Why the team orders rule must stay

CommentPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2010

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

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

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

Massa’s position in the championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why the championship situation matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

How team radio played a role

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

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

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

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

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

A clear team order

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why the team orders rules must stay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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  1. 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…

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. “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.

  10. 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”.

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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

  16. 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!

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

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

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