Ferrari faces Formula One disciplinary hearing

PARIS (AP) - Ferrari awaited a decision Wednesday on whether it will face further sanctions from Formula One for breaking rules on team orders at the German Grand Prix.

Ferrari officials were appearing at a FIA World Motor Sport Council hearing after Brazilian driver Felipe Massa let teammate and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso overtake him to win the race on July 25.

A ruling was expected later in the day.

The council has the power to expel Ferrari from the championship, but a fine or points deduction seems more likely.

If Alonso is stripped of the race victory, he would fall 66 points behind current leader Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ standings.

Ferrari was already fined $100,000 for the incident at Hockenheim, where race stewards didn’t overturn Ferrari’s 1-2 finish. Massa led for 49 of 67 laps before allowing Alonso to pass him following Ferrari radio messages.

With six races left in the season, including Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix in Monza, Alonso is 41 points behind Hamilton _ who leads with 182 points. Alonso retains a small chance of winning the title, but the Spaniard would lose 25 points if he is stripped of his German Grand Prix win.

Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali and team lawyers were to attend the meeting in Paris, while Alonso and Massa could testify via video conference.

FIA president Jean Todt, who replaced Max Mosley last year, won’t chair the hearing to avoid any conflict of interest. The Frenchman is a former Ferrari CEO and served as team principal from 1993 to 2007.

FIA wouldn’t confirm reports the hearing will be chaired by FIA deputy president for sport Graham Stoker.

Domenicali has maintained Ferrari didn’t give explicit orders to Massa at the German race, although the Brazilian driver received a message from race engineer Rob Smedley saying Alonso was faster than him.

The radio message was seen as a clear order to let his teammate pass him, but Massa said after the race it was his decision to slow down.

“In my opinion this was not a case of team orders: my engineer kept me constantly informed on what was going on behind me, especially when I was struggling a bit on the hard tires,” Massa said. “So I decided to do the best thing for the team.”

The FIA ban on team orders was introduced following the 2002 season after Ferrari ordered Rubens Barrichello to hand victory to Michael Schumacher in the Austrian Grand Prix.

Reigning world champion Jenson Button told The Guardian that the team, and not the drivers, should be punished.

“I don’t think the drivers will get a penalty. If they do get another penalty, it will be for the team because it was an order from the team,” Button said. “Personally, I don’t understand why they just don’t swap the points around for those two but you can’t do that within the regulations.”

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