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. Patrick said on 19th October 2008, 18:58

    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.

  2. DG: I know, my post was irrelevant, that’s why I had a smiley wink;)

    On the relevant side, Fuji was a huge mistake from Ham which still might cost him the championship. Yes the move was as deliberate as it was irrational, if Ham would do the start again, I’d think that he would calm down and surrender the position to Kimster since he was essentially racing Massa. That is the difference to senior Schumacher, his deliberate moves were almost certainly rational as well. Look at 97, he got away with it 94 so he thought he’d get away with it again.

    Hamilton is in his second year and 33:rd race in Fuji, I’d like to give him the benefit of doubt on these incidents until he is a proven mature driver and however successful he might be, there are still a couple of seasons left for that.

    Back on topic, the Ferrari move doesn’t warrant any penalty but if was embarrassing for the ones involved. If Massa really was quicker he could have proved that by getting past after a lap or two and then started hunting Lewis down. Now Ferrari tried to sit pretty on both sides of the fence and looked in my eyes very very silly, that is punishment enough. (sending Kimi out on the first 2 stints to reel Hamilton in, mission failed, thus plan B).

  3. Jain: Point taken. The powers that be in F1 have an almighty task on their hands. I remember way back DC had an agreement with his team mate about the outcome of the race depending on who arrived at the first corner first and were badly slated for it. So it seems that whether it’s the team or the driver that makes the decision somebody somewhere will lose their temper over it.
    The trouble with The FIA is that they haven’t got a consistent panel of judges to make the decisions.
    Mind you even if they had that wouldn’t be enough for some. If that panel favoured Ferrari then I suppose they’d always favour Ferrari. At least different set of people at each race reduces the probability of them being bought by the one of the teams or owners.

  4. TD22057 said on 19th October 2008, 19:40

    I really wouldn’t want to play poker with Massa – he has to be the best liar in F1 (either that or he’s crazy and actually believes the things he says). “I was quite strong and then I caught him and I passed him” – how could he say that without laughing? Every time he’s involved in an incident he has some ridiculous quote about how everyone else was wrong: Claiming Sutil should have stopped in the pit lane to let him out, that Hamilton forced him off in Japan (from 10 feet behind him), etc, etc. I can’t believe he can say all these things with a straight face. Massa is a good driver, but it’s just crazy to have to listen to him spout this drivel. I’d have a lot more respect for him if he would show some integrity and honesty – admit that you or the team made a mistake and move on.

  5. I actually think this is one rule where a grey area does no harm.

    Having the rule prevents anything as stupid as a contractual position occuring (Schumi/Ferrari?) but the lack of ability to enforce it for on track events does give the drivers some flexibility.

    Why shouldn’t a driver be able to make a decision that a) helps his team – rewards the mechanics etc. and b) keeps the championship race alive?

  6. Livers said on 19th October 2008, 20:13

    Silly rule. It should be scrapped. No chance of it being applied to Ferrari. Of course if Mclaren had done it for the victory it would have been applied.

  7. Observer said on 19th October 2008, 20:15

    As there is a rule about team orders, then it shouldn’t be blatantly flouted. Massa was so much slower than raikkonen that it was obviously flouted. Raikkonen had to slow so much had he had slowed any more, he would almost have stopped. Yes I think, if there is going to be a rule, then it should be obeyed by all, but as this was Ferrari they were bound to get a way with it.
    Did anybody see the interview when Max Mosely was defending his behaviour? There was a large model of a Ferrari in a very prominent position, but I did not see a Maclaren. Mmmm.

  8. Jian makes a great point – there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just a bit embarrassing for those involved on an occasion like this one. Where Kimi had to drop his pace to that of a midfield runner for Massa to make up a couple of seconds (over several laps).

    Just as it was embarrassing for Schumacher to be gifted a win from Rubens relatively early in the season when he had no real competition for the title.

  9. goodonelewis said on 19th October 2008, 20:37

    no penalty should be given as Heiki let Lewis past earlier in the season. It shouldn’t happen but it does so they either have to turn a blind eye or give a penalty on every occasion. To be fair to Massa, he has done the same for his team mates in the past so what goes around comes around. Lets hope Lewis can pull it off in 2 weeks.

  10. Patrickl said on 19th October 2008, 21:03

    Seriously amazing to see so many people who actually think that Hamilton passing Kovalainen in Germany is similar to Raikkonen letting Massa past.

    You really don’t see the difference between “not defending your obviously lost position to the death” versus “lose a 15 seconds lead just so the slower guy can get past”? Really? Seriously, no difference?

  11. Snoopy said on 19th October 2008, 21:46

    Following rules Ferrari should not be punishde. Why? Well rules said clearly that ” team orders” are forbidden”. So where was team order? Did somebody ear that ferrai asked Kimi let Massa pass?
    people here wo say tat ferrari sould have penalty are mixing 2 things.
    Let teammate pass is not against rule until order to do so comes from teams. And its difficult to proofe that ferrari asked Kimi let Massa pasted.
    So there is nothing what steward can investigate.
    No matter if we like it or not, rules are like thery are and end of story.

    And btw. somebody said something about last season Monaco. Yes case was under investigate because hamilton and his father went to steward and told them that Lewis had team order.

    “what you eyes do not see and ears dont hear that your heart do not cry”

  12. TONY1 said on 19th October 2008, 22:23

    The team order rule is ridiculous to start with. After todays boring procession what will they now bring in to liven it up. No, Ferrari is not favoured by the FIA if you have been watching the sport more than 2 years. McLaren cant expect much sympathy after their sying disgrace anyway. Hamiltons cowboy tactics at the start of the Japanese GP and his previous idiotic prang into a stationery Raikonnen instead of the other car ahead of him was extremely dangerous and he should have been made to miss a race or worse. One motor for all is the next farce coming. Maybe we can then combine F1, A1, A2, GP2,Formula Ford and F BMW etc. in one race and make the pole sitter start at the back and all on street circuits! I will watch more Moto GP then.

  13. Patrickl said on 19th October 2008, 22:28

    Why should only the team orders that are voiced on the radio be deemed illegal? Where in the rules does it say this?

    Raikkonen says that he knew what the team expected of him. So he was told (ordered) upfront about this. His team gave him an order. Put that together and you have a “team order”.

    I don’t think Ferrari should be punished, but this type of excuse making is a bit tedious.

  14. Keith R said on 19th October 2008, 22:49

    #53 Piquet
    A direct and devastating logical summation.
    Thank you for your honesty and sportmanship

  15. Oliver said on 19th October 2008, 23:39

    I don’t think a driver can on his own, report to the stewards. I believe it’s the job of the team to report.

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