• Struggling Italian team accused of sour grapes
• Fernando Alonso says European grand prix was manipulated
Ferrari could face action from the FIA following their claims that Sunday’s European Grand Prix had been “manipulated”. A number of officials from the sport’s governing body are known to be angered by the Scuderia’s intemperate response after the penalty drive-through awarded against Lewis Hamilton for overtaking the safety car did not prevent the British driver from finishing second in Spain and doubling his lead in the title race to six points.
The world “scandal” appeared on Ferrari’s official website, the team principal Stefano Domenicali said he was angry and Fernando Alonso, who finished eighth, claimed that it had been a “manipulated race”.
Replays did show that Hamilton was guilty of breaking the rules – though it was a hairline decision – but FIA officials were at pains to point out that the delay in implementing Hamilton’s punishment was a mere seven minutes and not the 20 laps claimed by Alonso.
Yesterday they were still seeing red at Ferrari. The team’s vice-president, Piero Ferrari, said: “I am incredulous and bitter, not just for Ferrari, but for the sport as a whole, as this is not the sort of thing one expects from professionals.”
But there is a widespread feeling in the sport that the pressure is beginning to get to Ferrari. The pre-season favourites have been a massive disappointment since winning the opening race in Bahrain. In Valencia, on Alonso’s home soil, they were expected to regroup and much was expected from their upgraded car. But Alonso again finished down the field and Felipe Massa, who is showing signs that he is not the driver he once was, was back in 11th.
When Red Bull’s team principal, Christian Horner, was asked if the race had been manipulated he said: “No, I don’t think so. I think the safety car rules have not played out for Ferrari, and McLaren was perhaps a bit naughty with the way it worked it, but it got a penalty for that. Arguably it didn’t cost them, but that’s just the way it worked out. I don’t think it was manipulated. The FIA just need to look at the safety car rules in the future.”