The WMSC decision means McLaren and Red Bull must pick their number ones

Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Spa-Francorchamps, 2010

The FIA will publish its full decision not to punish Ferrari further for using team orders in the German Grand Prix later today.

While we wait to learn why the governing body chose not to enforce the rule banning team orders, it’s clear the decision will have an immediate effect on the championship.

Red Bull and McLaren may feel they cannot afford to support the championship hopes of both their drivers while Ferrari put all their effort behind Fernando Alonso.

Alonso and Massa

It goes without saying that the WMSC decision strengthens Alonso’s championship position. Should Massa be running directly in front of him in any future races this year, expect another persuasive radio message about his relative speed followed by a change in the running order.

Alonso still has a lot of ground to make up, though – 41 points, just six fewer than his deficit arriving at the Hockenheimring, despite the seven-point boost handed to him by his team mate.

So the inevitable question is, with team orders effectively legalised, will Ferrari go further in their attempts to aid Alonso? Imagine a situation where this is the running order in the closing stages of a race:

2. Massa
3. Kubica
4. Alonso

Would Ferrari order Massa to pull over and let Kubica and Alonso past, giving their number one driver three more points? Yes, Ferrari would score fewer points in the constructors’ championship but as they’re already 80 points adrift they may already consider that a lost cause.

There are other scenarios in which team orders could come in to play. Ferrari may use Massa strategically to delay Alonso’s championship rivals. And, of course, other teams may do the same.

Button and Vettel

At Hockenheim, Ferrari took a look at the championship situation and decided it was time to forfeit Felipe Massa’s chances of winning to bolster Alonso’s points tally.

Comparing the championship situation then to today, it’s clear to see Red Bull and McLaren now need to make the same decision to back Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton respectively.

Going into the German race, Massa was 31 points behind his team mate, and needed to out-score him by 3.1 points per race to draw level.

Today, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel are roughly the same distance behind their team mates on total points – Vettel 28 behind, Button 35.

But there are four fewer races remaining so their situation is actually worse than Massa’s: Vettel needs 4.6 points per race, Button 5.8.

It’s true that Button and Vettel are closer to the championship leader than Massa was four races ago. But don’t expect Webber and Hamilton to care about that – they will be lobbying hard within their teams for number one status. As Webber said after Spa:

Red Bull have a good trophy cabinet but not one like McLaren?óÔéĽÔäós, so it depends on how hungry we are to try and do that.
Mark Webber

The WMSC decision shows the FIA is not interested in policing the rule on team orders and they’ve already indicated the rule will be “reviewed” next year.

In the meantime, their decision may mean we will soon talking about three championship contenders instead of five.

Read more: Ferrari escape further punishment for German Grand Prix team orders

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184 comments on The WMSC decision means McLaren and Red Bull must pick their number ones

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  1. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 9th September 2010, 9:55

    I think if [my team are] giving me 100 per cent and they’re giving Jenson 100 per cent then we’re going [to] improve twice as fast as a team. So as long as they’re giving us both 100 per cent there’s no problem. It works for us now so why not continue that?
    Lewis Hamilton

    It’ll be interesting to see if this policy continues.

    • I think it will until Jenson is mathmatically ruled out and then he will support Lewis without being told he has to. I believe their partnership is working because their respect for each other is genuine and they have both put their egos below the importance of the whole team.

      Don’t agree with the article title, McLaren and Redbull do not NEED to pick a driver. They can both win the title letting their drivers race until mathmatically one is ruled out. Ferrari will be hard pushed to beat the Redbulls and McLarens race in race out to make the points up.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th September 2010, 10:25

        Don’t agree with the article title, McLaren and Redbull do not NEED to pick a driver. They can both win the title letting their drivers race until mathmatically one is ruled out. Ferrari will be hard pushed to beat the Redbulls and McLarens race in race out to make the points up.

        Indeed they can but, under the circumstances, would it not be naive of them to do so?

        • Hairs (@hairs) said on 9th September 2010, 12:31

          Your analysis of the whole saga to date has been absolutely spot on, Keith.

          It’s particularly interesting to see how the “insider” expert F1 media are mostly on the “inevitable part of the sport” side that many of the vested interests are peddling. I’m of the opinion this is indicative that they are too divorced from the fans, as the rest of the sport has been for decades.

          Jake Humphrey is usually good for a bit of needling from time to time, I wonder will he be making some barbed comments to the likes of Jenson and Vettel over the weekend. Andrew Benson’s column was a grave disappointment, I think.

        • I think what’s different in the McLaren camp is that you have the current World Champion defending his World Champion status – it is up to all the other drivers to take that away from him INCLUDING Lewis – the No1 plate should be earn’t not relinquished to you by your team mate or any other driver for that matter…. as in boxing – the judges expect the challengers to TAKE the title away from the Champion, if it is too close to call & there is doubt the Champion generally retains his title.

          Let’s remember Jenson won his Championship with hard graft over many years AND WITH NO TEAM ORDERS why should he have to cave in and support Lewis until it is mathematically impossible for him to retain his title.

        • Further…..

          I like I’m sure many other fans have no problems with team orders as long they are not implemented while either driver within the team still has a mathematical chance of winning the World Championship – once one driver cannot then crack on with any orders you want to the benefit of the team. These guys put there necks on the block driving, nowadays largely untested, prototypes at 200 mph + and should not be demotivated or distracted in anyway.

        • HewisLamilton said on 9th September 2010, 22:11

          I believe both McLaren and Red Bukll already know who their #1 driver is for the Driver’s Championship. Maybe it’s naive of us to think otherwise?

      • Maybe they do not technically need to do so. But pressure in the press, from the drivers and parts of the management and maybe sponsors will be to do so.

        Although Mateschitz was quoted as saying he would rather his drivers lost out on the championship after a fair battle than win it doing synchronized driving, i suppose that would be the case only if both would be at the front.
        So i expect Red Bull to be the first with this depending on the Monza and maybe Singapore outcome. Button will probably announce he wants to help Lewis in a few GPs as well, if he does not make major ground up in Monza.

        • bosyber said on 9th September 2010, 10:47

          I agree, that is how I would expect it to run as well. Would be “great” to also see Kubica holding up Rosberg and Schumacher somewhere though, just so that Petrov kan get up behind them and overtake the lot for more WCC points in Renaults fight for 5th.

          And will we see Saubers holding back non Ferrari cars, like in days of old, in exchange for a reliable and cheaper engine, and to avoid a 5million extra cost like the Mercedes customer teams apparently got for next year?

          • Adrian said on 9th September 2010, 11:47

            And of course with Schumacher’s win at all costs mentality could he be persuaded to help ensure that the car winning the championship had a Mercedes badge on the front??

        • Agreed, i think jenson might do well at monza but will have a shocker at Singapore. At that point he’ll be about 45 behind lewis and will have to play second fiddle.

  2. No the idea placed here would not happen as they want to be strong in the constructors as well. They would lose net points by dropping the second place.

    • They are a 100 points clear of Mercedes GP and 80 adrift of McLaren. No way to lose or improve on that 3rd place.

      The 3 points made up in the WDC would be immeasurably more important than the 3 they’d lose in the WCC.

  3. TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 9th September 2010, 9:58

    It’s unlikely Button will be ahead of Hamilton anyway. It’s more likely Red Bull who will have the swapping in drivers but I think they have a fast enough car to let both fight. Webber will still take the champ IMO.

  4. Nah, makes no difference what Ferrari do.

    They’ll blow an engine at Monza, game over.

    • bosyber said on 9th September 2010, 10:50

      That would be a really sad way for the Ferrari WDC/WCC fight to end. But I can’t say I would be very upset if something like that happened now. I am quickly getting as allergic to Ferrari with Alonso as I was during the later Ferrari/Schumacher years that made me stop closely watching F1 from 2004 until about early 2008.

      • Jack Peekoc said on 9th September 2010, 11:13

        Alonso has done nothing wrong this year besides show emotion. Without Alonso F1 would be about cars driven by emotionless robots. Thats the difference between the Senna days and the present.

        Every other driver simply says what ever their respective PR departments tell them to say. Lewis is probably the most scripted of them all.

        Alonso at least does and says his own thing. He is a true racer who cares little about being politically correct. He is here to race and win. He is not here to win over fans – thats not his goal.

        Ferrari have said some things. Alonso has said some things. But overall, its nothing new. Every year each team says and does things which are not perhaps what certain people want to hear.

        At the end of the day, the fans have become to baby faced that they cant handle even a little controversy.

        We are all drama queens who are outraged because someone forgot to tie their laces before leaving for work. Dont blame the drivers or teams for your unrealistic and unfair expectations.

        • Adrian said on 9th September 2010, 11:49

          “emotionless robots”

          Really?? What about Massa, Webber and to a lesser extent Button (the man who broke McLaren’s clean shaven policy!!)??

          • Todfod said on 9th September 2010, 13:28

            I really do not know what point you are trying to prove with the clean shaven policy.

            I have to agree with Jack. Alonso just speaks his mind, and deosn’t bother about his public image or read off a teleprompter like Lewis, jenson, etc.

            You might argue otherwise, but F1 needs a character like Alonso. He plays the antagonist every season in F1, no matter who the protagonist is. F1 is nothing without him.

          • David BR said on 9th September 2010, 14:32

            Formula 1 would do just fine without Alonso. I say that as a fan of him as a driver. But I don’t think he’s ever recovered or ever will recover from being beaten by Hamilton in 2007. Everything outside of his driving now seems wrapped up in intrigue and petulance. I don’t see why that’s a positive thing.

          • David A said on 9th September 2010, 15:50

            “F1 is nothing without him.”

            F1 was nothing before 2001? Did F1 suddenly fold up and die when another, much more successful antagonist left the grid and the end of 2006? No on both counts because your favourite driver is definately not bigger than a 60 year old sport.

            I agree with BR, while Alonso is a great driver, F1 could easily survive without the guy seemingly attached to every scandal of the last three years.

        • Charlie said on 9th September 2010, 12:54

          1. Alonso has done something wrong – or are you saying Ferrari forced him to overtake Massa against his will?
          2. Alonso isn’t the only driver to show emotion.
          3. Not every driver says what their PR tells them to.
          4. If Alonso doesn’t care about being politically correct, why wasn’t he honest in the interviews after the race at Germany? He was towing the company line there like a truck.
          5. Speak for yourself about your description of the fans.

          Perhaps you should take your Alonso-shaded glasses off. Just because you think something is true doesn’t make it so, particularly when the truth is the exact opposite.

        • hawkfist said on 9th September 2010, 13:36

          Hamilton’s gone from being derided for “childish” outbursts on the radio earlier in the season (Melbourne and Monaco in particular) to being an entirely scripted automaton?

          “Alonso at least does and says his own thing. He is a true racer who cares little about being politically correct. He is here to race and win.”

          True racers overtake people on merit, they don’t tell the team to move them out the way.

        • bernification said on 9th September 2010, 13:57

          @ Peekoc

          Alonso at least does and says his own thing…….. who cares little about being politically correct.

          Yep, much like his fellow countrymen (blacked up, dressed as golliwogs -Barcelona 08) and what a charming representation they gave of modern Spain.

          We are all drama queens who are outraged because someone forgot to tie their laces before leaving for work. Dont blame the drivers or teams for your unrealistic and unfair expectations.

          I think there is a slight difference between your analogy of unreality, and the ability to adhere to THE RULES.
          That was the ruling- team orders are illegal (Nazi Max even went so far as to say that anyone who chose to obey this would be excluded from the championship, but I’m sure he meant anyone with Dennis in their name)they chose to decide that applied to everyone else, but not them, as they are special, they are Formula 1, they are Ferrari.

          But worse than this is the patronising manner in which the teams senior management addressed the gathered press. A PR nightmare.

          Fernando ‘I still count this as a win’ (Singapore ’08 when questioned) Alonso is your real drama queen here mate, no need to look any further.

          Doesn’t matter though, after years of Max drilling in the mentality that Ferrari are the most important team, it has finally sunk in to the world motorsport council that they can do nothing to anger Ferrari.

          The sooner they all leave (Alonso included) the better.

        • John H said on 9th September 2010, 14:04

          “Alonso at least does and says his own thing. He is a true racer who cares little about being politically correct. He is here to race and win. He is not here to win over fans – thats not his goal.”

          If you’d like to be remembered like Michael Schumacher then fair enough.

          Yes Alonso has passion which is great… but he’s certainly no Senna. Senna would not have been proud of that Singapore win for example, that I am sure of.

          • I don’t get the Senna to Alonso comparisons either. I hear them all the time, but Alonso isn’t a pure racer like Senna was. Really Alonso is the anti-Senna. Its been well covered that Alonso does not like having his #1 status at a team challenged and wants a lesser driver as a teammate. Senna on the other hand never took that stance. For several years his teammate was his greatest rival, and it was Prost (not Senna) who wouldn’t allow them to continue to race on the same team. Alonso is far more of a new version of Prost than a new Senna.

        • Adam Tate said on 10th September 2010, 0:27

          A little harsh there Jack, don’t you think? Emotionless robots eh? Did you see Brazil 08? The pain and anguish for Massa whilst Hamilton had a moment of sheer, unexpected joy. Either you turn a blind eye toward real emotion or have ousted yourself as an Alonso fanboy. I dearly hope he is beaten to smithereens by all those emotionless robots come Sunday.

          • racerbaz said on 15th September 2010, 20:01

            Sorry Adam Tate if you are not the same Adam as Adam above !
            Senna DID veto a team-mate who he just might have thought was too fast for him. Way back when he was driving for Lotus he wouldn’t have Derek Warwick in the team with him. Derek had just recently been a Renault driver and was as quick as most. Senna reckoned Lotus couldn’t afford to run two equal cars ! Senna caused such a stink with the British press that Motoring News ran a ‘Warwick too fast for Senna’front page headline. However Lord Johnny Dumfries (Lord who?)seemed to be no threat at all and was then duly hired.

        • quattro said on 10th September 2010, 10:06

          @David BR says:
          September 9, 2010 at 2:32 pm

          But I don’t think he’s ever recovered or ever will recover from being beaten by Hamilton in 2007.

          Incorrect. F Alonso was never beaten by LH, he was betryed by a incompetent/biased team management (R Denis) and lost interest and motivation after a few months. Prove for that is that he left after a single season to a non competitive team.
          Comparing those two is IMO like comparing gold and silver.

          • racerbaz said on 14th September 2010, 17:06

            Didn’t Hamilton come 2nd in the 2007 WDC in front of Alonso on count-back in his novice season ? Didn’t Alonso start throwing helmets etc because he wanted Ron to let him beat Hamilton ? Didn’t Alonso try blackmail on Ron to get his way ? Didn’t he leave McLaren because he couldn’t and didn’t beat Hamilton in equal cars ? And wasn’t it also Alonso on the radio bleating to his team that he couldn’t pass his new team-mate Massa ?

    • graigchq (@graigchq) said on 9th September 2010, 10:55

      i am along these lines also.. i think we have got to a situation where nobody in the paddock cares what ferrari do anymore. Luca Di Montezemelo is an idiot, Dominicali is a liar, and both their drivers are puppets.

      Even if McLaren and Red Bull lose the constructors (not likely, but bear with me) i really honestly belive that they are not going to let their fans down in the wake of this as ferrari have done. What is driving Whitmarsh and Horner is different to what is driving Domenicali, the latter wanting to win, win, win, be the best, be ferrari, and be arrogant about it as well, but the real fans of red bull and mclaren are loyal in their own way, being british myself, yes, i am a mclaren fan, and i would prefer to see this upheld throughout the season, and i think Lewis and Jenson think the same (yes, i do believe that even Lewis wants the racing to be fair between him and Jenson) there is no benefit to the sport if someone is artificially promoted a place or two in any race, and above all, the need to win is balanced by the need to be fair, and get your results in a morally unquestionable and thoroughly un-biased way.

      Teams that do what you suggest Keith, in letting one driver past another to bolster one’s championship over another are fake winners, who celebrate hollow victories.

      McLaren can and will wait for their victories, as whehn they do win, it’s for real, not handed to the driver on a plate by their team-mate.

      Hopefully this comes across as how i mean it to, i genuinely believe, that at least for McLaren, we have a fair race ahead of us, and if Jenson is ahead of Lewis on the track, and at the endof the season there is just one point in it, i honestly believe that Whitmarsh will NOT lose any sleep over letting his drivers race to the finish line. Even if this results in Webber taking the championship from Lewis by say 1 point, a point that Jenson could have given him.. i belive that if Jenson gives him those points, then that will have been a decision made by Jenson, not enforced or ordered by the team.

      • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 9th September 2010, 11:28

        I’d hope neitehr Whitmarsh nor Horner is that stupid.

        If Button or Vettel cannot mathematically becoem WDC anymore they’d have to be crazy not to let them give as much points as possible to their team mates.

        The question now is should they start doing this mid season (just as Ferrari does), because otherwise it would give Ferrari an advantage in the WDC race.

        I hope they won’t, but they might and maybe the should.

        • graigchq (@graigchq) said on 9th September 2010, 11:32

          and you know what, i am confident that stupidity, or worrying about what montezemelo is doing are not concerns for the people who uphold the integrity of the sport over their personal desire to be at the top even if not deserving.

          Of course i want to see mclaren win, but i’d prefer to see them lose fairly than unfairly gain advantage by playing ferrari’s game. And i do sincerely belive that being stupid doesn’t come into it. Ferrari are being stupid, by taking us, the fans, as fools, whereas a loser that can hold is head high is far greater a man than any red-shirt-wearing faker who takes wins from his team-mate rather than earning his position.

          • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 9th September 2010, 13:29

            Nonsense. At the end of the day Horner and Whitmarsh want to win the championship. They will give team orders if and when needed.

            It’s just that they feel it’s the best way to go about to have 2 good drivers and give them equal opportunity. That way if one fails the other is still in with a shot.

            Obviously they favoured Vettel at first, but by now Webber is quite a lot ahead. So it’s probably for the best that they didn’t tell him to let Vettel past.

            To be honest in the scenario that you give no team orders are needed anyway. No teammate would be that insane that he would deny his team mate some extra points after his own chances were reduced to 0.

            Just like Raikkonen let Massa past in China 2008. There were no orders from the team there. Raikkonen already said ahead of the race that he would help Massa.

          • Maksutov said on 9th September 2010, 15:12

            “Nonsense. At the end of the day Horner and Whitmarsh want to win the championship. They will give team orders if and when needed.”

            nail on the head.

      • I’ve not been pleased with how Ferrari have handled things but to be fair to them, Massa has been off the pace all year. I’m not saying it’s right at all just that neither Whitmarsh or Horner have had such a situation as both of their drivers have been competitive and who knows how they would have handled it if they were in that situation.

      • Adrian said on 9th September 2010, 11:52

        I firmly believe that if it came to a situation where Jenson could make sure that Lewis won over Mark (and that Jenson couldn’t win without both of those 2 dropping out of the points) then Jenson would do everything he could to ensure that a McLaren driver won the title…

        I actually think that Lewis and Mark both have that level of integrity too…I’d liek to say Vettel would have, but I’m not so sure….

        • Scribe (@scribe) said on 9th September 2010, 15:32

          You know Keith, your article is probably bang on but it makes me so sad. One of the great things about this season has been the number of top drivers in top teams hunting for the title, if this descision puts us back in the days of the number 1 driver Formula 1 might be loosing something very special.

          I think prehaps that won’t happen, you can’t see Vettle or Button defering to a team mate long term, maybe for the end of the season, but it’s why we need to have a reinforced ban on team orders, to help create this situation of having many drivers in many cars going for the win, free of fear that they might have to hang back.

          Mclaren I ain’t worried about, Redbull I ain’t sure about, Renault are building a team round a no1, Ferrari don’t care if it wins them things. It’ll be such a shame to loose one of the catalysts for such an amazing season.

  5. Dan Selby said on 9th September 2010, 10:10

    I think this is very sad. Everyone seems to have suddenly began supporting this notion because it means Ferrari now won’t throw their toys out (and I regret using such phrasing) and take things to court. They’re the school yard bullies who no ones afraid to step up to. The FIA have taken the easy option and tried ‘not to cause a stir’ before the Italian GP, to the detriment of the sport. I can’t believe people are saying “oh but what about Collins handing his car over in the 1950’s?” – Sorry, but no argument. The rules have changed because society and sport have changed. To back this up, the FIA changed the rules in 2002. The sport and the fans are quite happy to turn a blind eye to orders if they don’t significantly mess up the championship order, or if it isn’t for the lead. Ferrari well and truly stuck a finger up at everyone’s intelligence in Hockenheim, so were slapped with a fine. That’s great, so they were guilty of obvious team orders, which in 2010, is against the rules. So it goes to court, and now we’re meant to forget it’s ever happened? Sorry, that doesn’t sit well with me, which I know doesn’t mean anything. But we’ve now just slashed the chances of equal opportunities for #2 drivers. These seasons have had much more interesting driver championships because teams have been forced to treat drivers a little more equal (now i’m not saying they’ve done it completely 50/50 because that’d be a lie, but much more so than before this rule was introduced). This is a completely defeatist attitude and the easy way out. Shame on you.

    Selby

    • SPA 09 said on 9th September 2010, 11:47

      I agree 100%

      The problem is Ferrari did it so early that they messed up Massas chances before he was mathematically out… long before.

      And i dont even like Massa but this was truly nasty case of putting Massa to #2, just like Barri 2002.

    • maestroninthesky said on 9th September 2010, 12:55

      Todt may have taken a back seat in the court case but I’m sure he issued ‘orders’ to his team of people on what the outcome of the case would be. What a waste of time they are. My respect for the governing body is not quite as low as in the Moseley days, but it is quickly ebbing away!

    • bernification said on 9th September 2010, 14:10

      Agreed, nice post.

      You see the thing is, as a child, watching F1, I LOVED Ferrari.

      That win at all cost mentality that they now employ has taken away a lot of the desirability for those beautiful cars. I wouldn’t have one if I was given it. Hahahaha.

      Laughed so much, I almost bought a round (of drinks).

    • Scribe (@scribe) said on 9th September 2010, 15:34

      Great post Selby, I didn’t read yours before I made mine, but I said quite simular things, though you phrase it better.

      It’s having top drivers in equal cars that is making F1 so great at the moment, please don’t let us loose that.

    • Absolutely first class analysis, Dan Selby.

      This is precisely what I feel. The WMSC/FIA
      are running scared of a petulant over-reaction from Ferrari and the tifosi just a couple of days before they all assemble at their Shrine of The Prancing Horse at Monza. This is capitulation in letters fifty feet high and the losers will be the millions of fans who pay Ecclestone’s eye-watering ticket prices to watch F1 cars drive round circuits to choreographed finishes. Sickening.

    • HewisLamilton said on 9th September 2010, 17:16

      This from the Wall Street journal:

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704358904575477972268624014.html?mod=WSJ_hp_editorsPicks_3

      “Every team in the pit lane gives team orders,” said David Coulthard, a former Formula 1 driver and current motor racing analyst. “Anyone who says they don’t is lying.”

      Mr. Coulthard is under the opinion that team orders are common practice in F1. I agree with him. It is a team sport after all.

      • David BR said on 9th September 2010, 23:01

        Firstly, great post Dan.

        As for Coulthard, he had an interesting take on team orders: he said they shouldn’t be banned, but equally he added that drivers shouldn’t obey them either. If they want to be serious contenders.

        In a way he’s right. Massa should have just ignored the coded order. It happens (apparently).
        Since ceding to Alonso, his reputation in Brazil seems to have plummeted pretty much the same way as Barrichello’s. So you’ve got to ask was it worth it? Even if it meant some agro within his team or maybe losing his place at Ferrari next season?

        The opposite example is clearly Webber who managed to salvage his chances of competing despite RBR’s obvious preference for Vettel and is now way ahead. Or indeed Hamilton causing a ruckus in McLaren after Monaco 2007.

  6. I don’t think that will happen. I’m sure BOTH Mclaren and Red Bull will say that they don’t have team orders, and its true at least for Mclaren.

    Ferrari have mocked the fans of other teams for the last time IMO, what decisions are take by Mclaren, Red Bull, Willams now would really decide where this ends up.

    Sad but True.

    • Jack Peekoc said on 9th September 2010, 11:18

      Mclaren have been using team orders all along. They are just not blatant.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th September 2010, 11:22

        McLaren (and Red Bull for that matter) have had 1-2 finishes led by each of their drivers this year. They clearly haven’t used team orders the same way Ferrari have.

        • They haven’t had to Keith, but don’t put it past them to do it, that’s kinda BS. The difference is that of the 6 drivers, Massa is the slowest this year with the least points. He hasn’t even been close to the other 5. It’s a little tough to say that Vettel/Button should move for Webber/Hamilton when they have been just as fast and are only a few points behind. In Alonso’s case, he spent a few races (which I don’t remember being mentioned in these team orders articles, but would be interesting to see) stuck behind Massa trying to pass with Massa throwing pretty hard blocks….and they DIDN’T crash the 2 Ferraris. Then the team, with Alonsos urging, decided to get Massa out of the way.

          I’m not defending Alonso or Ferrari and he certainly isn’t my favorite driver, but don’t make McLaren and Red Bull out to be saints…they are in very different situations. At the beginning of the season I was hoping Massa would win it all….Do you think Renault would let Petrov block Kubica if Kubica was fighting for the championship (analogy intended to be blatantly obvious…i know Massa is faster than Petrov)…

          • Have to say I agree here, i have often found Keiths opinions on the discussion side of things to be very biased despite his articles being fair and impartial.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th September 2010, 15:25

            They haven’t had to Keith, but don’t put it past them to do it, that’s kinda BS.

            Sorry I don’t know what you mean.

            i have often found Keiths opinions on the discussion side of things to be very biased

            Given than an opinion shows a person’s point of view, you’ll inevitably find that to be the case.

          • Kieth, I’m not saying your overly opinionated, quite the contrary. What I am saying is that McLaren and RedBull haven’t had to use team orders this season because their drivers are more evenly matched in terms of pace and points. If RBR and MCL were in the same situation as Ferrari in terms of points, they would be very likely to do the same thing. So, related to your comment that they “clearly haven’t used team orders the way Ferrari has”, it’s because they haven’t had to. And to imply that they wouldn’t because they are so righteous and Ferrari are such cheaters is complete bull excrement.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th September 2010, 16:54

            I’m not implying anything – Ferrari have ordered their drivers to swap places this year, the other two haven’t.

          • First of all, I am commenting on the original comment in comination with your comment. I am also commenting on the general sentiment of the comments on this site (not yours necessarily). the “Ferrari have mocked the fans” comments….And it appears (or is implied) that you are agreeing with these comments, maybe your not though…

            The point is that the other teams would use them this year and have used orders in the past. The general sentiment is that Ferrari “cheated” and they get away with whatever they want and the other teams are angels – not really true. Also, how can you be so sure that they haven’t used orders. What about Vettel passing Webber, I thought they were told to swap but the order ‘got confused’. What about Buttons pass on hamilton and then he let him back by…just saying…

            Again, its not that they wouldn’t, it’s that they haven’t had to…this year…

          • First of all, I am commenting on the original comment in combination with your comment. I am also commenting on the general sentiment of the comments on this site (not yours necessarily). the “Ferrari have mocked the fans” comments….And it appears (or is implied) that you are agreeing with these comments, maybe your not though…

            The point is that the other teams would use them this year and have used orders in the past. The general sentiment is that Ferrari “cheated” and they get away with whatever they want and the other teams are angels – not really true. Also, how can you be so sure that they haven’t used orders. What about Vettel passing Webber, I thought they were told to swap but the order ‘got confused’. What about Buttons pass on hamilton and then he let him back by…just saying…

            Again, its not that they wouldn’t, it’s that they haven’t had to…this year…

      • George M said on 9th September 2010, 11:32

        If by team orders you mean “save fuel” when both drivers are running very low on fuel, then you’re right. Everybody is considering these messages to be instructions for holding position without considering the obvious option, that they genuinely need to conserve fuel. It’s absurd.

        In Turkey Hamilton had less than a lap’s worth of fuel left in his tank, and Jenson just a tiny bit more.

        • LewisC said on 9th September 2010, 11:47

          There’s a difference between saying ‘hold position’ to make sure they both finish, and saying “Felipe, if you don’t pull over it’s no Jelly Babies for a month”.

          McLaren have it right and Ferrari have it wrong IMO. Red Bull – well I’m not even sure they know what they’re doing :)

          • bernification said on 9th September 2010, 14:13

            LewisC

            Red Bull – well I’m not even sure they know what they’re doing :)

            Haha, yep, it semms like both drivers are deciphering messages from different books!

        • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 9th September 2010, 13:32

          The 2007 Monaco verdict acually set a precedent that “hold station” orders would be allowed anyway. So why use a coded message for that to begin with?

        • If Jenson has more fuel, he should be allowed to race….

      • David BR said on 9th September 2010, 14:29

        Jack Peekoc @ ‘Mclaren have been using team orders all along. They are just not blatant.’

        People seem to get (deliberately) confused by the phrase ‘team orders’ since it potentially covers just about any order a team might give to its drivers for any reason. What we’re obviously talking about here is one driver being instructed to hand over position to another.

        • mateuss said on 9th September 2010, 15:58

          Yes indeed they do. But also people mix it with driver favoritism by saying “Oh, but its impossible to have equal rights because all the time one driver will have better equipment or less risky strategy or better engineer… and so on”

          But in true fact team orders and driver favoritism are two completely different things not to be confused.

          Driver favoritism is actions taken by a team that hypothetically should give a certain driver better chance of success.
          Where as team orders prevent an on track battle, a race between two drivers, which means its no longer a race, and thats why a lot of fans are and should be upset by such decisions from Ferrari and FIA. If there haven’t been team orders, only driver favoritism, then that wouldn’t have prevented them from having a race. An example of this could be RedBull in Silverstone, they favoreted a driver by giving him the better equipment (front wing), but they were still allowed to race and both drivers were still in contention, and the second driver came out on top, which would have not been possible with team orders in place.

  7. Glenys said on 9th September 2010, 10:13

    I sincerely hope that this doesn’t happen. It will no longer be a sport. I hate the thought that someone not in a racing car will affect the result. What about the bookies? They have been very quiet in all this. It must affect them if it affects the outcome of a race? It’s just plain wrong. Very disappointed with FIA.

    • Glenys, think of it this way,
      we may just see some stock car racing as well, can you imagine vettel taking out Lewis because that will let Mark climb the ladder without a fight.
      or any team using there second driver to stop others from get ahead, total change of tac could be in order if its needed to win the title.
      drive through penalty is about all your get.

    • David L said on 5th October 2010, 13:52

      I am only in favour of team orders right at the end of the season like now, when we can see which driver has earned the right.

  8. “Going into the German race, Massa was 31 points behind his team mate, and needed to out-score him by 3.1 points per race to draw level.
    [..]
    But there are four fewer races remaining so their situation is actually worse than Massa’s: Vettel needs 4.6 points per race, Button 5.8.”

    Worse for catching their team mate, yes. Worse for catching the championship leader, no.

    I do admire your implied trust that the relevant steward meetings/appeals/WMSC sessions would have consistent results in the event of a repetition.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th September 2010, 10:23

      Worse for catching their team mate, yes. Worse for catching the championship leader, no.

      As I said in the article.

      I do admire your implied trust that the relevant steward meetings/appeals/WMSC sessions would have consistent results in the event of a repetition.

      Well, if it happened and they didn’t then it would be a whole different kettle of fish!

      • I suppose that would make the team involved look at having FIA thrown out as a sporting regulating body in court altogether, of course depending on who it would be.

      • Stranger things have happened in F1 ;)
        What I mean here is that I think it would be pretty ballsy of any team to do the same thing before the rule has been rewritten, because for all they know, the stewards of that particular race might give them a drive-through penalty or god knows what.

    • lynnduffy (@lynnduffy) said on 9th September 2010, 11:02

      Good point Felix!

  9. This is a great point Keith, it’s a sad day for ‘#2′ drivers anywhere… Even those with #1 on their car…

  10. Shagrathian said on 9th September 2010, 10:36

    Yesterday Ferrari has threatened WMSC by saying “we’re ready to write the 2010 title off, and it worked. So bravo!

  11. quattro said on 9th September 2010, 10:37

    I do not think at all that Red bull and Mclaren “were choosing not to picking their number one”, because of any FIA regulation. It is well established that team orders have been used on several occasions after they became illegal also by other teams than Ferrari. The only difference this time is that Ferrari did it in a very obvious way and that media choose to highlight it.

    What Ferrari did is IMO very comparable to what Red Bull did when they choose to take the only available latest revision front wing off Weber’s car and hand it over to Vettel, potentially giving Vettel more speed on the cost of Weber.

    • bosyber said on 9th September 2010, 10:54

      Yes, and no one was bothered about that, what hypocrisy.

      Oh, wait, most people were claiming to be angry including Ferrari.

      Red Bull backtracked and claimed loudly that they would not want team orders, so they might not do it very soon now, and same for McLaren.

      • Todfod said on 9th September 2010, 14:00

        Well.. lets see for how much longer Jenson and Sebastian are given equal racing oppurtunity. If Fernando closes the gap to the leaders within the next couple of races, McLaren and Red Bull would pick their number 1 driver.

      • Yes, and people were outraged and filled up Keith’s blog with hundreds of comments assailing RBR. The difference is very important: what RBR did was not against the sporting regulations.

    • mateuss said on 9th September 2010, 19:18

      You are one of the people who confuse driver favoritism with team orders. So read my previous comment to learn the difference and how ridiculous your example is with RedBull.

      “People mix team orders with driver favoritism by saying “Oh, but its impossible to have equal rights because all the time one driver will have better equipment or less risky strategy or better engineer… and so on”

      But in true fact team orders and driver favoritism are two completely different things not to be confused.
      Driver favoritism is actions taken by a team that hypothetically should give a certain driver better chance of success.
      Where as team orders prevent an on track battle, a race between two drivers, which means its no longer a race, and thats why a lot of fans are and should be upset by such decisions from Ferrari and FIA. If there haven’t been team orders, only driver favoritism, then that wouldn’t have prevented them from having a race. An example of this could be RedBull in Silverstone, they favoreted a driver by giving him the better equipment (front wing), but they were still allowed to race and both drivers were still in contention, and the second driver came out on top, which would have not been possible with team orders in place.”

    • tharris19 said on 9th September 2010, 22:43

      While some may not have liked it,there is no rule about changing front wings. That’s a team’s decision. Changing position in a race based on team orders is cheating. Ferrari cheated and Massa executed the order. I have no more sympathy for him than I do for Domenicali.

  12. Lustigson said on 9th September 2010, 10:39

    I don’t really get the point of your article, Keith, because every time Ferrari would have Massa move over for Alonso in the last Grands Prix of the 2010 season, we may expect the stewards to at least fine the Scuderia $100,000.

    Yes: Ferrari did NOT go unpunished in ‘order-gate’, as many now make it out to be, but got a fine. Is that enough punishment? I don’t know, but I believe the WMSC could (would) have acted otherwise, had the stewards not fined the team, but had simply referred the matter to the WMSC. The team had now already been punished, so the WMSC could do very little more.

    Are Ferrari willing to pay an extra amount of, say, $200,000 or $300,000 — e.g. Massa allowing Alonso past 2 more times in the last races — to have a decent shot at the WDC? I reckon they are. But race stewards don’t always issue the same punishment for comparable infringments of the rules. So the question may also be: are Ferrari willing to risk disqualification of Alonso for a shot at the title? And that’s another matter.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th September 2010, 10:57

      Well, that’s kind of the same as Felix’s point. If the WMSC have set a price of $100,000 for using team orders I’m sure a team in a tight championship battle would be happy to pay that.

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 9th September 2010, 18:09

        I agree with you completely Keith, but Lustigson does make a good point that different Stewards may rule differently, despite there now being a precedent set in Germany. As I understand they do have some latitude in terms of penalties.

    • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 9th September 2010, 11:31

      They pay Alonso almost a million per race. I doubt 100,000 more would be much of a problem.

  13. Jared404 said on 9th September 2010, 10:40

    Team tactics would really hurt the sport.

    How about teams using their “points fodder” ( aka : second driver ) to hold up another teams “quarterback” ( aka : first driver ) by just staying out on the first set of tyres. Putting off their first stop as long as possible. Thus holding up the opposition until their designated “faster” driver catch up?

    How far will they let team tactics go?

    • Lustigson said on 9th September 2010, 10:49

      You mean, like one M. Schumacher did at the 1999 Japanese Grand Prix to one M.P. Häkkinen in support of one E. Irvine Jr.’s Championship bid?

      It’s all been done before.

      I support scrapping this silly rule entirely, even though it has now been enforced for the first time. Why? Grand Prix racing is more of a team sport than many viewers appreciate.

      • bosyber said on 9th September 2010, 10:56

        But that was before this rule was in place. I guess you are making a case for retaining a version of it then? Thanks, you make a good case of why we need to have it!

        • Lustigson said on 9th September 2010, 11:06

          I was replying to Jared404’s statement “Team tactics would really hurt the sport”. I believe they haven’t.

          Au contraire, they’ve given us several very exciting championship battles during the past 60+ seasons. Had Irvine not supported Schumacher in 1997 and ’98, and Schumacher not Irvine in ’99, I reckon Villeneuve and Häkkinen respectively would have taken far easier championship victories.

          Agreed, though, that some teams — i.e. Ferrari in 2002 — have abused team orders in the past, but that, in my opinion, did not warrant the current ban on team orders.

          And don’t take me wrong: I laud McLaren, Williams et al for allowing both their drivers equal chances when they gun for race wins and WDCs. However, I fully understand that teams opt for the #1-#2 variant, especially when they’re in an underdog position, e.g. Ferrari in 1997-’99, and this season, too.

      • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 9th September 2010, 11:04

        Racing is a sport in which teams compete in, not one where the teams decide what happens on the track. The team is there to give the driver the equipment to win; if it was any other way it would be in the rules, and the opposite implication wouldn’t be in it (though it won’t be there for much longer).

        • Lustigson said on 9th September 2010, 11:25

          Team-orders require a frame of mind, I believe, for us as viewers/fans, too. Let me elaborate.

          Look at bicycle racing. It’s just the rider and his bike, that make for a clear, individualistic approach to racing. Much more so than Formula One, where a driver cannot compete, in principle, without a team. Allowing for unpracticallity, a bike racer could maintain and prepare his own bicycle, and go racing.

          However, having a preferred winner in bike racing is the de facto standard. They’re even announced pre-race — e.g. Schleck for Saxo Bank and Contador for Astana in the Tour de France — and sometimes even pre-season. And everybody accepts that.

          I believe that F1 as a sport should:
          (a) either accept the fact that is, in a large part, a team sport, or
          (b) if it’s not prepared to do so, and being serious about not allowing team orders, simply ban multi-car/multi-driver teams.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th September 2010, 11:29

            I think that’s a terrible idea, the exact opposite of what F1 should be. Nominating a “preferred winner”? That’s not racing.

            Nor do I believe you have to ban multi-car teams to get rid of team orders. The FIA just needed to show some willingness to enforce its own rules.

          • Lustigson said on 9th September 2010, 11:39

            I’m not suggesting that Formula One should adopt the “preferred winner” approach. I’m merely stating that it requires a frame of mind to allow for team orders. That frame of mind has been part of Grand Prix racing for 53 years, and team orders have only been banned for 8 seasons.

            I have no problem with team orders in the way that particularly Ferrari issued them in the 1997-2001 period. Team orders issued in a dominating situation are often unnecessary — plus Austria 2002 being a very silly and to us viewers/fans an utterly disrespectful move — although Sir Frank O.G. Williams may think otherwise, losing the 1986 title to McLaren, even though his cars were arguably the best, that year.

            I fully agree that the FIA need to enforce its own rules. However, in a way they did, with the German GP’s race stewards issuing a fine. I’m not saying that that’s enough of a punishment in this case, but it’s a simple fact that Ferrari were punished for their breaking of the no-team orders rule.

          • Lustigson said on 9th September 2010, 11:41

            I like this proper discussion, by the way. Thumbs up to all!

          • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 9th September 2010, 14:53

            Nothing you say supports nay notion that having team orders has ever been part of the fabric of F1 racing, as opposed to something that just used to happen a lot (which I keep hearing, but no-one ever gives any examples, apart from Peter Collins, who was never asked by the team to do what he did). All you’ve said it is it happens in bike racing, bike racing is a team sport, so is F1. There’s no logical progression.

          • We need to retire the bike racing analogy. It doesn’t work. You need teamwork in the Tour de France and the like because, with each team having a dozen riders, each rider needs help at every moment of every race to manage his position in the peleton, to organize breakaways, etc. Such concerns are of limited relevance in F1, though they do arise in discrete circumtances. However, iagine bike racing with only two riders per team, and you see why the analogy falls apart. The same issues of specatacle and competition would be at issue. Fans would be adamant that both riders on a top team have a go at the win and would be incensed if a leader who was a minute a head was obliged to slow down to let his only teammate past.

          • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 9th September 2010, 18:13

            The FIA just needed to show some willingness to enforce its own rules.Keith Collantine

            Exactly. I suppose one could argue that $100,000 WAS enforcing its own rules, but as has been said many times already, that’s chump change to a Formula 1 team.

          • sumedh said on 9th September 2010, 18:19

            Excellent discussion by everyone above me. I hope I can be as polite and concise as them.

            The bike racing analogy is a good one. If bike racing – which requires considerably less team work than F1 – can survive using a number 1 driver policy then no reason why Formula 1 can’t. The collosal amount of money and man-hours spent by a Formula One team is all the more compelling for the case of team-orders. Otherwise, it is akin to throwing the money down the drain.

            While keeping the financial aspect of the sport aside, team orders was indeed the logical decision for Ferrari this season. Felipe Massa was behind Rosberg and Kubica before the German GP. And Ferrari were no better than the 3rd best team for all the races between Bahrain and Germany.

            The championship is evenly poised thanks to this. On one hand you have Alonso, who has a slower car but doesn’t have to fight his team-mate. And the other 4, who have a faster car but have to beat their team-mate.

        • I remember a time when Patresi and Berger were the perfect 2nd drivers and not only no one was bothered by it; we enjoyed it greatly. I really don’t think forbidding a 1st and 2nd driver status is a good idea. Then we should think about every driver on the grid getting the exact same car with the exact same engine and see some REAL racing.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th September 2010, 11:36

            I remember a time when Patrese and Berger were the perfect 2nd drivers and not only no one was bothered by it

            Berger replaced Prost at McLaren. Prost vs Senna at McLaren was a heck of a lot more exciting and interesting than Senna vs Berger at McLaren. Whenever people talk about the good old days they talk about Senna and Prost at McLaren.

            Then we should think about every driver on the grid getting the exact same car with the exact same engine.

            I think that’s a bit of an unrealistic expectation.

          • Yes, I know that. What I meant is that I can’t remember anyone making a big hassle about the fact that Berger would hold up Senna’s adversaries and never put up a fight. In a McLaren, where ‘drivers always have equal status’.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th September 2010, 11:44

            Berger would hold up Senna’s adversaries

            Such as when?

      • Adrian said on 9th September 2010, 11:59

        I don’t have a problem with that…If Hakkinen could have got past Schumacher then he would have.

        The only time I have a problem with team orders is when they CHANGE the order of the 2 drivers on the road.

        Ordering their 2 cars to hold position is fine with me.

        • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 9th September 2010, 18:15

          Agreed. It’s reasonable to ask a driver not to risk pulling a Vettel and putting both cars out of the race. It’s a whole different animal to ask the drivers to change places. There’s no room for the Mad Hatter in Formula 1.

  14. “Ferrari may use Massa strategically to delay Alonso’s championship rivals…”

    Well Keith, this is something that every team will/have done at every opportunity they have, and I don’t see anything wrong on this.

    On the other hand, to use Massa strategically to delay Alonso’s championship rivals, means Massa will be faster (in qualy or at the start) than Alonso’s championship rivals, something not very probable btw, but again, if he is able to do it, I don’t see nothing wrong on this.

    • Antifia said on 9th September 2010, 13:06

      He has been faster than Jenson in quali at about every race. But again, everybody is faster than Jenson in quali…

    • maestrointhesky said on 9th September 2010, 22:00

      Not necessarily. All they have to do is delay Massa’s tyre stop (assuming he can stay close enough to pass rivals when they pit) to get track position and slow rivals down, enabling Alonso to take advantage of the delay gain track position.

  15. Sorry, but what a load of hogwash to say McClaren MUST choose a number one, there are more than enough races left for JB to close that gap especially if Lewis has a DNF.
    Articles like this only legitimise cheating and ultimately rubbish racing.
    think before you write in future!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th September 2010, 10:55

      Articles like this only legitimise cheating

      I think the WMSC not punishing Ferrari (in any meaningful way) for breaking the team orders rule carries rather more sway than this article does.

      • bosyber said on 9th September 2010, 11:04

        I agree with that view Keith – I hope that McLaren and Red Bull will resist the urge to choose their number one driver this season for a good while, but your article is a good way of illustrating the damning consequences of this WMSC desicion.

        • graigchq (@graigchq) said on 9th September 2010, 12:41

          that’s kinda what i was saying, i hope, and believe, that the other teams see how badly this has affected the sport and will choose to carry on being equal to their drivers. Even if that costs them a WDC or a WCC.. i honestly believe that integrity is more important to some people than winning. In ferrari’s case, winning is all that matters.

      • Adrian said on 9th September 2010, 12:00

        Actually Keith, I think your website carries more sway than the entire WMSC with some people after yesterday’s ruling!!

      • Adam Smith said on 9th September 2010, 12:40

        I think the fact that WMSC did not punish Ferrari does not mean that it is encouraging cheating, and neither does this website. Team orders are still banned, so surely teams should still race to the rules. It’s just how badly punished they will be, they have not legalised this, this won’t change until next year.

        I disagree that McLaren and Red Bull should pick a number one driver. Otherwise what is the point of running two cars!

      • David BR said on 9th September 2010, 14:38

        I agree I was a bit surprised by Keith’s line, but only because I don’t see how the WMSC decision affects McLaren’s policy of backing both drivers as their best option for success. McLaren would have won in 2007 if they hadn’t been immersed in internal acrimony in the final races, which lead to some critical poor decision making and mistakes. As for Red Bull, if their positions were reversed Webber would be number two now, for sure. But with Vettel behind, I expect them to back both until Vettel is out of contention mathematically.

        • David L said on 5th October 2010, 14:00

          Yes, i think they favour Vettel because he has come through their young driver program, and wish to protect and encourage their investment, just like they will when the young Aussie Daniel Riccardo becomes one of their F1 drivers after MW has passed on or retired.

    • LewisC said on 9th September 2010, 12:34

      Piffle. Keith is entitled to his opinion!

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