Ferrari face FIA World Motor Sport Council on team orders charge tomorrow

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Ferrari will learn their consequences of their use of team orders during the German Grand Prix in a World Motor Sport Council hearing tomorrow.

Ahead of the crunch meeting let’s review what happened, the likely arguments for and against Ferrari, who will decide their fate and what their punishment could be.

The race, the radio and the switch

The Ferrari drivers started from second and third on the grid at Hockenheim and at the start Felipe Massa moved up from third to lead ahead of Alonso.

Alonso stayed around 1-1.5 seconds behind Massa before making his pit stop on lap 14, followed by Massa on the next lap. Both switched from the soft to hard tyres.

Initially, Alonso was clearly quicker than Massa who ran wide on more than one occasion. From lap 15 to 23 he was within a second of his team mate.

On lap 23 Alonso took advantage of Massa being delayed in traffic to get alongside of his team mate at the straight approaching the hairpin. But he wasn’t able to complete the pass. He then dropped back, falling 3.4s behind by lap 27.

He began to catch his team mate again but on lap 35 he had a big slide at turn ten and dropped back. This meant he wasn’t close enough to make another attempt to pass Massa when he caught the next group of lapped cars a few laps later.

At some point – it’s not clear exactly when – Alonso told his team on the radio, ??I am much quicker than Felipe??. His race engineer Andrea Stella replied, “We got your message.?? Massa was warned by his race engineer Rob Smedley “You need to pick up the pace because Alonso is faster.??

By lap 39 Alonso was one second behind Massa again. Later Smedley came on the radio to utter the now-infamous words, “Alonso is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?”

Shortly afterwards, on lap 49, Massa slowed at the exit of the hairpin and Alonso went by into the lead. Smedley was heard to say: “OK mate, good lad. Stay with him now. Sorry.” Massa was 1.8 seconds slower on that lap than he had been on the lap before.

After the chequered flag a depressed-sounding Massa got on the radio to say: “So, what I can say? Congratulations to the team.”

The stewards of the race fined Ferrari $100,000 and referred the matter to the WMSC. They found Ferrari guilty of breaking two rules – article 39.1 of the 2010 Sporting Regulations:

Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited.

And article 151c of the International Sporting Code:

Any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally.

Article 39.1 was introduced after the 2002 season, when Ferrari had ordered Rubens Barrichello to hand victory to Michael Schumacher in the Austrian Grand Prix, to widespread condemnation. No team has been punished under this article before.

Article 151c has been used several times in recent seasons, notably in 2007 when McLaren were found to have used confidential Ferrari information.

The case for

After the race Ferrari claimed Massa made his own decision to let Alonso pass. The drivers stuck to this line in the press conference, with Alonso repeatedly denying Massa had been told to hand him the win.

Asked if it was his decision to let Alonso past Massa said “Yeah, definitely” and gave this reason for it:

Because I was not so strong on the hard [tyres], so we need to think about the team.
Felipe Massa

Ferrari said that Smedley said “sorry” to Massa shortly after the change of position as an expression of sympathy rather than an apology for the order to let Alonso by.

The case against

Massa’s explanation invites the question why he did not let Alonso pass on previous occasions when he was holding his team mate up – such as at Melbourne and Sepang this year.

The answer is at that early stage in the season Ferrari were not yet ready to sacrifice Massa’s championship chances to help Alonso’s. But admitting that would be tantamount to submitting a guilty plea on breaking article 39.1.

Massa’s remark that “we need to think about the team” was echoed by Alonso in the post-race press conference:

For sure we don?t have team orders, so we just need to do the race that we can and if you see that you cannot do the race that you can, you need to think about the team.
Fernando Alonso

And by Luca di Montezemolo later:

I simply reaffirm what I have always maintained, which is that our drivers are very well aware, and it is something they have to stick to, that if one races for Ferrari, then the interests of the team come before those of the individual.
Luca di Montezemolo

These remarks are odd because switching positions in the manner they did made no difference to the team’s points total – they would have scored the maximum 43 points whether Massa or Alonso came home first.

The change of positions was not in the best interests of the team – it was in the best interests of Fernando Alonso.

The Todt factor

FIA president Jean Todt will be breathing a sigh of relief that he reduced the president’s function on the World Motor Sports Council shortly after he took over the role last year. It has saved him from ruling on a matter where he could be said to have several conflicts of interest.

Todt, of course, ran Ferrari’s F1 team from 1993 to 2007. It was he who ordered Barrichello to make way for Schumacher – on more than one occasion.

Team orders were always part of how Todt operated as a team principal. While running Peugeot’s Paris-Dakar rally squad he once decided whether Ari Vatanen or Jacky Ickx should win by tossing a coin.

But even if his willingness to use team orders in the past might make him inclined to look more sympathetically on his former team for using them today, he does not have the same degree of influence over the WMSC that Max Mosley had in his day.

World Motor Sport Council

The following people are members of the WMSC (nationalities in brackets):

FIA President
Jean Todt (France)

FIA Deputy President for Sport
Graham Stoker (United Kingdom)

Vice Presidents for Sport
Jose Abed (Mexico)
Michel Boeri (Monaco)
Morrie Chandler (New Zealand)
Enrico Gelpi (Italy)
Carlos Gracia Fuertes (Spain)
Mohammed Ben Sulayem (UAE)
Surinder Thatthi (Tanzania)

Shk Abdulla Bin Isa Alkhalifa (Bahrain)
Garry Connelly (Australia)
Vassilis Despotopoulos (Greece)
Luis Pinto de Freitas (Portugal)
Zrinko Gregurek (Croatia)
Wan Heping (China)
Victor Kiryanov (Russia)
Henry Krausz (Dominican Republic)
Vijay Mallya (India)
Hugo R. Mersan (Paraguay)
Radovan Novak (Czech Republic)
Lars ?sterlind (Sweden)
Vicenzo Spano (Venezuela)
Teng Lip Tan (Signapore)

President of the International Karting Commission
Nicolas Deschaux (France)

President of Formula One Management
Bernie Ecclestone (United Kingdom)

President of the FIA Manufacturers’ Commission
Fran??ois Cornelis (Belgium)

Jose Abed was also one of the stewards at the German Grand Prix.

The team orders debate

The events of Hockenheim have led to a fresh debate over team orders which has divided fans, commentators and journalists. On F1 Fanatic, more than three-quarters in a poll of 2,600 readers wanted Ferrari to be punished.

There are, broadly, two points of view. One is that the article 39.1 cannot and should not be enforced, and that teams should be allowed to order their drivers as they see fit.

The opposing view is that races decided by team orders – particularly on occasions like Austria 2002 and Germany 2010 where both drivers were still in the running for the championship – undermine the sporting integrity of Formula 1 and attract great public criticism.

I lean towards the latter view. Teams have their own title to win – the constructors’ championship – and should not be allowed to interfere in the fight for the drivers’ title.

Yes, sometimes difficult decisions have to be made about which driver gets the latest upgrade first. But telling a driver to give up a win is a different matter. Team orders are deeply unpopular for a good reason – no-one wants to see a rigged race or a fixed championship. Witness the furious reaction to Austria 2002 and Hockenheim 2010.

I’m not convinced by claims a team orders ban is ‘unenforceable’. With refuelling and pit-to-car telemetry banned, and stewards able to monitor radio transmissions, it’s getting ever harder for a team to hinder one of their drivers during a race without being detected. The prospect of a swingeing punishment for anyone caught doing it would help.

The existing rule banning team orders also helps prevent much worse forms of team orders – such as the inter-team collusion seen at Jerez in 1997.

Since article 39.1 was introduced there have been other instances of a teams’ drivers swapping positions, possibly under the instruction of their teams. Some of these occurred when one driver was mathematically incapable of scoring enough points to become champion. Others involved drivers on different strategies where the overtaking driver might easily have passed his team mate without interference from the team.

None of them involved one driver who had clearly beaten his team mate being told to pull over. That is why the events of Hockenheim provoked such intense criticism and why the WMSC must punish Ferrari.


Ignoring all other considerations, what would be a suitable punishment for a team that interfered with the result of a race to improve one driver’s position in the drivers’ championship?

If the purpose of the punishment is to prevent other teams from doing it, then the drivers involved must lose points. Points deduction cannot be confined to the constructors’ championship, as has happened in the past (e.g. McLaren in 2007), for Ferrari’s actions were clearly designed to affect the drivers’ championship alone.

Stripping the team and drivers of all their German Grand Prix points would be a reasonable penalty.

Will the WMSC be swayed by other considerations? For example, is there a desire to teach Ferrari a lesson after their claims the European Grand Prix was “manipulated”?

Or might the FIA stay their hand and not hand down a points deduction to keep the drivers’ championship battle as open as possible? Expect these explanations to be invoked by anyone who finds the verdict too harsh or too soft.

One thing is clear: if the FIA really wishes to stop teams from manipulating races, giving Ferrari’s drivers anything less than a points deduction would be meaningless. It isn’t just Ferrari on trial, this is a test case for article 39.1.

Over to you

What do you think the WMSC should do? And what do you think their decision will be? Have your say in the comments.

Ferrari team orders in Germany

Image via Adam Cooper on Twitpic

321 comments on “Ferrari face FIA World Motor Sport Council on team orders charge tomorrow”

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  1. I don’t think they will do anything with the drivers points (teams maybe).

    Alonso and WDC is now getting a bit of a long shot, being sceptical I’d say they waited this long to see how the championship developed. If Alonso was now leading the championship with his ill gotten gains it might be another matter. ;-)

    1. Maybe the FIA will actually do Alonso a favour if they ditch him the points and make it all but impossible to get the WDC this year.

      He might cool down and show us his excellent and foultless driving again on track, now that would be very nice.

      I know, it does take a bit of exitement out of the WDC battle (although a Alonso being able to take risks is not too bad), but it will be better in the long run.

  2. I’m no Ferrari fan but looking at all the fact’s they technically haven’t done nothing wrong.

    “Alonso is faster then you”

    How on earth do you prove this was a team order?

    At the end of the day Massa was told Alonso was faster then him and he was the one to mover over.

    To punish a team of team orders you first need to prove it and so far I haven’t seen any hard proof of team orders.

    1. spanky the wonder monkey
      7th September 2010, 8:58

      how about the “can you confirm you understood that message?” bit?
      then the apology?
      then the “that was very magnanimous of you” at the end?
      then the ‘celebrations’ on the podium?
      then the reactions in the press interview?

      giving it a touch of the occam’s razor, it was a team order.

    2. “Alonso is faster then you”

      How on earth do you prove this was a team order?

      To quote from an earlier article:

      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.

      The, 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.

      More here: Why the team orders rule must stay

      1. Keith,

        Quoting your own articles doesn’t rebut the valid point made by many here, that whilst we all know there were team orders, proving it in a court of law (as opposed to the WMSC chambers) is not that easy.

        Especially if Massa continues to state that he made the decision himself.

        As long as Massa maintains that line (legally) there is no other decision to come to other than he made the decision himself. What the WMSC decides is another matter altogether, of course. With Renault / Briatore they never actually proved their case against Renault either. They simply exacted punishment. Again, it’s clear to some that Renault were guilty. Other’s have a very different view. But it was never proven.

        And examples of the kind of informative data that is often given out over the radio to drivers of the caliber of Button, Hamilton or Alonso don’t carry much weight either. Not when you have heard the kind of baby-talk that goes on on a regular basis between Massa and Smedley.

        1. I only quoted it to avoid having to type it all out again!

  3. One race ban in 2011 for both drivers

  4. No matter what the outcome is there will be 200+ comments that it was wrong. The situation is not good for F1 and the rules need changed. If Ferrari are given a heavy penalty and appeal do the FIA then have to look into every suggested team order over the last few years? I think a lot of people are poised over a keyboard wating to be disgusted whatever happens.

    1. Yeah, you’ve made this point often in the past, it’s not what happened in the past but whats good for the sport in the future.

      Mosley left the rules in a hell of a mess, Todt seems to be trying to clean them up, it’s irritaiting every time that he does fans of the wrist slapped party look for supposed infractions and punishments handed out by Mosleys kangaroo courts, to justify complaints about rules that don’t suit them.

    2. True :) But one has to spend time and keep his English language up and running doesn’t he?

  5. Since article 39.1 was introduced there have been other instances of a teams’ drivers swapping positions, possibly under the instruction of their teams. Some of these occurred when one driver was mathematically incapable of scoring enough points to become champion. Others involved drivers on different strategies where the overtaking driver might easily have passed his team mate without interference from the team.

    None of them involved one driver who had clearly beaten his team mate being told to pull over. That is why the events of Hockenheim provoked such intense criticism and why the WMSC must punish Ferrari.

    But, Keith, under Article 39.1 all “team orders that interfere with the race result” are equally illegal. You can argue that Germany 2010 was a more blatant and, perhaps, more serious breach of the rules than the others, but that does not escape the fact that none of the other incidents – listed on this site and others ad nauseaum – were not even investigated by the FIA, let alone punished.

    I still regard it as hypocrisy in the extreme that those calling for Ferrari’s blood were silent at Brazil in 2007, China, Silverstone and Hockenheim 2008, and so on.

    1. I don’t agree it is hypocrisy. Look at the Germany ’08 example, for instance – Hamilton was so much quicker than the other cars even Massa hardly bothered defending his position.

      Whereas at Hockenheim Alonso had spent 49 laps failing to overtake Massa and there was no reason to assume he was going to find a way past in the next 18.

      What I do concede is that the radio messages we have from the Ferrari incident help make it clear that they broke the rules, and we don’t have those for McLaren at Hockenheim that year.

      And I’m baffled by how you can think it’s hypocrisy not to consider Brazil 2007 or China 2008 in the same way. When one driver’s out of the championship running, it’s a whole different ball game.

      1. When one driver’s out of the championship running, it’s a whole different ball game.

        Not according to the rules, it isn’t.

        I can accept that people view what happened in Germany as more serious than what happened in Brazil or China. But those incidents were not even investigated, despite being clear breaches of 39.1 – and I don’t recall too many people saying they should have been. Turning a blind eye to those and then screaming blue murder after Germany – that’s the very definition of hypocrisy.

        1. Exactly. As I said earlier up the thread. Letting a driver pass at any point during the championship will always affect the outcome of the championship to some degree or other.

          The specific examples being cited here are when a team cemented a chance for their team to beat another team for the Driver’s Championship.

          Nowhere in the rules does it say it’s fine to have driver orders when one driver is out of the championship.

          To even view the two situations differently is hypocrisy also.

        2. Not according to the rules, it isn’t.

          Afraid that’s how F1 works, like it or not (and I don’t like it). The rules are often as ambiguous as possible and the team orders rules are no different.

          Shanghai ’08 was discussed here, by the way – and few people thought Ferrari should have been punished.

          1. The team orders are very clear. You are not allowed to affect the outcome of a race.

            Saying that “that’s the way it is” is not really an argument.

          2. It’s why I’ve started to like Todt so much, he does seem to be trying to change that a clear up the ambiguities.

          3. Shanghai ‘08 was discussed here, by the way – and few people thought Ferrari should have been punished.

            Any rule that’s enforcement is based purely on how outraged fans are is completely unjustifiable and hypocritical. Either team orders must be banned or allowed, and that must be clarified at the WMSC. But it would be grossly unfair to punish Ferrari heavily for committing an offence under the regulations that has gone unpunished many times over the past 7 years.

            To argue that circumstance in Hockenheim or Cina 08 or Turkey 07 (Honda) were different is completely beside the point. They committed exactly the same offence as Ferrari under the clearly unsustainable rule 39.1

      2. “Hamilton was so much quicker than the other cars even Massa hardly bothered defending his position”

        Massa wasn’t on Hamilton’s team though so it doesn’t matter what he decided it’s about whether Heikki was told he had the option to defend or did it out of the goodness of his heart.

        Massa’s had this instruction before when he was teammate’s with Heidfeld, quick Nick let Kubica breeze by for his only win. There are too many examples the FIA can’t pick and choose unless they’re now deciding to make an example of Ferrari and have a complete ban because beasically it’s always gone on.

        I also don’t fully comprehend why it;s acceptable when it’s a title. If it was me I’d be more happy to move over to give someone a win then lose out on a title like in 07. I understand why when one driver is out of the title the team would do it but it doesn’t make it anymore fair on the competition and it’s still against the rules.

  6. I have mixed feelings about this, a part of me says deduct all their points and give the drivers a 1 race ban. the other part of me says, give more monetary fines to the team, and switch the points between Alonso and Massa, or at least penalize Alonso and take away exactly the number of points he gained in the move, and dont give Massa an advantage, let him as he is, this would not have helped his chances for the title all that much anyway…

  7. I’m not saying Ferrari are guilty but if found guilty it’s hard to work out what punishment can be handed out that is fair.

    This sounds crazy, but unless there is some evidence like a radio transmission from Alonso to the team, there is nothing to implicate Alonso. Even though he benefited the most. I cannot see them penalising Alonso.

    Massa, who lost out, instigated the move on the track by slowing down. Now does that make him guilty of breaching the rule? If they penalise Massa then it’s too confusing for the fans as he already lost the win.

    So it really only makes sense to punish the team. Drivers points would remain the same.

    However, if the motivation of the team is to win the ‘Drivers’ championship then the drivers points do come into play and they have to be included in any punishment as a deterrent to any future misdemeanour’s.

    So strange as it may seem, removing constructor points seems pointless too, as they would have finished 1-2 anyway.

    A fine seems wrong as it’s like buying driver points.

    So I can only see that the team is disqualified.
    Harsh? Yes. But it is the only feasible answer to prevent the rule being ‘publicly’ broken again.

    1. and a race ban before Monza….. I don’t think that’ll ever cross their minds.

      1. But if the FIA is concerned that Ferrari will retaliate with legal action, a ban is the logical way forward. If the FIA stripped them of points, Ferrari could sue and get their points resorted – and if the championship plays out in a certain way, we could reasonably see Alonso or even Massa declared World Champion by a court. And no-one (except Ferrari) wants to see that. But if they’re banned from Monza, they could only sue the FIA because there is no way to prove that they would have scored points in Italy.

  8. spanky the wonder monkey
    7th September 2010, 8:52

    my opinion….

    ferrari will escape with a slap on the wrist.

    in my mind, both ferraris should be dq’d from the race with the results adjusting accordingly. yes, this isn’t fair on massa as he was stuck between a rock and a hard place (annoy your employer or annoy the fia), but when is life ever fair? the wmsc needs to send a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated, so as a minimum, must dq the pair of them. if ferrari maintain they were doing it ‘for the team’ then they should also get a big fat zero in the constructors championship for the season.

    i keep wondering what would happen if this involved one of the less established f1 teams…..

    1. “i keep wondering what would happen if this involved one of the less established f1 teams…..”

      Or McLaren…!!

      1. As I said above: had Vettel not taken himself out of the race and had Webber yielded instead (as unlike him as it is in reality), I am pretty sure several teams, including McLaren, but also Ferrari, would have urged the FIA to investigate team orders, and maybe we would have seen this same debate half a year earlier.

  9. I think the one biggest thing Ferrari are going to have trouble explaning away is the way Massa moved over. They have said that in the event of sanctions against them, they will take the FIA to a civil court, and their defence seems likely to be that no team orders were ever issued, that Rob Semdley was only reporting to Massa and his “Can you confirm you understood that message?” was only to make sure Massa knew Alonso was faster, and that Massa moved over of his own free will. It was a decision that he made, but with Alonso and Massa variously opening and closing the gap between one another, Massa moving over to let Alonso through is completely out of character. The only possible defence I can think of is that Massa “knew” Alonso would get him and moved out of the way because he was afraid of a repeat of Red Bull’s Istanbul debacle, but it’s going to be a very hard sell.

  10. I believe one could skip the did-they/didn’t-they discussion. I mean, it is the most cinical spin ever and for those wishing that no punishment materializes, they should try to put their thoughts on other arguments – first because it is denying the obvious and second because it undermines their position (if they feel the need to deny what happened, it is because deep down they also consider it dirty).
    That would bring us to the enforceability issue. This is quite ludicrous. You don’t create a rule because you think you can always enforce it: You do it because you think it is the right thing to do. Do the police catch all robers? Do they solve all crimes? Should we then scrap the laws? Of course not. The fact that people do not always get caught is the reason why punishment should be harsh – suppose you commit a dishonesty in which you gain $100 but for which you’d have to pay a $200 fine if you were caught. Assume that the odds of being caught are 1 in 10. A quick calculation would show that the only thing preventing people from doing it is their moral compass because there is a profit to be made by cheating here. That is why the punishment in such a case should be above $1000. My whole point is: If something is wrong it should be ruled against and the more difficult it is to enforce the rule, the bigger should be the punishment handed down on those who get caught doing it. That is how you prevent it from happening – by making it costly.
    Thus, in my opinion, what one should really discuss here is whether team orders are a good or a bad thing for the sport. My point of view is that it is a real nasty thing. F1 is not football. When a member of a football team passes the ball to a teamate so that he can score, both win. That is not the case in F1 – Alonso won, Felipe lost. Felipe have fans and they felt cheated – if your guy loses on his own performance, that is sport, but if he is told to give the game up, the supporters feel like clowns. And what is the reason for cars going round in circles every odd weekend other than entertaining the supporters? There is no higher purpose in it, so F1 should respect its public.
    This last discussion, however, is beside the point today. There is a rule, Ferrari broke it and they should be punished (hard). If that happens, when the FIA gets asked whether they can enforce the rule, they can respond: We just did it.

    1. I think that’s a very good use of analogies there, particular about having laws even though we can’t catch every criminal.

      It made me think about past situations. We know every team spies on each other, but McLaren were found out in 2007 and punished accordingly. We don’t know how many other race fixes there have been involving drivers staging an event, but if there have been Singapore 2008 was by far the most blatant. And if other teams have been ordering their drivers to change places, you’d have to scratch your head to think of a more blatant one than Ferrari’s at Hockenheim.

      So far from it being hypocrisy, it would actually be consistent to punish Ferrari.

  11. Hi all,

    Good article Keith, though I think it is difficult not to punish Ferrari, it is hard to see what the WMSC can do… they have a few options.

    1) Let them get off scot free
    ——–This would set an unwanted precedent and makes no sense as they broke a rule.

    2) They could strip the team of all Constructors/Drivers/Both points for that race.
    ——–Although seemingly the most popular punishment, what if Alonso then missed out on the Championship, say, to Hamilton, by a few points because of this deduction… Hamilton haters wouldn’t let the poor man hear the end of it, and how it was really Alonso’s championship…

    3) They could give them a race ban…
    ——-Urrrrm, at Monza? Really?…

    I find it hard to envisage what they will do, as plainly, a suspended race ban is not enough… nor is a fine…

    1. 2) That’s only really a legitimate problem if Alonso loses to Hamilton by not having any points from Germany, but he would have won even if he had only taken second place. It would be an interesting scenario nonetheless.

    2. There is also the “suspended ban,” a very grim slap on the wrist. But it would bring up the issue of what would trigger the ban—Ferrari have already made it clear they enjoyed it and would do it again.

  12. “For sure we don’t have team orders”

    In that sentence is why I hope Ferrari will be punished. It’s that arrogant attitude, thinking that everyone somehow doesn’t understand logic and they do. Really makes me feel angry.

    It’s like pleading not guilty at a trial, and that’s why they should be punished severely.

    1. Hopefully the main debate should be the rule anyway. Haven’t changed my mind on that one since 2008:

    2. I guess, like McLaren, if the WMSC find there were team orders that makes this lying to the FIA stewards, and so they should be disqualified (remember Australia 2009?) …

      1. Yes, although we don’t know what was said to the stewards as yet, just what they said to the press.

  13. I think the penalty will be similar to that meted out to McLaren for Spy-Gate; drivers keep their points but team will lose their Constructor’s Championship points.

    That would be a shame though, because if Alonso and Massa were docked their points for that race, Vettel’s gap to Hamilton is reduced by 4 points, from 31 to 27 but Hamilton’s gap to Alonso increases from 41 to 72.

  14. Keith, fantastic article, even if I don’t agree totally with you.
    I might be wrong, but my impression is that for the break of paragraph 39.1 (team-orders) Ferrari has been found guilty and fined $100.000, which is the maximum the Stuarts can impose.
    What Ferrari is up for at the WMSC is the breach of paragraph 151c (bringing the sport into disrepute), which is such a serious offence that the Stuarts can not themselves impose any punishment, but have to refer it to the WMSC. As such any discussions of weather Ferrari did use team-orders or not is irrelevant, they have already been found guilty (and punished) on this point. The question the WMSC has to decide is: is the breach of the team-orders enough to bring the sport into disrepute?
    If they find this is the case, lets look at the punishment. I do believe there are no limits to punishment to paragraph 151c. I remember two recent cases where teams were punished under this paragraph. When McLaren (spy-gate) were punished under this paragraph they were fined $100 mill. and all constructors championship points for that year was taken away from them. When Renault was fined for breach of paragraph 151c (crash-gate) they got two years (suspended) disqualification. Mitigating circumstances was that the two main figures left the team, and maybe even some political reasons as Renault was thought to be about to leave F1. It would therefore appear that FIA sees a breach of paragraph 151c as a very serious offence. IF they find Ferrari guilty of bringing the sport into disrepute, and don’t punish them hard, I’m sure the old Ferrari International Aid allegations will be resurrected (and rightly so IMHO), personally I’ll be more that surprised if Ferrari get more that points for the German GP deducted if even that.

    1. Interesting analysis. I think you make some very good points.

      A problem that the WMSC faces though is that if they do find Ferrari guilty, and punish them severely, so severely that Ferrari hurt then Ferrari will fight back hard. And at that point the whole can of worms of all the previous blatant violations of team orders will become pertinent again. Expect Ferrari to lay them out one by one in gory detail.

      Again, the regulators face the problem of causing more harm to the sport than the infraction they are punishing.

      Hence my prediction of a suspended disqualification from the championship. Other teams will not protest as they all stand to be brought into the dock in an extended appeal by Ferrari.

      A suspended disqualification will make the rest of this season very interesting as it will make it much more complex for Ferrari to use team orders for the remainder of the season. Something they will undoubtedly want / need to do before seasons end.

  15. if they take away the points from massa amd alonzo…does the result change? who becomes the winner in that case or does the rest of the grid move up?

    1. spanky the wonder monkey
      7th September 2010, 10:25

      it depends if they get dq’d or not. a dq means that everyone else will move up by 2 places. it is conceivable that they can let the result stand but deduct points for the regulation infringement

      1. I can’t see it would be fair to bump the others up – Vettel and Hamilton would be first and second respectively but Hamilton couldn’t get close to them in the race. If the Ferrari’s are stripped of points and positions in the race, Hamilton’s lead would then be extended by a few points. As much as I’d like to see them DSQ, the fairest thing is probably for Massa and Alonso to be reversed and then Ferrari to lose their constructors points for the race, with the other contsructors retaining the same points they won on the day.

        Having said that, all they’ll probably get is a fine and a suspended sentence with Luca still crying at the injustice of it all.

        1. I totally agree.
          There should be a new rule which states that in case of team orders, the drivers involved at the end of the race are swapped back in the positions they had before team orders being used.
          I think Massa should take the win instead of Alonso which would take second place.

          1. spanky the wonder monkey
            7th September 2010, 11:32

            it’s not quite that simple as swapping the order can have other consequences e.g. the driver moving back may be instructed to slow the following cars. what happens if this then results in a crash that ‘probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise’ due to the bunching of the cars?

            fair says to swap the positions back, but ferrari didn’t play fair in issuing team orders to influence their position in the drivers championship, so fair, doesn’t come into it.

            either the FIA want to stamp out team orders or they don’t. we all know that it’ll never stop as there will always be a way to issue orders, but the blatant way that team ferrari did this and the subsequent “we don’t give a s**t” attitude needs to be heavily punished and serve as a warning, to them and others, to not be so dumb in future.

        2. Many didn’t see that it was fair that Massa should win the 2008 Belgian GP for what was an incident between two other drivers, but that’s what happened. So there’s a precedent in that case, though I doubt it’ll turn out that way.

          1. I really wanted to refer to Spa ’08 as I’m still bitter about it but thought better of it until now! Massa was nowhere and shouldn’t have been allowed to benefit as Raikkonen was the only person to ‘suffer’; he then crashed out anyway. And a more recent example is the penalty Schumacher got at Monaco this year, particularly as the stewards got it wrong by giving the green light. Still think Alonso deserved his Valencia penalty for the move on Kubica though, even though he retired soon after! You’re quite right there’s a precedent but this was before Todt’s mission to make things fairer and more transparent.

          2. A error of judgement has always costed a driver points which fall on the lap of another driver. Driver A is 30secs ahead, misjudges the breaking point, hits the barriers, driver B, who would have never caugth him otherwise, gets the victory and the points instead. Why should that be different when the misjudment of driver A (intentionally or not) concerns what is allowed in the rules?

  16. Maybe another fine, suspended race ban and loss of constructor points for Germany.

  17. If Ferrari get penalised, then the FIA have to penalise every team. Team orders happen all the time, on and off the track. It shouldn’t be a case of, only penalise teams for team orders if there is an uproar. The FIA are clearly reacting to the fans, and that’s not right.

    Where were the FIA when Ferrari switched their cars around at China in 2008? Nowhere, because nobody cared about that. It doesn’t matter wheather Raikkonen couldn’t win the championship back then, the fact is, Ferrari still broke the rules then. But because it was seen as acceptable by everyone else, the FIA found it acceptable.

    1. I disagree, the reason there was an uproar is because of the circumstances.

      People use Hamilton and Kovalainen in Germany as an example to demonstrate your point, but this is invalid, as Hamilton was on a different strategy and went on to pass cars ahead that Kovalainen could not have done.

      Massa and Alonso were both on the same strategy, it was for the lead, out on their own and it wasn’t even subtle. It is midway through the season and just completely inappropriate.

      1. My point is that the FIA shouldn’t penalise Ferrari at all, because teams are getting away with team orders all the time.

        The fans have a right to be upset, but the FIA should not react to an incident just because the fans tell them to.

  18. To summarise… if they have indeed used team-orders, which they obviously have… they are guilty of…

    1) Lying to the stewards
    2) Breaking the team-order rule
    3) Bringing the sport into disrepute.

    This should bring a bombardment of fines, suspended race bans and disqualifications!

  19. Keith great article but I do have to disagree with one point

    “The change of positions was not in the best interests of the team – it was in the best interests of Fernando Alonso.”

    Yes on the face of it that is true but winning the WDC has always been the most important thing in F1 and reflects the team. In 2008 when Massa lost the title not one of the mechanics were crying with joy because they won the constructor’s, they were crying with pain that their driver lost.

    Whatever happens is going to influence the culture of F1. Ferrari broke the rules and therefore a punishment is right but basically the culture has been it’s fine so long as you do it quietly which isn’t any better. If they aren’t punished then that culture can carry on but if they are they’re going to have to clarify the rules.

    The punishment is a nightmare too. If they get punished more for race fixing than the people involved in Sing 08 then it’s ludicrous but if they’re found guilty and get nothing then the fans won’t be happy. They can’t be banned for Monza either. I’ve seen that suggestion a lot and I think that’s just an idealistic hope/belief in making an example of a team. Todt is a believer in only fighting the battles you know you can win and Ferrari will scream their heads off if they’re banned for Monza. Maybe they should be reminded they aren’t in charge and should accept whatever punishment (I assume they still have a right to appeal though) but the Monza stands would be empty without Ferrari and it could possibly cause a much larger row and it mgiht not be worth it.

    I don’t envy the WMSC. There’s a new regime that wants to establish itself but will inevitably be compared to how other cases were handled in the past. It’s a year that’s been politics free but is now taking on the biggest name in the sport that feels hard done by because every other team has done something similar but more cleverly in the past. It also has us fans crying for punishment because while they all have their eyes set on chasing the title, we see it more from a sporting perspective (in theory) from the outside looking in.

    1. Yes on the face of it that is true but winning the WDC has always been the most important thing in F1 and reflects the team. In 2008 when Massa lost the title not one of the mechanics were crying with joy because they won the constructor’s, they were crying with pain that their driver lost.

      What’s at fault there is not the rules, it’s the team. Ferrari have won the constructors’ championship 16 times and they should be proud of that. (I’m not saying they shouldn’t be disappointed Massa lost, of course).

      Regarding Singapore, remember Renault admitted they were guilty and fired the people involved. Ferrari haven’t done that.

      1. Sorry Keith you’re entirely missing the point. Its the same as saying it wasn’t in the interests of the team to move Massa over at Brazil 2007 was only in the interests of Kimi Raikkonen. The team has got to do everything it can do maximise its chances of one of its drivers winning the drivers championship. To pretend that it wasn’t in Ferrari’s interests to maximise its chances in the WDC is simply intelectual acrobatics to criticise Alonso.

        Now of course people will argue that Massa still had a ‘mathematical’ chance of winning the title, but so did Bruno Senna. What matters is what’s realistic. The use of the word ‘mathematical’ only shows how slim Massa’s hopes were. With the possible exception of Steph nobody beleived Massa had a realistic chance of winning the title.

        He was well over 3 wins behind the championship lead at the half way point and only once has such a gap been recovered in 60 years of the WDC and that only occured because Niki Lauda missed 2 races and chose to sit out the final race. Also no driver has ever won the championship after being 8th in the standings at the half way point. He was singnificantly behind all 5 of the serious title contenders. This meant it would have taken a run of inconsistancy and unrealiability unseen in the modern era from the top 5 drivers to give Massa a hope in the WDC. All that along with the fact that he hadn’t looked like matching his team mate’s pace all season never mind the pace of the Red Bulls and McLarens. Nobody in their right mind before Germany thought Massa had a plausable chance of winning the WDC.

        Since Ferrari were already getting a 1-2 finish it made every sense for them to want the driver who was going to give them the only realistic chance of winning the WDC and had been faster all weekend to take 25 points. F1 is a team sport fought through the prism of the WDC and it is obvious that Ferrari’s chances of winning the WDC would be greatly enhanced if Alonso took the win. To pretend otherwise is just simply nonsense.

        The way the team orders were used was insensitive and ugly, but switching the drivers was undoubtably the right thing to do for Ferrari not just Alonso. As for the WCC it is, as Eddie Irvine put it, the consolation prize Steph makes the excelent point about 2008. Nobody outside F1 remembers that that Ferrari won the WCC, all that mattered was that Hamilton won the WDC in a McLaren.

      2. I just meant that the culture of F1 focusses so much on the driver. The driver leading a team to flory. It’s slightly different in Ferrari’s case because they are such a big name but at the end of the day they felt that glory for the team would be more likely by getting Alo some extra points. I don’t for one minute think it was right by the way and I do think you’ve handled this issue very well!

        True about Renault, I’ll give you that :P

        Ads – “With the possible exception of Steph nobody beleived Massa had a realistic chance of winning the title.”

        That made me laugh! I don’t entirely agree though. I actually didn’t think Mas had much of a shot this year but momentum comes and goes.

        I think you’re missing the point of the sporting side somewhat. I understand what Ferrari did which means I’ll accept it and still support them (they’re hardly the first) but the argument of maths takes away from the fact that we watch F1 for racing and the idea of team orders takes away from that. If Alonso wins the title then good for him and I’m sure he and Ferrari will be delighted but I can’t help but feel it’s shortsighted and thinks of winning first before the sport.

        I’m a great admirer of Alonso and his hunger to win. I hold nothing against him for what happened but at the end of the day I would have preferred the story of Massa winning a year after his accident or losing because Alonso overtook him in style rather than a manipulated race. When Massa lost in 08 I’d never been prouder of him and the team but when Kimi won in 09 by gaining an unfair advantage I didn’t celebrate. The story matters to me and it matters to a lot of fans too.

        1. I wasn’t really responding to the sporting side tbh more to the issue of whether it was in Ferrari’s interests rather than just Alonso’s.

          If I’m honest though F1 gave up the pretense of being a purely sporting contest a long time ago. In fact F1 has never been a purely sporting contest between the best drviers in the world if it was they’d all be given identical cars. They aren’t it is a team sport. I think much of the outrage when every scandal is either artificial or from people who wished that F1 was something far purer than it will ever be. I think most long term followers of the sport have learnt to accept the F1 for what it is and realise team tactics of one form or another are only to be expected what is a team sport in which teams have invested huge amounts in trying to win the WDC.

          “when Kimi won in 09 by gaining an unfair advantage I didn’t celebrate.”

          lol unfair? In F1, unless you endanger other drivers, if its legal or the rules are ambiguous then its fair. What else do people expect when there’s so much tarmac on the outside of the first turn? Also Massa did pretty much the same thing in Hockenheim this year and I don’t blame him.

          1. It was in both of their interests when it comes to their chances of winning.

            Agree that it’s never been a gentleman’s sport in some time and I’ve always gone by the notion that if the stewards don’t punish it then it’s fine but it doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with it. I’d have gone with the Massa example if I’d thought of it and yes it was an unfair advantage but the stewards once again were incompetent and there was plenty of criticism at the time too.

            However, when Alonso said that he longer considered F1 a sport I really admired him but it seems now he was just saying “if it isn’t a sport, I’ll treat it like a business”.

            I don’t expect the drivers to be saints, esp not when they’re the best in the world and so hungry it’s something I’m fascinate, seeing how far they’ll go to win but I do rate some wins more than others. F1 isn’t just about winning, it has to keep the fans happy too and sometimes I think F1 and the teams get lost in their own self-importance.

            I do agree that much of the time scandals are blown up and I think this has gone way over the top. I think this is getting so much attention for numerous reasons when it’s blatantly gone on in the past and it boggles me but I am talking about the wider issue of team orders rather than having a go at Ferrari.

  20. Will we see another appearance of Witness X?

    1. Possibly witnesses Mclad, Willie, Rene, Finbar and Herr Silver.

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