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?

  1. kimi had to go so slow for massa to catch him, that i thought at one ponit he would have to park the car and have a nap while he waited for massa.

    if massa is that off the pace in brazil, then he can forget it!!

  2. Oliver said on 19th October 2008, 15:25

    Nick, you mentioned the fact that Ferrari didn’t fix Kimi’s problems aarlier. Well fact is Kimi hates testing. Ferrari made the mistake of believing Kimi was a driver in the same mold as Schumacher, and then allowed him too many liberties. I think they have learned that he must drive the car during tests and have put him on a very busy test schedule for the coming year.

    Ferrari have always had a number one and two driver all their years of racing.

  3. TOM f1 said on 19th October 2008, 15:33

    I don’t think it deserved a penalty, but you expect a defending world champion to at least make massa desrve the points, even if raikkonen isn’t in the title hunt himself.

  4. If people want to talk about blatant team orders, why not talk about how McLaren decided who would win 2 consecutive races at Jerez 1997 and Melbourne 1998?

    As far as I know team orders were not disallowed then. They are now.

  5. Navs

    Massa says:
    “I was strong enough to catch and pass [Raikkonen] and that was the best part of the race for me – but it was not enough.”

    He must say fake stuff to press; otherwise Ferrari would have been investigated after the race ( Although, Ferrari being investigated is unlikely, Why take a risk??)

    Remember Monaco ’07 Lewis’s comments led to Mclaren being probed

  6. @Oliver : “Well fact is Kimi hates testing.”

    Is there an interview or article where this is made clear? I’ve seen him admit that he is “lazy,” but I’d like to see something concrete on your specific claim around him hating testing. Thanks!

    Point. But I think comments similar to what RAI made would have been ok.

    RAI himself could have been a little classier and made the move a little more subtle, but can’t really blame him.

  7. Interesting series of intelligent comments, Keith, the site gets better and better.

    You are never going to stop two-car team drivers manipulating results to their own teams advantage if the situation is as it was today. No matter what rules apply to such behaviour. Nevertheless, it is interesting to speculate that had highly questionable punishments like those against Hamilton at Spa and more particularly Bourdais at Fuji not taken place, Hamilton would already be champion.

    This years championship will go down as one of the most controversial ever. Just like 2007.

  8. Im a Mclaren supporter so i obviously wouldnt argue if ferrari got punished. However i do think that its a silly rule in this case as of course there are going to be code words or agreements before the race to avoid getting penalised. After all thats what “team” is all about and why shouldnt they be able to work as a team?

    I did a have a little smile when Felipe claimed all credit for passing Kimi in the press conference to cover their backs.

    No penalty. Not that the FIA would anyway..

  9. I forget, so maybe someone can help. What date exactly was the team orders rule ban brought in? Keith’s previous blog mentioned 2002, but is there a more precise date? Therefore, lets try keep the passionate allegations and counter allegations to incidents after 2002. This makes sense don’t you think!

  10. I had to get up at 2.30 am to watch the GP live. It was obvious to me once the grid positions were known, that Raikkonen would concede his position to Massa. What was so appalling was the blatant way in which he did it. Ferrari may deny there were explicit team orders (and I don’t agree with this rule) but there was very obviously an ‘understanding’ and the manoeuvre was undoubtedly a breach of the current rules.

    I agree with some commentators that had the same manoeuvre been carried out by any team other than Ferrari then there would have been a Stewards Enquiry. It’s not surprising that the FIA are now known Ferrari International Assistance.

  11. tworyeay said on 19th October 2008, 16:32

    When a driver blatently allows a team mate through it is not racing, and obviously giving an advantage so should not be allowed – I have never agreed with it even when it advantaged drivers/teams I support. IMHO it is not racing – the fastest best driver/car package should decided the result.

  12. They both drive for Ferrari as much as they do for themselves. I don’t see any team orders there but mutual understanding between them and that is the way it should be in a team.

    I was quite comfortable with the way they passed but for sure Massa should have shown some more pace. Even after the pass he slowed down Kimi and gave Alonso an outside chance to pass him .

    Having said that I believe that team orders should stay banned. At least we would be free from such crap that has been going on in the World Rally Championship for the last 2 races.

  13. Oliver said on 19th October 2008, 16:48

    Even Hamilton has come out to say it was okay. I know Mclaren have been punished a lot for frivolous reasons, but no point going on and on about this one. Ferrari did the right thing. Kimi just wanted it to be known that he helped Massa. But in Brazil last year Massa did the hand over in a very subtle way. This also happened in several races last year.
    Ferrari did 100% ok, however if it was Mclaren, for sure there would be a stewards inquest by now :-)

  14. No, There need not be a penalty for Ferrari

  15. Patrickl said on 19th October 2008, 17:09

    Not the FIA should punish Mass, but I really think that Raikkonen should tar and feather Massa for his outrageous remarks in the post race press conference.

    Geez, “it was the best time for me in the race, I was quite strong and then I caught him and I passed him”. That’s Massa’s way of saying “thank you for putting the handbrake on for 15 laps just so I could pass”? Raikkonen must have felt like he was slapped in the face with a closed fist when he heard that.

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