With Michael Schumacher
stepping in to replace the injured Felipe Massa starting with this month's European Grand Prix at Valencia, Ferrari has requested from its fellow Formula One teams a one-time lift on the in-season testing ban in order to allow the famous German to acquaint
himself with the current F60 over the course of a single day.
Although the other seven members of the Formula One Teams Association seem to have given a green light to Ferrari's request, the Williams and Force India outfits had held back on the matter.
Today, the Williams team confirmed with ESPN Racing-Live.com that they are not supporting a temporary suspension of the test ban rule, comparing Schumacher's situation to that of any other driver coming in as a replacement.
"While we welcome Michael Schumacher
back to Formula One, the fact is that any form of in-season circuit testing is strictly prohibited; a regulation clearly laid out by the FIA and adhered to by all of the teams," declared Team Principal Frank Williams.
"It was for this reason that (Jaime) Alguersuari, who drove an F1 car for the very first time in Hungary, did not have the opportunity to familiarise himself with the Toro Rosso before he made his race debut," he pointed out. "Williams F1 sees no distinction between Alguersuari's situation and Schumacher's and feels that any deviation from the rule would create a precedent for the future.
"In a similar situation, Williams F1 would unhesitatingly use its current test driver.
For the sake of consistency and fairness, therefore, we oppose Ferrari's proposal to test ahead of the European Grand Prix," Williams concluded.
Meanwhile, the other non-FOTA member team, Force India, has yet to announce its position on the matter.
If Williams does not change its stance and the required unanimous agreement is not reached, Schumacher will still have the possibility of preparing for his temporary F1 comeback.
The seven-time World Champion tested last Friday at the wheel of a privately-owned Ferrari F2007, completing 70 laps of the Mugello track at the controls of the two-year-old car built along specifications much different than those in use today.
If he is not allowed to try out the current Ferrari F60 before the Valencia race, he may simply continue his training with the F2007, which was recently fitted with slick tyres to better simulate this year's car.
The slicks used were explained as coming from the GP2 series, however the FIA will be taking a closer look to confirm that no rules were infringed.