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Ferrari and drivers fined $1m

Schumacher's Austrian victory was booed by usually loyal Ferrari supporters  

PARIS, France -- Formula One's ruling body has imposed a $1 million fine on Ferrari and its two drivers over the controversial finish to last month's Austrian Grand Prix.

The fine came after Ferrari ordered race leader Rubens Barrichello to allow team mate Michael Schumacher to overtake him to cross the finishing line first.

But the fine was imposed because of transgressions on the podium after the race rather than for the team orders which gave Schumacher victory.

The team orders tactic angered fans who were further outraged when Schumacher later pushed Barrichello on to the top of the winners' podium and he took second place. (Full story)

The fine was imposed on Wednesday by the International Automobile Federation (FIA). There was no point deduction or ban.

In a statement, the FIA said: "The World Motor Sport Council deplored the manner in which team orders were given and executed at the Austrian Grand Prix.

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"Nevertheless the council finds it impossible to sanction the two drivers, because they were both contractually bound to execute orders given by the team.

"The council also recognised the long-standing and traditional right of a team to decree the finishing order of its drivers in what it believes to be the best interest of its attempt to win both world championships.

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"In the circumstances, the council decided; with some reluctance; that it could take no action over the team orders given by Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro at the Austrian Grand Prix."

But the statement added: "The podium procedure was not followed. Having finished second, Rubens Barrichello, who is a Brazilian national, stood on the top step while the German national anthem was played for Michael Schumacher.

"Michael Schumacher then ascended the top step and both drivers, rather than just the winner, stood there while the Italian national anthem was played.

"Michael Schumacher took the trophy for first place from the Austrian Chancellor, did not acknowledge him, handed the trophy to Rubens Barrichello and then took the second place trophy from the Austrian Deputy Chancellor.

"It is the duty of each team to ensure that its contracted drivers observe the podium procedures and do not in any way embarrass the national authorities of the country where a grand prix takes place.

"The World Motor Sport Council held that Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher and Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro were each guilty of failure to observe Article 170 of the Formula One Sporting Regulations.

"The World Motor Sport Council imposed a fine of $1 million (USD) on Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello jointly, half to be paid immediately and half to be suspended for one year.

"The fine will become payable immediately should a similar offence occur within the next twelve months."

Ferrari made their controversial decision in Austria to make sure Schumacher picked up the drivers' championship points.

Schumacher, clearly stunned by the hostile reaction, revealed after the race that he had considered disobeying the order and let Barrichello claim what would then have been only the second win of his career.

Schumacher told The Associated Press: "I am not very happy. I take no joy from this victory."

A clearly disappointed Barrichello stood by the call by his team.

"It's a team decision, I just signed another two-year contract," Barrichello told AP. "I was asked to do it."

Ferrari's sporting director Jean Todt told the UK's Press Association: "Sometimes one has to take difficult decisions and this was one of those times.

"In the past we have lost the drivers' championship at the last race three times in a row and we know we are up against strong opposition. The extra points Michael picked up...could come in useful later in the season."

It was not the first time Barrichello let Schumacher pass near the end of a race. In last year's Austrian Grand Prix, Barrichello let Schumacher take second place.


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