Monday May 14th, 2001
Ferrari's sporting director Jean Todt has defended his team's decision to ask Rubens Barrichello to allow team mate Michael Schumacher to take second place at Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix.
Todt asked Barrichello to let Schumacher through with three laps of the race to go, thus allowing the German to maintain a four-point lead over race winner David Coulthard in the championship standings. A decision which created a lot of controversy among Formula One personalities.
After many drivers and team members have accused Ferrari of going against the ethics of the sport, Frenchman Todt has stepped in to defend the Maranello-based outfit.
"All the teams have used, and will continue to use team orders. Where's the scandal?," Todt told ANSA. "Every team have their own way of managing a race. Our decision was based on the situation, even if it was only the sixth race of the year.
"It is not easy to ask a driver to let the other one pass, but we are a team and we have to act according to that. We decided that six points could be crucial for Michael.
"It's obvious that a driver is always hoping to be on the highest step of the podium, which applies to Rubens as it does to all the other drivers.
Todt also took the opportunity to praise Barrichello after his performance at the Austrian race, adding that as a professional driver he has to do what he is told to.
"He'd driven a magnificent race. He'd lead for a long time. He could have won, and nearly did so," Todt added.
"Rubens is part of the team and he has to do what the team asks him to. He's a professional driver because he's paid to do a job, to work for a team, the team's interests.
"It's obvious that a driver has to obey the instructions given to him, just as an engineer, me or anyone else has to. And he didn't refuse."