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”

  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.

  21. As a Ferrari fan, I agree with Ferrari’s motives of backing only Alonso this season. because, frankly, Massa has been very off-pace all season. There is less than 1% chance of him being a WDC this year. I mean, just look at the German Grand Prix ‘preview’ article written by Keith here. The majority of comments deal with Massa being sacked for under-performance and be replaced by Kubica, people questioning his 2-year deal. It can be seen from that article that no one seriously believes that Massa has a shot at the WDC.

    As a Ferrari fan, I do have a problem with HOW they managed the situation. Open Team Radio or not, there are better way to do this. And Ferrari should have done that. They cleverly disguised that in 2007, a little blatant in 2008, but on Sunday, it was just embarrassing.

    To sum up, it is not the team orders I am opposed to, but the way they are implemented it.

    1. The thing is though. Massa is doing much better with the new car.

      Massa has been picking up places at the start all year too.

      He could very well be at the front of every race from now on. With Alonso right behind him every time.

      1. HA! Imagine if that does happen. Next race Massa is in front, gets told to let Alonso past again.

        And we fans are complaining now…

  22. Telling a driver to “hold position” and not try to overtake is on the same page as telling a 2nd driver to let him past, in my book.

    There still are, and always will be, team orders – because it’s a TEAM sport.

    The negative media/fan reaction is because it’s Ferrari, and because they handled it so very badly.

    1. But then the rules aren’t in your book, but in the book of the FIA.

      The FIA has said that “hold position” is allowed.

      No one really has a problem with that. Of course people frowned a bit when Alonso was held up by Massa in Australia, but when Domenicali said that the standard order was that there was no overtaking allowed on the last stint, people just accepted that.

  23. This is one of the very few times that I disagree with you Keith.

    The only real reason you give as to why you think the rule should stay in play is: to avoid even more contentious acts of race-fixing. I think that argument is pretty flimsy really – after all Piquet Jnr put his car into the wall in order to set Alonso up for a win while the team orders rule was in place.

    Personally I think its ridiculous to try and control what the team does in relation to its drivers. Ferrari clearly believe, given the current situation (both the points situation and relative performance levels) that its worth backing the driver with the best chance of winning the championship. Alonso has been quicker all season, and swapping of positions at the front of the German GP is completely understandable from the teams perspective.. and should be permitted under the rules.

    I think its ridiculous to have a team orders rule, because it forces the team to try and use underhanded tactics, code words, etc that the ordinary viewer can see right through. The outcome on the weekend was poor because Ferrari were forced to blatantly lie about what was really happening.. that was actually worse than swapping the drivers’ positions.

    1. Here another example of race fixing as you seem to find only Alonso actings in the past.
      SAME CIRCUIT, SAME CURVE, SAME TEAM ORDERS, DIFFERENT PLAYERS (KOV-HAM), DIFFERENT TEAM (BRITISH) = NO INVESTIGATION FOR MACLAREN. That’s year 2.008 when Hammilton won the WC by 1 point difference to Massa. Ron Dennis: “We have just informed Kov about Hamiltons pace” – Comments in Spanish but images very clear comaring the 2 overtakings: http://vimeo.com/13652447

      1. Massa and Piquet must have been ordered to move over too seeing how easily they let Hamilton past. Imagine that …

        1. Surely Massa and Piquet did get out of Hammiltons way as Kov did

    2. Singapore ’08 is a problem case, I agree. But it’s also unique and I think alarm bells would ring if we ever saw something similar happen again.

      1. agreed, singapore 08 is an extremely anomalous situation.

      2. We just saw Webber crash in Valencia at a point where the safety car came out just as Vettel past.

        If the safety car had been out a second earlier he would have stopp Hamilton too and Vettel would have been wel ahead of the whole lot of them.

        I’m pretty sure he didn’t do that on purpose though.

  24. If the public gamble on F1 results then what happened on Sunday was criminal. If I had bet on a Massa win I’d be demanding my stake back, as the race was fixed. So I do hope Ferrari get a race ban or two, at best they should be stripped of points for race fixing. They also ruined my race weekend.

    1. Oh yes, criminal. I bet with you more money has been bet on Alonso 1st than on Massa, so its been probably the maFIA whos fixed the race. An immediate investigation should be started!!! Mr Whiting come on, act as you do with spoiled child Hamiltonto: http://vimeo.com/13002137

  25. The only team order that Ferrari had needed to give to both drivers on Sunday was ‘have a good race and don’t crash into each other’.
    I think that the only person who gained anything from what happened was Alonso, so it was all done purely for his benifit. If it had been for the ‘team’, the instruction would have been for Alonso to back off and get maximum points for the Constructors Championship, since he was having difficulty passing his team mate. Instead, its pushed Alonso up where he imagines he deserves to be, and left Massa nowhere, having gained nothing.
    Yes, I think team orders do have to stay, mainly since there is only one Pit Box for two cars, and somebody needs to co-ordinate whats happening, and the drivers do need input about what to do when SC conditions apply etc, but really, as taurus says, since we can now hear everything the FIA allow us to hear, the teams should cut down on messages unless they are really necessary and let the drivers get on with the racing.

  26. I think the current rule could be “clarified” as follows:

    A team may not in any circumstances *instruct* a driver to let their team mate past, either directly or with a coded message. If two drivers are on different strategies the team may *ask* one driver to do the sensible thing and hope they can benefit the other way around later in the season – the driver *must* also be entitled to decline. If one driver in a team is mathematically out of the championship, with the understanding that the situation could be reversed next year, the drivers are allowed to come to a private agreement *before* the race to prioritise the leader – but the team cannot “prompt” or “remind” the drivers of this during the race. Any driver contracts which contravene the above are illegal and offending teams can be thrown out of the championship.

    Well, that would certainly be more precise and hopefully much more enforceable. Possibly OTT, but I think we all can agree that we want “honest” racing.

    To me, “team orders” effectively means telling one driver to go slower, to benefit the team not the driver. That’s not in the spirit of F1 and never should be.

    1. How could it be enforced if the message was in code?

  27. Whether we like it or not team orders exist. When Button tried to pass Hamilton( just after the RBR’s made an ass of it) no one was more supprised than Hamilton as he had been told by his pit specically that Button would not pass. If that is not a team order i don’t know what is. how many drivers have had a crew fumble with a tyre or wheel not or be told about a pressure or temp problem to aid the team. It happens, it’s a team sport. Let us at least see it properly.

  28. Of all the people involved, I’m actually quite disappointed with Massa.

    The team can give whatever orders and coded messages they like, but it’s always ultimately the driver that has to take action.

    Massa would have been in all sorts of trouble with Ferrari for staying ahead, and who knows, there might even be a clause in his contract about punishments for ignoring orders.

    BUT: Massa really needed to win the race. He needed to re-assert his position in a team that Alonso is trying to take over. It was also the anniversary of his accident, and I think the majority of the public would have loved him for saying “screw you” and keeping his position.

    (‘Accidentally’ snapping his earpiece wires after the race could have provided a good excuse too!)

    1. “Alonso is faster than you” – “Oh, OK, well I’ll give him a wave as he comes blazing by at a billion miles-per-hour!”. I agree qwerty, I hope he looses the championship by a point, so no-body does this again.

      1. So true. Just think, a load of BS like this would have never happened with Kimi still at Ferrari. He would have either came in 2nd or tried to pass Massa on the track, like a man. Alonso is a child, and Formula One needs to put away the crayons and send the kiddies home.

    2. I agree…. would Senna have pulled over for Prost while they were at Macca?

      I think not, but then again there wasn’t a silly rule regarding team orders then.

  29. “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.”

    In all seriousness, even if I was totally deaf and did not hear the radio transmission, it was quite obvious visually that Massa purposely slowed down to let Alonso pass.

    1. Indeed.

      The argument then is that Massa did this out of his own free will, but of course if he really had wanted to let Alonso through, he would never have defended so strongly when Alonso made that move in the Spitskehre.

  30. Great article Keith. Very well said. I’m not sure how I feel about overturning the rule on team orders, but I kinda like it best as being ‘illegal’ but still done in certain circumstances (Kimi/Massa 07, 08 – no one cared, if anything everyone agreed with it).

    The McLaren and BMW situations in Canada may be under different racing strategies and situations, but that shouldn’t matter. Those teams and drivers are still guilty of the same thing. I guess the difference is that Massa was so public about being upset and I think a lot of people feel sorry for him. Also, it was WAY too obvious from Ferrari. I’m looking forward to this blowing over…..

    1. Atleast BMW had some heart about it, giving Kubica the win a year after his own horrible crash. Poor Heidfeld though, 8 second places, but never a win, now merely a test driver. Someone should set up a team with he and Massa as drivers so they wouldn’t have to put up with this crap.

      1. I really dont think that the teams think that way…the drivers don’t really either. The Kubica pass had nothing to do with his crash the year before, it was soley becasue he was faster and leading the WDC. Same with Massa, thier not going to say “poor guy took a sping to head a year ago, we should not tell him to slow down”. These teams are machines…

      2. I really dont think that the teams think that way…the drivers don’t really either. The Kubica pass had nothing to do with his crash the year before, it was solely because he was faster and leading the WDC. Same with Massa, their not going to say “poor guy took a spring to head a year ago, we should not tell him to slow down”.

  31. MacademiaNut
    27th July 2010, 14:14

    Count me in the camp against the ban. Team orders to swap their position are fine with me (especially when they are running next to each other). Even now, one racer can hold other racers to benefit his teammate from closing the gap (if he is behind) or extending the gap (if he is ahead).. all done in a not-so-explicit way.

    But, with situation as in Germany 2010, the teams should be allowed to do this – they could have done it in a non-to-explicit manner, but hey.. that’s like making things sweeter for a kid when the reality isn’t. We are not kids.

    Allow team orders – and as far as other team racers’ points are not compromised – I am all for it.

  32. This rule must be revoked. Every team should be allowed to decide on his own.. This is the reason why we have teams, not single cars

  33. A good article but the article forget to point out that Formula 1 is a TEAM sport. For example, does Mclaren work for Button or does Button work for Mclaren?

    It has always been the drivers working for the teams. Like in recently concluded Tour de France, Lance Armstrong or Contador could not have won their championships without the help of their team.

    Then, you would say this is MOTORSPORTS… sure it is… Look at the World Rally Championship, teams always issue orders to drivers to purposely slow down to allow another driver throught… Think Loeb and Citezon.

    So, are the above examples also wrong? I don’t understand :/

    Of course, if you feel that the team works for the driver, then you have set your mind.

  34. Again Alonso is the subject of a bad situation. Remember Singapore? Remember his emails and the fine to McLaren? Ferrari is not doing well with Alonso, and they are making big mistakes such this one in Germany.

    1. So true, thet probably feel foolish having paid Kimi not to race with all the trouble ‘nando is set to bring them.

  35. In my opinion Ferrari has not mistaken ! Alonso is clearly the first driver of Scuderia ! Team orders are a part of F1 !

  36. Charles Carroll
    27th July 2010, 14:22

    Selfishness. Some teams clearly cannot see beyond their own self-interests for what is actually good for the sport.

    Had Massa and Alonso fought each other, this race may have gone down as one of the greatest ever. Who knows? It may have been a real dog fight, with Vettel mixed in. Ratings soar with such drama. This is what the PAYING public wants to see…actual races with very competitive and hungry DRIVERS.

    What we don’t want to see are races manipulated by funny-looking old men with too many buttons undone on their shirts and bad hair styles.

    1. Haha! Man Charles that was perfect! Spot on!

  37. Roberto Fratelli
    27th July 2010, 14:30

    Superb article ! congratulations ! I whish someone at FIA to read it.

  38. I posted it before, i’ll call it out again.

    I am fairly sure Domenicali didn’t want the team order to look like it did. I’m also sure he asked for the driver swap to be camouflaged in some way or another.
    But in the end, it was entirely up to Rob Smedley and Felippe Massa how to run it.

    I really think the decision to make it so obvious and blatant came from that pair. And you know what? I’m proud of them. In no way were Ferrari in a position to order such a thing and the media hype is all they really deserve.

    1. bernification
      27th July 2010, 14:57

      Well, of course it was down to Smedley and Massa how it was managed.

      That was why Rob was so blatant and Filippe so disappointed- neither thought it fair or just.
      Alonso was not under pressure (when the cheating occurred) from Vettel and not fast enough to pass whilst Felippe’s tyres were not up to temperature (laps earlier).
      Also, it is too early in the season to do something like this ( I will admit it happens)

      But more than anything- Massa finally came back to form on the anniversary of an incident that very nearly claimed his life.

      This last point should not be dismissed. It truly shows Ferrari in a non-compassionate light (especially following the outpourings of emotion from the team after the crash).

      Was that all false, or is it business first for the red ones really?

      Good on you Rob- looks like you fought for your driver all the way. You should consider a job acting- don’t know how you kept a straight face when you were interviewed about your radio comments.

      1. Bernification, I agree with everything you just said! Smedley is the best race engineer in the paddock. He and Massa should be proud for exposing Ferrari’s seedy underbelly. I always thought Domenicali a nice guy, maybe not, maybe it was from dryer or even Montezemolo.

    2. i was under the impression the order was executed so poorly, it HAD to be intentional.

  39. What i can’t understand about this is why Ferrari changed the way they challenge for the title?

    After the obvious No. 1 Schumacher era, Massa won at Turkey leading Kimi, who had more points at that point, and both had pretty unrealistic chances. In 2008, Kimi could’ve won at Magny Cours, even if he had less points than Massa at that point.

    That said, Ferrari implemented another way of racing; both their drivers had the same chances until one of them was clearly out of the race.

    Wonder WHY this wasn’t the case last sunday. We also have to remember the emotional part of this. Massa’s accident that nearly took his life was exactly 1 year ago last Sunday. I’m sure Ferrari team members (appert from the directives, it seems) would’ve been so happy to see him win, after all what happened. I’d have been an amaizing comeback, something like Lauda’s first win after his horrible accident in Nurburgring ’76.

    1. Exactly it would have been truly beautiful! And on top off that it would have earned the sport much needed praise in the press. It just goes to show the bosses at Ferrari care more about Ferrari than they do Formula One. I hope Massa takes points off Alonso all season, wins again and beats him in the driver’s championship and that McLaren and RedBull continue to run away from Ferrari and take the Constructors Championship with them.

  40. First i would like to thank Keith for his great job, that isn´t a day that i don´t come here to at least check what´s happening.
    But, in this case i don´t agree with him, and the reasons are quite simple, in my home i´m the one who give the orders not the neighbor. When i´m working i follow orders so the company can grow with my help.
    It was pointed of several situations of team orders that had been given in some grands prixs in the past and weren´t critisized and not fined, why not, does the rule only apply in this case. This inconcistency it´s out sock me the most. If Massa, for example, had simulated a run off to let Alonso pass, we all would think the same but now no fine would be applyied and we would be talking the same thing here.
    Sorry guys, this way doesn´t work for me.
    I´m giving Ferrari example but we saw other teams do the same. As long as this rule exists, it´ll be passed over, so better ruled it out, and lets not forget THIS IS A TEAMS SPORTS, the drivers are only emploees.

    1. Charles Carroll
      27th July 2010, 14:55

      If F1 is more about teams than drivers, then count me out.

      I find it very difficult to get behind “teams” whose names and sponsors change every fifteen minutes, and who are owned and operated by extremely sketchy individuals who wouldn’t know sport if it smacked them on their diamond-encrusted briefs.

      Face it, you don’t really believe this “team” garbage yourself. When you look on the history of the sport, what gets you more excited? The racers themselves and their personal stories of triumph or defeat? Or is it the “riveting” tale about how Ferrari and Malboro signed a contract for sponsorship. Or how about the “fascinating” story about Luca’s latest yacht purchase.

      Please. Its the drivers we watch and care about. The fact that they switch teams more often than they change shirts only underscores the fact that there is no “team loyalty”, just drivers and the those who pay them.

      We want the drivers to compete fairly against each other, regardless of the teams which nobody really cares about anyway.

      I’m sure that someone has a nice BMW Sauber poster at home, with BMW crossed out because of the sponsor change. How can you be loyal to a team when you cannot be sure what they will be called one year to the next?

      1. I can understand your point, after all it´s the driver that brings excitment to the races.
        I´m a F1 fan since 1978, actually it was a driver that brought atencion, it was Gilles Villeneuve, he was incredible, but after his death there wasn´t any driver nearer is driving style so i started following F1 in another angle, suporting a team that gave the opurtunity to Gilles V. As you may know Ferrari didn´t won basicaly nothing in 20 years till Schumaker come around.
        So, you may not believe but i don´t give a dam whose driving the Ferraris as long as they win, actually i don´t like Alonso or Massa or even Schumaker when he was there.
        So, F1 for me, it´s all about battles between Maclarens, Williams, Ferraris, RBR, Renauts or the others, the sponsors provide the money to pay the drivers that drive them.

        1. Charles Carroll
          27th July 2010, 17:52

          And if Ferrari pulls out? And remember, don’t put that past them.

          What then?

          1. If Ferrari pulls out, i´ll be devastated like i was when Gilles died, but i´ll keep watching F1 like i do in other series, wtcc, btcc, nascar or indy where i can find good racing.
            At the end of the day i´m a motorsports fan.

      2. Roberto Fratelli
        27th July 2010, 20:07

        you said it all Charles !

      3. Go Charles! So well said and so true. Without the drivers there would be no F1 to begin with.

      4. Correct, and you are speaking mainly about British and German teams. I’m I wrong or Ferrari has never changed the team’s name and “has had” a long lasting sponsor relationship with Marlboro? I’m sure you remember a few weeks ago about the Marlboro code bars on the cars. Therefore, the best team fans in the word are the Tifosi, only comparable to the Ducati fans in bikes. A cultural thing I guess (I’m Spanish, we do feel close to the Italians, and Ducati rider) that says a lot. No doubt Ferrari spends loads but Ferrari is a luxury brand, unthinkable is a minor F1team, surrounded by a unique atmosphere that has always made jealous the F1 Establishment in the islands. 2010: Ferrari + the most hated man by British “press” Alonso (Zero credibility to British press, still cant believe the 3 pictures from Casillas and reporter-girlfriend in the 1st page of THE TIMES!!!). This video says all. Watch it imaging it’s a red car with Alonso under the Helmet: http://vimeo.com/13002137

    2. It’s no good to go on about this or that precedent or hypocrisy or what other “orders” have fit within the four corners of the text. We are not parsing the civil code here.

      It’s very easy to see where the line is. The FIA is focused very narrowly on specific cases: Orders that blatantly alter the outcome through direct orders that diminish the spectable of the race thus bring disrepute to the sport. And the outcome they are concerned about is who wins the race. This is why they don’t care about Hockenheim 08—Kovalainen was not going to win except maybe later at checkers. And why they don’t care about Canada and BMW—there was no blatant ploy here. It’s also why “hold station” is ultimately ignored provided that there has been some period before when the driver behind could have a go, e.g. Monaco 07, Turkey 10. Also, note that in these cases, the benefit to the team as a whole, weighed against the order had a clear result in the team’s favor. In Austria and in Hockenheim, there was no team benefit to the decision. The FIA lets stuff slide when the team value is substantial. And, sorry, we can’t credit the suggestion that letting teammates race means they crash. Ferrari is then admitting that their drivers are not as competent as McLaren’s.

      Ferrari’s mistake and why they will be punished sharply, is that they have broken a trust among the teams that they will all use team-tactics when they need to provided they don’t do it in a way to embarass the sport to spectators or to diminish the spectacle of the race. Ferrari have said to the FIA and the teams, “we do as we please in the way that we please because we are more important than the sport,” and this cannot stand.

      I don’t think there is a way to re-write the rule to separate the damaging, egregious cases from the ones that are a natural part of the sport. It’s a complex balance that will not benefit from putting down on paper but one that is crucial to the sport.

      There is only one WDC and still a WCC, so there is no way getting around retaining the team orders rule. But the teams need to behave, and this norm absolutely must be enforced.

  41. bernification
    27th July 2010, 14:37

    It’s quite strange how Formula 1 conducts itself relative to other sporting events.
    There have been massive investigations into horse doping, football fixing and snooker players throwing matches, often involving the fraud squad.

    This is what it is- fraud.

    Formula 1 should be brought to book, should it wish to remain credible.

    How convenient that John the toad doesn’t take away Ferrari’s result (the only real way to stop this occuring) and instead insults our intelligence that the fine he gives Ferrari will in anyway deter them.


  42. Matt Hubbert
    27th July 2010, 14:48

    My real problem with this whole mess is Ferrari’s attitude to the situation pretending that it did not issue team orders and that it was Massa’s idea to let him pass.(How many true F1 drivers would let another driver past if he was a bit quicker.They must really think very little of the fans if they think that we believe the pack of lies that they keep on feeding us over the years. I am fuuly aware that team orders exist and have always have done and always will do but to come out and say that this is not the case is pathetic and insulting and for that they deserve the flak that they will get. The way that they carried it out was a disgrace and Massa made it so obvious that he did not want to do this and then the way the drivers behaved after the race said it all treating us all like idiots. I can understand to a degree why they did it but at least make it look right. I believe that drivers should be allowed to race and the best man win after all isnt that what the sports about?. And for Alonso to say that he had been fast all weekend and deserved to win is just another case of him moaning how does been fastest in practice have anything to do with the race. Its the race that counts and the fact is Massa made the better start and deserved to be in the lead and it is upto Alonso to take this off him not have it manufactured badly by the team. Team orders must stay but the wording does need looking at but even then it will be hard to enforce. Its my view that Ferrari should have the constructors points for this race removed. Team orders will always be there but please traet the fans with a bit of respect in the sport that we love or should i say business.

    1. Charles Carroll
      27th July 2010, 14:59

      The fact is that Bernie and Ferrari are not very business saavy in reality. In their worlds, they truly think they are making good decisions here. Ferrari would only really be satisfied if the F1 stood for “Ferrari 1”, and all of the cars would be red Ferraris and the championship trophy would be a bust of Luca. Bernie would get behind it if he would be allowed to drive.

      This is why other racing leagues have grown and taken away viewers from F1. People want to see racing, with drivers competing fairly against one another. People do not tune it to see politics and old men yapping about their latest romps and ex-wives.

  43. Charles Carroll
    27th July 2010, 15:02

    Do we want this:


    and this:


    to be the face of Formula 1?

    Or do we want it to be the Sennas, the Mansells, the Stewarts, the Clarks, and the DRIVERS to be the faces of F1?

    Ferrari and Bernie want it to be about them. This is why fewer and fewer people watch.

    1. By the way, F1 viewership grew for five straight years until 2009, with the decline blamed on TV times in Asia, according to the sports official propaganda. In any event, it’s innacurate to say the sport is in decline in viewers minds, and certainly not due to the “lack” of “passing” or the politics or whatever, as that situation was not appreciably different from 2004-2009. It always bugs me when people say F1 is losing viewers to IndyCar, or harness racing, because of this or that shortcoming, which needs to be fixed ASAP. It’s not true. This year, we have close competition among three teams, great drivers, great driving, we have had successive WDC’s go down to the wire. The only thing lacking are the frequent NASCAR?IndyCar/GP2 style constant barrages of wrecks and other events caused by bad driving and I’ll pass on that, thanks.

  44. Instead of
    “Okay Felipe, Fernando. Is. Faster. Than you…. Understand”
    I think I would have said something like:
    “fernando is faster, you will gain lots by taking turn 1 flat”
    then he could pretend to overshoots the corner and use te runoff to not lose too much time to vettel and allow Alonso through, my way is still illegal but get awayable

  45. Whenever the technical regs are tightened up the teams find the loopholes to gain an advantage and the same goes for the sporting regs. No matter how cleverly and concisely they word the rule about the banning of team orders, the teams will always find a way to circumvent it.

    For me, team orders are a natural part of the sport – the fact that teams go out of their way with lethargic pit stops, coded messages etc shows that. What a team does between its own two drivers is their business and it’s not the FIA’s place to get involved (Hungary 2007 is one example, and while Alonso was right to be penalised there, no way should the FIA have stopped McLaren taking their constructor points or accepting the trophies.)

    If the fans don’t like what a team does in terms of team orders, then they have enough of a punishment in terms of negative press, loss of fans and possible upset sponsors and they don’t need the governing body interfering with their business.

    1. Matt Hubbert
      27th July 2010, 15:11

      Is there such a thing as negative press?
      To say that they dont need the governing body interfering is ridiculous if that were the case it would become a farce with teams doing as they please.

    2. Whenever the technical regs are tightened up the teams find the loopholes to gain an advantage and the same goes for the sporting regs. No matter how cleverly and concisely they word the rule about the banning of team orders, the teams will always find a way to circumvent it.

      That’s not really true though, is it? Yes, there are changes to the technical regulations that are designed to slow the cars down but it’s rare that those regulations are actually defied usually it’s just a case of the teams making improvements in areas where they can develop the cars.

      Double diffusers might be considered an exception, but it’s hardly akin to the days of raising and lowering ground effect skirts and ‘water-cooled brakes’ – that sort of thing just doesn’t happen any more.

  46. if the points are achieved with team orders,there should be only a “champion team” no individual champions.

  47. How about this – the rule is that team orders are illegal unless one driver is mathematically out of contention for the title OR if the team declare before a race begins (hell, before a championship begins if they want to) that one driver is preferred over another. In either of those situations they can do what they like re team orders.

    It’d be interesting to see which teams made a declaration of favouritism early and which leave it to the maths. Ferrari would most likely blink first ;).

  48. I think that the concept of “team order” must be clarified. In the past and also this year, some teams decided that the driver in front after 1st lap, or 1st pit stop, shouldn’t be attacked by the teammate, isn’t this a team order??
    Or telling a driver that his engine temperatures are too high right when he’s attacking his team mate (Button on Hamilton this year) isn’t a team order?? Maybe it is.

    What Ferrari made on sunday is terrible in the way they managed it, but I think the problem is that Massa didn’t respect an agreement made before the race and the team had to remind him what to do… in a “rookie” way…
    Otherwise, why Alonso said “this is ridiculous” when he tried to overtake Massa??

    1. I agree fully with your opinion stated.
      It is easier to see other people’s weaknesses than your own.

  49. So Keith suggests amending the rule, so that team orders would remain illegal when both drivers are still title contenders… does it mean that messing with the results in teams which don’t fight for the titles is “lesser evil”? I don’t buy it. Either we act on the principal that messing with results by arbitrary order to the drivers to switch positions is BAD, or we don’t. As Keith pointed out, TO’s did not bring such controversies when they were used on lower profile drivers. Well this means that not only the teams, drivers and other people directly involved in the sport are hypocritical, but the fans and experts are as well. Sorry, but you can’t be against TO’s in some cases and allow it in other, same as you can’t be little bit pregnant.

    I personally find TO’s disgusting all the way, It doesn’t matter whether they are used by Ferrari or Torro Rosso. As much as I hate it, I realize that they are inevitable as long as there is any contact with the driver possible. So, as we really cannot get rid of them, we should scrap out the rule which never be obeyed, and get used to the dirty and disgraceful part of racing.

    1. As Keith pointed out, [team orders] did not bring such controversies when they were used on lower profile drivers.

      I didn’t say that.

      1. You said that Brazil 2007 and China 2008 brought far less objection from the fans, due to the fact that drivers involved didn’t fight for the championship. And that’s what I meant – when you mess with two guys who theoretically fight for WDC the public is fuming. When the very same thing happens to drivers not directly involved in the title fight it suddenly becomes less severe… but it’s not, it’s the same act of artificially altering the race result. So either condemn it all or allow it all.

        1. OK I see what you mean now.

          But I don’t agree with you. There’s a difference between telling a driver to support his team mate when that driver’s championship chances are over, and telling him to give up when he’s still in the running for the championship, and I think a lot of people appreciate that.

    2. Charles Carroll
      27th July 2010, 15:28

      “…and get used to the dirty and disgraceful”

      Wow. What a sad treatise not only on sport, but on society in general. Just give up, eh? Just quit fighting what is clearly wrong and bad for the sport? Just look the other way and hope it goes away?

      Well, if that is the plan of action, it won’t be long until F1 simply goes away as well. If no one is watching, there is no money. If there is no money. there is no F1.

      FYI, Bernie and Ferrari won’t care if the sport folds. Their coffers are full.

      1. Sorry, but F1 is not a fairytale and has never been. The amount of dirt, cheating and unfairness involved in the sport is enormous. If you want a clean competition ruled by some kind of code of honor, you should search somewhere else. I know it’s cruel and cynical, but that’s racing.

        1. Charles Carroll
          27th July 2010, 18:35

          Oh, don’t get me wrong. I work in sport. I have seen more needles and crime than the average police officer in Detroit.

          But that doesn’t mean I accept it and turn the other way.

          I guess we disagree on this.

  50. Absolutely right Keith, well put.

    Massa had the win – he earnt it at turn 1 and as a result could have suddenly changed his season around.

  51. Charles Carroll
    27th July 2010, 15:55

    For me, it comes down to this.

    If Massa and Alonso were allowed to race, we perhaps might have seen an epic battle until the last lap, with Vettel thrown in for good measure. If not epic, at least more interesting than watching Alonso sashay past his team mate for a manufactured win.

    I feel cheated out of a good race. It is not the breaking of rules per say, but the fact that by doing so, they possibly ruined a great race. The ratings for this race were abysmal on this site. If all races were like this one and Bahrain, no one would be watching by now.

    The rule not only must stay in place, it must be enforced. Ferrari should be stripped of their points and win. Only then will teams avoid this type of behavior.

    Face it, they cheated ALL of us out of a good race. Even Ferrari fans, who deserve to see their drivers (who are some of the best in the sport) battle it out. Even if I bled red and gold and lived in Italy, I would still feel cheated on this.

  52. I feel most on here are missing the point, and conclusion of another well- written article by Keith.

    The debate isn’t really a case of why was further ahead of who etc. But what the ban on the ban on team orders would do (if you get me).

    Keith recognises that team orders can never be truly eradicated, but it does make the sport better. This is the first truly shocking and controversial case to hit the sport since 2002. If that ban had not come in, we would have seen all manner of farcical situations arising in the tight championships we’ve had.

    We don’t want to hear an engineer telling a driver to pull over or slow down or hold up the opposittion at every race.

  53. For me, the bottom line is that team orders bully the second driver, and that alone warrants them being banned. Ferrari have set a dangerous precedent now, lets say Massa now leads every single race from now until Abu Dhabi, with Alonso coming in second every time. Ferrari would have Massa let Alonso past every time (because – obviously – Alonso has a better chance of winning the championship). This would grant Alonso a handful of victories and a world championship that he hasn’t truly earned himself, and that should rightfully be Massa’s. The team could be subtly offering Massa a new contract or something, bullying Massa into ‘handing over’ the championship to Alonso. Massa isn’t just a number 2, he’s a racing driver who was robbed on Sunday of a victory that was rightfully his.

    My final point is to commend drivers with honour. This might sound weird but in days like these we need to commend drivers who – without any orders given to them – act in a proper and respectable fashion, taking the spirit of the sport ahead of their own success. I’m talking here about David Coulthard in Montreal 1998. He and Hakkinen (team-mates)were keen not to take each other off in the race (they lined up 1st and 2nd) and so had an agreement that whomever went through turn 1 first would win the race, Hakkinen went through first and both McLaren’s stormed off into the distance. Then, Hakkinen accidentally came into the pits when someone tapped into the McLaren team radio, handing the lead to Coulthard. Coulthard understood what was happening and so with a few laps left and plenty of time from the following drivers, let Hakkinen back through. Coulthard honored a pre-race agreement and in doing so possibly lost himself the opportunity to win the championship. It’s now such a damned shame that Coulthard is the man making noises to bring team orders back.

  54. They could have told Massa to go to save fuel mode whilst letting Alonso continue at full speed to let him pass. The driver already know they must not take eachother out! How many times have we heard “Save fuel” this season. No one would have been the wiser.

    1. Precisely. The problem here is that Ferrari have violated an important taboo and stuck their finger in the eyes of the FIA and the others teams who try to maintain this careful balance between team work and preserving a bona fide race on the track.

  55. All teams must be ashamed of team orders affecting race results.

    This race fixture is the worst I’ve ever seen since Singapore 2008, curiously favouring the same Alonso.

    I feel pity for Massa. First because he’s been told to give up a victory, second because he aknowledged that he was slower and ultimately because he obbeyed the order.

    The old generation of Brazilian drivers would never do that: Fitipaldi, Piquet (Father) and Senna.

  56. Keith, I completely agree with you that access to team’s radios is one of the main reasons this controversy even exists. I myself enjoy it, so hopefully they won’t limit it again.

    However, I think you’re forgetting that several laps before the pass, when Fernando was 3-4 seconds behind Felipe, Smedley was adamant over the radio that Massa had to push to the limit and that he could win the race. It wasn’t until Alonso was right behind him that the so called order was given. And given Felipe’s struggles this year on the harder compounds, and with close to 20 laps to go, I can’t blame them.

    That, coupled with Felipe’s reaction on the track to make it as obvious as possible that he was moving aside, plus Smedley’s subsequent “sorry” comment, make it pretty obvious to me that this was not a planned decision but simply a consequence of how the race was unfolding, and a safer strategy for the two drivers in order to prevent another Vettel-Webber like type incident on the track.

  57. Nice article Keith. It was obvious from his demeanour afterwards that Massa hadn’t willingly conceded his title bid was over. I’ve no problem with team orders as long as they don’t appear to cheat the deserving teammate, in both the examples you gave they didn’t: in Canada 2008 both BMWs were allowed to race for the win, but on different strategies – Kubica came off best; in Germany 2008 Hamilton went on to win while Kovalainen made no headway and finished a dismal fifth. Neither Heidfeld nor Kovalainen can reasonably claim that team orders compromised their races.

    This time round it was different, the fans were cheated of seeing the deserved race winner on the top step and Massa was forced into the number two role for the rest of the season. It might not be as gratuitous as Austria 2002, but it’s not much better, teams shouldn’t force a driver to abandon hopes of winning the championship, they should wait for him to concede its over before putting him in a supporting role.

  58. Formula 1: a team-sport with hundreds working to let one guy win. But don’t let the team function as a team, that would be use of team orders and that is evil.

  59. SennaRainho
    27th July 2010, 17:18

    What is so incredibly ironic about the situation is how furious Ferrari and especially Alonso were when Hamilton overtook the safety car. Yes, it might have helped Hamiltons position in the championship but he did receive a penalty WITHIN the race. Ferrari on the other hand receive a monetary penalty for helping their drivers position! Honestly, they couldn’t care less and I am strongly against monetary fines when time, positions and points are involved. The FIA is fumbling and more consistancy would be greatly appreciated. It would be quite simple to introduce standard penalties for standard offences like these. In reality Ferrari ended up buying Alonso’s way forward.

    Sorry, but am I the only one sick and tired of Fernando’s constant wining about the slightest offence of others when the man (boy?) himself seems to be involved in more race fixings, spy scandals, chicane cuttings and you name it – than anyone else?

    Kimi, you can come out now!

    1. Yes!! You said it man.

      And everyone let’s be honest, does anyone really care about the constructors championship? People want a human element in sport and it’s the man driving, putting his life on the line that we care about. Yes historical names like Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Lotus, etc. are good to have, but this is a sport about the drivers and their crew, not a bunch of egotistical ******. Massa is on the up, coming back to his old self and the only thing that stopped him were a bunch of people who forgot what real racing is all about. People who feel more loyalty to their sponsors than to their fans. Who feel more loyalty to themselves than to their sport. Who feel more loyalty to a whining, childish buffoon, than to a true racer who nearly died while driving for them. That is what this issue is about people. It’s about way more than team orders, it’s about the sanctity of a sport that is often not as great as it claims to be. It’s time we as the fans and the media took a stand and demanded our sport be returned to the true pinnacle of world motorsport not the farce it is today.

      I would love to hear Murray Walker or Sterling Moss’s opinions on all this. I’m sure they would agree with Niki Lauda that it’s a damn shame.

  60. Suddenly to me it all becomes clear when I see Montezemolo’s wish to have some teams field 3 cars. Having more people on track working towards the Team’s goal.
    Maybe we should instead restrict each team to have only one car and have more teams. I know, not really cost effective for the whole F1 business, but would avoid all this mess.

    1. Regrettably Lopes, I think you may be right. A three car team makes it easier for one driver to ride ‘shotgun’ for another. However, I am still in favour of allowing team orders on the grounds that
      1 They are impossible to completely erradicate.
      2 They are admissable at le Mans (and in ALMS, I think)
      3 They are prevelant in virtually every other team sport on this particular planet.
      4 They are absolutely necessary in my other favourite team sport – cycling.
      I’ve been trying to remember when the FIA outlawed single-car teams. I think it was the early seventies, but I’m not 100% sure of the date or the reasoning. Perhaps it was to bring the entrants onto a more ‘professional team’ basis with a season-long entry requirement instead of a race-by-race singleton entry. Whatever.
      But the result seems to have been the creation of two car teams, some of whom are so efficient that they would like to be three car teams and who would like to operate as a team should, but the FIA will not allow them to do so.

  61. i read someplace in the last couple of days that TO are only there to stop this sort of thing happening until near the end of the season,
    once there is a definite gap between team mates and they have no chance of winning the Drivers championship that TO can be used.

    which makes scene, but opens the door for abuse as well i guess.

  62. Team orders rule should stay. And must be improved, if possible.

    Many things have been said in the last few days, in both directions. First thing I would like to point out is (IMHO) that TEAM ORDERS are not the same than DRIVERS EQUALITY POLICY, and I think in some occasions both concepts are mixed (or confused) by us.

    In fact is very difficult to be sure a team is practicing 100% Drivers Equality policy, because there are so many variables in action: mechanical parts, race strategy, hours of practicing both in simulator and on track, quality of Human resources available for each driver…

    Talking about Drivers Equality Policy could take much more time (and words) than available and I think we will see many different options, in which I think most of them could be justifiable for any of the parts.

    As an example, what RBR decided to do regarding the front wing available for one of his drivers, could be criticized or supported by any of us, but in any case that decision should be punishable.

    But related to team orders, I can see 4 different scenarios:

    1) Not allowing team drivers to fight to a point of risking their own cars (and points): One of them defending his position, the other one trying to improve it.

    2) Not allowing one driver to win or maintain his position in favour of the other team member, when both have mathematical options for the WDC.

    3) The same but when one of them doesn’t have mathematical options for winning the WDC.

    4) Asking a driver to crash or go against another competitor allowing the other to gain an advantage for the WDC.

    1 & 3 I think are acceptable. So, if are acceptable, there should not be any need for some kind of codes as “Saving Fuel”. And I say more, I would allow teams to punish the driver who will break this rule, creating, by his behaviour, a loss for his Teammate and/or Team. Maybe we (the fans) will not agree why & how or if that behaviour was morally acceptable or not, but in any case, that behaviour should not be punishable. (IMHO)

    2 & 4 clearly are not acceptable, by any condition and/or situation, so that should be punishable, and the penalty will depend on the situation.

    For the case of swapping positions (not creating any kind of risk for the rest of the drivers) the penalty could be:
    Drivers are the less guilty actors of this situation, just because they are not in the condition to order the other driver to let him pass. So for them, the punishment is just to return back the unfair advantage they have taken.

    But for the team, they are who can make that happen, and making it they are defrauding all the fans, devaluating the show and getting rid of the spirit of the competition. I would impose the team a gross fine (no less than 5% of their annual income from TV rights, with a minimum of 1.000.000$).

    Teams have to pay for this kind of actions just to be sure every team understand the difference between Drivers Equality, Team play (options 1&2) and Cheating. (Options 3&4)

    What we saw last Sunday was a team instructing one of his drivers to give his position to a teammate when he still has options for winning the WDC. And that was made very public, not only with the comments during the race, but with the declarations made by Luca Cordero di Montezemolo the following days also.

    That kind of behaviour cannot be allowed, and is not the same than “saving fuel” orders, or preferential parts of the car to a preferential driver.

    At the end I feel very sorry about the drivers (both) and very angry having to watch a fraudulent race after all time (and money some of us) we spent last Weekend, just to testify an unnecessary (and despicable) action taken by Ferrari.

    Sorry for my English. I hope you understand what I’m trying to say. And thanks for your patient, reading such long comment. Is difficult to extract and summarize properly what one want to say in other language (when one is not quite skilled in it)

    1. IDR your English is excellent. If only I could type such a long comment without one error in it.
      However, I take issue with a couple of your points. This idea of a ‘mathmatical possibility’ causes me problems. As an earlier poster pointed out, Petrov still has a ‘mathmatical possibility’ of winning the WDC, as does Liuzzi and Kobayashi. Would it be likely? No. Possible? Yes.
      On the question of fines, I’m even less convinced.Consider why a team might be persuaded to give team orders; to win the WDC or WCC or to prevent a business rival from doing so. What would be the likely cash benefits for winning either the WDC or WCC? I would suggest they were far in excess of $1m. A fine of points in both Championships would be more effective.
      However, I’m still not convinced that Team Orders are a bad thing. I think each team should noiminate a Number One and a Number Two driver.
      Let’s take last Sunday. Supposing team orders were legal; we would now be congratulating Ferrari and their Number One driver Alonso, and also congratulating Massa for the superb work he did as Number Two driver. Nothing else would have changed, no one would have lost anything.
      Even the people who bet on the results of the race would not have lost anything because they mostly would have bet on Alonso instead of Massa, knowing that he was Number One.
      I’m still in favour of team orders and for the avoidance of subterfuge. What was wrong on Sunday was the pathetically inept way that Ferrari handled the situation.

      1. This idea of a ‘mathmatical possibility’ causes me problems. As an earlier poster pointed out, Petrov still has a ‘mathmatical possibility’ of winning the WDC, as does Liuzzi and Kobayashi. Would it be likely? No. Possible? Yes.

        I don’t have a problem with that, firstly because I think it’s the most logical and fair solution. It’s also pretty easy to understand.

        I would also point out that we have an unusually close and unusually long championship this year, which is partly why after 11 races the championship leader hasn’t got more points than the total points remaining. That will change in the next few races.

        I think each team should noiminate a Number One and a Number Two driver.

        If that happened, then any time one team had both cars in the lead they would arrange themselves in team order and the designated number two driver would drop back to hold everyone else up.

        There would be all manner of other scenarios where the number two driver would be called upon to hold up rival cars. Every race would end up like Suzuka 1997. Sounds like a terrible version of motor racing to me.

        1. If that happened, then any time one team had both cars in the lead they would arrange themselves in team order and the designated number two driver would drop back to hold everyone else up.

          And how would this be a problem? How would Driver B of leadng team versus Driver A of following team be any less exciting? Why would Driver B even think of dropping back if he had speed advantage over following team. The team manager would never permit it just in case Drive A went out of the race.

          1. “Why would Driver B even think of dropping back if he had speed advantage over following team. ”

            Errr… i think you don’t see the logic. If team orders were endorsed and #1 and #2 drivers designated, then teams would be inclined to use the #2 driver wherever possible to help the #1 driver. Simple and true.

            In this particular example, having both #2 and #1 drivers in the lead, the #2 driver would be asked to purposely fall back to hold up the 3rd place behind. This is especially possible if the #2 driver has a fast enough car. Because if you have a fast enough car then it is easy to slow the followers because it is easy to control the pace. How? – easy, you slow down where they can not pass, and speed up where they CAN pass. So this is what #2 driver would do. If driver #1 went out of the race, driver #2 would then speed up and race for the win. Where as ordinarily he would not do that.

            I can think of another 100 scenarios where by officially designating #1 and #2 drivers would drastically change F1 as a sport.

      2. HounslowBusGarage,

        Thanks but I assure you my English is far from excellency. I have to use “long ways” to go to my point and even though, I fail in many occasions!

        Regarding your Issues:


        What I said (or tried to) was a driver can give his position to his teammate only when he has no any possibilities to win the championship.

        As I told, I’m not against team orders. I’m against certain kind of team orders (points 2&4 of my comments.) In fact, I agree with you there is nothing wrong in having Driver Nr. One and driver Nr. Two but that is something related to Equality Policy than Team orders that can change the course of a competition.

        To be more concrete, I would have not any problem if Ferrari declares ALO has Nr.1 status and MAS Nr.2 status… since that doesn’t mean MAS cannot ever win in front of his Nr.1 driver. Nr1 or Nr.2 should be something more related to who of them has preferential treatment talking about parts, strategy, tests… but not when both drivers are competing on the track.


        The example I gave was punish the team not only with money but reversing the final positions of the drivers involved on it. So the team will not take any of the theoretical advantages they were looking for a nd they will take a loss of a good figure. But the penalties could be both, not just the money. And that was the penalty just for the less serious offense of the possibilities of what I said in point 4).

        In any case, I agree with Ferrari was seen as Pathetically inept in a giving this order to Masa. Honestly talking I think Robert Smeadly did that way to be sure everybody could know that represented a Team Order.

        But on the other hand, what I find worse is Luca Cordero declarations. He just ignore current rules, and has not any problem to say it publicly.

        And to be honest, as I said previously, one thing is give a driver preferential treatment, tell your drivers stay cool enough for not throwing all team efforts just because one of them wants to overtake and the other doesn’t want even risking a crash (as we saw some weeks ago with RBR), and other very different is to ask a driver to let his teammate win a race just because he is Nr 1 driver.

        Like in any other sport, one thing is giving to a third party a premium for a win than giving a bonus for losing a match.

        (Sorry again, quite long answer!!!)

        1. I will reply in greater length snd detail in the morning, IDR. I’m not sure where you are, but it’s just after midnight here and I have to be up early. Let’s continue tomorrow.

  63. Don´t you watch DTM or WTCC? Or WRC?
    DTM is Audi against Mercedes and WTCC is BMW against Seat or Chevy. F1 is Williams, Ferrari, Maclaren, RBR and so on fighting each other.
    If you wont real racing driver battles try indycars, nascar or superleague.
    I watch them all and i can tell you F1 isn´t the best when it comes to provide a good show and i watch F1 for more than 30 years

    1. Charles Carroll
      27th July 2010, 17:57


      With all due respect, as you have been a fan far longer than myself, you do realize that if the “big three” or “four” teams had it their way, they would race as many cars as they wanted and eliminate Williams, Sauber, and the host of revolving new teams all together.

      Luca’s rants this year all but said he would prefer a Ferrari v. McLaren F1 or simply Ferrari v. Ferrari.

      If you live and die by the teams, this sport is dead. Its the drivers.

      1. Actually i wouldn´t mind if each team has only 1 driver. In this case the rules issues simply would disappear. As you can see i don´t
        agree when he says that or when he wonts 3 F1 for each team, it would be even worse.

        1. Charles Carroll
          27th July 2010, 18:33

          Well, THAT we can agree upon. Well said!

  64. Excellent article Keith, very well argued and fair.

  65. I got no trouble in team orders if they are like China 08, but I will hate the race & the team if they are like Austria 02 & Germany 10.

  66. After some thinking I realized that the only why to get rid of team orders is getting rid of the two-car teams. Make it one car. A team gives 100% to one man, all clear. No written rule will really work to prevent what is unpreventable.

    1. fully agreed on that

      1. Or we could do something really silly and have two drivers in the same car Le Mans style :D

    2. HewisLamilton
      27th July 2010, 18:50

      Not quite so clear.

      What about another team running the same engine package? Slowing a rival to help a team with the same engine…

      1. Is there a World Engine Supplier Championship?

        1. HewisLamilton
          27th July 2010, 19:14

          No, there is not a World Supplier title.

          But I can say that without a doubt a team supplied with an engine by another engine manufacturer has been told to hold up a rival team for the sake of that team supplying them their engine. 100% fact.

    3. It will not work,because drivers an teams will work out plans for each other (Nascar)Team orders will be around ,even if there is a rule,What needs fixing is the Aero package on F1 cars so Faster drivers can pass slower drivers

  67. HewisLamilton
    27th July 2010, 18:43

    There have always been team orders in F1. This is not new.

    We just were not privy to the conversations until they made all team radio traffic public.

    If you think team orders aren’t exercised regularly, you are living a pipe dream. The key here is that Massa made it obvious. (He made sure it was obviously on purpose to be sure the world knew he was letting his team mate pass)

    I guarantee, the next time they issue team orders, it will be in the form of a botched tire change that costs Massa 5 extra seconds on his stop versus Alonso’s stop.

    Sorry all, but team orders are embedded into F1 Constructor philosephy.

    1. it will be in the form of a botched tire change that costs Massa 5 extra seconds on his stop versus Alonso’s stop.

      Which presumably would involve getting at least one of Massa’s mechanics to sabotage his race, do it convincingly and keep quiet about it. And orchestrate some means of doing it without costing the driver too much time – after all, if Massa’s pit stop had taken five seconds longer on Sunday he’d have come out behind Vettel.

      Doesn’t sound that likely.

      1. HewisLamilton
        27th July 2010, 20:57

        Why does it have to be one of Massa’s mechanics on the pit stop that “sabotage” his race? Aren’t all of the mechanics on hand for the pit stop? Aren’t they working for the same Team and Team Manager? I would think they all have the same boss and must follow instructions. I don’t mean a rogue mechanic, I mean a mechanic would be following orders or he wouldn’t be on a pit stop the next time the car pits. The team pay the mechanics, not Massa or Alonso. The mechanics follow orders issued by the team just like the driver.

        I find the word sabotage hard to accept though, it is a team effort. It always has been in F1.

        I’m just trying to say that if team orders are issued, we may not know exactly how this was carried out. I merely used a pit stop as an example of an easy way to give the advantage to the TEAM driver with the better position in the Driver’s Championship.

        1. “Okay Felipe baby, the front left mechanic bloke is going to bounce the replacement wheel away to his right for a couple of seconds so that Fernando can pass us when we’re in the pits. Next, the jack man is going to sneeze violently three times and delay your getaway, please confirm that you have understood?”
          “Yes, understood.”

  68. Now wouldn’t it be funny if Alonso had a bad run of results and some DNF’s while Massa had a perfect run but lost out on the Championship to a McLaren or a Red Bull by 7 points :0)

  69. The example of Kimi two years ago is a poor one. Massa let him through for the race win that won him the championship.

    The reverse happened in 2008 with Kimi letting Massa through.

    The 2007 WDC was decided by this and the 2008 WDC was made artificially closer by this. Each the result of Ferrari teammates yielding positions to each other.

  70. One of the things that’s lost here is that Massa hasn’t had a win since his injury, and in fact since 08. They took away his first potential win in what was a massive comeback and certainly cheapened it when it finally does come.

  71. I actually think that team orders should be legal again, but only if the driver who is giving up the place is mathematicly uncapable of winning the title.

  72. I think the team order rule should stay, but it has to be amended to make it fair to the teams, the drivers and the fans (who indirectly pay for the show, and want a sporting event).

    1st: The order to swap 1-2 makes absolute sense from a team’s perspective, FA has the best chance of winning the WDC (which is more important to the marketing department than the WCC), however, FM still had a chance, and fans that are not fanboyish about a team/driver, love the underdog (when Toro Rosso won with Vettel, F1 fans were static).

    2nd: FM obviously thought he had a chance a winning WDC, and didn’t want to do it, hence the obvious message (repeated and forced) and the wave-through “pass”

    3rd: F1 fans (fanboys would be upset if another team did it) want racing for the WDC, not a gifted WDC, it doesn’t seem fair

    How to make it fair?

    How about this:
    -team orders are allowed (teams should tell their drivers to not fight foolishly in order to preserve points, to save fuel, etc) with this exception:

    1) the lead driver cannot be *ordered* to swap a 1-2 finish unless the driver is mathematically out of WDC contention. It’s fair for the drivers who want a WDC and fans that want an honest winner. Everybody knows when a driver is mathematically out of contention, so as fans we would expect it if a swap is needed an accept it.

    The teams have to realize that it is a business AND a sporting event and as such, fans (who indirectly pay for the show) want and demand fair play and real racing, and a blatant gift of a win will alienate the fans and drive them away from the sport (I am very close to quitting F1 but I want to see how they handle this team order thing).

    If a lead driver *wants* to switch because *he* feels that even though he is not mathematically out of it his chances are slim, i think he will do it, or at least not defend as hard as with another team… but that would be his decision to help the other driver and team, and fans would accept that (I would). What ****** me off was that FM didn’t want to do it, he worked for his win and wanted it… the reaction in the podium and press conference tells it like it is.

    This change also means that a team can order a 2-3 swap, which they would probably want if they think the guy in 3rd can challenge the leader for a win (I think this happened with Hamilton and Kovi, and Hamilton eventually won the race), thereby maximizing team points. This gives teams more flexibility and strategy options during a race, without having to hide the fact that what they want to do.

    I hope FIA and the teams clear up this rule to make it fair for the drivers, fans and teams.

  73. How can they possibly fix the race for Formula 1 since there are so many teams out there, like the Honda, Toyota, Ferrari, etc??

    You can fix a fight for boxing cause you only need to talk to one person or team but for Formula 1, there’s so many organization and their reputation are on the line. Besides, if there was a leak of race being fixed then that rumor will spread like wildfire.

    1. Ummmm. Honda and Toyota are no longer in F1. But I think I understand what you are saying.
      It’s not that the race itself is fixed, but rather a team decides that swopping the position of its drivers will give it greater advantage in the long run. Is it legal, is it ethical?
      Let’s take a hypothetical example; my team has two drivers and Driver A has six wins and no other points and Driver B has one win and no other points.
      In the race, Driver B is in front of Driver A. To increase the chances of my team becoming world champions, it would be better for me if Driver A took victory and increased his points advantage over Driver C from another team.
      If I let Driver B win over Driver A, the team still earns the same number of points, but the advantage that Driver A has over Driver C is decreased.
      What happened on Sunday is that Driver B was universally revealed as Massa, and Driver A was confirmed as Alonso. Lots of people have a problem with that and the maximisation of points towards the World Drivers Championship. I don’t.

  74. Keith, I totally agree with you. 39.1 should be re written to only allow team orders when it is mathematically impossible for a driver to win the championship – end of

    As a racing fan, a race was not seen on sunday. If I had paid good money to be at the event I would have been even more furious and disillusioned than I am now.

    I personally believe ferrari should lose all driver & constructor points from the german event as punishment and the rule should be changed ( and aggressively investigated in the future )

    If anything we fans want more radio communication especially if teams cannot be trusted.

    I await the WM Councils ruling and hope they restore order…

  75. To Dalily Mirror, Byron Young: Who is Hypocrite? Kovalainen was going faster than Lewis … watch here …. Last sunday, Massa was going slower than Alonso! The English press, do not know how to lose !! Always passionat criticizing, always offending to the Spaniard pilot. Alonso is back … Byron shut up!

    1. He doesn’t work for me. You might like to take it up with the Daily Mirror.

  76. if massa had a problem then fair enough but he did’nt seem to have been slower in fact the grapics shown that massa had the fastest lap time and thier previous lap times shown massa faster. a rule is a rule if its broke then no points should be won

  77. Villa Maravilla
    27th July 2010, 21:33

    Hamilton and Kovalainen, the same circuit, thanks to an order of equipment Lewis won, this year were orders nice? English hypocrites

  78. Mike "the bike" Schumacher
    27th July 2010, 21:38

    Its a disgrace.
    Massa was only 31 points behind alonso. That sounds a lot but as a percentage of points for a race win this is equivalent to just 12 points in last years championship with 8 races left this is totally unjustified.

  79. here’s an idea:

    ban radios

    no, really.

    1. Team orders existed before radios were used. Ferrari implemented them at Imola in 1982, but even then it didn’t go to plan as their two drivers sadly didn’t have the same understanding of what was being asked of them.

      1. the implications of banning radios would reach a lot farther than team orders. it would be a fundamental change in how the race is run. in lieu of a stick shift and clutch pedal, i can’t think of a greater challenge today’s drivers could face.

    2. Yep, ban radios, And pit boards.
      Keep the drivers guessing.
      And racing.

  80. What perhaps the the teams need to be able to do is to publicly announce before a race – any race be it the 1st of the season or partway through that they will now be backing a particular driver so then people know what to expect.
    If Ferrari had been able announce before this race “Alonso is the driver we are giving No1 status for the rest of the season” no one would have been surprised to see Massa lift off and let Alonso through.

    We’ve seen in earlier season teams having a driver line up with a clear 1-2, Alonso and Piquet, Piquet and Fabi, Senna and Nakajima, Senna and Johnny Dumfries, Schumacher and Rubens/Irvine. They could all have stated at the start of the season that they’d be doing the best to favour Driver1 throughout the season.
    Then you’d also be able to have for this season RedBull or McLaren come out with 4/5 races to go that given current standings they’d be backing Mark or Seb, or Lewis or Jenson to help them win the drivers title.

  81. Kieth .. come on.. I admire the coverage of f1 by British websites, including yours.. be it f1fanatic, bbc or others.. but the current criticism has a smell of Ferrari bashing or to be harsh .. Ferrari bias… by British media.

    I agree that Ferrari did it stupidly .. i also didn’t like it. but after following f1 for a long time, i know that it goes on … every team does it and for obvious reason… but I feel .. that Eddie and others in others in British media has a lot of hand to fuel the fire..

    In this respect what Luca has said is partially right that it is hypocrisy .. though i think he should also acknowledge their own stupidness. but just to say that Ferrari drivers should get banned as Eddie said .. he lost all my respect.. especially since he is the one guilty himself…

    1. I don’t think it is hypocrisy, for the reasons I’ve explained in the article.

      Being very charitable, one could say Ferrari are perhaps a little unlucky to have been heard doing it now that all the teams broadcast their radio discussions – again, something I mentioned in the article.

      But Ferrari always had the option of not doing it. Whatever you might think of Red Bull and McLaren, both teams have scored one-two finishes with their drivers in different orders this year.

      I’m not in the least bit surprised Ferrari have been pilloried for this – especially when Alonso had a clear chance to overtake Massa earlier in the race and failed.

    2. I should add – maybe other sites are being unfair, I only speak for myself.

      1. I appreciate that you distinguish yourself from the others in British media…

        On the other hand, I think you are missing my point here. You are making your argument based on numerical judgement that championship is still alive for Massa. That’s why Ferrari should not have done it. it may very well be true in numerical terms but we all know that there are so many factors that make f1 uncertain.. and thats why we love to watch it.
        On the other hand if you look at the Ferrari decision, it is not only based on numerical judgement but also based on irrational behavior that is a very part of human judgement. Knowing this season is uncertain to the extreme, I do see a point why they decided to go this route.

        The reason I say a smell of media bias is the fact that muted response that you mention in your article regarding other incidents, I do not remember an article after article on those incidents. Could you cite me any article here.
        May be those event have much less importance or more in ones judgement but who is to decide that whose judgement should prevail…

        Moreover having a situation where the rule exists but everyone knows that it cannot be enforced leads to the situation where few individuals who are reporting in the media are given too much power regarding the interpretation of an incident. and that is exactly what happened here and thats why i say mention of fueling the fire. Which is another aspect of journalism and human behavior.. as we know it.

        How about this argument? If the shaky rule is there then who is to decide that there should be a muted response to it or an explosive response to the situation?’I would argue not have the rule in the first place that leads to such situation.

      2. I must add one more thing.. I would have very much liked to see Massa winning the race.. this would have been a great win for him. He has been through tough times. But look at it from Ferrari perspective. they know they must win a race with their best horse in order to keep the hopes of both of the championships alive… knowing Massa not only from this year but from years before he has always been erratic.. and he has been consistently beaten by Alonso on pure pace. and Ferrari knows that team orders are routine… then why criticize Ferrari so much cuz of this decision. Abolish the rule that is cannot be enforced. I guess thats the best thing to do for the fans.

        1. Completly in the same page as you. If there is a Ferrari driver that can go out and make it difficult for the other 4, it´s Alonso not Massa, that´s the reason why he was hired in the first place, Massa is too much inconcistent right now, Ferrari can´t afford to have 2 drivers taking points from wich other. As i said before in another article this years championship may come down like 2007. The difference now is that the points can be even more spread wich could be easier for Alonso catch them even he is too far back. After all isn´t what we all wont, a championship fight till the last race with the most drivers involved. They are 4 now, maybe 5.
          I can tell you neither RBR or Maclaren are going to give up a title only to see their drivers fighting whose the best. They still have time to play, but after Monza or Singapura lets see who will come up first with team orders camouflaged.

  82. Team orders, hhmmm.

    I’d like to use ice hockey analogy:

    In F1 team orders a bit like contact in hockey, it happens all the time and something you can get away with is very close to what you get a penalty for, but in hockey it is understood where the line is, even though you can still interpret it all as ‘contact’, and it is obvious that argument to lift penalties for what essentially is just ‘contact’ would be nonsensical. In F1 the borders is not so clear, but what happened in Australia 02 and last Sunday in Germany, is comparable to smashing a players head into the side wall on purpose, and thats what you get a DQ for, even though its just contact/team orders.

    See my point?

    1. yeah …, if teams wanna give team orders, at least don’t make it so obvious …

  83. Let’s face it – There will always be team orders, whether they are subtle or obvious. There are many millions of Pounds/Dollars/Euros to be won or lost.

    Someone once said – “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin”

    That just about sums it up for me.

  84. Alonso and Ferrari champions

  85. Ferrari had no option but to do what they did, Massa has not been within 1/2 a second of Alonso all season. Both Drivers have made mistakes and have had bad luck. I have no doubt, that both Ferrari drivers have in there contract that who ever is leading at the mid point of the season of the championship will be favoured for the win. I dont think this is wrong I think this maximises Ferrari’s chance of winning the title. Every year every team uses team orders.

    As for the order. And order is a direction, ie, pull over, advising a driver your teammate is faster is not an order it is advice. We all know what occured and how it can be interpreted, but WMSC and the FIA cannot prevent a driver pulling over at its own will this is not an order. If Ferrari get penalised, every race this year should be put under protest. In China this year hamilton was told to hold position despite having a faster car, Webber was told not to attack vettell in canada despite vettell car being wounded these are direct orders affecting the race result and were clear orders. In all cases drivers that were faster were told to hold station. The rule should be scrapped as far as im concern, because Every team invests money to win the world title not just win races and this should be the aim. Morally the decision was wrong, but Massa was assisted in his title bid 2 years ago, so he should clearly understand.

  86. Sean Newman
    27th July 2010, 23:12

    Most of what I have read above is, with all due respect, irrelevant. I have followed F1 since the late 60’s and I can say without question F1 has always been a team sport. Sure there is an individual element, yes there is a drivers championship but lets just think for a second about how the competition is organised.
    Do the drivers enter as individuals or as part of a team? The simple answer is they enter as part of a team and more basically an employee of that team. EVERY member without exception, keeps their job on the basis of how well they do that job, mechanics, managers, gofers and drivers included. They win together and lose together.
    Phillipe Massa is a true team player and we should be applauding this above all else. There is more to F1 than just individual results. Don’t forget how close Massa was to winning the championship a few years ago. Ferrari provided him with an excellent opportunity to win the championship and he did not. Ferrari, despite his injuries looked after him and gave him the best support to get back to full competitiveness.
    As Rob Smedley said, he was truly magnanamous and I believe this is a perfect illustration of why team orders should openly be part of F1.

    1. Sean Newman
      28th July 2010, 9:07

      F1 is a sport. Sport is a competition between entrants. Ferrari are the entrants. Phillipe Massa is not the entrant. He is a participant competing of behalf of of an entrant.

      I don’t like team orders. They seem wrong. But if you boil down the structure and the nature of the competition, this is what you get. Massa knows this and reluctantly accepts this. Why can’t everyone else?

  87. Hi everyone !!

    Do you all really think that Massa was still in the running before the race? who are you kidding? He got a great start, but his pace was much slower than alonso all year.

    It won’t get better in the next races, he is NOT a title contender. Its not because he can still win it mathematicaly that he has a chance. There is too much competition at the front this year and Massa is the worst of the front 6. That means no chance unless a couple of the front runners hurt themselves, and thats not going to happen.

    Alonso is the best at Ferrari and all chances should be put on him. Massa had 10 races to prove himself and he didn’t, now he has to support his team.

    Is that so hard to understand? or am i crazy here? :)

    The media really are killing them, i don’t think its fair on Ferrari.

    1. It’s not fair for Ferrari and Alonso how they’re being treated by the Britsh press. Nobody doubts orders exist in all teams. It’s Massa and his engineer to blame: either you follow the team orders properly or you din’t get the message. It’s their’s behaviour we should be discussing about!

  88. We can lie to ourselves with this virtual 39.1 rule, but as long as there are more then one driver in a team, TO will be part of F1 … so why be hypocrite and ‘officialy’ disallow TO while everyone is doing it when they need it, just without being as ‘open’ as Ferrari in last race?

    We can omit TO problem by making both drivers of winning team champions, it would be even more ‘realistic’ on second thought, have You ever seen even a best driver to win individual championship without a greatly developed car?

  89. Really good article, Keith. I wish I worked with people who could put together a cool-headed, well-reasoned argument with supporting data before making decisions or recommendatopms.

    Reading this blog is as reasonable as my day gets!

    1. In fact I wish I could spell, too.

  90. To all those who think the team order rule should be scraped since “… everybody does it anyway” or “its not enforceable” – please think this through when applied to each and every other rule/law our societies are built upon.

    I for one think the rule should be strengthened, the penalties should be very very harsh and the long term consequences for a team found guilty for violating this rule should be so drastic that every team needs to think trice about the risk of engaging in the practice of direct team orders.

    Such rules are not so much in place because they are ‘easily’ enforceable and unambiguously clear in practice how the execute them, but the DO set a STANDARD. They encode and represent the DO’s and DON’Ts in everyone’s mind. Since there are many honest people in the ‘chain-of-command’ in F1 teams, such rules supports their ‘feel’ of right and wrong and strengthens their weight/opinion within a team.
    Team bosses will have a harder time to implement and execute team orders if such rules are in place and folks within each team know that the penalties will be harsh if they blow a whistle or if a driver refuses to obey.

    Those people arguing “… but F1 is a team sport and the team should always be able to decide which driver gets a chance at the world champion title or a simply a race win.” To those people I say, there is a hell of a difference between team-sports like football and F1. Unlike A1GP, F1 is built on individual drivers competing against each other. We have seen how little traction team-racing (A1GP) has won among the fans over the past years!

    In a SPORT like F1 (yes it is still a SPORT that inspires people all over the world) the standards must be higher than what is presented right now. LOWERING the standards down to level of the crooks simply because ‘its done anyway’ is not the way to fight crime.

    For a F1-drivers career his wins and titles are pretty much the ultimate gauge by which he is measured and recorded in the history books. People don’t record (primarily) his earnings or what a wonderfully privileged lifestyle the successful drives can enjoy. No, people record the achievements, the battles, the winning-against-odds, the hardships, the drama, the battles! That’s what inspires, that’s why I (still) keep watching that sport. Artificially altering those achievements by ‘order’ is a despicable practice, understandable maybe, but nevertheless gut-wrenching and wrong. That order killed the spirit of most fans, team-members, both drivers and the public at large (gauged by newspaper headlines all over the world). Every child feels that what happend at Hockenheim this weekend is simply WRONG! I am not aware of similar things ever happening in MotoGP.

    The rules and their stewardship need to represent the IDEAL of the sport and have to support the honest guys with a conscience who keep the crooks and manipulators within teams somehow in check.

    I sincerely hope the the World Council will see it this way too and sends a clear message to all who witnessed in disbelief this sad historic race at Hockenheim 2010.

  91. […]

    From merely a glance it can clearly be seen that Ferrari is guilty-as-charged. But with this rule open to manipulation and various interpretations, should it ever have been implemented in the first place?

    Although it is never pleasant to see a Grand Prix decided in such fashion, with Massa making the switch in the most undignified of ways, it was indeed nothing more than an obligatory evil and one which is not new to Formula One.

    Indeed Grand Prix racing has always been focused around the team itself, with the achievements of the driver taking a secondary role.

    In fact, it was not until after the sport fell into the clutches of the growing world of television, that the individual characters and their pursuit for glory really took centre stage.

    The only team to survive from the previous era was Ferrari, and it is clear to see that it still allows these values to influence the way it goes racing.

    Indeed Ferrari’s history stretches back to a period where team orders were a natural occurrence. Although each team had a driver pool, there was always a ‘figurehead’ whom the rest were subordinate to. Therefore, each competitor understood that they were not merely racing for themselves, but to make sure that their employer achieved the best possible result.



  92. I have read very, very many opinoins on this (I admit not all) and one thing I have NOT read is that it is unfair to the other drivers who think they are in a competition for a DRIVER’S CHAMPIONSHIP. When Ferrari cheats one driver out of a win to help another than there is in fact no FAIR competition between drivers……… R & R

  93. Keith,

    I’m sorry I have to disagree with you on this one.

    F1 is a team sport and a team should be allowed to strategise. I dont see why its “ok” to allow a teamate pass when the penultimate race comes along, because a rule is a rule, and if we’re arguing legitimacy, it should stick.

    Team orders are common in the paddock, we all know that. “Hold Poisition”, “Save Fuel” etc. all are orders to stick with team strategy, we can’t deny this.

    To reach middle ground, why dont the FIA give teams a chance to use team orders X number of time is a season, maybe 3 times? I see this a being fair, because Ferrari were desperate for points this weekend, and the team fell like Alonso has a real shot at the championship.

    So letting the team use team orders 3 times in a season would help the team in difficult situation when they really have to drag themselves back into the championship or win it at the last race!

  94. I can’t agree with saying that team orders “will only bring Formula 1 into disrepute.” AFAIK, teams are REQUIRED to enter two cars. Therefore they should be allowed, if they so choose, to ask one of the drives to move aside for the other. It’s only “disrepute” if it’s against the rules.

    So if you change the rules, then there’s no “disrepute”.

    And if you want to keep the 2nd driver from mucking with the results, make a rule that if a car holds up the field for x number of laps, they will be given a drive-through penalty.

    Note also that other sports, such as cycling, have a team number one. The whole team rides for the number one. The only disrepute I see in cycling is their use (abuse?) of performance enhancing drugs.

  95. Will Power and Helio Castroneves fight at Indy later on Sunday….wheel to wheel without team orders…the same with Montoya and McMurray ant Nascar… Im Ferrari fan, but team orders is for loosers like $chumac$er… what Ferrari did is unfair and ilegal, i don´t really believe, but i wish that Alonso and the team (not Massa) will be disqualified and banned for a race on WMSC. Maybe a one car team if a good idea. I like real F-1 with great drivers like Senna, Mansell, Prost, Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve, etc… not this “marketing” drivers that whe got today. Not team orders in F1 to me.

  96. disqualified Alonso from German GP and handed Massa his deserved win.

  97. Keith, I think you made a mistake. You considered only the points gap. Yes, Massa was “only” 78 points from Hamilton, but to win the title he has to beat: Hamilton, Button, Webber, Vettel, Alonso, Kubica and Rosberg.. all placed better than him before Germany…
    A driver can miss some races or have a lot of reliability problems, but how can happen that at least FIVE drivers, including your team mate, start losing points???
    Massa was out of the game before Germany, I repeat: Ferrari made the right decision but managed in a bad way. Let’s see what is going to happen, I don’t think McLaren and RedBull will have both drivers competing for title until last race, we’ll see how they behave…

  98. This is all so bad because of the circumstances. Massa was leading. Alonso had chased him for nearly 50 laps without being able to pass, or really attempt to.

    It is not the case that they were both chasing Vettel and Alonso had the pace to catch him if Massa was not in his way. It was simply the case that Massa was the race leader and the only gain by letting Alonso through was for him to gain victory at Massa’s expense. If Massa was stopping Alonso from attacking additional positions this would not have generated such negativity, but it’s still a decision the driver in front should make, and not be ordered to do.

    To compare it to times where a driver has been let through by a team-mate in order to attack and gain more positions, or where drivers are ordered to keep station in order that they can both drive at 95% to help reliability is wrong.

    Ferrari have taken a step too far here and broken the rules designed to prevent exactly this situation. They need to be punished in a way that will discourage all the other teams from attemting to do this.

    And let’s not forget – it’s a “team” sport. If it’s the last race of the season and Alonso needs the win for the championship a good team mate would let him through himself without any team orders or bad feeling.

    Massa and Smedley clearly did not want to let him through. They should have raced to the end, or Alonso should have demonstrated he was going to pass, and then the simple order “not to crash” could be given to both drivers.

    We’ll wait and see but I expect Ferarri will get punished further – we’ll just have to September to see what it is.

  99. Very good article that sums up my feelings exactly. If the other driver has a possibility of winning the title then team orders should not be used. If positions are switched in the last three or four races to benefit the driver ahead then fine but any earlier and it is stupid.

    What happens to Ferrari now if Alonso has a Schumacher or Massa like injury? They’ve put all their eggs in one basket and I hope it back fires.

    I also hope Ferrari realise they have once again harmed their reputation in this sport and reminded me why I hate them.

    Its also the third race in a row where I have been reminded why I hate Alonso…

  100. a lot of fine points but overall, we must protect our sport & having 39.1 in place assists that end. Nothing’s perfect.

  101. Food for thought….
    The incident looks bad because it happened on the track.
    Nobody is talking about Team orders which are carried out more discretely (a) in Pits(slower pit stop) or (b) second driver doing slower times in the middle of the race (between laps 20 thru 55). These two strategies were used extensively during the Schumacher era.
    I can recount only a couple of incidents during the Schumacher era where fans had a problem with team orders, but would conveniently praise Schumacher for finding extra pace during the middle stint of the race.

    I don’t think team orders can be done away with.
    Will this incident lead to Massa leaving Ferrari at the season end? I think it will be a slap in the face for Ferrari. I hope that Massa leaves and Ferrari get a really bad No.2 driver (who cannot help Alonso).

    1. I think that Massa dont helped Alonso in the race,All I saw was Massa dangering Alonso and Ferrari too.Massa benefited at the start of the race when Alonso atract Vettel who was before Massa so This guy is stupid and he dont deserved to win.

  102. So you are blaming Ferrari for don´t permit the crash of Alonso and masa cars,and this is a big frustrations for all the british fans of Hamilton .I comprish all because you are fearing Alonso hunting of Hamilton.

  103. Enrique Miguel
    28th July 2010, 16:58

    Why is everybody making such a big deal about it?

    Have you not heard of coded messages?
    MacLaren uses it often “conserve fuel, maintain tyres in good condition, preserve engine etc.etc.)

    How can the FIA prevent a coded message to be given to a driver to let his teammate pass unless this driver makes it so obvious (as Massa did) that there is no doubt?

    Also the choice of words used in this case are the true detonators for this huge controversy.
    Other than that, I don´t think the FIA can do much to avoid team orders (it has´nt so far).

    1. McLaren haven’t used those messages to orchestrate a change of position. And it’d be pretty obvious if they did.

      1. Me thinks you’re splitting hairs Kieth. Team orders are team orders, whether changing front positions or “maintaining” the current positions. They are stopping their drivers from racing for the win.

        There is not enough latitude in the regulation to separate “strategy” from “team orders.”

        1. But equally, the team may legitimately instruct its drivers to save fuel to get to the end of the race without running dry. As McLaren have had one-twos this year with their drivers in different orders (as Red Bull have too), there’s no reason to suspect they only ever do it to favour one driver.

        2. Read the Monaco 2007 verdict on McLaren team orders favoring Alonso:


          “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.”

          The FIA finds it perfectly acceptable that drivers are told to hold station.

          Maybe they should put this fact more clearly in the rules though. Now a lot of fans seem to misunderstand what “interfere with the result” as stated in rule 39.1 actually means.

          Obviously Domenicali knows this as he quite clearly stated that drivers at Ferrari are not allowed to overtake each other on the final stint. Explaining why Alonso stayed behind Massa in Australia.

  104. this is a long standing problem in F1 they should come up with a solution that will make the fans, the drivers & the team management happy… how about introducing a new rule & allow team order(s)… say, a team can order a driver to allow his teammate to pass and maintain the gained position for 1 complete lap… after that lap, the teammates can resume racing & the passed teammate can now attempt to regain the position he allowed and the team cannot issue any further team order to allow any of it’s drivers to voluntarily allow each other pass… 1 team order to pass each race is allowed… how about that?

  105. I have had the opinion that the Team pays the drivers, and thus they should be allowed to decide and issue Teamorders. But the discussion here has changed my mind:
    The arguments that made me change my mind was: a. Just because it is difficult to prove the rule shouldn’t be scrapped. b. It is damaging for the image of the sport, because we pay to see racing not fixed/manipulated results. c. It is a sign of low morals and lack of true sportsmanship in the sport.
    My conclusion is that the Rule must stay and be more precise, just as FIA must be more precise in how the will investigate this. A TO that affects the result of the race should be banned and teams and persons should be penalized accordingly. In this context a TO to maintain positions is just as illegal as a TO to move over.
    If a team decides to issue an order to a driver to save fuel or fall back to protect the engine or whatever, they must be able to show FIA the relevant data, which justifies the request.
    And of course a rule should be in effect all season, no matter where the two drivers are in the table. In this way it will be more fair.

  106. Aha, the ‘monobrowed fishnicker’ strikes again. Why can’t they just race each other?

  107. the whole argument of Massa’s position in the championship it totally backwards. this is a team sport. You pick your strategy as a team and you reach your goal!

    that’s like being proud of a world cup team that wins by hogging the ball for individual gain..

    Ferrari did the right thing, Massa is a BABY.

  108. You say that this rule needs updating,but how? the only way i could see is if a minimum percentage of driver points could determine a team allowing one driver to lead,but what would that be? would it have to be more than half way through the season even if the that “minimum” percentage has not been met? To much ambiguity will lead to the same scenario again,do away with the rule,then everyone knows what may happen during the championship year.

  109. Keith,
    what you are saying is in my opinion unrealistic.
    Bottom line, all teams are in F1 to generate money, exposure for the brand they represent and the best way of achieving this is by winning the championship.
    Team orders have always been there, some are more diplomatic in issuing them, some are not.
    I believe that drivers being professionals should not be reminded. Maybe the reminder should be in the individual contract stating that if they compromise the race for not letting by the approaching faster team mate (and with more points!), they could loose the seat. I am pretty sure that drivers sitting on any of the top 3-4 teams, will think twice before blocking or attempting destructive maneuver with the prospect of driving for Virgin the following year. Maybe we will have plenty of action from the bottom grid…trying to achieve the opposite..

  110. We must be very stupid, or perhaps too clever to try to mess a victory like this when all they know perfectly well that the team orders existed, exist and will exist forever. They were not as active and sisters, as defenders of justice when Kovalainen let Hamilton pass at this circuit two years ago. Neither said anything when in Turkey and here in Hockenheim, Mac Laren talking with its pilots over the radio and told them to save on gasoline, a key lenguje say a driver who will not be attacked by her partner or not to attack his companion.

  111. theRoswellite
    29th July 2010, 5:40

    What an enormous response on this subject…

    Here is what I’d like to see. not what I think is best, just my preferred absurdity.

    No team orders (an obvious FIXING of the outcome); however, each driver is respected enough to be allowed to race as he chooses. If he chooses to be passed by a team mate that is, in an absolute sense, his choice not the teams.

    Like I said…..simply my choice.

  112. This idea might be ridiculous, well, it probably is, but at least it is enforceable, why don’t they make team orders illegal period unless one driver is say, 50 points in front of another, except during the last 3 races of the season when team orders can be used to help whoever is most likely to win the championship, that would prevent what happened to Massa, but allow what happened in 2008 with Kimi and Massa in china, and 2007 in Brazil, and nobody had a problem with team orders then.

  113. OK I know F1 is not football. However, imagine for a moment that alongside the normal football world cup there was a world cup (of MUCH greater stature) for the player who scored the most goals. Imagine these two world cups took place simulataneously.

    How would managers react? Surely the game would change.

    This is to some extent what we have in F1. Except maybe in F1 most people follow the drivers (players) much more than the team.

    I know this is a half baked analogy, but I think it hightlights part of the inherent problem with F1 team instructions – the two championships require different strategies to win, yet take place alongside one another.

    1. Actually there is a throphy for the best scorer (golden boot or something), but it does not affect what coaches do very much.

      1. Correct there is a golden boot, man of the match etc, but these awards are very much less important than the team winning. Winning the drivers title is much bigger than golden boot at the world cup etc.

        My point is if the golden boot was so important then players would not pass!

        Are there any other sports where two parallel championships (as opposed to awards) run at the same time?

  114. All the debate around this is very interesting.

    What is really not up for debate is that Ferrari’s actions were in clear breach of the regulations as they are currently written. Further, the ham-fisted way in which this breach was handled should put further emphasis on bringing the sport into disrepute.

    With a clear breach in a manner that has really been an embarassment to the sport, the FIA should render a substantial penalty for Ferrari.

    There is nothing new in what I’ve just written, but with Coulthard, Brundle and Bernie all opining in favor of scrapping team orders, I fear the FIA (to the further detriment of the sport) will rule in a manner that would indicate they, too, don’t take the team orders rules very seriously.

    For the good of the sport, the FIA needs to rule in a manner that supports a perception that the governing body is serious about embarassing breaches to the sporting regs and is supporting of the regulations it is in place to uphold.

  115. To put it simple…get rid of team orders. its called a race for a reason. if you dont have the skill to pass me too bad. team orders kill some of the excitment of racing. race but dont pull a red bull and crash each other out.

  116. Hamilton won his only WDC thanks to team orders, ask Kovalanien.

  117. or watch the videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epI6u6uA8hM and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkoPjh8pL4E . That´s Mclaren, the team with no team orders. Come on let´s be fair Keith.

    1. to be fair Kovalanien is nowhere near as good as Massa, we have seen Kovalanien in one of the best cars and what did he do, nothing.
      Massa in a good car has been up there winning.
      when Hamilton is on a charge he is capable of passing anyone, if you let him have the inside line regardless of who you are he’s going to get past. they dont need to pull over and wait for you to pass like Massa did for Alonso.

  118. Hello! Been a busy while!

    I’m in favour of team orders. The idea that team mates shouldn’t be subject to orders is selfish, individualist, egotistical, naive and denialist. The press and public face of the sport should promote teamwork not demonise it.

    The truth of the matter is there have been many examples of team orders that have been completely acceptable. Cherry picking the few that have drawn a bad reaction is disingenuous and misleading. Teamwork and team orders should be an accepted part of the sport as it is in cycling.

    What’s the point in having a team mates if they can’t help each other?

    If you really don’t want team orders then you should campaign for one car teams.

  119. Jraybay-HamiltonMclarenfan
    3rd August 2010, 1:07

    What happened in 2008 with lewis and kovalianen. Did heikki decide to let Lewis through?

  120. I don’t say that Team Orders should be banned, because Teams do always end-up in choosing a driver to push and will always find a way to do it.

    But it’s ridicuolous that at race 2 of 19 you have already made your decision!

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