| Michael Schumacher says it’s a question of interpreting rules
Monza: World champion Michael Schumacher has said team orders are likely to play a part in this year’s title battle despite the fact they were banned at the start of the season.
Ferrari caused outrage last year when they used team orders at the sixth race of the season in Austria and forced Rubens Barrichello to move over and hand teammate Schumacher the win.
The sport’s governing body, the FIA, outlawed such actions at the start of this season but Schumacher claimed the new rule is too vague and said subtle use of team tactics could still be used in the final three races of the year.
“It will be interesting to see what comes out,” said Schumacher. “It will be a grey area. Basically there is a certain rule but it is how you interpret the rule. We have an understanding of the rule and we hope it is the right one. To block someone else for your teammate certainly is not legal.”
Schumacher currently leads the championship by one point from Colombian Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya, with McLaren’s Finn Kimi Raikkonen one point further back.
Raikkonen and Schumacher are the drivers most likely to be helped by their respective teammates David Coulthard and Barrichello because of their championship positions.
With 30 points remaining Scot Coulthard is now 27 points off the lead with Brazilian Barrichello 23 points behind the top spot. Montoya’s teammate German Ralf Schumacher is only 14 points off the lead.
All three could be out of mathematical contention for the title by the US Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.
Schumacher recently claimed McLaren used team orders to assist Raikkonen at the British Grand Prix and he believes similar moves could play a crucial part in the championship run-in.
“I guess with Raikkonen and Coulthard that is most clearly the situation,” said Schumacher. “We have even seen that at Silverstone, where one supported the other.
“The other teams stay straight forward, especially Ralf and Montoya because obviously Ralf still has an opportunity if he keeps fighting.”
But if his younger brother Ralf was asked to move over to assist Montoya, Schumacher admitted: “I would do exactly the same if I was in his position. I think that’s his job. He does his work for Williams, not for me.”