DC and Rubens must play fair, says Todt

Ferrari sporting director Jean Todt has warned Rubens Barrichello and David Coulthard to play fair as the title fight between their team mates Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen reaches its climax

DC and Rubens must play fair, says Todt

The call comes after Coulthard was forced to defend himself from another verbal attack by Schumacher, following the German's claim that the McLaren driver was over-aggressive in his attempts to keep the Ferrari behind him in Sunday's United States Grand Prix.

"The team mates of both Michael and Hakkinen have to play fair," said Todt. "Formula 1 isn't something you can manipulate. There are stewards who oversee the race, there are people who are there to take decisions and we have to be aware of them."

With just two races remaining and a maximum of 20 points still up for grabs, Schumacher leads Hakkinen by eight points. If Schumacher wins the penultimate GP, at Suzuka in Japan, he will be world champion regardless of how the Finn performs. But with Coulthard's world title chances now at an end after a fifth place finish in Indianapolis, McLaren is set to bring in team orders for the final two races to maximise Hakkinen's chances of winning a third consecutive title.

Sunday's outburst by Schumacher was just the latest chapter in a season of simmering tensions between him and the Scot, in which the pair have frequently criticised each other's startline and race tactics. The Ferrari team-leader passed Coulthard for the lead on lap six, but said afterwards: "I thought he [Coulthard] isn't really in the championship and, in my view, he tried too much.

"It was out of order," he added. "He pushed me too wide and he touched me. I'm not sure he should have done it. If he's not in the championship, it's not right. It shouldn't happen."

But Coulthard defended his action and stressed that he would be playing by the rules, saying: "I will do anything I can to help Mika and McLaren win the title," he said. "But I will not do anything outside the sporting rules.

"It would have been very easy for me to accelerate Michael off the circuit at the first corner at Indianapolis, but I didn't. It's not sporting and it's not in my mind. My attitude to Michael will be the way it has always been, which is to give him respect."

Ferrari goes to Japan defending a 10-point lead in the constructors' world title, but with Hakkinen and McLaren winning the last two races at Suzuka, Todt believes the run to the end of the season will be too close to call - making the role of the supporting drivers even more crucial.

"I think it will be close," he said. "But it's been close throughout the whole season. We've had eight poles out of 15 races - that's how close it has been. It's terrifying to see that the third team has only 34 points. It shows that it's a battle between the two teams.

"Malaysia might have been good for us last year," he added, "but the car is different this year. That doesn't mean that we will be good or bad there."


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