Ferrari should have taken the moral high ground

As a child, Ferrari were a brand that held a huge amount of mystique for me.

The magical designs of their cars, the power of their engines…they were synonymous with the Italian romance with cars.

When Michael Schumacher started winning Formula One championships at Ferrari, I could only drool at the mastery of his talent, the single-mindedness and drama of his success.

Of course, there were times when it would be easy to question whether he took gamesmanship and ruthlessness to a new level, but no one can doubt the talent of the man.

But, despite their superiority in recent years, it seems a shame that Ferrari have resorted to a schoolyard communications policy which will win them few friends.

Following the injuries suffered by Ferrari driver Felipe Massa recently, Schumacher was drafted in to replace him and applied to undertake some testing to get used to the car before the next race.

This contravenes F1 rules and, to me, seems crazy, since practice appears to be imperative to maintain efficiency –don’t footballers, tennis players and every other sportsman and sportswoman practise daily?

It seems that Ferrari’s application for an exemption to this testing rule was blocked by the Williams F1 team, along with Red Bull and Toro Rosso.

I cannot speculate about their reasons for objecting – and it can be argued that the rules should be maintained for everyone, regardless of team or status – but the same fate befell Jaime Alguersuari, when he replaced Sebastien Bourdais at Toro Rosso last month.

I can understand Ferrari’s frustration with the rules, their frustration with the objections from other teams, but, given their status as one of the legendary teams of F1, this was not a time to start whining about not getting their own way.

For those of you who didn’t see Ferrari’s statement, it read: "Guess who opposed the test? A team that hasn't won anything for years and yet didn't pass over the opportunity to demonstrate once more a lack of spirit of fair play.

"Just for the record, the Scuderia Ferrari had given its approval to let Alguersuari test, but it seems even in this instance someone decided to stick to the precise wording of the regulations."

Ferrari condemn themselves with their reference to the “precise wording of the regulations”, which, while common sense would say there should be some flexibility for exceptional circumstances, are put in place for a reason.

Ferrari would have been so much wiser to make a statement saying that they were disappointed with the ruling but respect it.

They could then add that they would invite the FIA and F1 chiefs to look into proving for some flexibility in the rules for forthcoming season.

This would allow them to maintain the moral high ground and not drag themselves into petty squabbles which tarnish the sport and has ultimately tarnished their reputation.