick Head had suggested a driver could make his own mind up.

"A driver is still a member of the team. I don't think the team could step back and say 'It was nothing to do with us' because firstly you'd never be able to prove he was the only one that made the decision," Brawn added.

Renault boss Flavio Briatore agreed: "We are in a grey area and interpretation is difficult because it's not black and white."

With just three races to go Ferrari's Michael Schumacher has a single-point lead over Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya, with McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen two points off the pace.

Ralf's withdrawal effectively ended the younger Schumacher's title hopes and eyebrows could be raised if he helps out Montoya in Indianapolis and Suzuka or if his Monza replacement Marc Gene does the same on Sunday.

"If the drivers choose to make that decision, that's up to the drivers. It won't be imposed by the team, as clearly we're not allowed to," said Head.

The FIA decreed last October that "team orders that interfere with the race result are prohibited." But many say the wording is still open to interpretation.

"If we were to witness a race in which two team cars were lying first and second and the second-placed car could only win the World Championship if he came first, I just cannot believe that anyone would comprehend that it's wrong that his teammate allows him to take the lead and win the World Championship," said McLaren boss Ron Dennis.

"Maybe the federation can clarify what it really means, because if not, you have a thousand different interpretations," Renault's Briatore added.

A FIA spokesman said on Saturday that the governing body had no reason to add to or amend last October's statement.

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