Vettel not pressuring Ferraris ahead of switch (German Grand Prix analysis)

Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Hockenheimring, 2010

After the German Grand Prix Ferrari claimed they had ordered Felipe Massa to let Fernando Alonso by because they were concerned Sebastian Vettel could pass the pair of them.

But it’s clear from the lap times that Vettel was hardly catching either of them at the time – indeed he wasn’t even close enough to see the switch take place.

Read on for the post-race analysis.

Lap 1

Lap 1 position change

Lap 1 position change (click to enlarge)

Another bad start from pole position for Vettel saw him lose two places which he never regained. Jenson Button had got away cleanly but as Vettel slowed down Button had to do likewise, and lost two places as a result.

Both Williams drivers made poor starts which ultimately led to them finishing out of the points having started in the top ten.

Pit stops

Pit stops

Pit stops (click to enlarge)

Red Bull took advantage of the rapidly-growing gap between Jenson Button and Robert Kubica to bring Sebastian Vettel in for an early pit stop, triggering stops from the other front running drivers in reaction.

Pedro de la Rosa tried to gain places by starting on the hard tyres and delaying his pit stops until lap 51. But he ended the race where he started, in 14th.

Race progress

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After the race Ferrari said they wanted Alonso to go in front of Massa because they were concerned Vettel might pass them.

But looking at these times it seems their fears were unfounded. In the ten laps leading up to the change of position remained static at 5.1 seconds.

It’s clear that Vettel caught Massa after the change of positions – but how much was Massa pushing after being ordered give up the lead of the race?

Lap chart

Lap chart

Lap chart (click to enlarge)

A long first stint for Nico H???lkenberg didn’t pay off but he at least managed to pass Pedro de la Rosa to finish behind his team mate.

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103 comments on Vettel not pressuring Ferraris ahead of switch (German Grand Prix analysis)

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  1. BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th July 2010, 22:04

    Interesting to see, that Ferrari uses exactly the same “reason” for giving team orders here as RBR did in Turkey. And, as in Turkey, it was not really a solid argument.

    I can understand Massa giving up the fight after having let Alonso past. The adrenalin must have seeped out until Vettel cought him and he held him back.

    The midfield was really falling back after lap 24. From the times, it seems Hülkenberg should have stopped in lap 25-24 instead of waiting longer and getting cought.

  2. Bartholomew said on 25th July 2010, 22:12

    Everyone making a big deal about this. Of course it was team orders, and they made sense : Alonso was faster than Massa, and ahead in the WDC. McLaren does the same things, only in a smarter, better rehearsed way, and the other teams also do it.
    There is a bad vibe within Ferrari, this is plain to see since a long time ago. Massa is not happy. Ferrari should look for a second driver that is happy with the role – could be a Kobayashi or someone more colorful and upbeat than Massa. Or else someone like Kubica, who is not a second driver, but is sufficiently different from Alonso, even in physique, to provide a more cheerful overall picture of Ferrari.
    Definitely McLaren this year, with two world champion drivers like Lewis and Button, is handling a complex driver situation with more politeness and ease than Ferrari.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th July 2010, 22:18

      McLaren does the same things, only in a smarter, better rehearsed way

      When? McLaren have had one-twos and two-ones this year without switching their drivers around (bar the Turkey cock-up, where Hamilton and button ended up in their original order anyway).

      • No, especially at the Turkey GP, after the Red Bull Crash, the McLaren had a fair fight on the street for the victory without any order from the team.
        They just stopped them and told them to hold positions after their fight.

        • Mike said on 26th July 2010, 3:18

          All the Mclaren thing was is Hamilton’s engineer misunderstood the situation, and Hamilton got surprised because of it.

          Thinking that your team mate will hold station and forcing him to are two different very things.

      • Wateva said on 25th July 2010, 22:36

        I think there was a situation with Heikki and Lewis sometime. Cant remember when, not very much into remembering stuff.

        The fact is team orders do happen and considering its a sport with a team, they are even acceptable. I dont like it only cause I very much like Massa and slightly dislike Alonson.

        • Twice. Silverstone and Hockenheim 2008, on both occasions Kovalainen let Hamilton through. Perhaps not as badly orchestrated as today’s events but orchestrated nonetheless.

          As I said elsewhere, either you have team orders or you don’t – and we have had them on many occasions, even since 2002, with no real reaction from the authorities. This is the first time a team has been punished for team orders since they were banned. But is it the first time they’ve been used since then? Get real.

          • David BR said on 26th July 2010, 0:32

            Not the first time. True Kova let Hamilton past at Hockenheim, he was much faster on fresh tyres and converted the chance to go at the other two in front (Piquet and Massa, right?) into a McLaren win. We saw racing afterwards. Silverstone 2008 is just a daft example. Hamilton demolished the field there.

            OK so I’m a Mc/Ham fan, but I had no real problem with Massa letting Raikonnen past via the pits at Brazil 2007 to win the race and WDC. Today was different – first and foremost because of its evident effect on Massa. Alonso looked none to happy either. It was demoralizing for them and for many if not most people watching.

            Really, I was looking forward to a Vettel- Alonso battle today and neither of them delivered. Massa did – and got dumped on by his team.

          • andrew said on 26th July 2010, 8:02

            the good thing for mclaren, nobody knows what ron dennis told kavalainen. Now all communication have to be open.

            BTW I recalled those 2 incidents now. that was a week after another. And of course after that Mclaren would said hamilton was faster.

          • Patrickl said on 26th July 2010, 11:47

            and indeed Hamilton was faster. A lot faster even.

      • F1Fan said on 26th July 2010, 1:25

        Keith, you are very obviously biased towarads McLaren, understandable to some extent since you are British. But Vettel Fan is absolutely correct. Being told to hold positions is a team order as well, and it too prohibits the drivers from racing each other. That McLaren (and other teams) are doing this is certainly true, even though you may choose to not recognize it.

        • Ben Curly said on 26th July 2010, 5:47

          Being told to hold positions is a team order, but it is not changing the outcome of the race. Regulations say that only the orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited.

        • Lee said on 26th July 2010, 8:54


          You are correct, they are both team orders, but very very different team orders. One directly changes the outcome of a race the other is designed more to stop your drivers taking each other out than anything as there is no way for the team to know if the one team mate would ever get past the leading team mate if the order to back off was not given. Surely you can see this huge difference? It would be similar to one football team being told to back off attacking to preserve their players from injuries as opposed to the other team being ordered to let goals in to throw a game. Also it is very rare that a driver is told anything other than to merely back off and this order could therefore be for many legitimate reasons (Webber for instance was told to back off Button in order to preserve his car and others have had to back off for fuel reasons) and therefore it we would never really know if they were team orders or mechanical orders. Ferraris on the other hand left no doubt as to what the reason was. It has always been clear that Ferrari are not a racing team, they are a motorsport team. They have not been interested in racing for a long time, non more obvious than the Indianapolis farce. Other teams may do this too but so far I have seen nothing that stands out as obviously as Ferraris even if their is a hint of conspiracy in the air, and if I saw any other team do this in such an obvious way then I would be attacking them in the same way. Alonso is a disgrace yet seems clever enough to come out of these situations with nothing sticking that can be proved. If he keeps doing these things perhaps one day he will trip up and something will stick.

          • rok said on 26th July 2010, 9:43

            Team order is still nevertheless team order, how ever you wanna pack it.

            Of course it still changes the race outcome… if they dont race each other thant this prevents from race changing… all the same thing. So its still race fixing

          • elbarney said on 26th July 2010, 9:52

            I think “hold positions” also changes the outcome of the race, if the second pilot is faster.
            Don’t you think that when you have a faster pilot behind,”is designed more to stop your drivers taking each other out than anything” also applies?

          • Lee said on 26th July 2010, 14:13


            As I said both can be said to be team orders to a point as they are both indeed orders from the team to a driver, however so is manage your tyres, manage your fuel, be careful as your wing is hanging off or We need you to come in to the pits on the next lap…

            The way to look at it is that if the order could me made in relation to a competitor then it is allowed and rightly so (For instance webber was told to back off button so maclaren should be perfectly allowed to tell button to back off Hamilton or Vettel to back off Webber) However if the order is entirely inter team and therefore could not be made in relation to a competitor team then it is banned and rightly so (For instance there would be no way for Ferrari to tell Webber to let Alonso past and therefore they should not give that order to Massa).

        • Patrickl said on 26th July 2010, 11:50

          Being told to control the race is NOT a team order.

          The FIA explicitly said so after the Monaco 2007 inquiry.

          “It is standard procedure for a team to tell its drivers to slow down when they have a substantial lead. This is in order to minimise the risk of technical or other problems. It is also standard practice and entirely reasonable to ask the drivers not to put each other at risk.”

        • Nitpicker said on 26th July 2010, 18:16

          Excuse me F1Fan, but most of F1 teams are British. They live in our towns, they buy cheesy dips from our supermarkets. They pay our taxes and get stuck in our traffic jams.

          Not to mention Keith wouldn’t be biased at all. His blog wouldn’t be anywhere as popular if he wrote articles like a McLaren fanboy.

      • Slim said on 26th July 2010, 6:20

        I agree plus button was leading the championship for a little and now hamilton is leading… if mclaren were so worried about winning the championship wouldnt they have had button win the canadian GP…etc

      • andrew said on 26th July 2010, 7:56

        it was on 08, between hamilton and kovalainen…on the race day kovi was leading untill ron dennis pressed comm button…soon after that hamilton past kovi…I think it was German GP. speedtv showed when ron dennis pressed the button. bottom line I do agree…all teams do it…just not as foolish as ferrari did.

        • rok said on 26th July 2010, 9:45

          It was not how Ferrari done it, its how Smadley and Massa did it… and thats why they are to blame

          • Electrolite said on 26th July 2010, 9:56

            Keith would give exactly the same tone of article if it were Mclaren or Red Bull, i’m quite sure.

            There’s a big difference between telling your drivers to hold station because we don’t want to nearlly crash out of the race again – and telling a driver to hand his team mate a win.

            And oh my ACTUAL god i’ve just remembered Luca Di Montezemolo and what he’ll say about this

          • Mike said on 26th July 2010, 11:54

            If Ferrari are smart they will keep Luca quiet… It just never ends well. Rok, are you attacking Massa and Smedley?

            Rok, please tell me I misunderstood that.

    • Nitpicker said on 26th July 2010, 18:12

      Bartholomew, you think Ferrari should replace Massa because he is unhappy? Ferrari have been underperforming for most of this season so far, so Massa hasn’t had much to be happy about. And when he gets an opportunity to grab his first win in two years, his team tell him to let Alonso past. That wouldn’t have cheered him up.

      Massa’s conduct on the track and after the race was impeccable. He had every right to throw a hissy fit and tell the world how unfair his race was, and no one would blame him. But he showed he is one of the great sportsmen of the world, like he did after Brazil 2008, and he’s a credit to F1.

  3. Bartholomew said on 25th July 2010, 22:17

    Give Alonso some credit, he was the fastest guy and won the thing after all ! the car didnt drive by itself.
    The best thing is for Lou diMonty not to say anything, and soon all this will be forgoten.

    • claudioff said on 25th July 2010, 22:45

      Alonso was faster. Sure he was. But f1 is not swimming, where all competitors have their own track. It’s a race where the biggest thrill is to see two drivers dueling for positions.

    • Jelle van der Meer said on 25th July 2010, 23:18

      Give Alonso credit – for what being the saddest crybaby in F1 – YES for sure he is.

      The only way you earn credit is by overtaking fair & square and not my whining to your team for a team order.

      If he was the fastest he should have shown it on the track by overtaking Massa in a real battle.

      Whenever it does not go Alonso way he is always whining – YES he is a great driver no doubt about that but a great character for sure not.

      Keep in mind that Alonso cried his way to Monaco 2007 win as well, where Mclaren team changed Hamilton’s strategy by bringing him 7 laps in earlier than needed. And who could possible forget Alonso Singapore victory in 2008 where team orders pushed Piquet to crash his car.

    • DaveD said on 25th July 2010, 23:23

      I totally disagree. If he was the fastest he should have driven the car and past him like anyone else who wanted to win.

      He whined like a little girl…”tell him to let me win…whine, whine, whine”.

      I have ZERO respect for the guy.

      • Sorry, when was he whining about being allowed to win? On one practically inaudible radio transmission that was (dubiously) translated as “This is ridiculous?”

        Even if the interpretation was correct, how do you know he was talking about Massa? He’d just nearly ended his race entangled in a mass of backmarkers, for one thing. How do you know he wasn’t complaining about their lack of awareness?

        • DaveD said on 26th July 2010, 1:41

          I’m sorry Andy, but you can live in denial if you want, but as wateva points out, he clearly tried to pass Massa for a lap or two and made mistakes and couldn’t get past him….then he gets on the radio and says “RIDICULOUS!” It was just like him waving his fist when he had trouble passing a lapped car. He’s a whiner…sorry.

          • But you haven’t answered the question. How do you know what Alonso meant when he said “ridiculous?”

          • rok said on 26th July 2010, 9:49

            The ridiculous was ment when Massa cut him of on the fast right hander just after the 180° turn… another brilliant defending from Massa, not to mention he did it to hes team mate. And thats probably when Ferrari went nuts about Massa and told him to pull away for Alonso…

          • Patrickl said on 26th July 2010, 11:53

            The quote that I found weirdest of all was when Smedly told Massa to pull a gap so they could “still win the race”.

            Apparently there was some sort of gap that Massa needed to pull in order for Ferrari not to consider team orders.

            They were well clear from Vettel at the time so it made no sense for Massa to start pushing like that all of a sudden.

      • Wateva said on 26th July 2010, 0:16

        Actually on that point DaveD, I think he did try to pass Massa and made a mistake as Martin Brundle was pointing out. So when he couldnt make the overtake stick he had to call out for extra help i suppose.

    • Tenletters said on 25th July 2010, 23:34

      If he’s faster, then make the pass. This is why we race.

      • Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 26th July 2010, 7:45

        One of the major factors in Schumachers titles was that he managed to get himself to a position within the team where he was the undisputed number one. He did that with a combinaion of working very closely wih every member of the team, making each one feel appreciated, and by being blindingly fast. Senna had a similar method.

        So far this year Alonso has trashed Massa, and there have been occasions earlier in the year where he’s been stuck behind Massa and not managed to get past. Stefano Domenicalli has also commented on how well he’s been working with the team this year.

        Now, Ferrari have a race winning car with just under half the season remaining. They want to win both championships and based on the first half of the season, it’s clear to see that Alonso is the man most likely to get the job done on the driver’s side of things. He’s got himself into a position within the team where he is the number one. It’s not the most popular way to get ahead but it’s an effective one as we’ve seen in the past.

        If Fernando was told he’d have to get things done on the track I’m sure he would have. Many times in his career he’s pulled off blinding overtakes and for people to complain he can’t overtake blah blah blah is preposterous. Also, any driver will shake their fist at a backmarker if they hold them up. The adrenaline is pumping and emotions run high.

        • Jean said on 26th July 2010, 8:18

          Long story Dan , but well said anyway. A lot of people are quick to call Alonso a whiner , what they don’t maybe see is how much he puts in behind the scenes , development , practice , set-up etc , then to be “robbed” in a race (and I say this with all due respect to Massa , who I think is still a great driver)while he has the better chance to win the WDC , just doesn;t make sense. I’m sure if Massa was leading Alonso on points by now , the team would have done the same for Massa. It will be sad if Massa never wins one , having come so close in 2007.

          • Lee said on 26th July 2010, 9:03


            From what I have heard from inside Ferrari, the Ferrari guys are not at all comfortable with Alonso in the team and have not been so from the moment he walked in. There were a lot of unhappy workers from that moment on. How anyone can not see that he likes to bully his way to the number one position is unbelievable. I personally think he is one of the best drivers out there and love to watch him overtake and race, however I can’t stand him as a person, ever since he showed his true colours by trying to blackmail Maclaren into favouring him. I am not sure there is anyone one in F1 that would like to be his team mate… Just ask Piquet Jnr….

          • Jack Holt said on 26th July 2010, 12:07

            How can Alonso have been robbed? It’s the sense of entitlement of Alonso and his supporters I find most distasteful: when Alonso was asked if he deserved the win, he started talking about how fast he was on Friday and Saturday, if if they have any bearing on matter! Massa had him beaten fair and square on the Sunday.

      • erick said on 26th July 2010, 9:12

        agree with you.. if alonso were fast he could do it by him self and didn’t need a help like this, this is a manipulation….race fixing..they must get the penalty

  4. Tim said on 25th July 2010, 22:57

    Ferrari is telling us loud: BE STUPID.

  5. Electrolite said on 25th July 2010, 23:01

    Pedro De La Rosa ended where he started Keith, not finished :P

  6. Daffid said on 25th July 2010, 23:46

    Even if Vettel were pressuring Alonss, it wouldn’t have made sense to switch, in the same way it made no sense for Red Bull to want Webber to let Vettel past when he WAS being caught be Hamilton a few races ago. If Vettel were catching Alonso and he was faster than Massa, he’d be better able to defend the 1-2, rather than switching and letting your slower driver attempt to defend, and presumably lose the place. A ludicrous excuse trotted out by teams to no purpose

    • Wateva said on 26th July 2010, 0:21

      Ok, the reason the whole thing about vettel being faster and hence the switch is being suggested, is not jus because of defending the position, it is because if vettel is faster and overtakes Alonso then Ferrari’s highest point scorer and the guy closer to vettel in chapionship points loses out and also if alonso and massa are switched massa can technically hold vettel back and give enough time for alonso to pull out a wider gap.

      but obviously its all crap.

  7. Zakhar Y. said on 26th July 2010, 0:05

    “Pedro de la Rosa tried to gain places by starting on the hard tyres and delaying his pit stops until lap 51. But he ended the race where he started, in 14th.”

    Wasn’t Pedro’s front wing broken by Kovalainen after Pedro switched to softs, and so was forced to pit again? So maybe without the incident Pedro would’ve made up some places with his fresh set of soft tyres.

  8. dragon said on 26th July 2010, 1:00

    It’s Michael & Rubens all over again!
    Or is it Lewis and Heikki?
    I hate what I saw yesterday, but half of you who are nailing Ferrari to the wall seem to forget that it’s happened with McLaren and other teams in the past, and will continue to happen…so stop the bias, please. As long as the FIA hand out monetary penalties, the unsporting advantages gained (bought?) on track won’t stop.

    I really wanted an Alonso victory, but not like this. Especially seeing as my pre-race prediction was a storming Massa win!

    • chaostheory said on 26th July 2010, 13:10

      Yep, and Ferrari themselves did it in 2007 (Massa-Raikkonen), and in 2008 (Raikkonen – Massa) and no one wanted to punish them (except McLaren fans:P), then why they should be punished today? Back then all of it was justified by championships standings, it is the same this time due to change in points system. What Ferrari did wrong yesterday is speaking on the radio too open, too clear – they should develop some codes like McLaren (sounds funny but works:P).
      Of course I would rather see them fighting on race track, but I dont like these ‘Ferrari hunting days’.

  9. Damon said on 26th July 2010, 1:14

    Don’t know if I’m right but how can you accuse mclaren of the same thing? Wasn’t button leading the championship in turkey? So why would they want to help Hamilton?

  10. Alex Bkk said on 26th July 2010, 1:47

    I don’t think that you can take anything away from the Ferrari drivers on this one and as the data above suggests, it would have been a Ferrari 1 and 2 regardless of the switch barring mechanical failures or offs.

    It was a was bit disappointing that the 1,2 happened with this controversy hanging over it. Massa got a great start and was having a great race… but at the end of the day it’s not Massa’s or Alonso’s car, it’s Ferrari’s car and they are the ones that pay the drivers, so they (Ferrari or any other team ) should be allowed to do what they like in terms of positioning their drivers for a finish.

    And no, I don’t like my own opinion.

  11. DaveW said on 26th July 2010, 1:48

    All of the “you-too” aimed at McLaren is hilarious because when the man being so vigorously defended in this case was in exactly the same situation, when sitting in a McLaren, no one came on the radio and said, “Lewis, Fernando is faster than you. Please respond that you understand.” (If you believe the tifosi, of course, the Queen would have put Whitmarsh’s head on a pike on London Bridge for his insolence.) Fred has got now what he wanted and couldnt get at Woking, a footstool in the other car.

    Keith is trying to futher repell bias attacks by pointing out the blisteringly obvious fact that Vettel was not near Massa at the time of the switch. He shouldn’t bother; Ferrari can’t excommunicate a blogger from Formula One. Anyway, anyone with eyes, even British ones, and a TV could tell that Vettel was getting dusted as the Ferrari drivers were straining against each other.

  12. squid said on 26th July 2010, 2:22

    Find a solution for this kind of problem will be difficult.

    – There’s a clash 2 big interests:

    World Constructors’ Championship


    World Drivers’ Championship

    • Ilanin said on 26th July 2010, 10:30

      But there really isn’t. The gap between Alonso and Massa, had the race been allowed to run its natural course, would have been 24 points, or 10 points (a bit less) in old money. With almost half the season still to run.

  13. kriyuk said on 26th July 2010, 2:44

    If I am vettel, and I know the team order regulation – and by far the F1 tracks really hard to take over the front car. In fact I am 4 places in front in world championship than the man driving in front of me. and the other 3 guys are well behind me. is it good to keep my position? yes. why should I push the car more to give Alonso “justification” to take over Massa – something other teams had to justify the team order. well, vettel and redbull are smart. By seeing the whole race starting from green light to press conference – I am sure vettel is doing the strategy well (in case he is dropped from 1st place). and ferrari needs to train their engineers and drivers for “public relation” thing..

  14. Bernard said on 26th July 2010, 3:00

    Dave Ryan was sacked last year, Hamilton disqualified and McLaren given a 3 race ban (suspended for 12 months) after the events in Australia – and this was after they where deemed ‘open and honest’ in the hearing.

    Ferraris continued denial of race manipulation in Germany will surely land them in severe hot water at the WMSC hearing. As they are already judged by the stewards to be lying and thus fined, will they come clean and admit breaching the rules?

  15. almanac said on 26th July 2010, 3:01

    keith get the facts straight
    ferrari never claimed “they had ordered Felipe Massa to let Fernando Alonso by because they were concerned Sebastian Vettel could pass the pair of them”
    don’t play with words
    what they said was even according to you was”
    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”

    • Bernard said on 26th July 2010, 3:26

      “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

      Pretty clear what he is implying to me.

    • Vikas (@vikas) said on 26th July 2010, 4:53

      Driver decision? Why were the team fined then, and not Massa?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th July 2010, 8:55

      Almanac – see the other part of Coljanni’s quote which I linked to in the article, part of which Bernard has reproduced above.

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