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

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)

Members
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.

Punishment

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

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

  1. Good article Keith.
    However, I don’t agree that the change in driver position was not a benefit to the team. Alonso is Ferrari’s only real chance of a Driver’s World Championship this year, and was at that time. So switching places to benefit Alonso does indeed benefit the team. Having a Driver’s World Championship, rather than both drivers being 3rd or 4th at the end of the year is definitely a better outcome for the team.

  2. 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.

    Yeah coz if Alonso wins the world championship, Ferrari will get nothing… Seriously! I wonder whats wrong with that statement.

    Personally the only crime Ferrari committed was not giving Massa and Smeadly acting lessons. It seemed like an amateur performance. For that they need to be caned.

    About the whole “team orders” debate, if this move was in the last race and meant Alonso had won the title coz of it everybody would be ok with it. That is double standards.

    A team can choose which way it chooses to function… if you want to control even that, then make it one driver per team.

    • Exactly.

      btw I think Massa and Smedley’s actions showed very clearly that their loyalty is not to the team 100%. Their behaviour was basically doing everything possible to bring the infraction to the attention of the Stewards.

      In effect Massa towed the line but with bad grace. The same for his engineer.

      • Your loyalty will dip a bit as well when your boss decides your co-worker deserves both the monthly bonus and the trophy saying he is the best employee…. Despite you being the most productive worker…

        • Exactly Mike ! Of course, I agree Massa and Smedley should have orchestrated it a bit better, not professional at all. But they are human and Smedley has a great relationship with Massa, so it is understandable.

          Even if in Turkey Hamilton and Button received TO, at least the spectators got 2 laps of show out of it!

          • DASMAN said on 8th September 2010, 13:51

            @Mike

            Execpt that Massa is not the most productive employee, is he? As this sport has been for decades, if you’re too slow, you’re number 2.

    • Jarred Walmsley said on 7th September 2010, 6:19

      Actually, Ferrari don’t get anything, they only get rewarded for the constructors championship.

      And in your point about if it had been in the last race and Alonso had won the championship, and everyone being okay with that, It would ONLY be if Massa was out of contention, if he could have won it if he had won the race then no, people would be even more annoyed then they are now.

      If a driver is mathematically out of contention for the championship but is team-mate isn’t then it only makes sense for team orders to come in if it would allow his team-mate to get ahead in the championship.

      So while it may be double standards they make sense being that way.

      • Do you really believe that having the World Champion does not benefit the team? If you do then you are being a little naive.

        And wrt to when a team decides to do it. Massa is out of contention for the Drivers Championship. Maybe not strictly based on the maths. But realistically he is. Ferrari have simply made a decision at a critical point in the season for them (when you take into account Alonso is also under pressure to deliver) to back their best hope for the Championship.

        • Joey-Poey said on 7th September 2010, 18:10

          If he had won Germany it’d be a helluva lot closer. There have been many cases in the past of drivers coming back from large points deficits to either win or come close to winning. Hill in ’94 being one point shy after something like a 30 point deficit comes to mind. Or Prost coming from 3rd in the points in ’87 on the final race.

          With 8 races left to go, Massa was not out of the running by that point. If anything, the fact that he was poised to win at Hockenheim just goes to prove his chances of vying for the championship were realistic if he continued the momentum.

          So no, your excuse of him being “realistically” eliminated are not a valid excuse for Ferrari’s behavior.

    • MouseNightshirt said on 7th September 2010, 7:52

      [blockquote]Yeah coz if Alonso wins the world championship, Ferrari will get nothing… Seriously! I wonder whats wrong with that statement.[/blockquote]

      Ahh, of course, that makes it all OK then! Let’s just hope the WMSC see your logic and wave them through! :/

      [blockquote]
      Personally the only crime Ferrari committed was not giving Massa and Smeadly acting lessons. It seemed like an amateur performance. For that they need to be caned.[/blockquote

      Except they broke the laws of the sport. You can’t get arrested for the police for doing something and get off because you hadn’t been taught how to lie properly.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th September 2010, 8:28

      About the whole “team orders” debate, if this move was in the last race and meant Alonso had won the title coz of it everybody would be ok with it. That is double standards.

      I don’t agree it is double standards if, in the example you describe, Massa is mathematically out of the running for the championship (as at Interlagos in 2007).

      • It’s kind of splitting hairs though.

        Any team order affects the outcome of a race.

        All Ferrari have done is decide that Massa is out of the running because he is the farthest from the lead in the team. The reasons for this are clear. Diluting points at this stage will make it impossible for either driver to make a run at the Championship.

        Nowhere in the rules does it say it is ok to have team orders only if one driver is mathematically out of the running.

        So either way you look at it it is against the rules. Period.

        • What’s more team orders that allow a driver who is still mathematically capable of winning the championship leapfrog another driver who is not, *does* affect the outcome of the whole season.

      • Yes but its still a team order, therefore the same, unless the rule is clarified

  3. Also one major fact you have skipped is that in the attempt Alonso made on Massa, Massa cut him on track to keep the lead. Alonso went on radio exclaiming something like “that is ridiculous”. Massa’s move could have been dangerous if Alonso hadnt yielded.

    If it was any other driver than Massa(and the car being a Ferrari) Alonso would have fought harder and even risked a bit to get the track position. I believe there is significant evidence that Alonso didnt put pressure on Massa coz it could have caused a major accident(remember the Red Bulls).

    When you drive for a team you do things like that… Period. Alonso clearly got the major benefits in the end of the day but he too was probably in a position he was not comfortable with and had to yield for the team.

    Put that in the equation and see if it matters.

    • That’s Alonso’s problem then.

      It doesn’t matter as it’s not relevant.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th September 2010, 8:29

      in the attempt Alonso made on Massa, Massa cut him on track to keep the lead.

      It was a perfectly legitimate piece of defensive driving by Massa.

      Frankly, I was amazed Alonso chose to try to go to the right of his team mate at that moment instead of trying to go left and get the inside line for the next corner.

      • bosyber said on 7th September 2010, 10:12

        It was actually one of the first times this year that I was truly happy with a move by Massa – it was great defending, even if part of me was, at that point in the race, hoping that Alonso would find a way past soon.

      • Keith, Massa was very in the left in a legitimate piece of defence (That he only shows when Alonso is behind, because normally Massa is passed by everybody who pretends it). So that, Alonso couldn’t find this way. Then he tried to pass through the right, but massa run to defence that side in a fast move.

        yes, its legitime to defend it but it’s clearly ridicolous to try it. isn’t it? If massa has the same car and he is going to do everything to defend, I won’t try to pass.

        • I meant it’s ridicolous to try to pass him.

          • David BR said on 7th September 2010, 13:46

            Ridiculous to try on track but not ridiculous to phone home for help?

            Difficult to believe, I know, but Formula 1 has actually seem team mates successfully overtaken while both are trying to race.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th September 2010, 14:20

          Just because someone has the same car as you doesn’t mean you can’t pass them. Hamilton passed Button at Melbourne, didn’t he?

          There were points in the race where Alonso was quicker than Massa and – particularly when there were backmarkers around – he might have been able to pass. And if Alonso hadn’t made his mistake on lap 35 he would have had another good opportunity to pass Massa in traffic.

        • David A said on 7th September 2010, 20:29

          “If massa has the same car and he is going to do everything to defend, I won’t try to pass.”

          Well then you’re not much of a racing driver.

  4. Oliver said on 7th September 2010, 6:00

    I think they should just get a warning and life should go on.

    • Anagh said on 7th September 2010, 6:19

      @Oliver, No if they just give them a warning, it will only encourage other teams to try it as WMSC will let u go with a warning.

      • Not really. Some teams and drivers have been “reprimanded” for obvious rule breaches and dangerous driving episodes this season, with a clarification that any further transgressions would get a much harsher penalty.

        Nothing stopping the WMSC from doing that. In many ways it would be better, as it would be a fair means of tidying up the rule (letting it be known exactly what is and isn’t tolerated, rather than the situation we’ve had up to now where various blatant team orders have been ignored by the stewards and FIA) and letting everyone know where they stand.

      • Anagh, don’t think the other teams will try it, be sure that they will do it despite WMSC decision, because the championship is going to finish and every teams use team orders. The diference is if the drivers want to obbey.

        I want to repeat that the only way to proove if there are ferrari team orders is that Massa declares that. If he says that he wanted to let Alonso pass there’s no reason even to go to Paris.

        And massa won’t say that. He’s not invited to Paris, so I don’t believe in tomorrow judgement. FOR SURE, FIA is going to manipulate again and put sport?? in to disrepute.

        • You think its the FIA thats putting the sport into disrepute? Seriously?

          The main issue with this whole thing isn’t the team orders, its that Ferrari have brought the sport into disrepute!

          • RaulZ said on 8th September 2010, 9:12

            I’m sure about FIA incompetence and arbitrariness that makes rules become a joke. When these things happen it’s allways because there is an unsolved problem with rules or the implementing of the law.

            Thanks to the “whining philosophy” of Alonso or Latin ways of being that you don’t like so much, sometimes there is a knock on the table for things to change for the better, leaving aside the hypocrisy of an Anglo-Saxon world that adapts to these bad rules to create a shadow of what it was the original spirit of the law.

            Of course, I blame the FIA and its ways to act because behind all these problems there’s allways a poor performance of FIA.

            In this case it’s about not applying correctly the team orders rule. You just have to see how confused is people about whether Interlagos-07 is different or not to hockenheim-10 due to “circumstances”. The only fact of being differenciating both cases gives you an idea of the confusion generated by the FIA.

      • Oliver said on 7th September 2010, 12:54

        @Anagh

        I think it was wrong for the race stewards to impose a fine, they should have just sent the issue to the WMSC immediately

  5. Anagh said on 7th September 2010, 6:17

    I hope alfonzo does not walk away without any punishment, cause technically, he simply passed a slower driver in front of him to gain a position.

    • That’s the truth, and the rest is just to speculate.

    • David BR said on 7th September 2010, 13:50

      A limited application of basic maths will show that until the point Massa moved aside, he was the fastest Ferrari driver in the race. That’s why he was in the lead. The *rest* (Alonso went faster for the rest of the race than Massa would have done) is speculation.

      As for team orders, Ferrari have already been penalized for breaching this regulation. Not speculation either.

  6. 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. ;-)

    • BasCB said on 7th September 2010, 7:28

      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.

  7. Peter said on 7th September 2010, 7:43

    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.

    • spanky the wonder monkey said on 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.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 8th September 2010, 10:57

      “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

      • 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.

  8. CLK_GTR said on 7th September 2010, 7:46

    One race ban in 2011 for both drivers

  9. rampante (@rampante) said on 7th September 2010, 7:59

    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.

    • Scribe (@scribe) said on 7th September 2010, 13:50

      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.

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

  10. 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.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th September 2010, 8:35

      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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th September 2010, 8:58

          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.

          • 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.

          • Scribe (@scribe) said on 7th September 2010, 13:51

            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.

          • Ads21 (@ads21) said on 7th September 2010, 16:19

            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

      • “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.

  11. Ronman said on 7th September 2010, 8:35

    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…

  12. Chalky said on 7th September 2010, 8:36

    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.

    • Chalky said on 7th September 2010, 8:38

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

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 7th September 2010, 9:21

        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.

  13. spanky the wonder monkey said on 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…..

    • Adrian said on 7th September 2010, 9:22

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

      Or McLaren…!!

      • bosyber said on 7th September 2010, 10:18

        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.

  14. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 7th September 2010, 9:01

    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.

  15. Antifia said on 7th September 2010, 9:25

    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.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 7th September 2010, 11:41

      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.

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