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. MadMax said on 20th October 2008, 11:00

    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?

  2. Patrickl said on 20th October 2008, 11:02

    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).

  3. 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.

  4. 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 ;)
    Twister27 -

    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

  5. the limit said on 20th October 2008, 13:33

    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.

  6. tworyeay said on 20th October 2008, 14:04

    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.

  7. ajokay said on 20th October 2008, 14:11

    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.

  8. 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.

  9. tworyeay said on 20th October 2008, 14:16

    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.

  10. Twister27 said on 20th October 2008, 14:42

    @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?

  11. Grandadgardener said on 20th October 2008, 15:22

    Hang your heads in shame Ferrari…We all know what you get up to.Felipe Felipe Felipe,what on earth have you done,you’ve totally ruined any street cred that you may or may not have had.Kimi knew what was coming in the interviews after the race,thats why he burst out laughing.Get a grip FIA Officials(laughable)and make Formula one plausible again.

  12. Come on guys this dead horse has been flogged enough. They ALL do it. All the teams and all the drivers.
    Either for themselves, the teams, the sponsors, or the governing body.
    Seems you’re all arguing about whose ludicrous behaviour looks the most ludicrous and who and when it suits.

  13. winterbear said on 20th October 2008, 15:26


    50 million pounds and loose all their constructors points.

    Turn about is fair play.

  14. DG:
    It is not a question of flogging a dead horse. People who contribute to this site don’t make the rules. All we want to see is whatever rules are agreed by FIA are administered. We may all think a particular rule is ridiculous or unenforceable. That isn’t the point. The fact is, it exists. In this case, there appeared to be a situation that arose that, on the face of it, may have contravened the rule on team orders. I am not saying it did, I am not saying it didn’t. I am just saying that the stewards should have at least examined it. Maybe they wouldn’t have been able to prove it one way or another. But as things stand they didn’t even try and have just assumed there were no team orders. Given all that has gone on this year about stewards reviewing after the race instances of possible rule infringements, I find that surprising.

  15. Point taken. Yes the stewards could/should have been a little more forthright.
    Pretty soon this whole farcical way of running the sport will come to an end. People will have had enough.
    On the bright side it means that when the FIA do decide to find one supplier for a common engine, (I heard this being talked about a while ago and then again at the end of China), the manufacturers will tell them to stick it and breakaway.
    We’ll then end up with the sport as it should be, the absolute pinnacle and showcase for worldwide automotive technology sans messrs Ecclestone and Mosely.

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