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Culture

Ferrari Pilots Fined for Podium Conduct

The World Motor Sports Council has sentenced the Ferrari racing team and drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello to pay a $ 1 million fine for controversial events at the Austrian Grand Prix on May 12.

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Fined $1 million, but that's spare change to him.

In a highly anticipated hearing in Paris on Wednesday, the World Motor Sports Council (FIA) imposed a $1 million (1.009 million euro) fine on the Ferrari Formula One racing team and its drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello.

The infraction took place at the Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg on May 12, when on team orders Barrichello had let World Championship leader Schumacher overtake him just before the finish, even though the fine was imposed for other reasons.

Conduct on Pedestal Was the Reason

Although racing fans around the world voiced protests against the team’s tactical order that told Barrichello to let teammate Schumacher win, the fine was not for events on the racetrack.

While the World Motor Sports Council said it "deplored the manner in which team orders were given and executed," officials said they could hardly sanction the drivers who were "contractually bound to execute orders given by the team."

Instead, the verdict was a reaction to the two drivers' conduct on the podium during the awards ceremony, when an embarrassed Schumacher exchanged his top place on the podium with Barrichello and then handed the second-place finisher the winner’s trophy.

"It is the duty of each team to ensure that its contracted drivers observe the podium procedures," a FIA statement said.

Not the First-Time

Throughout his career, four-time Formula One World Champion Schumacher has had to appear several times before the FIA’s "Green Table," its disciplinary body.

Schumacher mit rotem Ferrari

Schumacher beim Probetraining beim Großen Preis von Austalien

In 1994 at Silverstone, Schumacher, at the time part of the Benetton team, ignored a five-second-penalty and several black flags, for which the FIA substraced six championship points and suspended the German for two races.

Three years later the Ferrari-driver was ejected from the championship circuit altogether for ramming his rival Jacques Villeneuve.

In 1999, Schumacher and teammate Eddie Irvine were disqualified from the Malaysia Grand Prix after inspectors found both their cars violated the Motor Council’s technical regulations. The wind deflectors on both vehicles were found to be too big.

Behave, Boys

Ferrari’s racing team is due to pay half of the fine amount immediately, while the other half is suspended for one year. That means if there is a repeated violation of FIA rules within the next twelve months, the team will be liable to pay the other half of the penalty.

According to the FIA’s decision, Schumacher remains the legitimate winner of the race. The federation did not substract any championship points from either him or Barrichello.

With his current 46-point lead, Schumacher still remains well on his way to winning the driver’s title this year.

Schumacher Opens Perfect World

This last Tuesday, Schumacher appeared unflapped by the upcoming decision when he opened a museum entitled "World of the Schumachers" at a go-cart track run by his father in his hometown Kerpen.

Ralf Schumacher mit Bruder Michael

Germany's Ralf Schumacher, right, gives thumbs-up after coming in second behind his brother Michael Schumacher, left, at the qualifying for the Grand Prix of Europe at the Nuerburgring, Saturday, June 23, 2001. Michael Schumacher will start from the pole position on Sunday, June 24, 2001. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

The permanent exhibition, which will open its doors to the public on July 1, will showcase items from the careers of Michael Schumacher and his racing brother, Ralf (photo). Among the exhibits documenting the duo’s childhood and road to success is Michael’s first car, a Fiat 500.

Rumors that the 33-year-old would unveil a statue in his image during the opening turned out to be false. Nevertheless, the exhibition is expected to become a "Graceland" of sorts for motor sport enthusiasts.