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F1 summons Schumacher, Barrichello

It was not the first time Barrichello had moved over for Schumacher  

SPIELBERG, Austria -- Formula One chiefs have summoned Ferrari drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello to a special hearing following the controversial finish at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The sports's governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), also ordered Ferrari officials to appear before their World Motor Sports Council in Paris on June 26.

The brief FIA statement cited "an incident during the last lap of the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix and incidents during the subsequent podium procedure."

Barrichello, on team orders from Ferrari, let Schumacher pass him on the final lap of Sunday's race in order to finish in first place.

The hostile reaction of the crowd was followed at the presentation ceremony by Schumacher gesturing Barrichello to the winner's podium to receive the winner's trophy.

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Ferrari were pilloried by rival teams and spectators at the track for cynical manipulation of the sixth race of the season.

The FIA has in the past been unclear about whether "team orders" are allowed.

Grand prix bosses had been hoping for an exciting race after Schumacher's easy victories in the previous two races.

They got that with the cool German beaten into second place by Brazil's Barrichello for all but one of the race's 71 laps. But then Barrichello got the order to give way.

Even before the boos of what would normally be a Schumacher-friendly crowd had died down, there were calls for the FIA to launch an investigation into the result.

"It was a terrible decision," former Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger, now motorsport chief at Ferrari's rivals Williams-BMW, told the UK's Press Association.

"This does damage the sport. There was no need to do this so early in the season, I just don't understand it.

Schumacher's win was booed by usually loyal Ferrari supporters  

"We have a police which is the FIA and they have to take care of it. The FIA have a responsibility and I am sure they will have an investigation, but what they are going to do I don't know."

McLaren boss Ron Dennis told PA: "What they have done is completely within the rules, but it is not the way we run our team.

"I am surprised that people are surprised at what they have done. They have done it before and they will do it again."

The FIA could decide that the Italian team had brought the sport into disrepute and reverse the finishing order, disqualify both drivers or ban them from future races.

Ferrari made their move to make sure Schumacher wins the drivers' championship. Critics say he is so far ahead in the race that sportsmanship should have ruled the day.

Schumacher is now 27 points ahead of the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya with 11 races left, instead of the 23 he would have been had he finished second.

Schumacher, clearly stunned by the hostile reaction, revealed afterwards that he had considered disobeying the order and let Barrichello claim only the second win of his career.

Interest was shown in the hypothetical question -- what would Ferrari have done had he allowed Barrichello to win? They were unlikely to sack him, F1 insiders said.

"If Michael really felt that Rubens deserved the win, all he had to do was slow down and cross the line in second place," former rival Jacques Villeneuve told PA. "Ferrari wouldn't have done anything against him."

'Wrong decision'

Schumacher, who let Barrichello take the winner's podium at the presentation ceremony told The Associated Press: "I am not very happy. I take no joy from this victory."

The German F1 star added to PA: "You sort of can see from the telemetry that on the straight when Rubens backed off, I backed off. But then he backed off even further.

"I have to be honest to say now it was probably the wrong decision to win this race. If I had the chance to turn it around, I would probably do so, but I cannot now.

"I know the decision is not popular but imagine if we would have lost the championship by this number of points at the end of the season. The team would look stupid in that situation."

A disappointed Barrichello, who had his contract with Ferrari extended last week, stood by the call by his team.

"It's a team decision, I just signed another two-year contract," Barrichello told AP. "I was asked to do it. Obviously, I wish they hadn't said anything today."

Schumacher, who is trying to match Juan Manuel Fangio's record of five Formula One championships, won the Austrian grand prix by 0.1 seconds to score his fourth win in succession and fifth in six races so far this season. It also extended his all-time career record to 58.

The Ferrari team defended the move. "Michael broke his leg in '98. Anything could happen in the championship. We don't take the slightest chances," Ross Brawn, Ferrari's technical director, told AP.

Ferrari's sporting director Jean Todt told PA: "Sometimes one has to take difficult decisions and this was one of those times.

"In the past we have lost the drivers' championship at the last race three times in a row and we know we are up against strong opposition. The extra points Michael picked up today could come in useful later in the season."

Montoya finished third from Williams team-mate Ralf Schumacher while Giancarlo Fisichella's fifth spot brought Jordan their first points of the campaign.

McLaren's David Coulthard claimed the final point with sixth.

Jenson Button was seventh for Renault with Allan McNish ninth in the Toyota. Eddie Irvine retired his Jaguar Racing car.

It was not the first time Barrichello let Schumacher pass near the end of a race. In last year's Austrian GP, Barrichello let Schumacher take second place.




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