Ecclestone, Mosley Slam Ferrari for 2002 Antics

Dominant Ferrari damaged Formula One's image last season by turning off the fans with 'team orders', according to Bernie Ecclestone.

Ecclestone, Mosley Slam Ferrari for 2002 Antics

Dominant Ferrari damaged Formula One's image last season by turning off the fans with 'team orders', according to Bernie Ecclestone.

"I think it did damage," the sport's commercial supremo told the latest edition of F1 Magazine, when asked about Ferrari's manipulation of the Austrian Grand Prix in May.

"It's exactly the same as when people decided that the stock market was over-priced. It was all a matter of perception.

"What people started to think about Formula One was that it was bloody boring because the same team was winning, and not only that, but they are taking the Mickey as well."

Ferrari sparked worldwide condemnation when they ordered Brazilian Rubens Barrichello to move over after he had led the entire race to ensure teammate and World Champion Michael Schumacher won at Spielberg's A1-Ring. Schumacher was booed and jeered at the finish.

Ecclestone said the main problem was Ferrari's decision to invoke 'team orders' so early in the season, after just six of the 17 races.

"When you do it so early, people thought 'this is really taking us for mugs,'" he said. "All the English and the Germans and Italians were ranting. You could see that they were super-upset.

"People don't like being made fools of. The same thing happened in Indianapolis, really. What Ferrari was saying, really, is that we can do what we like."

Gifted Win

Schumacher gifted Barrichello a win at the US Grand Prix in September, when he slowed at the finish in what appeared to be an attempt to stage a dead-heat.

International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Max Mosley, in the same interview, disagreed with Ecclestone about the damage to Formula One's image. But he said Ferrari's behaviour had been 'unnecessary and insulting to the public' and the FIA had received more than 4,000 e-mails and faxes about the Austrian race.

Ferrari ran away with the 2002 drivers and constructors' titles, winning 15 races. The Italian team have been champions for the past four seasons while Schumacher has been triumphant for three in a row.

The FIA have changed the rules for next season and also banned team orders to liven up the sport and prevent a repeat of the Austrian controversy in future.

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