Controversy as Alonso wins manipulated race (German Grand Prix review)

Fernando Alonso claimed his second win of 2010 in the German Grand Prix – but only after team mate Felipe Massa was ordered to give him the win.

The change of positions has already drawn widespread criticism and both drivers were clearly subdued on the podium afterwards. The stewards are investigating what happened.

The pair took the lead at the start as both overtook Sebastian Vettel. But Vettel’s attempts to keep Alonso behind let Massa through into the lead ahead of his team mate.

Pinched between the Ferraris, Vettel slowed held up Jenson Button. That allowed the McLaren driver’s team mate to pass him as well as Mark Webber.

Vettel was the first driver to pit, his team smartly taking advantage of a small gap in the traffic behind.

Alonso reacted, pitting before Massa, but after his team mate pitted Alonso was still behind. Lewis Hamilton came in too and was briefly stuck behind Robert Kubica when he came back out.

But Mark Webber came off worst in the first round of pit stops, ultimately losing fifth place to Jenson Button. Button stayed out late and came close to getting ahead of Hamilton as well as Webber.

That left the Ferraris first and second, with Felipe Massa struggling to begin with after he switched to hard tyres.

At first it looked as though Alonso might be able to pass his team mate. He made a concerted effort when when was briefly held up behind Bruno Senna but Massa held the inside line for the hairpin and Alonso’s attempt to pass failed.

After that Massa began to pull away, building up a gap of over three seconds over his team mate. Later Alonso began to bring the gap down again and came within range as Massa hit more traffic.

It was at this point that Rob Smedley got on the radio to Massa with a message that has already become infamous. It was clearly a coded instruction to Massa telling him to let Alonso by.

Later Ferrari’s press officer Luca Colajanni defended the decision saying the team were concerned about the threat of third-placed Vettel:

If Felipe would have struggled more Vettel could have joined Fernando and that could have been a danger for the team.

When you are on the pit wall you have to think about all the potential scenarios. Vettel could have joined them and maybe in last ten laps of the race we could have been in trouble.
Luca Colajanni

However he denied Massa had been told to let Alonso by, saying:

We didn’t let Fernando pass. It was a driver decision. We inform the drivers about situation. We didn’t give any instruction at all to what they have to do. It was his own decision.
Luca Colajanni

Even when Massa slowed after being passed, Vettel wasn’t able to do anything about the Ferrari, and followed him home in third. But afterwards the stewards summoned Ferrari to explain themselves raising the possibility that Vettel may yet gain more places.

The McLaren drivers had a quiet race to fourth and fifth. They might have been pushed harder had Webber not developed a problem with high oil temperature, meaning he had to drop back from them.

Kubica took seventh ahead of the Mercedes duo, Nico Rosberg leading home Michael Schumacher after getting past him via the pit stops. Vitaly Petrov claimed the final point ahead of Kamui Koabayashi’s Sauber.

The two Williams drivers fell out of the points having started in the top ten and came home 12th and 13th.

Pedro de la Rosa ran a long first stint on the hard tyres but ultimately finished where he started in 14th.

The two Force Indias finished 16th and 17th behind Jaime Alguersuari after a terrible race for the team. Both cars were in for repairs at the end of the first lap.

The only two drivers of the new teams to finish were Timo Glock and Bruno Senna.

Alonso’s win means he is still fifth in the drivers championship but is now within 13 points of the Red Bull duo – assuming the stewards allow him to keep his win.

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275 comments on Controversy as Alonso wins manipulated race (German Grand Prix review)

  1. David BR said on 25th July 2010, 16:39

    Since this is a ‘race’ review, also worth pointing out Vettel’s lunge on Alonso at the start, which basically lost him first and second place. Really dumb.

  2. Robbie said on 25th July 2010, 16:41

    And they say Vettel’s the new Schumacher… and by ‘Schumacher’ I don’t mean skilled German driver, I mean Ferrari’s pet.

    He may be a good driver but Alonso is digging himself deeper into that hole of unpopularity he has created for himself throughout the year.

  3. Kabir said on 25th July 2010, 16:44

    This is probably the 4th time massa has given way to his teammate for the win. What ever said, massa has been a true reflection of what a team actually means and should be. It is frustrating for him of course. Imagine he’s not won for a while now and anyone would be devastated to give away a win. However, you got to give him credit for even doing that. Massa is a true champion and Ferrari driver and he had proven it again today.

  4. bhudi said on 25th July 2010, 16:51

    The losers – 1. Ferarri
    2. Alonso
    3. F1

    The winners – 1. Massa
    2. Rob Smedley

  5. slr said on 25th July 2010, 16:52

    In the BBC F1 Forum, Coulthard made a great point about Massa making sure that everyone knows that he told to move over.

    Massa felt that if he has to lose a race win, then Ferrari have to take the blame. That’s probably why the whole stunt was done so poorly.

    • bosyber said on 25th July 2010, 17:33

      Yes, I also thought that. Would have been better if he told Rob: “kggggrrssggg so..y Ro.kggrrggsssg.adio.kgggrrssgg.oken.ggssssgggrrrkk.not year you.gggkkrrrraaghhh”. and kept up his pace, see after the race :)

  6. bronek82 said on 25th July 2010, 16:52

    McLaren did this in Turkey in this year
    When Hamilton asked about Button and team said don’t worry he didnot pass you
    everybody do this

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th July 2010, 17:09

      Didn’t Hamilton win that race?

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th July 2010, 20:58

      Not that sure about McLaren doing this, although Lewis felt bad about the team letting Jenson attack him.

      But your right about another team trying to to exactly the same, it was RBR. Only Webber did not do the “teamplayer” role as he was just as much in WDC contention as Vettel. So he gave him a chance but made him work for it and Seb messed up.

  7. jan said on 25th July 2010, 16:52

    Millions of F1 fans around the world were denied a good race today by Ferrari team orders. But British bias? Is that why L’Equipe’s headline called Alonso’s win a gift from Massa?

  8. Andy said on 25th July 2010, 16:57

    The FIA is now in the spotlight. If they fail to act and punish Ferrari then this ceases to be a ‘sport’ and the sponsors will have to consider if they wish to be associated with this kind of commercial corruption.

    • slr said on 25th July 2010, 17:09

      The FIA can’t really prove that Ferrari did anything wrong. Ferrari gave their statements, and the FIA have no choice but to believe them unless, they can prove that Ferrari are lying.

      The FIA can’t penalise a team just because everyone else wants them to. They need evidence.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th July 2010, 21:00

        Seems the Stewards are building a case from strong circumstantial evidence and gave a penalty nontheless.

        The first time team orders have led to a penalty. Now we’ll find out, weather Todt wants to crush down on team orders when it’s taken to the FIA world council.

  9. Maksutov said on 25th July 2010, 16:57

    Clearly manipulated behind the scenes which looks bad on Ferrari. There is no justification that for Massa to make such a move to better the team, since it would have been a one-two win anyhow. But this type of direct race (and championship) manipulation can not be allowed to continue as it looks bad for the sport.

    If teams chose to give one drive better equipment over the other, then so be it; but to directly (or even indirectly) order one driver to let the other pass during a race, especially if it’s for the lead or the win, is totally out of line and does not belong in the sport.

    Ferrari have done this on numerous occasions in the past. Massa should be rightly questioned by the Stewards. And appropriately so, the teams points should be revoked for punishment.

    Given that many of the Ferrari F1 staff and drivers have changed in the past decade, it is very likely that these decisions are probably being enforced by Montezemolo himself, and its getting old.

  10. Everyone seems to be missing the point that Alonso would have passed Massa anyway.
    That is assuming that Massa did not spin off trying to stay ahead of Fernando, as he did at the last race if memory serves.

    I would have much rather seen them fight it out, just for the record.

    But Massa wasn’t robbed of anything. He was lucky to keep Vettel at bay once he had conceded the inevitable.

    • Robbie said on 25th July 2010, 17:01

      ‘Everyone seems to be missing the point that Alonso would have passed Massa anyway.’

      How do you know? He wasn’t given the chance to prove himself.

    • Maksutov said on 25th July 2010, 17:04

      “Everyone seems to be missing the point that Alonso would have passed Massa anyway.”

      I think it is more obvious that Alonso was not able to pass Massa and more likely that he would not have been able to pass Massa for rest of the race.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th July 2010, 17:10

      Everyone seems to be missing the point that Alonso would have passed Massa anyway.

      Well he had a very good chance and he didn’t make the move stick.

      • That “move” you refer to was Alonso trying to take advantage of an easy pass because Massa was on fresh rubber. If it had come off, great. But it was a opportunity, not a passing move he lined up.

        There is a subtle difference.

        t was very clear that Alonso would put a move on Massa before the end of the race, and I think Ferrari were equally worried about how Massa might mess up trying to defend.

        • Patrickl said on 25th July 2010, 18:07

          It’s the difference between racing and team orders yes. Which is why team orders are forbidden …

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th July 2010, 21:04

          Not sure about that, he (and the team as well) was a bit worried about ending like Vettel did in Turkey.
          I doubt he would have done more than wait for a very clear opening or rather than risking a second place to make a risky move.

          • wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 26th July 2010, 10:46

            OK if ” Alonso would have passed Massa anyway”
            then WHY he didn’t instead he asked the team to help him out just like a small child!

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 27th July 2010, 3:39

          “That “move” you refer to was Alonso trying to take advantage of an easy pass because Massa was on fresh rubber.”

          If Fernando couldn’t even take advantage of Massa at his weakest (on fresh, hard tyres), then there is no way that you could logically assume that “Alonso would have passed Massa anyway”. Sorry.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 26th July 2010, 15:38

      Massa obviously dropped the pace once Alonso went by, which is why Vettel closed in on him. And he got a puncture at Silverstone when he was ahead of Alonso.

  11. Crispin said on 25th July 2010, 16:59

    All Luca Collajani does is contradict himself!
    First, he says that he was concerned about Seb, and thinking about different scenarios, and then he denies there being any team orders!
    How stupid does he think we all are?

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th July 2010, 21:04

      Sound pretty much like a replay of RBR commenting on why it would have been better to let Vettel pass Mark before going on to say there were not team orders.

  12. Barret said on 25th July 2010, 16:59


    Great reporting. You’re doing a stand up job.

  13. Well how is it that we are surprised by this result after Mark Webbers remark about being the no2 driver? – Alonso is getting what he didnt get at McLaren preferential treatment – the whinger – ps Massa as Rubbins was is the better man – especially by not whinging about the incident – ps I thought it is an insult to use the left hand in asian countries?? – what if you are left handed there??

  14. Xanathos said on 25th July 2010, 17:00

    Of course it makes sense to let Alonso pass for the championship. Of course they had to give a coded message. And of course the drivers are going to say it wasn’t team orders.
    So we all know what happened, but it is the way how it happened. Alonso was called into the pits first, he was attacking Massa earlier, so the intention from the team was already clear. They could have given their message to Massa earlier and everything could have been fine.
    But for some reason they had to do it in a way that couldn’t have been more obvious. They’ve basically cheated every fan of a good race for the lead. We have seen it before that sensible team orders can be applied in a sensible way (China 2008 and Brazil 2007) and no one would have complained.
    But now ferrari really shouldn’t get away with this, but I fear they will somehow…

    • Maksutov said on 25th July 2010, 17:12

      Unfortunately Stewards will need clear evidence and proof to do something. This evidence can come from Massa himself if so wishes to tell the truth.

      If no clear proof or evidence is found against Ferrari then telemetry readings should be used to explain why Massa slowed down. Something can indeed be done if it is executed correctly.

    • “Of course they had to give a coded message.”

      Except, it wasn’t coded very well. LOL.

      To round off the message with, “Can you confirm you understood the message?” is just like putting up subtitles saying “That was a coded message, not to be taken at face value”.

  15. Sam said on 25th July 2010, 17:00

    Everyone does it, so why is it that when ferrari does it its cheating? If YOUR team had done it itd be fair game. And thats why its called a “team”. The definition of a team is a group of individuals working together to achieve the same goal. Stop kidding yourselves, and rename the site british fanatic…. You guys are all upset cause your team was inexistent in a big chunk of the 67 laps.

    • ADZ23 said on 25th July 2010, 17:05

      good point sam lol

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th July 2010, 17:13

      Everyone does it

      McLaren and Red Bull don’t, we’ve seen that pretty clearly this year.

      I think on an occasion like China two years ago, when Ferrari switched their drivers around, that was justifiable (as I wrote here: Massa ordered to hand win to Alonso).

      But to do it when Massa can still win the title? Very dodgy ground.

      • sumedh said on 25th July 2010, 17:33

        Mclaren do it Keith. Rewind 2 years to the same circuit. I will quote the following from YOUR article on the 2008 German GP: “Kovalainen wasted no time in letting his team mate past”

        Red Bull do that too. Have you forgotten the front wing controversy already?

        Yes, every team does that. Some are caught, some are not. That alone is the difference.

        • Patrickl said on 25th July 2010, 18:10

          “Kovalainen wasted no time in letting his team mate past”

          is not really the same as:
          “McLaren ordered Kovalainen to let Hamilton past”

          now is it?

          Fact is that Hamilton was a lot faster than Kovalainen and Kovalainen realised that he wouldn’t be able to keep Hamilton behind him. So what’s the point in delaying the inevitable then?

          Besides, Massa and Piquet let Hamilton by just as easily. Team orders too?

        • Stubie said on 25th July 2010, 19:44

          if you replay Hockenheim 2008 you will clearly see that Lewis had at least a second a lap on everyone else in the field. KOV deciding not to get into a scrap with a 1 sec disadvantage with his team-mate knowing he is not able to challenge MAS & PIQ ahead is very different that ALO barely managing 1/10th pace advantage.

          I supposed MAS & PIQ also were given team orders to let HAM through in that race.

      • Ali33 said on 25th July 2010, 20:43

        Keith, you seem to have lost the “objectivity” test today.

        I am not a fan of team orders in F1 and I am against all of them, including McLaren’s.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th July 2010, 21:09

        I’m pretty sure about McLaren not doing it, at least this year.
        But to me the Turkey incident sounded pretty much the same, only Mark didn’t allow it to happen. Even the teams first comments sound alike (being worried of the 3rd place guy closing in). And from what Vettel said to the BBC today about this move confirms it for me.

        But i am upset about this happening to Massa now as well. Even more as it would have been the perfect memorial of events on the same weekend last year.

    • Maksutov said on 25th July 2010, 17:17

      “Everyone does it, so why is it that when ferrari does it its cheating?”

      Because this is not racing and shouldn’t be allowed to continue. Ferrari have done it on numerous occasions, and so have a few other teams in the past, but it doesnt mean it is right or that it should be allowed in the sport. To manipulate the championship, the leader of the race and the winner of the race, and do so directly during the race is just plain and simple wrong.

      • RBR totally did it in Turkey, just with a little more finesse. And Webber made it as difficult as possible for Vettel, as he should have since both were in contention for the championship. The fact that Vettel then muffed it up is of no consequence.

        Look, I didn’t like what happened, but I can understand it. Alonso is within shouting distance of being a WDC contender, Massa isn’t. If they’d done it a little less ham-fistedly, would there be all the outcry? Somehow I think not. We all knew it was just a matter of time before Alonso got in front of Massa by some means.

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