Why the team orders rule must stay

CommentPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2010

“Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited”, says article 39.1 of the Sporting Regulations.

It’s had little use since it was introduced eight years ago, but on Sunday Ferrari were found to have broken it, given a $100,000 fine and ordered to appear before the World Motor Sports Council.

This has led to criticism of the rule but those who call for it to be scrapped have failed to understand why Sunday’s events were controversial and why a repeat must be prevented.

Massa’s position in the championship

Ferrari justified their decision to let Fernando Alonso past Felipe Massa in terms of what was going on the race – claiming the drivers were under pressure from Sebastian Vettel. But it’s inconceivable the decision would have been taken had the championship situation been reversed.

Here’s how the top half of the drivers’ standings looked before the race:

Position Driver Points
1 Lewis Hamilton 145
2 Jenson Button 133
3 Mark Webber 128
4 Sebastian Vettel 121
5 Fernando Alonso 98
6 Nico Rosberg 90
7 Robert Kubica 83
8 Felipe Massa 67

With a total of 225 points to be won Massa was still in contention for the championship.

The new championship points system makes it harder to compare this situation with what’s happened in years’ past. Because the points on offer has increased it makes Massa’s position appear worse than it is.

The current championship system is very much like last years, but with the points on offer for each position multiplied by 2.5. With that in mind, here’s how the situation would have looked under the 2009 points scheme:

Position Driver Points
1 Lewis Hamilton 65
2 Jenson Button 58
3 Sebastian Vettel 55
4 Mark Webber 53
5 Fernando Alonso 49
6 Nico Rosberg 36
7 Robert Kubica 35
8 Felipe Massa 34

That makes it a little easier to understand that Massa was actually not that far behind his team mate at all. Had Ferrari not taken his win off him, the pair would now be fifth and sixth in the drivers’ championship with a win apiece.

We could argue what point a driver is not “realistically” likely to win a championship until the cows come home. The fact of the matter is, no-one can ever say for sure until the championship is over.

Yes, Massa has been largely behind his team mate so far this year. But sometimes the balance of power shifts within a team – like it did at Brawn last year.

Just three years ago, Kimi R??ikk??nen overcame a deficit equal to 1.7 wins in two races to win the championship. In 1976, James Hunt clawed back a deficit of 3.88 wins over seven races to become champion (helped by rival Niki Lauda missing three races due to injury).

Massa was 3.1 wins behind with nine races left on Saturday evening. A long way behind, yes, but other drivers came from further behind to win the championship.

Why the championship situation matters

Ferrari also used team orders in two of the last three seasons – putting R??ikk??nen ahead of Massa in the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix, and vice-versa at the 2008 Chinese Grand Prix.

On neither occasion did they attract anything like the kind of criticism they received last weekend.

Why? Because in both cases the driver who was giving up the place was no longer in a position to be able to win the world championship.

This is a crucial distinction. Part of the reason so many criticised Ferrari (77% in a poll of over 2,500 on this site) is because they expect drivers to be allowed to challenge for the championship as long as they are mathematically in the running.

That is an entirely reasonable expectation – people want the driver who wins the championship to have deserved it, and not just because his team mate was sacrificed.

F1 must understand this if it is to prevent repeats of the kind of criticism it attracted on Sunday.

How team radio played a role

Since article 39.1 was introduced in 2008 there have been other occasions where it seems very likely that team orders were used on drivers when both were in contention for the championship.

Lewis Hamilton charged past Heikki Kovalainen with little difficulty at the same circuit in 2008. Also that year Nick Heidfeld put up little resistance to Robert Kubica’s pass – which effectively put him in the lead of the race – in Canada.

It’s worth remembering that on both occasions the two pairs of drivers were on different strategies. Nor had the lead driver spent the entire race in front of the driver behind him.

But the most significant reason why these examples failed to attract criticism the same way Ferrari’s did was that on Sunday we were able to hear Ferrari’s thinly-veiled instructions to Massa as they were issued. This was not the case in 2008.

Now fans are able to hear the radio of all the teams future team orders will attract the same kind of criticism – if the FIA does not step in to prevent it.

A clear team order

When it came, Ferrari’s coded message to Massa was unmistakeably a team order.

To begin with, it was a dead giveaway that the team felt the need to tell Massa “Alonso is faster than you”. It clearly was not an attempt to help Massa go faster, the only possible positive interpretation of that comment, because it offered no indication of how he might find the lost time to Alonso.

Here’s an example of what a genuine message explaining the pace of other drivers looks like. During the same race Hamilton asked his team what the cars behind him (the first of which was his team mate) were doing. The reply came back:

Cars behind are matching our pace. Jenson slightly quicker in first sector, we’re slightly quicker in last sector.

Massa’s unhelpful instruction came with the pointed question “do you understand” added on the end, making it clear there was a subtext to the message.

Then, to cap it all, Massa’s race engineer Rob Smedley apologised to him. Some claimed this act gave the game away. But it had become obvious long before then what was really going on.

Why the team orders rules must stay

In reaction to the controversy some prominent figures including Bernie Ecclestone and Martin Brundle have called for the team orders ban to be scrapped.

This would be a grave mistake which would lead to worse controversies that would further damage the image of Formula One.

It would open the way for even more contentious acts of race-fixing, similar to those we saw at Suzuka and Jerez in 1997. Surely we don’t want a Formula One where half the drivers on the track are only there to hold up the other drivers for the benefit of their team mate?

Yes, team orders have always been a part of F1. And no, I don’t believe they can or should be eradicated completely.

But as increasing transparency in F1 put the teams’ every move under scrutiny those that try to manipulate the championship will only bring Formula One into disrepute.

It’s clear from the vehement reaction to Austria 2002 and Germany 2010, and the muted response to Brazil 2007 and China 2008, that fans have far less objection to team orders being used when one driver is out of the running for the championship.

But they expect teams to allow their drivers to compete for the championship as long as both are in contention. It’s clear F1 needs a rule to enforce that and I see no reason why the existing article 39.1 can’t be updated to do so.

That is the best way to prevent future rows over team orders and safeguard the integrity of the world championship.


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343 comments on “Why the team orders rule must stay”

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  1. Ferrari had to do it though, Alonso has some hope in the championship, Massa’s hopes are basically non-existant. They just made it worse for themselves by managing it so badly

    1. I agree. I can follow Ferrari why they did it.
      But it was such a shame. Having a faster driver behind a slower is what we want. And on this track he could try and do something.
      I was hoping for a nice attack, but was robbed of it!
      They could atleast do it better. Massa could have outbraked himself in the hairpin or something, but i bet he wanted to show to the world he deserved to win it.

      1. We we’re all robbed of it! Take away team radio, they have box boards. If info is to be relayed, do it that way. If there is a yellow, show it on the steering wheel of the car. I think they have the technology of doing so. If this keeps going on they will lose yet another fan. This is BS!! F1 is becoming such a sham, maybe teams should only be one driver, I don’t know, but it needs a severe overhaul.

        1. It might get tricky for the driver to yell out info back to the pits at 300 km/h in place of the radio, or is the driver going to use a large board with replaceable letters too?

          1. DUI that is a really good idea :/

            pleasantly noting your sarcastic genius ^^

      2. The Slower – Been in the front for 49 laps, until he ” Understood ” !

        The Faster – Been behind for 49 laps, until ” This is Ridiculous ” !


    2. That argument falls down when you actually look at the points, and see that Massa was two wins (not inconceivable if Ferrari’s pace is maintained) combined with one Alonso DNF and a finish off the podium (again not inconceivable with the unpredictability of this season) away from being ahead of Alonso in the championship. If Massa’s chances are basically non-existant, then Alonso’s are negligibly better being that he was further behind Hamilton than Massa was behind him.

      This was purely to massage Alonso’s ego and make sure he stays happy knowing he has the whole team working for him (a pet peeve from past comments he has made).

      1. That argument is right if you think that Ferrari knows who is capable to win the championship and who is not. About your appretiation about Alonso’s ego, well, we thank you for showing us your deep knowledge on psychology, but don’t let your fanatism drive your opinions. Or not so much, at least.

        1. Excuse me for saying so, but I agree with the “Alonso’s ego” comment. This is only about Alonso’s ego. Bleating “He is slower than me” is obviously the reason he was given the lead, not because of championship points. Do you think Massa would have been given that order if Alonso hadn’t said a word? I don’t think so.
          If it was only about championship points then the team strategy would have catered for it, but it didn’t because after the pit stops Massa was still in front, thus the team strategy was “let the drivers decide on the track”, and as such when Massa was in front (because of superior tactics) the team strategy was for him to stay there.
          Winning any race is because the winning person (or team) has shown superior tactics, strategy, technology, strength (or power) and skill over all their competitors.
          Alonso was second because his tactics were inferior to those used by Massa, which was also why he got penalised at the previous race and why he ended up out of points contention: because his tactics weren’t very good.
          Then he had plainly broken the rules about overtaking, so if he had given Kubica, I think it was, his place back voluntarily then he would have been in the points, but no, he (or his team) stall and stall and stall, and then when finally they find out that Charlie Whiting is actually not going to let them get away with it the situation on the track has changed and we got lots of bleating about unfairness and snide remarks about Mr Whiting.

          Alonso won this race not because he had shown any superior tactics, strategy, skill, etc, but because he bleated.

          1. By “inferior tactics” you mean Vettel trying to cut him off and then Massa making a brilliant move on the outside? I think it comes down to the team and not Massa and Alonso. Sometime mid-race Alonso said “This is ridiculous,” which is “by the way team, I’m eventually going to make a move and there could be an unfavorable outcome.” Alonso was clearly keeping pace with Massa in the final laps. I’m my opinion, there’s a handful of drivers who, in that position, have the nerve and capability to make a pass and make it stick; Alonso and Hamilton being at the top. In the final few laps Alonso would have definitely made a move on Massa and the team told Massa to let him go to avoid a Red Bull style mishap. I blame the team and not the drivers. Massa clearly wasn’t happy, but if I was him I wouldn’t have done anything and said suck it up Monte.

    3. But if Massa had taken that win would it have given him the confidence to then step up to that next level to really transform his second half of the season?

      1. I agree.Massa’s season was patchy enough before this race but surely now his self belief will be shattered. If this works out for Alonso he won’t give a damn, but Ferrari might reflect on their ‘orders’ if the team suffers as a consequence.

      2. I guess we’ll never know.

    4. Actually, they didn’t have to do it at all. It was pretty obvious that Alonso was going to catch Massa sooner or later. All they had to do was send a message to Massa saying “Don’t fight Alonso if he attempts to pass you” and they would have spared themselves this mess.

      1. “Don’t fight Alonso if he attempts to pass you”
        Sounds like team orders to me…

        Then again “Hold your positions” sounds like a team order when the driver in front is struggling to keep the driver(in second) behind.

        The “team order” concept is very vague, thats exactly why it must go… if you cant enforce it no point scaring ppl with it.

        1. The problem with team orders, though, is it keeps us from seeing the cars actually race. Why does everyone still talk about the days of Senna and Prost both being in McLarens? Because they were both genuinely racing to beat one another and it made for excellent battles and stories.

          I have less respect for Alonso now because what I’ve seen now is that he needs his team to step in and give him a free pass, rather than using his supposed skill to overtake. Obviously you need a lot of talent and ability to reach F1, but there’s no denying a few drivers have cried for their booster-chair so that they can sit a little taller in the championship seat. That to me is the biggest reason to keep the ban: points start being earned not through driver ability and it makes them look better than they might actually be. How many championships would Schumacher have if his teammates hadn’t been told to roll over? How many of his 91 wins were handed over to him? Does this means his impressive stats are reliable? Something worth considering.

          1. Exactly… the team orders on Sunday simply killed the race.

            I remember when Massa came out of the pits ahead of Alonso, and Martin Brundle said, “that means if Alonso wants to win, he’ll have to pass Massa on the track”.

            We thought we were in for a proper race. But no, Alonso had another option: whinge to the team and make Massa pull over.

          2. Actually I got a feeling that Alonso was being extremely conservative attacking Massa right thru the race. Even his one attempt at getting ahead was well executed without much risk.

            Then when Massa cut him he went on the radio exclaiming that the move was “ridiculous!”

            Seems to me that the drivers were instructed not to fight each other and put themselves in a position of eliminating each other.

            In that regard, Alonso played the team game right thru… He could have pressurized Massa but didnt keeping the team interest.

            Say what you may but we will probably never know the complete picture about the incidents that happened on sunday.

        2. I think you can never ever truly enforce these rules and while F1 is run as a business, which will never change, there will always be a favoured driver. Tightening the rules will just simply force everyone to be better actors. Although I hate team orders, I believe it would be much better if teams were transparent about it. At least this way the sport isn’t seen as corrupt like it is now. The fans will simply have to adjust to this. It should just become part of the “there should be more overtaking” wish list that people moan about.

          1. I agree – there will always be team orders; this is impossible to police. We just need to be aware of them.
            Off course we then get to see the sport as it really is, we will know who is actually racing and who is just there to make up the numbers.

      2. “Don’t fight Alonso if he attempts to pass you” = “Alonso is quicker than, got the message?” = “save fuel”. ALL TEAM ORDERS THAT SHOULD BE TREATED EQUALLY

        1. But as far a we know, “save fuel” wasn’t really a team order…

        2. I have said this on other posts and will stress it again. There is a big difference between an order that can be given regardless of the driver in front and one that can only be given if the driver in front is a team mate. ie Webber was told to slow down to preserve his car while behind button. This order could easily have also been given to alonso with no controversy. However it would be impossible for maclaren to give an order for webber to move out of the way of Hamilton. Saving Fuel, Looking after brakes etc are all orders that do not rely on the another team mate. As a fan, I watch F1 for the racing not to see a particular driver be asked to move over to let a team mate win. I acknowledge that team order of some sort can’t be eradicated (and probably should not be) but blatant race fixing like this should always be frowned upon and the FIA needs to make sure that when they occur the teams are punished severely (Remember people bet on race results so it could be seen as a fraud investigation!)

    5. Exactly.

      Massa’s points are barely half that of the championship leader.
      Fernando is in contention, but only barely.

      The *only* realistic chance of Ferrari winning the driver’s championship is Alonso.

      Ferrari have shown many times in the past that they will use team orders to strengthen a lead driver’s chance of winning. And they have applied it evenly since Michael moved on. Most recently both Kimi and Massa gave up positions to each other in back to back championships. The only difference is that yet again Massa didn’t bring home the goods when he had the opportunity.

      All Ferrari did here was repeat that strategy, earlier in the season, because they are that much further behind than they have ever been.

      Props to them for reacting so early. Yes the rule needs to stay. And next time they need to do it with more subtlety.

      Even debating this rule staying in, or being thrown out it pointless. Teams will always use team orders.

      Sure, on a personal level I would have preferred to see the two drivers fight it out. But Ferrari’s decision from a tactical view point is the only one to make at that race. And suprisingly forward thinking for a team that seems to have no real time tactical thinking capacity at all – as is evident from their pit lane strategy for the last several years.

      1. Why is there such a large group of F1 fans wishing that this blatant race fixing was done with more subtlety? A manipulated race is a manipulated race, whether we know about it or not shouldn’t change that at all.

        What about the punter who has 50 quid on a Massa win? How is it fair to him?
        What about the fans who pay obscene ticket prices to see RACING? How is it fair to them?
        And most importantly, what about the guy who very nearly died in an F1 race a year ago to the day? How is it fair to him?

        I’ve been mulling a fix around my head since Sunday afternoon, and I’ll put it out there. I’m sure that all the F1 fanatics out there can point out the flaws in it that I have overlooked.
        Why don’t the FIA make article 39.1 more specific? Outlaw any team orders of any kind EXCEPT in the situation where one driver in a team has been mathematically eliminated from the drivers championship. I dont care if its an order to let someone past, or an order to a driver to NOT attack his teammate in front. Neither of these circumstances are good for the sport, even if one is more noticeable than the other.

        1. “Why is there such a large group of F1 fans wishing that this blatant race fixing was done with more subtlety? A manipulated race is a manipulated race, whether we know about it or not shouldn’t change that at all.” – Finally! I completely agree with this.

        2. Outlaw any team orders of any kind EXCEPT in the situation where one driver in a team has been mathematically eliminated from the drivers championship

          Couldn’t have put it better myself.

    6. I don’t agree. there are still 200 points left to play for.

      That race win could have given Massa a real boost and who knows what could have, and still might, happen?

      Massa deserved that victory. He should have been standing on the top step.

      I just hope he continues to drive like he did this weekend.

      1. You write terrific articles Keith but I’m sorry I have to say that I disagree with you on this one.

        Teams spend millions of dollars to win a championship, it what you are remembered for and they need to be able to do anything they can to acheive that. It’s time for the rule to be scrapped.

        1. The ‘teams should be allowed to do what they want’ argument sounds fine in principle but it’s flawed in practice.

          If they continue to allow teams to pick which of their drivers gets to fight for the championship and which doesn’t we will have this row over and over again and that can’t be good for F1.

          1. I’m a bit confused about the term team here. Isn’t a team a group of individuals working for the same objective?

            According to your argument this will read: a team is a group of people working for two individuals who are looking after their own ego which may ultimately be in conflict with the overall team objective?

            BTW, What happens in other sports? Say if a football player is not performing in a match. Doesn’t he get replaced?

          2. I agree 100% Keith. Orders should only be acceptable once it’s a mathematical impossibility for one of the two drivers to clinch the championship. We all know that it takes money to get into F1, and it’s not a meritocracy (most recent example, Yamamoto), but once the drivers are on track it should be treated as much like a meritocracy as possible. We want to see great racers racing each other. This isn’t pro wrestling, and if these orders are allowed to take place, that’s what we’ll end up with.

          3. @keithcollantine

            If they continue to allow teams to pick which of their drivers gets to fight for the championship and which doesn’t we will have this row over and over again and that can’t be good for F1.

            The thing is… it´s an issue as old as F1. Ferrari and RBR don´t seem to have a problem with it and I´m sure other teams also don´t seems to have a problem with it. So why not live with it??
            If anything, what happened sunday just affirms my thoughts that F1 is a business and not a sport because we get this “scripted” races shoved down our throaghts.
            I don´t despise team orders, I just despise the people that don´t follow them…. It shows much more character when a person respects the tem´s wishes over their own, even if it goes against his own benefits…

        2. dyslexicbunny
          27th July 2010, 16:35

          “Teams spend millions of dollars to win a championship”

          Ferrari had 1-2 either way the drivers finish. The constructors cup is their championship and what they are remembered for. All I’ll remember was that Alonso was given this win by Ferrari. If he wins the drivers championship by under seven points, it’ll be a farce.

          1. With your logic, that means about half of the championships from 1950 to now are a farce…

          2. dyslexicbunny
            27th July 2010, 17:07


            Well I’ve only recently started following F1. It is disappointing but team orders were allowed. I can contend that it is poor racing (and I do) but it was completely allowed at the time. It would be like complaining about steroid use in baseball ruining purity of the sport if it were allowed.

            I just think this blatant usage of team orders makes the win a farce (now that they are prohibited). Sure, I’m not a Ferrari or Alonso fan. That being said, I would be equally appalled by any team doing it. I like seeing competition no matter who wins.

            Honestly, I would like to see them investigate the hold positions orders too. At least make the teams justify the rationale for such a decision. ie: If it was to save fuel, back it up with data. If it was to preserve the engine, see how often they sure that specific one.

          3. I understand what you mean, but I disagree to some point. I don’t want to go back to the days where Massa would give his car up to Alonso if Alonso crashed, but there has to be some team aspect to the sport. It’s not just cars on a track passing each other. Teams have 2 cars that they use to win the 2 championships and it shouldn’t be such a far fetched idea to let them dictate, to some degree, how their cars are used on said track.

            Do you think Hamilton’s 08 championship is a farce? I certainly don’t. when he went around Hiekki at Hockenhiem it was clearly team orders. It is debatable as to how the order was given (beginning of the season, beginning of the race, coded message), but it was similar situation that was pretty obvious to everyone. I remember thinking to myself “good job Hiekki, get out of the way”.

            Anyway, I think there is a middle ground to all this. The teams have VERY expensive cars on track that they don’t want banged up and they have the agenda to win 2 Championships. The fans want to see good clean racing. We can’t have it one way or the other, so partial or vague team orders are understood and that’s what Ferrari was acting under. The problem is that they ****** off their driver and his engineer and they should have known better and dealt with this before the race started…

    7. The reason for that is because of Rob Smedley If i were the boss in the Ferrari F1 team i would have fired him strait away.

      1. Wow Nixon. Really? Fired Smedley strait away? You sure live up to your name.

    8. They did it for 7 points. 7 points when there are still over 200 to earn. That smacks of desperation, that smacks of greed. If they truly believed Alonso’s boasting the the Championship was not out of reach they wouldn’t have handed him the win like giving a crying child a toy. It was pathetic. If Alonso wants to be one of the greats in this sport he should act like it. I have more respect for Massa for Brazil 08 alone than I do for Alonso and his entire career.

      1. Spot on assessment! 7 points out of 225…

        1. Can someone remind me how many points separated the world champion and the runner-up in 2007 and 2008?

    9. Did they? Just think back to 1999 with Irvine heading the Ferrari campaing after Schumacher broke his leg.

      If they had not sacrificed Irvine at times early in the season, he might have actually won the championship that year.

      Who knows what the season will bring, theres over 200 points still to win. What if Alonso breaks a leg or arm or whatever next round, now that would make Ferrari look stupid!

      1. good point BasCB, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket…”

        1. “… unless all you got left is just one egg”

    10. 100% Agree, please do correct me if I am wrong, didn’t Kovalainen more subtlety move out of the way at Silverstone 2008 to let Hamilton through or what about Massa letting Räikkönen through in 2007. Why didn’t anyone complain about that?? In principal its exactly the same; subtle or not subtle its the same outcome. So….why are you complaining?? You will never get rid of team rules. End of story, exactly what Martin Brundle said.

      1. Jarred Walmsley
        27th July 2010, 22:46

        No, it’s not the same because in those circumstances Massa and Kovalainen were out of contention for the championship so there was a clear advantage for the team to allow the other driver through, this is why there was no complaints because it was not the same.

        In this race there had only been 11 races and with over 200 points left to fight for both Alonso and Massa could theoritically win the championship, that is why there is outrage over it.

        And, I agree we will never get rid of team rules but they need to be updated to allow for when one driver has been and only then mathematically ruled out of winning the championship.

  2. If I were the FIA, I’d let the Hockenheim results stand. I’d let Ferrari keep their points. I wouldn’t change a thing.

    I’d also give them a three-race ban. Yes, I’d force Ferrari to miss the Italian Grand Prix. And I’d point to their failure to show as being a direct result of their actions in Germany. The way it stands, they spend forty million dollars to build and develop a car over the course of a year. They can easily afford the hundred thousand dollar fine for getting a better championship position. Hell, they’d probably gladly pay it and consider it money well spent.

    People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy. So I’d ban Ferrari from the Hungarian, Belgian and Italian Grands Prix. I’d effectively end their championship run and put them before the tifosi demanding to know how Ferrari put themselves in a position where they couldn’t race in their home event. And in the process, I’d be making an example of Ferrari before the other teams. The way I see it, Ferrari have had it too good for too long. They seem to think that they are Formula 1, and they need to be put in their place.

    1. I don’t see that happening, but I agree that something like that would be the only way to make them stop and think again about what they did.

    2. Renault throw a driver into a wall to fix a race that they otherwise would have never won and they get a suspended race ban.
      Ferrari move the positions of THEIR two cars around and you expect them to receive a three race ban?

      It sound conceivable given the FIA’s track record of ridiculous decisions.
      Have you sought out employment there?

      1. Hamilton lied in Australia 2009. He was disqualified and the team was threatened with a multple race ban. As with Reanult, McLaren sacrificed some employees and suffered some grovelling to prevent this.

        At the very least Ferrari should get the same penalty as Hamilton (and McLaren) got in 2009.

        If they don’t publicly apologize for their wrongdoings, I’d expect FIA to give them a much harder punishment.

        1. Hamilton lied to gain an advantage. Ferrari didn’t gain anything. There were 1-2 before and they were 1-2 after.

          1. WidowFactory
            27th July 2010, 16:04

            Of course they gained something, else they wouldn’t have done it. Their number 1 driver now has 7 more points and an extra win than he would have otherwise, which is a big deal.

      2. Renault fully co-operated with the FIA’s investigation. They made it pretty clear that the incident was Briatore’s doing, and that if they had known about it, they would have moved to stop it.

    3. A bit harsh….but I actually find myself agreeing!!

      One question, what do drivers get fined for speeding in the pit lane these days and how does that compare to the $100,000 fine applied here?

    4. Hear hear, seconded and too bloody right.

      Not one thing bugged me more about the commentary of the German Grand Prix (yes not even Legard) than all these people (especially Brundle) going on about how Ferrari’s resurgence was so “good for F1”. It wasn’t about it becoming a 3 team, 5 driver championship either, it was all about the fact that everyones favourite boys in red were back. If i’m not mistaken F1 did pretty well without a strong Ferrari from 1979 thru till around 1996, I think we can handle them having an off half season or so.

    5. Well said PM :), sums up all our anger on Ferrari shredding the very meaning of racing.

    6. What if the FIA started to punish team orders every time they happened? Punish Ferrari for Germany, punish McLaren for the ‘hold station’ orders.
      Dock the teams the points they earn every time they make team orders. The teams would soon stop if they were all punished evenly every single time it happened.

    7. Yes, it’s like overtaking the safety car and keeping your 2nd place after a very late penalty… Why Hamilton hasn’t been banned from British GP?

    8. Let’s me see…

      Applying your argument Mclaren should be out for three seasons for stealing Ferrari’s blueprint :)

    9. a small problem with making ferrari miss the next 3 races is that the WMSC isn’t meeting until september, but there still is enough time to ban them from the italian gp

    10. I think that would be taking it a bit too far. The tifosi would be infuriated with the FIA and the sport, not their beloved cheating team. It also punishes the drivers unduly in my opinion. That’s why I wish they would reverse the points and posthumously give the win back to Massa, give Alonso second (which he deserved), and strip the team of all points in the constructors championship. Let the drivers compete for the title, but not the team. That would hurt them in a way that no amount of fine could do.

    11. A fine, a suspended race ban, and take 7 points off Alonso, so that Massa and Alonso both get 18 points. I think that would give the right message :)

    12. You should stand in to be Prime Minister

    13. Banning Ferrari for Monza? I want whatever you’re drinking mate!

      Without Ferrari, I seriously doubt that Monza would manage to attract a 10,000 crowd.

      1. Yes, and that’s the point. They wouldn’t show because Ferrari wouldn’t be there. And Ferrari wouldn’t be there because of their actions in Germany. If Ferrari are forced to sit out of the one race they care about more than the others combined, they’ll revise their position on team orders. They will have nobody to blame but themselves. It would be a black day for the sport, but there would be no doubt as to where the blame for it would lie: with Ferrari.

        1. I thought Mosley was bad!

  3. If Alonso has been outperforming Massa so comprehensively, then he wouldn’t have ended up stuck behind him so often.

    What riles the fans is exactly that – let the drivers prove who’s best on the track. We don’t need a pundit, or a team principal, deciding for us who’s the most deserving driver, or who “should” win a race. The F1 paddock can’t sneer at pay drivers as long as they permit this sort of thing to go on.

    The guy that does the best job on the day is the *only* person that deserves to win. Teams don’t like that because it’s harsh on their prospects sometimes. Tough. I have no respect for teams that have to issue orders to ensure the “right” result. I have no respect for drivers who expect that sort of treatment. I have no respect, but some sympathy, for drivers who are on the receiving end of it.

    Does that include the likes of the great Fangio from the 50’s? Yes. Yes it does. You can’t be the greatest, or a champion, at anything, if someone is fixing the result for you. I’ll always have more respect for Button winning a championship on merit, and struggling, and almost losing it, than I will for a man who won a championship when his teammate had to pull his car over and get out of it to hand him a win.

    1. well said that man… i agree

    2. theRoswellite
      27th July 2010, 15:51

      @ Hairs….nicely put, very nicely!

      Also, one point I haven’t heard mentioned, all the considerations about team orders has an underlying assumption which is; teams are all fighting for the championship AND THAT IS ALL THAT MATTERS.

      I would suggest each race has an intrinsic value of it’s own.

      A win is important to each driver, it is important to the fans at the track, it is important to those who are watching on TV (I wanted to see the two Ferrari drivers DECIDE THE MATTER ON THE TRACK). We are not all watching just to follow the championship.

      Team orders are manipulative, they are sinical and they denigrate the basic idea of “racing”. We all lost the CHANCE to see a restorative moment…a Massa return to victory…how exhalting would that have been?

      The Red Bull owner, DM, put most clearly when he said…we are going to let them race, SV. & MW, whatever the outcome.

      I support his approach and the principle on which it is based.

      1. I too love that DM said he would let his guys race. Sure the crash cost them, sure Ferrari didn’t want to replicate that, but it sure made the season more interesting, what Ferrari did this weekend is a huge setback to the series’s credibility. There needs to be a big change in Formula one, they need to cut out all this BS. I hope the championship goes down to the absolute wire with a real racer winning it, not some rule breaking cry baby.

        1. I was impressed by it as well and as he is the owner of the team it might just be they stick to it.

          On a side note, what to make of RBR actually having contacted race control directly after the incident to have it investigated (http://adamcooperf1.com/2010/07/27/christian-horner-what-was-done-was-very-blatant/ )

    3. Fangio’s teamate’s never (had) to give their cars, (part of team protocal) and they were only allowed the chance if the driver was lower down then the other, both were higher up the grid then fangio when the car problems came up.

      Musso was asked by the team director to give his car to Fangio to win the world title, he was told get lost and he just carried on, though he retired afterwards with a broken steering wheel.

      Peter Collins who in the end gave his car to Fangio “out of sportsmanship not team orders”, would of won the 1956 world title if he carried on. Sadly he died 2 years later never getting another chance.

      If I remember that was the once and only time Fangio ever needed a teamates car (to win a world title) the other times he was just 10 times better then anybody else the whole season.

      1. “It didn’t happen as much as you think” isn’t a defence. It shouldn’t happen at all, and if Driver A is really better than Driver B, then they don’t need that sort of helping hand.

        A driver that needs his team, or his teammate, to fix a race for him, is not a better driver, or a faster driver, or a winner, or a champion. Schumacher wasn’t a champion in 1994 because he had to cheat to get it. Ditto Senna/Prost and Prost/Senna. Those guys can polish their trophies all they like. They *won* nothing. They were handed something. That’s not winning.

  4. what? alonso had 40-50% more points then massa, he outqualified him 8 times, everyone noticed that massa was painfully slower than alonso on several previous occasions.
    the decision was made on the second corner based on the stats made by the drivers in the season so far.
    in my opinion he would have passed him anyway, or they may have had a crash like the RB did.
    how could they ban ferrari for 3 races? that’s just absurd. The rule isn’t clear, they can’t rule cos of it.
    Massa made the decision, ofc under ferrari pressure.
    In my oppinion they should have done it by simply tune down massa’s engine for a few laps, much like horner said to webber in turkey

    1. Button is outqualified by Hamilton quite a bit as wel. But he still is second in the championship through racecraft/strategy. A race is won by not losing positions and gaining them if needed – that takes more skill than just driving fast, or we wouldn’t need the race, just qualifying. And Red Bull would be very far ahead in the championship.

    2. If he would have passed him, why didn’t he do it? Sorry, I thought we were watching racing, not predicting what “would” have happened eventually. In that case, let’s just all say who we think will eventually win each race and then end the race there, that way there’s no fuss and no muss.

      1. I think you’ve just found the solution to cutting costs and bringing F1’s carbon footprint right down!!

  5. Very good article Keith. Those saying the rule should be scrapped are being very naive if they think that some teams won’t abuse it. The fairest way to do it is to amend the rule to say team orders are only allowed when one driver is out of the championship while the other one isn’t.

    1. As much as the actuality of the rule, it’s the enforcement that is impossible.
      Pit-to-car radio allows coded messages to be delivered carrying instructions for a driver to allow a teammate to pass. Unless you ban radio, this will always be possible.
      And you’d better ban the radio-telemetry that allows engineers in the pits alter the performance of the car remotely (viz the threat delivered to Petrov on Sunday).
      Of course, a team could always have a ‘problem’ during a pitstop that slows one car and favours the other team car, so pitstops would have to go as well.
      And just to be on the safe side, you’d better ban pit board signals as well.
      It’s not going to happen, is it? So the FIA might as well legalise team orders.
      After all, it’s no different to a manager of something like a football or rugby team who might decide to rest his key players from a less important game and preserve them for a vitally important game the following week. The team might actually lose the unimportant game, but win the vital one. That’s what team management is all about, isn’t it? Maximising the performance of the team for the overall benefit of the team.
      I think ‘abused’ is a very emotive term. I prefer to think that team orders could be exploited for the benefit of the team overall. And I’m not in favour of ‘conditional’ rules – team orders to be allowed when one driver out of the championships . . . too messy.

      1. I think as long as the rule-makers are savvy enough and the penalty for transgressing is harsh enough, you can enforce it.

        you’d better ban the radio-telemetry that allows engineers in the pits alter the performance of the car remotely

        Pit-to-car telemetry was banned a few years ago. The teams have to instruct the driver to make changes to the engine, so it would be pretty obvious what was going on.

        a team could always have a ‘problem’ during a pitstop that slows one car and favours the other team car

        I can’t think of a way of doing that which wouldn’t be obvious or very hard to achieve. Plus, teams’ opportunities to do this are very limited at the moment. Ferrari couldn’t do it on Sunday as there was too much risk of dropping Massa behind Vettel.

        Pit-to-car radio allows coded messages to be delivered carrying instructions for a driver to allow a teammate to pass.

        As we saw on Sunday, coming up with a suitably discrete message and giving up the position are both very hard to do without it being completely obvious.

        1. “Pit-to-car telemetry was banned a few years ago.”
          So what was that threat to Petrov on Sunday?Something like ‘We’re going to have to turn your engine down’ wasn’t it?

          Pit stops. “I can’t think of a way of doing that which wouldn’t be obvious or very hard to achieve.” How about dropping the air gun, or simply forgetting to bring the right niumber of wheels to the car as Ferrari did a few years ago.

          “As we saw on Sunday, coming up with a suitably discrete message and giving up the position are both very hard to do without it being completely obvious.”
          There could be any number pre-agreed messages ‘The owls will fly low tonight . . ‘ and all sorts of rubbish like that. What really gave it away on Sunday as many have pointed out was the “do you undertand?” bit and “Sorry.” But to be honest, I think Smedley might have wanted to give the game away.

          But yes Keith, you’re right. It is quite difficult to operate team orders in a subtle and disguised way, bit the teams still try it and still do it. So why not just let them do it? As I wrote before, it happens in virtually every other sport – it even happens at Le Mans as I recall – so why not in F1?

          1. That “threat” was merely a warning that he would have to turn his engine down if he couldn’t deal with the problem on his own.

          2. For the radiop messages I agree with HGB. WE saw Nelson crash and apparently a specific word was the trigger for that but we didn’t find out until a year later and it had came to light.

            I don’t like team orders and it’s something I’ll always disagree with but I really don’t see them ever being stopped.

            I would however like to say thank you to Keith for being one of the very few journalists to focus on the wider issue of team orders.

          3. There are many rules that are difficult to govern. Just because they are tough to do so, does not mean we should stop. I’d be willing to agree to get rid of a rule if a legitimate argument was made against it, but “it’s hard to enforce” is a pretty weak one. I’m sure there’s a lot of rules that are difficult to enforce in F1, but they’re still trying so that we get a good race. In this case, we didn’t get a good race because a rule was broken and obviously it should be upheld.

          4. i was really surprised by renault’s message too. a team cannot exert any influence on the car outside of the pits, so i have to guess they meant “follow instructions and save gas now, or we’ll turn down your rev limiter next time.” that would result in him being even less competitive, and we all know what happens to less competitive drivers – they are gone.

      2. You make a good argument for stopping those mandatory tire stops, and asking for return of full-race-lasting tire.

        1. When the full-race-lasting tire was used in 05 I at first thought it silly, but now that we have a new refueling ban, it makes perfect sense! It would require all passing to be done on track!

      3. So the rule is hard to enforce when the team orders are very discreet.

        But that’s okay, because fans won’t be anything like as livid when the team orders are very discreet.

        The bottom line is that Ferrari got caught red handed, and in this situation the rule can and should be enforced.

  6. William Wilgus
    27th July 2010, 12:55

    The drivers are paid by the teams, and therefore work for the teams. ‘Nuff said.

    Slightly off-topic, the Driver’s Championship is really a farce. At least 75% of winning it is due to the car, and some of it is luck. That leaves very little for the driver’s influence.

    1. Well, accepting for a moment that your percentages mean something in the real world, a 25% driver influence in a situation like this year where the top teams are usually fractions of a second off each other *does* make a huge difference – which is why you’ll see some drivers win and not others. For example, Vettel’s ability to get pole and his inability to get away clearly off the line are both huge factors this season in deciding this season. The only season where the car really walked the championship was last year – in my opinion because FIA allowed a technical breach (deliberately?) they shouldn’t have with the double diffuser, after dropping the insistence on teams using KERS long after McLaren, Ferrari, BMW etc had invested heavily in tis development. That totally skewed the year and allowed one team to dominate, though Red Bull and McLaren where challenging at the end, too late.

      1. The Brawn car last year did not dominate. It was the best car at less than half of the races of the season. For a dominant car, you would be better looking at the 04 Ferrari or the 92 Williams.

        Sorry to go off topic but I am really fed up of people describing the Brawn as a car that was so far ahead of the others that a monkey could have won in it, when that blatantly was not the case.

        1. It’s kind of what I said!

          1. Is it?? Then what did you mean by “The only season where the car really walked the championship was last year” and “That totally skewed the year and allowed one team to dominate”? If I am misinterpreting your comments I apologise.

  7. Well, mathematically every driver is still running for the WDC. Petrov might still technically grab 225 points, but it’s much more likely Kubica will do that if anything. Now I’m not advocating that if a situation arose where Petrov is ahead of Kubica the former should let the latter pass, but I’m saying that the argument based on a ‘realistic’ chance of winning the WDC is not completely void.

    You are in other words arguing that team orders should be allowed from somewhere between the 70th and 100th percentile of the season, i.e. when one driver has mathematically eliminated the other. In principle I do agree with that, however one has to realize that the difference between ‘impossibility of winning’ and ‘high unlikeliness of winning’ might at times be almost non-existent.

    Nonetheless, it seems to be fairly easy to word a rule like that properly and clearly.

    1. Be real
      the only way is if all the top 5 drivers all finish below the 4th position does Massa have a chance
      and this is wholly unlikely is it

      I like Massa and was peed off when they stoped LH trying to race Alonso in Monaco 07
      but it happens and they all have simple

      1. Re-read what I wrote. That’s exactly what I said…

  8. I am not surprised at your backing whitmarsh on this stance
    asking a co driver to move over or tell them to hold station is a team order and is fixing the race result
    let me remind you of Monaco 2007
    Alonso in front not even scratching the barriers
    Hamilton running second trying to catch Alonsdo but scraping the barriers
    team orders them both to hold station in stead of letting them race
    i bet Hamilton would have crashed out trying to catch Alonso and is why the team did what it did
    not to stop Hamilton from wining from Alonso
    as FA had it in the bag as long as he did not lose it
    the team were having a 1 2 finish and were trying to presrve the younger driver from embarassing him self

  9. Looking specifically at sports betting, I can see how this rule should probably stay.

    It certainly makes things interesting for a team that decides to favor one driver well before the end of the season, and therefore, doesn’t help one bit to disguise the order, as Massa did. McLaren and Red Bull must be laughing at them now, as am I.

    1. sports betters get what they deserve. no-one complains when they win.

  10. Ban team orders until its mathematically impossible for a driver to win? Simple enough for everyone to understand at least, if not adhere to…

    1. I’m sure there would be some problems with that that you and I haven’t thought of yet, but that seems a pretty reasonable suggestion.

      1. I didn’t agree with this idea at first but now, in a way, i do. I can only see a problem in that teams might try to push the rule but if they do then there needs to be some sort of heavy penalty (not a fine, worse) to try to prevent it. The rule certainly needs looking at though.

      2. I think if everyone obeyed rules, it’d be the best solution. The team orders rule is clearly only there because the outside audience wants racing: the teams themselves obviously want the ideal of total control over who wins and whether or not they allow their drivers to race, while the drivers themselves decide whether or not they’re willing to ignore team orders (e.g. Hamilton at Hungary 2007) and face the flack. That’s more or less most ‘insiders’ position (Brundle, Coulthard etc.) McLaren are a slight exception since they tend to prefer two top racers and seeing both motivated to win until the end (which, contrary to the cynics, actually partly explains why Kovalainen left, he simply wasn’t competitive enough, too much a 2nd driver, meaning he couldn’t defend Hamilton sufficiently by taking points off rivals etc…)

        But we want to see the likes of Alonso and Massa battle for position and maybe spin off. Most non-RBR fans loved seeing Vettel take out Webber, I’m sure. And the teams have to be aware of the commercial value of this ‘entertainment.’ So I think they should be forced to compete to a reasonable point even if the teams ideally want otherwise. But I think spectators and viewers accept that if a driver can win the championship with his team mate letting him past, it’s okay. In a way, it’s then like a ‘friend’ helping you out willingly. We could see that when Raikonnen let Massa past at China 2008. He was obviously reluctant to cede position out of pure driver pride (wanting to win or be ahead) but it didn’t compromise his chances for the WDC as they’d gone already. He just made it obvious that he was doing Massa a favour (as he’d done for Kimi in 2007 at Interlagos).

        The only get round I can see is the teams deliberately manufacturing a situation where one driver is mathematically out of contention as early as possible, but is that likely? Maybe! But that’s F1. Rule bending is the rule.

        1. Jarred Walmsley
          27th July 2010, 23:11

          No teams would try and engineer a situation where one driver is mathematicallly out of contention as early as possible because that will cause the team to earn less constructors points.

      3. Jarred Walmsley
        27th July 2010, 23:12

        I have just thought of a problem now, what about when both drivers are mathematically out of contention, now I’m not sure why team orders would be needed then but still, it is a situation

    2. There is no need for team orders in such a situation, because the driver will already know what he has to do.

      The only situations in which team orders are reasonable are those in which they are redundant.

      1. True Jonathan, but the point is simply that the teams won’t have to pretend there are no orders when everyone knows what’s happening.

        1. Hmm, not very clear: what I mean is that even if the driver in front knows what’s expected, in most cases the team has to tell him exactly when to drop back (and remind him to do so: most are at least a bit reluctant) or they have to engineer some kind of charade, like dawdling over a pit stop, to enable the switch. Maybe that’s more elegant though…

  11. NO the rule must be scraped….BECAUSE the teams NOW code their messages (think what mclaren done to turkey this year but then the strategy radio messages weren’t bublic now they are…because FOM give the video with the “stategy” messages we learnt what they done BUT not enough quick..I think that team orders exist in F1 and you can not avoid them with any rule) to the drivers to do the same…That’s anoying YOU CAN NOT AVOID TEAM ORDERS with any rule!!! That’s why the rule must be scrapted because you can not use it!!!! Think if you are in a better position with the points one driver has to win the WDC and we want two or three races to go WHY the teams give team orders to give the position to the guy with more points?? that is not a team order??? Why then none complaint?? I think that you the media want to confuse the fans!!!! The points you take in first race you take exactly the same and in the last race, so why your team mate give his position to win the championship?? That is not a team order?? Why that is legal and others are ilegal??? Brawn said that now where the radio is all free to public on TV we need to code messages… Who will benefit from a radio that you can not understand what they say?? And when they give team orders or no?? What Vader done to heiki when he told him …heiki mix 5.. and then in turn six in HOCKENHEIM (what a shame the german gp again) let lewis pass??? We the fans remember what the teams done in the past so don’t try to confuse us!!!! Take some proof for what i say:




    1. Investigate if it sounds fishy, do that a few times in the first races, possibly getting extra stewards in, just to make a point of it not being accepted, and give harsh penalties for it – will stop soon.

      1. How they can proof that the team done it?? The messages now that the rule exists are coded (ok ferrari message wasn’t so coded :)) so you can’t say that a team give team orders like hockenheim 2008 or turkey 2010 or hockenheim 2010..That si the reason that i say that such a rule is not workable because you can not one hundred persent proof it that one message whas team order…

  12. Hooray! Glad to see you sticking up for sporting values Keith.

    Too many cynical F1 insiders are coming out in favour of team orders, and as fans we have to show them how we feel.

    Over and over again I have heard that, because “every team does it” and “there have always been team orders in F1”, the rule must be at fault.

    But there is absolutely no excusing the sordid spectacle we saw on Sunday, which was an insult to all F1 fans.

    1. Until each team runs only one car, there will always be team orders – coded or otherwise.

      1. This was the most blatant and unjustified use of team orders since 2002.

        The truth is, I don’t really care if tiny little subtle team orders happen all the time. I care about the huge, grotesque, obvious transgressions that drag F1 through the mud.

        1. Fair enough, I feel the same way.

          But I think you’ll find drawing that line is not as easy as you think, and certainly not for the regulators.

        2. So it’s ok to lie, cheat, and steal, as long as no one knows your doing it?

          1. No, but a huge, grotesque, obvious transgression is worse than a tiny, little, subtle one.

          2. No its not. What makes it huge and grotesque anyway…that fast that Massa made it obvious? From the team point of view it is not different at all, it’s just that their driver decided to let them get caught.

      2. No, I don’t even think that would do it. Remember the Fontana incident in Jerez? Here is the relevant passage from Wikipedia.

        During the world championship-deciding 1997 European Grand Prix in Jerez, Fontana appeared to block Jacques Villeneuve, who was the direct rival of Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher at the time. ITV commentator Martin Brundle dryly pointed out that the Sauber team used Ferrari engines at the time.

        In 2006, in the Argentinian Magazine Olé, Fontana claimed that Jean Todt visited the Sauber motorhome during the weekend, and told Peter Sauber that the Saubers must block if they were in a position to do so in order to help Michael Schumacher win the World Championship.

        May be true, may not. But there again is the possibility of a inter-team loyalty that cannot be discounted or legislated against.

        1. That was terrible because not only was Fontana being lapped but ti was a team order being given to another team! Although I cannot imagine Sauber ever being asked or doing the same again even if tema orders were brought back.

        2. Not forgetting that the agreement between McLaren and Williams at the same race. McLaren agreed not to attack Jacques Villeneuve and were gifted the race in return.

        3. Would those things actually be considered team orders?

          1. It’s not really team orders is it? Just outrageous skulduggery.

            Seriously, if Todt is ever proved to have been involved in this, he should resign immediately.

  13. Ban team radio, except in emergencies/pit stop call ins.

  14. Lets be frank though, Massa is in no way in contention for the championship. Ok, he has a chance of beating Kubica and Rosberg, but not the likes of the Red Bulls, Mclarens and Alonso unless they all had a long run of bad luck – which just wont happen. He has been nowhere near as fast as the above for much of this season. Even when the car was poor, Alonso was much closer to the cars on the pace (barring poor luck). The two major occassions that Alonso has been behind Massa this season, Alonso has been far quicker (Australia, where lets not forget Alonso drove through the field and Germany).

    Massa hasnt been the same driver since his accident, but even before them I only ever rated him as an average driver, with flashes of excellence on a few occassions, largely on tracks he likes. The top drivers are able to perform well on any track, even ones they detest.

    I think we all have to put ourselves in the place of Stefanio Domenicalli here. Which driver is more likely to be giving you the drivers championship this year, when it would seem that the constructors is becoming more of a long shoot as race passes.

    I agree and support the decision Ferrari made at the weekend, my only criticism is that the order should have come from Chris Dyer (Chief Engineer) or Stefanio Domenicalli, the boss himself.

    1. @ ‘Massa hasnt been the same driver since his accident’

      True until Hockenheim on Sunday. Which explains why the decision to force him to let Alonso past was particularly cruel, whether you agree with Ferrari taking it or not.

      1. I agree, and its also made cruel by what happened exactly a year before.

    2. Who knows what the season still has to bring. For Jenson Button wining 6/7th of the first GPs last year was enough to bag the championship.

      Maybe if Massa had won it on Sunday he would have been fired up enough to make it another 2-3 races in a row and more still to come. Now that would be a great comeback (compare Kimi in 2007 making up a lot of points).
      Just think of it, if Irvine would not have had to give up points early in 1999 he might have clinched it after Schu broke his leg.

    3. Massa hates Monaco, found himself on pole there in 08. Found himself on pole at Singapore 08, at a brand new track and was killing Hamilton and the rest till Alonso was gifted another race win. Your argument is ridiculous, it just seems no one wants to give Massa the respect he deserves. He was one point shy of beating Hamilton in 08 and everyone hails Hamilton like the second coming. If anything Massa was even more deserving of the 08 championship. By comparison Alonso hasn’t really shone since 07.

  15. For once, I disagree with you on this.

    “Surely we don’t want a Formula 1 where half the drivers on the track are only there to hold up the other drivers for the benefit of their team mate?”

    I actually find that quite interesting, and did in the past.

    Also, you haven’t tabulated the constructors championship on this page, or haven’t really mentioned it in this piece. Ok, yes in one sense Alonso winning helped the push for the drivers, but not having them run into each other (Red Bull) was also part of the decision for the benefit of the team.

    Formula 1 is a team sport as well as an individual one, so to not have team orders (as DC mentioned) is just not workable in my opinion.

    If you always have coded instructions, then how is the rule policable? We are just encouraging teams to find more adept ways of cheating rule 39.1

    1. I’d say Red Bull is an example of what happens when the team orders are given in a way so that the No2 driver doesn’t know what’s going on and the No1 driver thinks he can simply breeze past.

      If we go by the words of Helmut Marko they were working to get Vettel ahead of Webber, but without actually telling the drivers to swap places.

      1. Or maybe just Webber’s engineer not wanting to give the message and apologize to Mark afterwards (like smedley did).

    2. “Ok, yes in one sense Alonso winning helped the push for the drivers, but not having them run into each other (Red Bull) was also part of the decision for the benefit of the team.”

      If keeping the WCC points was the most important thing to Ferrari, why not instead tell Alonso not to attempt anything stupid, and allow the driver who had done a better job up until then take the flag first?

  16. Keith,
    “Just three years ago, Kimi Räikkönen overcame a deficit equal to 1.7 wins in two races to win the championship.”
    Why yes, but how many drives did he need to outscore to achieve that? My memory says the number wasn’t five. Indeed, it was two – just the two McLarens.
    I mean seriously, yes Massa may have caught one or the other of those five in front of him. But all of them? Don’t be ridiculous. Alonso may only be thirty points ahead, but that’s thirty points less he has to gain on FOUR other drivers ahead of him!

    There is much to criticize in the way that Ferrari handled the situation, but to claim that Massa was deprived of a shot at the championship is bonkers.

    1. There is really no excuse for Ferrari’s behaviour. Chances are, neither of their drivers will win the WDC. Alonso’s chances are not that much better than Massa’s.

      Think about it. A Ferrari driver is only going to win the WDC this year if Ferrari dominates the second half of the season.

      If they do, Massa could finish the season with a very large points haul and will be a contender for the championship.

      1. I didn’t attempt to excuse the blatancy of the act. There would’ve been easy ways to swap these places without causing this outcry, but they didn’t. They broke the rule and a punishment is deserved.

        However, the dichotomy between “the car is not good enough for either to be WDC” and “the car is going to be so good that no team orders will be necessary to secure it” is false. It may well be that for the rest of the season the car will be near the level of the RB and ahead of the McLaren, in which case Alonso may have a shot at the championship if everything works in his favour. And part of that everything is getting past Massa this Sunday.

        It may well not happen, but such is life.
        Again, if Massa was thirty points behind Alonso with Alonso leading the championship and only one or two drivers between them it would be a different thing.

      2. But Jonathan, there is a reason (maybe not an excuse, but a reason…and I’m not defending Ferrari). the REASON, is that in their minds, one of their drivers has a shot, albeit a small one, at winning the WDC. They also thought that Smedley and Massa would follow suit. From Ferrari’s point of view, the decision is understandable – avoid the RBR mistake of Turkey and propel the driver with more points up the ladder while keeping your constructors points the same….little did they know it would backfire like this…

        And this is why people are bringing up the argument of the ‘other teams do it’…the only difference is that they got caught because Massa doesn’t want to concede….Part of me says good for him, part of me says why, why, why….

        1. @Jonathan “Chances are neither driver is going to win the WDC” Now Ferrari have a good car, can you really imagine them just giving in and saying they have no hope? I think they’re desperate, very desperate and that’s why Sunday unfolded as it did. Alonso was ahead in the championship, doesn’t matter by how much due to their level of desperation, and obviously the person they feel is more likely to win the WDC.
          The fact they’re desperate doesn’t make it any better though. I don’t agree to what happened and just because they are yearning for a win and the championship they should not resort to breaking a rule.

        2. @ mfDB if you were Massa or Smedley would you have just sat by, accepted that and done nothing. You would be livid that you were robbed of a most deserved victory.

          1. You should re-read my post. I do say part of me says good for him for making it obvious, but in reality I think he made a bad judgment call. If he didn’t think that the pass was best for the team he should have stayed in front. If he thought the call was correct than he should have just let alonso by subtly like we have seen these situations take place in the past.

  17. Thanks for this article Keith. It perfectly catches my thoughts on this.

    I feel that, with the car coming good, Massa seemed to be finally getting up to speed and showing some of his previous self, and the win could have bolstered that to kick the team into action. But maybe Ferrari prefers Alonso asking favours instead.

    I am really dissapointed with Alonso, I had doubts about ethics, but not about his skill to get another WDC – seems he does, not feeling able to pass on merit. In the past few races he has really been showing himself to be impatient and irritable, instead of coolheaded and clever.

    Glad that Ferrari kept themselves in the WCC, but hoping they get nowwhere with WDC, meaning that I hope Massa takes their points from now on, with a revitalised car.

    Red Bull wil be working hard to gain back their advantage, and already know they have to be careful with their handling of drivers, so they are not really on the backfoot.

    McLaren meanwhile keep coolly, relatively calmly, taking points while they are not the top dog, working to once again become that and stay on top.

    1. @ bosyber I agree with you completely sir!

  18. Harry Ball Ox
    27th July 2010, 13:31

    There’s a logical argument either way….

    As long as the teams spend millions building race cars and then employing someone else to drive they will, understandably, want the very best result for the team at every race by expecting the driver(s) to do whats best for the team. As fans we want the teams we support, and even those we loath to do the very best they can. This promotes better racing – in therory.

    But….this isnt the type of racing we want to see. It’s worse than the arguments we’ve been having over the last few years about teams reshuffeling their drivers via the pits, or the only overtaking being in the pits.

    For me, I think Hockenheim was a real sham. As a fan of F1 Im embarassed about this. Primarily because Massa wasnt simply asked to let Alonso pass, Massa had to slow down to let Alonso pass. Every fan, hopefully, wants to see every driver race for the checkered flag and not have it handed to him. I agree with Keith’s comments that Ferrari should have simply told Massa not to hold up Fernando. But then again, you could argue letting him pass prevents us from seeing real wheel to wheel racing. It’s one thing to be faster than another car that is in front of you but another, entirely, to get past it. Even for a great driver like Alonso.

    At the end of the day I think this rule should stay, albeit nearly impossible to inforce. But I think the FIA have every responsibility to insure this, and any rule on the books, is inforced.

    It’s also very sad for every member of the Ferrari team. They collectively look bad when it’s realy down to team management.

    I think Massa said it best when he commented that he’s a professional doing what’s expected of him from his employeer. We ALL do that in our every day lives. Even those of us who are self employeed. We cater to the ones who pay us – if we dont, they will find someone else to pay.

    This is not an easy topic to resolve. But I think Ferrari continues to shoot themselfs in the foot by making comments about the team being first and drivers having to do whats best for the team. Then turn around and say this wasnt a team order. I think the WMSC will take further action, as they should.

    The real winner in all of this is Red Bull. If you’d have said, prior to the race, there will be a major scandal at the end of the race, who wouldn’t have believed it was about Red Bull. being a Mclaren fan, Im very happy that it’s not them who were talking about this year.

  19. It may only be me but why are there continual references to previous points systems? What happened in the past remains there, what is the reason of discussing last years points. We may as well at the end of the season discuss the 11 from 16 etc. The rule will probably be changed as this has always been a team sport and Ferrari showed the worst way to express it last weekend. One key difference between fans is that in Italy the team is key and not always the driver. In the UK the majority seem to follow a driver. We are keener to see a Ferrari victory and when they win the press report it as a victory for Ferrari. The press outside Italy tend to mention the driver first.

    1. Because people might think that 30 points is a huge amount. Last year it was 3 full race wins. This year it’s a win and a third place.

      It’s the same reason that the drivers (etc) keep saying how the new points system makes such a huge difference. When in reality it does not. It’s just the perception that’s different.

    2. “…why are there continual references to previous points systems?”

      I think it’s to empahsise that Massa isn’t as far back in the championship as a first glance would suggest.

    3. It may only be me but why are there continual references to previous points systems?

      Just because we’re on the first year of a new points system and it’s hard to put it into context otherwise.

    4. Rampante, what would be more important to the average Italian fan: a win for an Italian driver or a win for an Italian team (not necessarily Ferrari)?
      I’m not making a point mate, just curious.

    5. I disagree that in Italy the team is the key.

      The change of order in the German Grand prix made NO difference to the amount of points Ferrari scored. The only thing it did was favour one DRIVER over another.

      Team no, driver yes.

  20. what do you guys think of one car teams? not necessarily one car, but, for example, ferrari would have two cars running as “isolated” teams, each one of them with their own sponsors and technical team

    this way, of course, alonso would still be benefited, but at lease, in cases such as last sunday, the team would have more independence

    though, i don´t know exactly how this would work for constructors title :)

    1. Sounds great, but anything with an inevitable cost increase is a definite no no at the moment.

    2. this is the heart of the issue i think.

      I don’t think that 1 car teams is the solution, but a more independent sub-team within the constructor would lead to the kind of open rivalry we all want. Rob Smedley would still be a Ferrari employee, but his loyalty would be to the Massa championship bid, not the Ferrari one.

      As for punishment, i’m feeling that the only appropriate penalty would be to strip Ferrari of all their constructor points for the 2010 season, however, that actually goes to their favour, because its Alonso they’re trying to promote, but then taking Alonso’s points away from him is too harsh on him, and not harsh enough on Ferrari.

      Really, why can’t all teams compete in a fair way, allowing incidents to happen and not trying to bring this team aspect into it? Because there is a WCC as well as a WDC. This is what makes F1 different to ALL other forms of motorsport, and why the fundamental structure is to blame for this incident, not Ferrari in and to themselves.

      I am however not offering any solution to this, or even saying that the structure should be changed, but first we must understand what drives teams to these decisions before we can understand what would be a fair punishment for the contravention of the rules.

      1. Just reverse their positions, demote Alonso to second and give Massa the victory he deserves. Let the drivers keep their points, but strip the points from the team. Yes, Alonso is still a complete baby, but Ferrari didn’t have to give in.

    3. sounds like a terrible idea. there are other forms of racing with incomprehensible teams with different sponsors that are difficult to follow. There is no need to over react.

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