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FIA change stance on blocking
September 15, 2006 21:20 IST
Formula One's governing body has moved to prevent a repeat of last weekend's Italian Grand Prix qualifying controversy that resulted in Renault's Fernando Alonso being punished for allegedly blocking a Ferrari rival.
World champion Alonso was demoted from fifth on the starting grid to 10th for allegedly impeding Brazilian Felipe Massa, although in-car video footage suggested the two were never closer than 100 metres apart.
The race stewards decided after the matter was brought to their attention that Massa had been impeded, albeit unintentionally.
The decision was broadly criticised inside the Formula One paddock, with Renault head Flavio Briatore and the Spaniard suggesting afterwards that the championship was being manipulated in Ferrari's favour.
International Automobile Federation (FIA) race director Charlie Whiting wrote to the managers of all 11 teams last Tuesday explaining procedural changes as a result of the Monza weekend.
"Complaints that a driver has been impeded during qualifying will no longer be referred to the stewards of the meeting," declared Whiting in the letter, seen by Reuters.
"Only in cases where it appears to race control that there has been a clear and deliberate attempt to impede another driver will the stewards be asked to intervene.
"We now feel it is pointless for the stewards to engage in long and painstaking enquiries if competitors ignore clear scientific evidence and instead abuse the regulator," he added, clearly referring to Renault's reaction.
Three races remain this season with Alonso two points clear of Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, chasing his eighth championship before retirement.
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