Monday May 14th, 2001
McLaren-Mercedes will not risk "castrating" Formula One by following Ferrari's lead and ordering Mika Hakkinen to support team mate David Coulthard, DaimlerChrysler board member Juergen Hubbert said on Monday.
Coulthard's win in Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix cut Michael Schumacher's lead in the world championship to four points. The German world champion finished second after Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello followed team orders and allowed Schumacher to pass him metres before the chequered flag.
"I think it's a shame that someone who has run a fantastic race then doesn't get what they deserve," said Hubbert, head of DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes unit. Hubbert said team orders would ultimately work against the sport.
"We see things differently from Ferrari. If you castrate the sport, one day it's not going to be interesting anymore," Hubbert said.
Hakkinen, two times a world champion, has only four points from six races after his car stalled on the grid at Spielberg while Coulthard has 38 points with 11 races left. But McLaren are not about to tell Hakkinen to forget his title dreams.
"We don't need that. We have men in our team who know what they need to do," said Hubbert. "You can never write off Hakkinen. He's too good a driver for that. No individual can have as much bad luck as he has had.
"But he will play a decisive role. That could be because he has chances himself or because he collects important points for the team. It's all still wide open. We won't have people winning all the races in a row any more and excitement is good for the sport," Hubbert told the Sid sports news agency.
Coulthard's victory from seventh place on the grid had seemed unlikely when McLaren endured a nightmare qualifying session.
"We were convinced we would get a place on the podium. We blew it in the qualification but in the race we were better than all the others," said Hubbert.
Hubbert said Williams-BMW were still in with a chance. Ralf Schumacher won his first Grand Prix last month in San Marino and Juan Pablo Montoya was leading in Austria before he collided with Schumacher.
"I wouldn't rule out our colleagues from Munich (BMW) winning another race or two this season," said Hubbert.