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. SamC said on 25th July 2010, 17:28

    ok I’ve calmed down a bit about it all now, I don’t think there is enough evidence for the FIA to do anything as long as Massa and the team keep towing the line. However I do also think it should be made very clear to Ferrari what will happen if there is ever a whistle-blower and that the penalty in that case should be HUGE, then give them until the start of free practice next race to accept a smaller penalty and admit guilt. We need the truth more than anything.
    Then the FIA need to look at the rules again between the seasons.

  2. “Teflon-so” always gets away with it when it comes to keeping results.

  3. Sparkyj23 said on 25th July 2010, 17:33

    ferrari have been fined $100,000 but the result stands but no further penalty.

    Great job Mr Todt, just great job.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th July 2010, 21:17

      This were “only” the race stewards deciding that if the rule exists, why not enforce it.

      Todt’s role will come when they are brought before the World Council in September. Then we will now, weather mr. Teamorders will want to enforce this rule or dump it.

  4. RaulZ said on 25th July 2010, 17:37

    You can think all what you want on this victory and you will have reason. Massa gave the victory to Alonso, probably by team orders. This blog can say whatever it wants too, I’m not going to criticize, but please, to all who write here, when the FIA manipulates races, when Maclaren or Redbull manipulate races, then the owners are so explicit as well . Then we will think in Spain that the English press is as good as England thinks it is.

    • RaulZ said on 25th July 2010, 20:45

      well, reading my own comment I don’t undertand it. Sorry about my english.

      This is not good for the competition and something is going to happen to ferrari, apart of the fine.

      Now, reading the post ad comments, I meant that FIA works bad, with bad rules applied badly, and somebody has to think about it.

      Maybe now with english press complaining something done. English press was enough to make Blatter talk and stop showing replays inside the stadiums when world cup. That’s power, isn’t it?

  5. sumedh said on 25th July 2010, 17:37

    Keith, I love your blog and will continue visiting it although I whole-heartedly disagree with your infantile attempts at taking a dig at Alonso by using his phrase, “manipulated race” against him. You can do better Keith.

    But great way to get the comment meter running on the website!!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th July 2010, 19:32

      I stand by it completely. It was quite clearly manipulated. I don’t see how you can deny that.

      • sumedh said on 25th July 2010, 19:39

        I agree it was manipulated. But you using the exact word, “manipulated” is what I object to.

        You could have used, “farce of a race”, “scam”, “mockery of a race”, “shame on Ferrari and Fernando” – any of the phrases. You are an excellent writer, I am sure you can think of 40 other phrases for the same.

        But you picked the one which Fernando used.

  6. So much controversy for something i think is insignificant. First everyone does it. Recently redbull with the front wing, mclaren when button was suposed to save fuel to leave hamilton in front, attacked anyway and we all saw hamilton clearly unhappy. Mclaren again with kovalainen/hamilton, brawn with button and baerichello, renault with fisichella-trulli-grosjean/alonso, ferrari with massa/raikkonen. The way it was done wasmt very elegant, but there is no need create so much polemic as if it was a new scandal (which something british press loves to do).
    Then, it is not alonso’s fault. He would have been really stupid to refuse to pass. His attitude can be criticised, the truth is, starting in a minardi, he has made his way to the top to become double world champion with the smallest of the big teams, renault, beating the unbeatable ferrari/schum pair. To achieve that you have to be aggressive and selfish, like schumacher was.
    And finally, team orders exist in rally, le mans, etc and no one complains…

    • Maksutov said on 26th July 2010, 1:00

      “First everyone does it. ”

      well that is not correct.

      If teams chose to give one drive better equipment over the other, then so be it; but to directly 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. This type of thing needs to stop.

  7. bosyber said on 25th July 2010, 17:51

    saraholtf1.twit:
    # Vettel is on the BBC forum where he’s shown the Massa-Alonso pass. His response is
    # “Now I understand why they had so many questions in the media conference & none to me.” He adds he asked to leave the conference early about 2 hours ago via web

    LOL. He really has an opportunity to experience his RBR Turkey experience from the outside now.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th July 2010, 21:20

      Best is after that he does not want to say to much about team orders, but does say this is not good, but crashing into your teammate instead of it isn’t very good as well.
      A clear confirmation of what Turkey really was about

  8. Electrolite said on 25th July 2010, 18:04

    Yeah anyway Vettel gets my plonker of the race award again.

    • Patrickl said on 25th July 2010, 18:14

      Yeah, why don’t they give the guy a penalty for that start of his?

      They gave Webber one for a similar start in 2009 (when he tried to push Barrichello into the wall).

      Of course it only seems to hurt Vettel, but it would be a shame to see one of the adults get hindered or injured by this dangerous driving.

      • Electrolite said on 25th July 2010, 18:19

        Haha! I wouldn’t go as far saying he needed a penalty, or even that it was dangerous but after the whole Ferrari uproar I just remembered ‘oh yeah, Vettel’s start. What a pillock.’

        • inc0mmunicado said on 25th July 2010, 18:52

          Totally agree! (Apparently “totally agree” by itself is too short a comment for the server?!)

          • Maksutov said on 26th July 2010, 1:02

            “Apparently “totally agree” by itself is too short a comment for the server?!”

            yes that can get quite annoying.

      • RaulZ said on 25th July 2010, 21:06

        Maybe Charlie Withing was very bussy thinking about a new revenge against Alonso. He can only do one thing at a time.

  9. Now Alonso knows what a manipuated like

    • RaulZ said on 25th July 2010, 21:11

      Alonso learnt what was manipulation at Valencia and Silverstone, now Massa is who knows what a manipulated like. I’m waiting for the time Vettel and hamilton know it.

  10. sorry, i am so angry right now. My post is supposed to say:

    Now Alonso will know what a manipulated race is

    • Maksutov said on 26th July 2010, 1:05

      but he still denies it.

      Drivers only see what they want to see. they are all the same.

  11. I’ve done a blog entry on this topic, looking at when each Ferrari driver was faster than the other and posting it onto a graph. Although Alonso was faster for the two laps before Felipe got his now-notorious radio message, Felipe had still been faster for 3 more laps than Fernando by that point.

    Also, there were only two periods of the race where Fernando was reliably quicker; the period after Felipe’s stop when he was making mistakes due to needing to get used to the hard tyres and the period of time starting from 2 laps before the “Fernando. Is. Faster Than. You” message to the end of the race. 2 laps is within the tolerances of normal pace. In other words, Felipe probably still had the advantage in terms of performance at the time the message was sent.

    Ferrari will struggle to justify their actions based on what the raw lap data suggests is true.

  12. PT (@pt) said on 25th July 2010, 18:51

    Don’t know if people remember that Kimi was told to let Massa by in 2008 (don’t remember the race) in order to secure a greater chance of securing the drivers’ championship.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th July 2010, 19:30

      True but at that point Raikkonen was out of the championship.

      • PT (@pt) said on 25th July 2010, 19:38

        That’s right, but in perspective of the race itself it was a blatant violation of sporting conduct. Massa was, like Alonso now, evading the point in the press conference then. Raikkonen was in his typical “I don’t care attitude” and just smiled when asked about it. But as you point out he was out of the title hunt then.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th July 2010, 21:26

          Sure, forbidding team orders per se is nonsense. But it was perfectly understandable and a good move to do that in the last race of the championship where only one of them had a chance to win it.

          • wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 26th July 2010, 10:43

            The incident between Massa & Kimi which happened in the 2008 Chinese GP was different.
            1.It wasn’t for the win.
            2.Kimi was no longer fighting for the championship.
            3.It was the penultimate race of the season.

            Where here we have the incident in the middle of the season, for the win & mathematically Massa have chance for the championship still I think it is next to impossible.

  13. Chris said on 25th July 2010, 18:56

    Am heartily sick of the petulant, spoiled Spaniard and his whining.

  14. This episode left a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as soon as it happened – it seems like the rest of F1 are making great efforts to improve the show, getting more people watching it – then along comes Ferrari and through there own self centred attitude undo a lot of the good work done to make this year a great Championship. i think 1 rce ban would have been a more fitting punishment.

  15. DaveW said on 25th July 2010, 19:29

    Classic. Everyone is on Keith’s back for saying the same thing Pravda is running. The fall back position is to claim McLaren did it, like 3 years ago, so there. It’s interesting though that if you want to look at instances where a demand for team orders from a driver were patently ignored on the pit wall and on the track, you have to look at McLaren. Ya’ll remember Alonso buzzing the pit wall at Indy when Hamilton wouldn’t yield, or at Monaco, as Sumedh points out? Oh, wait, who was the whinger who found him self behind due to a poor start, poor qualifying, or whatever, chucking his toys out the crib in those cases? What a coincidence.

    Maybe this is why Alonso is so obsessed with Hamilton—because Hamilton’s career remains evidence that Alonso cannot trump a skilled teammate without the pit wall intervening.

    Since we have to show our papers now to the indignant tifosi: I’m not British.

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