United States GP: Red Bull and McLaren accept Ferrari penalty tactic

Ferrari's main rivals say they have little problem with the team's decision to give Felipe Massa a deliberate gearbox penalty at Austin to help Fernando Alonso's Formula 1 title challenge

United States GP: Red Bull and McLaren accept Ferrari penalty tactic

The Maranello-based outfit was concerned about having Alonso start on the dirty side of the grid for the United States Grand Prix, so tactically broke a seal on Massa's gearbox to give him a five-place grid penalty.

That moved Alonso onto the clean side of the track, which team insiders believe was completely the right choice because of the way in which he was able to move up from seventh at the start to fourth by the exit of the first corner.

Ferrari's move did lead to some questions about sporting ethics, but the team's opposition had no objection to its desire to give its lead driver the best possible chance.

Click here for Tony Dodgins' view on Ferrari's ethics

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: "It is within the regulations, and it was a tactical move.

"They obviously made that decision to get Fernando on to the right hand side of the grid and it worked well for them. It was within the rules, and while it was hard on Felipe, their priority is Fernando."

When asked if Red Bull considered doing something similar for Mark Webber, which would have put Alonso back on to the dirty side of the grid, Horner replied: "Well then someone else would do it, and before you know it Fernando would start on the front row. We never considered it."

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh suggested that Ferrari's tactic was exactly the kind of policy that his outfit's reluctance to get involved had displeased Alonso during their ill-fated 2007 partnership.

However, he refused to criticise Ferrari for the decision.

"Teams and team principals can decide how they run their programmes," he said. "It was tough but it is very clear that they are very focused on Fernando.

"It worked, as it worked for Fernando, and unless we forget Fernando was with us - and it was not doing those things that meant that Fernando left us.

"I am not criticising anyone. I think we have to go racing as we see a good way to go racing..."

He added: "I think the toughest thing is it put a number of people onto the slow side of the grid. It didn't impact on us - we were on the slow side of the grid and we stayed on it.

"If I had earned or got on to the right side of the grid and that had put me on to the slow side I would have been very pissed off."

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Austin win a vital reminder of McLaren strength - Martin Whitmarsh

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