Toyota drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli slipped from third and fourth at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix to seventh and sixth by the end. Trulli nipped ahead of Ralf at the first pit stops and despite the fact that Ralf was clearly quicker, the Italian prevailed.
Trulli may have done a good job putting one over his team mate but Toyota top brass were not impressed. They told him three times via the radio to let Ralf by, but Trulli refused.
Most likely Trulli was reluctant to give way because he’s a racing driver, and proper racing drivers aren’t keen on pulling over for people they’re ahead of.
Or it might just have been because he is familiar with FIA Sporting Regulation 147 which states quite plainly:
Team orders which interfere with
a race result are prohibited.
The fact that Trulli didn’t pull over is of no consequence: an order was issued by the team for the drivers to change their positions. It’s one of the sad hypocrisies of modern F1 that this rule is flouted on a regular basis, not least by Ferrari in the very same race, when Ferrari driver Felipe Massa clearly yielded to Michael Schumacher but did so apparently without any such order.
Next weekend’s championship deciding finale at Interlagos may well feature the use of team orders in some subtle way. It’s not a good sign that the stewards are not wielding rule #147 even when it is being openly contradicted.