Should Ferrari get a penalty?

CommentPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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. #3 – be careful , as if you look down on Felpipe’ “with pity” , he is after all only 7 points behind , and that despite a season filled with mistakes and reliability problems , would then make Lewis also pitiful , which I don’t believe to be the case.

  2. mp4-19.
    A McLaren model designation I believe? You are going to put forward an unbiased opinion then aren’t you?

    Blatant or subtle what’s the difference? That punishment is fair in your eyes. What about a couple of seasons ago when certain teams used the Michelin tyres that didn’t wear evenly in contravention of the rules. Not the teams fault but so what, were they punished?
    No. The FIA need to devise a set of hard and fast rules to eliminate subjective comments such as the one you have just posted.

  3. Although I am one to say that since the drivers race as part of a team, and therefore team orders are part of the whole race weekend, and if the FIA don’t like team orders they need to restructure the whole F1 philosophy, I do think that the Ferrari move was a bit blatant, and everyone knew it was coming too!
    For Kimi to slow down so much and Massa not to overtake until the last minute shows just how secure Ferrari are with the FIA steward’s judgement. I am sure if that had been Hammy and Kovy swapping places it would have resulted in a stern phonecall from Max and the loss of any points from the race!
    Why didn’t Ferrari use the Pit Stops? They could have quite easily made the move in the first lot of stops and nobody would have cared really – as it was it showed the world just how slow a driver Massa really is!

  4. Regardless, bottom line is that while Massa might still
    “win” the series this year he has lost the opportunity to
    become a world champion.

    To do that he has to actually beat the opponents in race
    not by help from team and stewards.

  5. There’s obviously a very strong split between McLaren and Ferrari fans on this one. McLaren fans think the Hockenheim and Shanghai incidents aren’t comparable; Ferrari fans think I’m trying to make trouble just for bringing it up…

    One thing I would like to be clear on: I’m not saying Hamilton/Kovalainen at Hockenheim was the same as Raikkonen/Massa at Shanghai, I’m saying they’re comparable. Both were examples of a driver treating his team mate differently to how he would treat another rival, so it’s reasonable to assume team instructions were involved. But the two scenarios were quite different, which I did say in the article.

  6. I think the lines are more subtly drawn than just Mclaren vs Ferrari. It definitely is that but also to do with when you started watching the sport. Anyone starting in the mid 90’s onwards- ie the Schumacher era is likely to think tema orders an anathema- probably because as with most thing MS pushed the idea to its limit. ( did you know theres no direct translation of “sportsmanship” in the German language ( or fluffy!)) Anyone 80’s and before is likely to think it almost chivalrous to step aside for your team mate fighting for a title. As a Lewis and Mclaren fan -but really just F1 in general, i think what Kimi did was completely fine and only really an issue to the drop in fans or drop in press.

  7. I think that Ferrari should be punished for Team Orders. Heikki was slower than Lewis when he let him past, whereas Kimi practically had to stop his car to let poor Massa get past and was then almost eaten up by Alonso, thanks to cold tyres, brakes, etc.

    If the point of Team Orders is to stop teams affecting the outcome of a race, then Ferrari were certainly guilty of that on many levels. Kimi should have been fuelled short on the first stop and then ‘ordered’ to sit on Lewis’ gearbox and hassle him into making a mistake, cooking his tyres, whatever.

    Instead we had to watch him lap slower and slower lap after lap while Massa struggled to catch up and Lewis cruised to victory without risking a puncture/crash/breakdown. Normally we’d have the thrilling spectacle of Kimi coming alive in the last ten or so laps, reeling Lewis in, forcing him to go faster, increasing the chances that he might crash.

    Bottom line is that Lewis and Mclaren were too fast and Ferrari failed to beat him to the first corner. After that, the race was lost. Ordering Kimi to let Massa go past simply compounded Ferrari’s failure and should be punished. If one team member is faster, but happens to be behind another, as was the case with Lewis and Heikki, then it’s OK to let him past, but a faster driver letting his slower team mate past is affecting the outcome for all the reasons stated above.

  8. The bottom line is – if it’s a team decision, it’s banned, if it’s a driver decision it’s not banned. Kimi’s never going to admit it was a team decision so there’s no way you can (or should) enforce. It’s a team sport and it was totally fair in my opinion.

    And I’m a hardcore Hamilton supporter…

  9. I think there is a difference between not holding up your much faster teammate (heikki-lewis) or what happened yesterday, but they shouldn’t do anything about it.

    It’s pure logic that you let a title candidate pass you, it would be idiotic if they didn’t, and everyone knows that!
    And you can’t punish a driver because another one want to let his teammate pass (when you play it like that it isn’t a real teamorder)

  10. So, why have this rule at all, if it cannot be enforced?

  11. Alastair, I agree with your #86, since Kimi had to slow down to let Massa pass. To me that is equal to the Rubens/Schuey move which started the whole ‘team orders’ debate going in the first place.
    I was hoping that Kimi would be allowed to push to the end too, if only to maybe see a little action in the last laps in the race, as it was we just saw Ferraris going slower and slower and a McLaren off into the distance (which is no bad thing). Perhaps Jean Todt etc had been expecting the McLaren to get a penalty for having an advantage over the Red Cars into the first corner?

  12. Alastair
    So, why have this rule at all, if it cannot be enforced?

    Yeah I was wondering the same. I’d say it’s to prevent things like happened on the A1 ring in the middle of the season (when both drivers are still on for the drivers crown).

  13. OK this is my first comment here, but I’ve been lurking for a while enjoying the great writing and insight (thanks Keith) and the good debates here.
    Firstly a small disclaimer, I’m a longtime McLaren fan (being British) with a Finnish wife who is a rabid Kimi fan.
    I can’t say I liked the overtaking move by Ferrari yesterday and it goes against the spirit of the law. But if we really want to talk about no team orders you need to have parity in race strategy too don’t you?
    Ferrari made arguably the most obvious transgression of Team orders yesterday but what about refuelling strategy in qualifying? In the current technical conditions a lighter fuel load almost assures you are ahead and stay ahead of your teammate as it is so hard to overtake anybody. Looking back at strategys throughout the season you see Ferrari being quite even handed in giving the lighter car and so the optimal strategy to alternating drivers while McLaren seem to have been operating a defacto no.1 giving Hamilton the optimal stategy at each race (except one I think!).
    Either the team order rule should be scrapped or there really should be equality on the track don’t you think? Just punishing one incident would be another dodgy decision in a season of them.

  14. shostak – Have you read Keith’s write up , he has already covered the Lewis pass HK
    tworyeay – Whats the connect of Hamilton/Kimi Spa story to this one ??
    David W – Ferrari gave us the biggest comic event of the year haven’t they , it was worst than the Ill prepared days of Minardi or Albers running away with the hose at Magny last year.
    And like the night race, we need one or two pit fiasco per year , too much will be boring ;)

    unlike Kovi at germany

    Who knows, Kovi is master of disguise :P and that explains why McLaren has retained him for another year.

    “if Kovi then slowed to let Hamilton pass – would the FIA punish McLaren and Hamilton? I believe they would but i’m biased.”

    I guess you answered you question, by saying you are biased. I have time and again maintained FIA is inconsistent and unprofessional, thats hurting the image of the sport for sure. but they are not that stupid to take Anti Lewis/McLaren stand and lose the newly acquired fans of the sport ( Its a different story that these newly acquired fans have a highly skewed view of sport in thinking that their Man is Superhero and everyone else are the forces of evil)

    Hungary 2007 –

    You have contradicted your Pro-Lewis Stand now. Do you then agree that Lewis was wrong in jeopardising Alonso’s qualifying lap sequence and it was just that Alonso acted in equally childish way, by stalling Lewis?? and that FIA rigged the qualifiers in favor of Lewis by penalizing Alonso and that was wrong?

    I don’t support Alonso, but you have picked up contradictory examples, to prove that FIA is not really Anti-Lewis

    All – Felipe is not good in hiding feelings and his embarassed looks in post race conference was enough punishment for the poor brazilian.
    Another aspect that comes out of this one, is the quality of Ferrari Pit-wall this year . While Ferrari pit-wall (read Todt)orchestrated “perfect switch” last year in Brazil, they did such a clumsy job yesterday, shows they are not on the ball.

    If FIA/FOM are that very Anti-Lewis as Some of the fans have made an impression. Peter Windsor who conducts “Official” interviews in post race conference , wouldn’t have embarassed Ferrari/Massa by repeatedly probing on the “Pass”

    So enough of the Bias about the Bias and lets get over it

  15. I believe the team orders scenario was always going to happen in this championship, and would have been applied by McLaren if deemed necessary.
    Concerning the rules, penalties were meant to stop fiascos like the David Coulthard/Mika Hakkinen and Rubens Barrichello/Michael Schumacher moves, inwhich a team mate allowed his team leader to pass at ‘the last possible moment’.
    If Ferrari’s tactics in China were illegal, then Kimi Raikkonen would have been stripped of his championship last year. The events in Brazil, with Felipe Massa leading like he was, was clearly orchestrated to make Raikkonen the champion.
    I do not often give Ferrari much benefit of the doubt, but this time they did what any other team would have done in their position.

  16. Patrick “A ban team orders ban in a championship that has a constructors title is terribly misleading. How can you have a constructors championship and punish a team working together?

    seems a tad silly.”

    Doesn’t matter which order the team’s 2 cars finish they score the same number of points – swopping places only affects the which driver scores the more points, and therefore the drivers championship, not constructors.

  17. navs @ #25

    From the BBC:
    “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.”
    Who, exactly, is he kidding?

    If indeed he did say that, my opinion of this man just keeps dropping lower and lower.

    Anyone (apart from his self-reightous, can-do-no-wrong self, of course) could have seen that Massa was nowhere near able to compete with either Lewis or Kimi this weekend.

    Anyone notice how Alonso only sped up after Kimi had let Massa past? Fred had said he wanted to help Phil in any way, and so wasn’t pushing to take Massa’s 3rd place and points, but was perfectly happy to power right up to the back of the other Ferrari once it had demoted itself.

    Jean @ 80

    #3 – be careful , as if you look down on Felpipe’ “with pity” , he is after all only 7 points behind , and that despite a season filled with mistakes and reliability problems , would then make Lewis also pitiful , which I don’t believe to be the case.

    I look down with pity at Massa because he can’t win for himself sometimes, Kimi had to slow right down to let him past.

  18. So sad to see Kimi play the “bitch role” for Massa, just like Barichello had to play for Schumacher for so many years, Retire now Kimi you are a joke. But don’t worry tafosi I’m sure the stewarts or King Bernie will figure out a way for Ferrari to win it all in Brazil. I mean it’s not like Ferrari have to play by the rules like every other team.

  19. too good “tworyeay – Whats the connect of Hamilton/Kimi Spa story to this one ??”

    It’s about unfair adavatage. If Hamilton obtained an unfair advantage in Spa and was penalised, what did Massa get by Kimi all but stopping to let him pass.

  20. @Too Good

    Hungary 2007 was just an example of a situation the FIA shouldn’t have even got involved in, in my opinion. Nothing to do with pro-lewis bias. In my opinion the FIA should not have got involved in what was essentially a team dispute, I’m still unsure even now as to why McLaren where stripped of their constructors points? If anyone has the answer I’d like to know.

    Just to clarify I’m not new to the sport, I’ve been watching it and other forms of motorsport for nearly 18 years now but this year has in some instances Belgium and Fuji for example left me feeling despondent about the rule makers. The Belgium decision was in my opinion wrong for the sport. Goodness knows what the sports ‘newly acquired fans’ must have been thinking after watching those thrilling final laps only to find the result scrapped a few hours later to the benefit of two drivers that clearly where not going to win or come second in that race. In the DTM a few weeks later drivers where cutting the chicane but no punishment was handed out, decisions need to be consistent across the sport. As for the Bourdais penalty I really did think it was an April fools, it was without doubt a joke of a penalty, in my opinion the FIA shouldn’t have got involved in what was esentially a ‘racing incident’.

    Yet we get to a situation at China where a team has one way or another clearly contrived the outcome of the race, to benefit one its drivers not the team, remember they still got the same constructors points. I accept it’s a facet of the sport but the FIA placed a ruling and it should be adhered to, in my opinion this is a situation they should be stepping into, unlike Hungary 2007.

    Going back to my pro-lewis mode, I feel a sense of jealousy towards Massa I guess, in that he has a team mate that can potentially out score Lewis, yet Lewis hasn’t got that advantage – how many times has Heikki out raced Massa this year when both have finished the race?

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