Should Ferrari get a penalty?


A lot of discussion went on during the live blog about the Ferrari drivers swapping positions in the closing phase of the race. Kimi Raikkonen clearly backed off his pace to let Felipe Massa past.

There were some who felt this deserved a penalty. Team orders are supposedly illegal under article 39.1 of the Sporting Regulations which reads:

Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited.

However, as I wrote a few weeks ago, many teams have gotten around this rule in the past simply by not issuing their instructions over the radio.

What Ferrari did today was no different to how Lewis Hamilton breezed past Heikki Kovalainen at Hockenheim, or how Robert Kubica passed Nick Heidfeld at Montreal. Just as they went unpunished, so should Ferrari today. Raikkonen was merely returning the favour Massa did for him at Interlagos last year – which also went unpunished.

It seems to me that the FIA simply cannot enforce the rule banning team orders. Should they scrap it then? Perhaps, but at least the rule in its current form may prevent teams from more overt and unsporting team orders in some situations – blocking rival drivers, for example.

The only thing that struck me as odd about the Ferrari swap was how blatant it was. At Montreal and Hockenheim the chasing driver (Kubica and Hamilton respectively) was much quicker than his team mate. Today Raikkonen surrendered a lead of almost nine seconds to let Massa past.

All the same, I don’t think Ferrari deserve a punishment. Today’s race was pretty dull. The last thing we need is the stewards getting involved yet again.

More on team orders: F1?s unwritten rules: team orders edition

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123 comments on Should Ferrari get a penalty?

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  1. Patrickl said on 19th October 2008, 11:05

    Again, this was hugely different to how Hamilton breezed past Kovalainen. And for that matter how Kubica struggled past Heidfeld.

    Massa was a lot slower than Raikkonen. Raikkonen practically had to park his car to let Massa by.

    Still I don’t see why this should be punished. It’s disgraceful for Massa (and Raikkonen), but that’s about it.

  2. shostak said on 19th October 2008, 11:06

    Not. Do you remember Germany GP? Kovalainen let pass Hamilton.

  3. ajokay said on 19th October 2008, 11:12

    I’d like to see it punished, but we all know it never will be, and would never even cross the steward’s minds. I think looking down our noses on Kimi and Felipe with pity is punishment enough.

  4. chaostheory said on 19th October 2008, 11:14

    i saw nothing wrong in that move; if there were Kovalainen and Hamilton in such situation im sure Heikki would let Lewis by. Cause F1 is also about team work its not only about driver against driver.

  5. Mr Soap said on 19th October 2008, 11:19

    It was a pretty classless move, but not really punishable.

  6. tworyeay said on 19th October 2008, 11:22

    A few races back Hamilton has a clearly faster car than Kimi, cuts corner after being pushed off, and lets Kimi past, passes him too soon for the stewards likng ( he would have passed him sooner or later) and gets a 25 second penalty for gaining an advantage( his real advantage was having a quicker car). However letting your team mate pass by obviously slowing when they have been struggling to match your pace all race is perfectly acceptable and not giving them an advantage. By allowing this sort of inconsistency is turning people off FI, it really is farcical now.

  7. John H said on 19th October 2008, 11:25

    Totally sensible thing to do for Ferrari, I’ve no problem with it.

    I think the rule should be abolished anyway… F1 is both a driver and a team game (which makes it quite interesting, and unique) so let’s just remove the grey areas and allow team orders again, even if we do get the odd Melbourne/A1-Ring moments!

  8. David Watkins said on 19th October 2008, 11:26

    Ferrari are no fun anymore. They could have entertained the crowd by swapping positions with some Marcel Marceau-like miming in the pit-lane. (stuck fuel hose, mechanic tripping over tyre, forgetting the tyre a la the Irvine incident)

  9. Patrickl said on 19th October 2008, 11:38

    I don’t think Ferrari should be punished here, but what’s the point of banning team orders (ie explicitly saying in the rules that they are not allowed)?

    When would a driver get punished over this rule?

  10. Keith R said on 19th October 2008, 11:44

    There is a sense in which,whilst the tactic is understandable,it carries a ‘burden of injustice’ in this race having regard to steward’s interventions earlier this year. To permit an obviously slower car and
    driver to pass,with a view to maintaining a championship possibility,is at the least something of a contradiction to the aims of the sport.
    I would have been happier to see Massa first or second on his own merit. I guess he also would have been happier

  11. qazuhb said on 19th October 2008, 11:44

    I think team orders move was legal

    I agree, but IMHO “team orders move was impossible to punish” would be more accurate. Also I think that if McLaren had done it so blatantly and so close to the championship’s end, they would have been punished.

  12. Hamilton was told in Monaco 07 not to push Alonso. No penalties there.

    I don’t remember hearing any orders on the radio this race, so I think this is a non-issue.

  13. Twister27 said on 19th October 2008, 11:50

    I’m not sure Ferrari shouldn’t get some kind of ‘team’ penalty for those orders, Kimi was clearly the faster driver today, unlike Kovi at germany where in truth Hamilton not only passed him but everyone including Massa with ease.

    What will be interesting is if Hamilton at Brazil was to fall into 6th place and 30 seconds behind Kovi with 2 laps remaining due to say a puncture, if Kovi then slowed to let Hamilton pass – would the FIA punish McLaren and Hamilton? I believe they would but i’m biased. What is everyone elses view?

  14. Yes! Swapping 2nd and 3rd is as much “affecting the result” as who finishes first. It’s against the rules and both Ferrari’s should get a 10-place grid penalty at the next race.

    The Hamilton/Kovalainen move was nothing like what happened today. Then, Hamilton was significantly quicker, Kovalainen just got out of the way. The proof being how easily Massa and Piquet were also passed.

    Today we saw Raikkonen slowing down for fifteen laps! And then then had to put it in neutral to get Massa past.

    So blatent, and about as clear-cut rule breaking as you can get. Considering McLaren got investigated for the 2007 Monaco Grand Prix then Ferrari should get investigated for this one…

    They won’t, obviously. But if the rules had any meaning, and if the stewards had any sense, they would.

  15. Twister27 said on 19th October 2008, 11:58

    This also raises the question about Hungary 2007, why was the McLaren team punished in qualifying? Hamilton didn’t let Alonso pass and then Alonso reacted by holding Hamilton up and yet the team got punished for it but why exactly? Knowing the FIA they would have punished Kimi had he not let Massa overtake, I really believe they want Massa to be champion and will do everything legal or ‘illegal’ to achive that! The Boudais penalty last week was a joke!

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