The problems with a two-tier championship

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The chase for the championship

The chase for the championship

Riccardo Patrese waving the sister Williams of Nigel Mansell by at Magny-Cours in 1992. David Coulthard blending out of the throttle at Melbourne to let Mika Hakkinen win in the other McLaren. A chorus of boos at Austria in 2002 as Rubens Barrichello surrenders victory for Ferrari to team mate Michael Schumacher.

A driver giving up without a fight is an ugly sight that makes a mockery of Formula 1.

We’ve seen it again this year and inevitably it’s sparked a long-running argument. One which never really went away after what happened at Hockenheim, but has increased in volume since Fernando Alonso took over the top of the championship standings in Korea.

But while anti-Ferrari and Alonso vitriol has been in plentiful supply from some quarters, the greater concern is the damage the sport is voluntarily doing to its own image.

Since Hockenheim we’ve been watching a two-tier championship: two teams each backing two drivers versus one team supporting a single driver, and that does not reflect well on Formula 1.

The weak case for team orders

Various arguments are put forward in defence of the so-called “team orders” that have allowed this to happen and none of them are very convincing.

Let’s be clear: we’re not talking about a team having to choose which of its drivers get the only example of a new performance upgrade, we’re talking about a team ordering a driver to give up his chance of winning a race to help his team mate.

The retort that team orders have been around for a long time is no argument for keeping them. It’s hard to think of any comparable examples in mainstream sport where participants allow themselves to be beaten.

Damp-eyed nostalgics recall the days when Peter Collins surrendered his car and his championship hopes to Juan Manuel Fangio, saying “I have plenty of time to win the championship on my own.”

The bit they leave out is that Collins was killed two years later having never won the title.

Another, even more cynical explanation insists that Ferrari were only in the wrong at Hockenheim because what they did was “blatant”. As if it becomes less wrong when it’s made harder to detect.

The idea that you can sweep it all under the carpet and everything will be fine is flawed. Circumstances will inevitably arise where a team will wish to swap the running order of its drivers and there is no subtle means available to them – especially now that refuelling has been banned.

A team sport, a drivers’ sport, or both?

“Team orders have to be allowed because F1 is a team sport”, goes another defence.

The problem with saying “it’s a team sport” is it isn’t true. Nor is it an individual’s sport. Confusingly, it’s both. We have a drivers’ championship and a constructors’ championship.

And this is the root of the problem: while teams have a championship of their own to win it tends to be treated as a “consolation prize” while the real focus of their efforts is making sure one of their drivers wins the drivers’ championship.

One solution could be to scrap the drivers’ championship. But I doubt that would ever happen because more people tune in to see who will win the drivers’ championship than the constructors’.

Ask someone who won the 2009 F1 championship and they’ll answer “Jenson Button“, not “Brawn GP”.

Why a ban is essential

The only realistic solution therefore is to uphold the team orders ban.

The idea that the ban is not enforceable is palpable nonsense. The FIA has access to radio communications, extensive telemetry from the cars and hours of video replays from every race.

In September the World Motor Sport Council had no difficulty in concluding that Ferrari had used team orders and interfered with the race result in Hockenheim.

The only thing that’s missing is a willingness to enforce the rules with meaningful punishments rather than tokenistic fines. Regrettably, the FIA now seems set on scrapping the team orders ban.

This is a great shame. The kind of race manipulation, of which Hockenheim was only the most recent example, is widely and correctly perceived as unsporting.

Who can say a championship is not devalued if it is won by someone who had one fewer competitor than everyone else?

The advantage of not having to compete against the only other person who has the exact same equipment as you cannot be underestimated. This is why the early years of the 2000s were a turn-off for so many.

This brings us back to the distinction between the drivers’ and the constructors’ championship. The teams may spend the money and build the cars, but it’s the drivers who take the risk of driving them.

Felipe Massa knows this all too well – the German Grand Prix was the first anniversary of his horror crash at the Hungaroring.

Why, one might reasonably ask, should a driver like Massa be expected to risk his life to help Alonso win a world championship?

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Thanks to Neil Davies of the Caricature Club for allowing me to use his excellent illustration. See more of Neil’s work on his blog.

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198 comments on The problems with a two-tier championship

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  1. Hamish said on 5th November 2010, 7:45

    That is an exceptionally god picture. Poor little Felipe.

    • mikee said on 5th November 2010, 11:26

      Why do we keep harking back to Germany
      Massa was laying third and was constantly slower than alonso
      if vettle had not swiped accross at alonso massa would have been running third
      As to team orders i dont have a problem with them and to be honest 2008 was a stupid champion ship as was 2009
      lets be honest
      button not won a race in nearly ten years but sudenly due to FIA rules wins because of car is so dame fast like the Red Bull of 2010
      so do we really want another fake drivers champion winning in a super fast car that granny can win in or do we want the best racer to win
      mark webber nice guy but not great driver
      common last year due tocar and now this year is only wining because of car is so fast
      I know what i want do you

  2. PeterG said on 5th November 2010, 7:48

    Massa has no change of winning anything this year. He vows to help Alonso. Button has no change of winning anything this year, why does he not help Hamilton?
    If either Webber or Vettel would have helped the other guy they both would have been 1-2 in the champsionship. When Alonso takes the title, that is because he has done the impossible in the second half of the season. Good strategy as well.

    • BasCB said on 5th November 2010, 8:13

      I think the question is formulated the wrong way around.
      Think about it, why would any competitor in any sport support his rival in winning it? And why should that not be frowned upon?

      Compare it to other sports with individuals competing from a supportive team.
      Lets give it a try: ice skating and cross-country skying are a bit alike in that aspect, they have teams operated comercially, are dependant on the technical preparations and training schedule set out by the team, but compete directly on track between each other.

      Can you imagine them giving up a victory in a race to help their stablemates win it or the championship? And would the sporting bodies tolerate such behaviour? In both cases I would seriously doubt it.

      • James said on 5th November 2010, 9:49

        IT happens in the Tour de France. In fact, team orders are standard in that.

        • Absolutely. And it’s not boring to watch, is it ?

        • hawkfist said on 5th November 2010, 11:05

          But the team know before it starts who the lead rider is going to be, and there is no rule stating it’s illegal.

          It’s like trying to argue you should be allowed to smoke joints in the UK because it’s legal in Holland.

        • lightsout said on 5th November 2010, 11:21

          That is a bad example. No matter how good you are a bike riders, you’d never win on your own due to the effort you save following your team mates.

          A F1 championship can be won by an individual driver much more easily. Yes, they have a team but not so much when they are on the track!

        • Using the Tour de France as an example, is… Incredibly naive. The two sports are so far apart in this respect it’s not funny.

          The Ice Skating and Horse racing comparisons are much better to use as examples. In the recent Melbourne cup, Bart Cummings (I think) ran two horses, and there is huge amounts of financial interest in horse racing. If the judges were to conclude that either one of his horses had been ordered to perform at a lower standard than possible. Both both of his horses would be disqualified and Bart banned from the sport.

          • Daniel said on 5th November 2010, 14:08

            You can’t use horse racing as an example, because it exists for betting!

            Cycling is a good example. In cycling you can use one of your riders to influence the pace of a competitor. You can do the same in car racing. In some cycling races you get time bonuses for being first to check points, so teams arrange themselves so their lead rider is in front. There is also the points race where it makes sense to try to get your team’s top rider in front (especially if they have lapped the field) every 5th lap when they score points. This is exactly the same as the team orders situation in F1.

            If team orders are banned then punish the offenders properly, but if they’re not then it’s like cycling, I don’t mind either way.

            If we ban team orders then does that include splitting the strategies of your drivers to give the team a better chance at victory, even though it might reduce the chance for one driver?

            What do we do when two team mates are together on track and the driver behind is on a different strategy? Should the team mate ahead be forced to hold them up? Because letting them go would be a team order. You wouldn’t normally let a competitor go in that situation but it makes sense from a team’s point of view.

            How about when one driver has an ailing car but is ahead? You’d probably still fight for position if it were a driver from another team, but McLaren did this recently and with Button being let go when he caught Hamilton with that gearbox problem and nobody blinked. That’s a team order.

            If you say letting your team mate go when you have a problem is fine, then how bad does the problem have to be?

          • dyslexicbunny said on 5th November 2010, 18:05

            McLaren did this recently and with Button being let go when he caught Hamilton with that gearbox problem and nobody blinked. That’s a team order.

            Did McLaren order Hamilton to let Button past? If yes, it is a team order. If not, then not really.

            The logic likely was this:
            -I’m driving a wounded duck.
            -My teammate is behind me.
            -He will eventually get past me.
            -Why risk team points unnecessarily?

            Would he do the same for another team? Probably not but there might be driver etiquette for it – similar to soccer when someone on the other team is actually hurt and you kick the ball out of bounds.

            I would contend that a situation like Vettel in Turkey is more team orders than this. Having the driver behind revs up on his lead teammate who is still in conserve mode is much more manipulation than letting a healthy teammate pass.

          • Daniel said on 5th November 2010, 22:54

            Yeah, but this is my point, it’s only a question of degree. Where do you draw the line?

            Also, the No. 2 driver is also a member of the team. What, really, is the difference between them deciding the No. 1 driver needs to be in front of them right now, and the guy on the pit wall doing it? The result is the same from our perspective.

        • BasCB said on 7th November 2010, 13:11

          Not really. Although team orders have been pretty common and still are, the organisers have been crashing down on them quite a bit lately (banning radio communication to the drivers etc.) to make the sport more pure.

  3. wakenabeb said on 5th November 2010, 7:55

    Awesome picture

    • Henry said on 5th November 2010, 11:43

      I love the cartoon. Keith is there anywhere we could download it or even buy it? I would certainly buy it if it were in a poster form!

      • dirgegirl said on 5th November 2010, 13:17

        Keith, hope this doesn’t contravene the no advertising policy!

        Neil the artist’s blog says: Very happy to supply A3 prints of the illustration, price would be £12.50 – anyone interested can e-mail me on neil@caricatureclub.co.uk :)

  4. I think the whole team orders debacle is flawed. It should be the choice of the driver to decide if comming second behind their team mate is a better outcome than winning.

    The problem is enforcing this by law. How can you make a distinction between a driver making the choice or a team order, when the driver in question (e.g. Massa) says that it was his choice (even when we all know it wasn’t).

    The unfortunate reality is that this is something that sometimes happens. We don’t like it, the FIA don’t like it, but the rule cannot be enforced.

    • how about driver to driver radio and if it comes about we can listen to the drivers not the team during the race……

    • Teams will just wield financial pressure to bear. Like conveniently not renewing their second drivers until the very end of the season… or structure the bonuses in such a way that both drivers are incentivised to make *one* of them the winner of the drivers’ championship.

  5. Maciek said on 5th November 2010, 8:05

    Oy vey, we’ve been at this for a while. Certainly the only real way to fix the existing ambiguities is to either enforce the ban unrelentingly or rescind it and only the first option is desirable in my view. What I must point out though, Keith, is that lately you’ve often brought up other examples from recent years of drivers letting team mates past, arguing that it was OK because they were on different strategies or out of the championship. Surely, if the argument is that giving up position without a fight demeans the championship, it applies across the board, no matter particular circumstances – doesn’t it?

    • ILoveVettel said on 5th November 2010, 8:25

      I agree completely with Maciek here. If a team order is banned that needs to be done irrespective of the timimg of it. So, if a Alonso win will be devaluated, than the same should be for all, like Raikennon in 2008 and not only “the early years of the 2000s”. But it is never said as Keith and many others here seem to justify here that the team orders are fine when the other driver is out of the chmpionship.

  6. Cynical said on 5th November 2010, 8:08

    No one respects a winner who has been given a race or a title. And if they are truly a champion neither will they.

    • Just As Cynical said on 5th November 2010, 18:57

      Agreed. If Alonso wins by 7 points or less, then what will the fans think of his championship. It will be analogous (well, a bit of a stretch, I admit) to his win in Singapore.

      Alonso a champion? Nah.

  7. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 5th November 2010, 8:12

    I don’t have time to make a full response, which this article deserves – so I’ll just say this.

    Had Kimi Raikkonen not moved out of the way for Felipe Massa in China 2008, Lewis passing Timo Glock on the final corner of the final lap of the Brazilian GP would not have decided the Championship like it did.

    As a lifelong fan, I have no issue with team orders, as long as the situations in which they are enforced are justifiable. I honestly don’t care that ‘it’s not racing’ or that , but if you’re going to ban team orders full-stop, there’s no point having two ‘drivers’ in a single ‘team’. They may as well all run as individuals for their own purposes, like tennis players and golfers do, if that’s the case. That said, I believe Hockenheim was not a justifiable situation for telling a driver to surrender a win.

    One more thing. After all this debate, I’ll bet you now that the ‘Felipe Factor’ will have as much impact on the championship this weekend as it has ever since Hockenheim – namely, none.

    • Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 5th November 2010, 8:16

      I honestly don’t care that ‘it’s not racing’ or that , but if you’re going to ban team orders full-stop, there’s no point having two ‘drivers’ in a single ‘team’.

      Sorry, that should read: I honestly don’t care that ‘it’s not racing’ or that it may count as ‘fixing’ a race to Sau Paolo officials or betting shops.

    • I think a distinction needs to be made between team orders and drivers decision.

      For example, Coulthard compared the Hock situation to one in which he had agreed with Hakkinen prior to a race, that whoever got to the first corner first gets to win the race.

      I think this comparison is in error, as the team didn’t force him to give up the place, he chose to.

      • Daniel said on 5th November 2010, 14:19

        So, what? It’s ok for drivers to manipulate the results of a race but not teams?

        • The regulations don’t ban drivers from manipulating the race. We may not be particularly appreciative of drivers who choose to relinquish a place, but a team ordering a driver to slow down to let another pass is considerably worse because it shows a lack of respect for the regulations as well as for the sport and of the disadvantaged part of the team.

  8. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 5th November 2010, 8:14

    It’s difficult for me to articulate my thoughts on this subject without sounding like I’m rambling and repeating myself, but I’m all for the ban of team orders. People say that it’s impractical and impossible to police and that every team does it subversively, so Ferrari should be applauded for doing it so openly in Germany. It’s somehow become acceptable because everyone does it.

    The pro-team orders argument seems to centre around the idea that Formula 1 is a team sport. And yes, it is – but at the same time, it’s the teams supporting an individual driver. It is the driver who becomes World Champion, the driver who carries the coveted number one on his car the next year. A driver can win the World Drivers’ Championship without his team winning the World Constructors’ Championship. Ask most people who they support in Formula 1, and they will probably answer with a driver’s name rather than a team’s.

    Look at me: I’m a Jenson Button fan. I have been since 2000, when he joined the sport (I needed someone whose career I could follow). When he left Williams, I didn’t care too much. When he left Renault, it was the same. I didn’t keep supporting those teams after he left them. I am completely neutral towards Brawn/Mercedes now that Button is driving for McLaren. And I think most people will be the same: driver first, team second. If you liked Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld last year, would you still support BMW Sauber now that they’re gone?

    Maybe this is just some romantic, idealised notion that I’ve come up with, but when I watch racing, I want to see racing. And one driver heroically moving over to let his team-mate through and let his championship challenge fade away is not racing. It’s a farce. It would be like going to watch the soccer, only to see everyone on one team take dramatic, over-acted dives at every opportunity, and then win the match by scoring penalty kicks. It’s not cool in soccer and that’s a team sport – so why is it suddenly okay in Formula 1?

    I can’t really speak as to what happened in the WMSC prosecution of Ferrari, but we do know that the FIA decided not to prosecute because of a lack of evidence. Part of me suspects they were cowed by Ferrari, who have enjoyed a relationship with the FIA that has been too good for two long. They were deeply critical of Max Mosley and his plans for a budget cap because it would create a “two-tiered” championship, yet they’ve gone and created a two-tiered championship of their own.

    This is going to sound really horrible, but I hope the stories about the prosecutor threatening Felipe Massa with an arrest are true. And I hope Massa does it and gets himself arrested on conspiracy to commit fraud. And because the legal definition of conspiracy is that more than one person has collaborated to commit a crime. I daresay they could get Massa, Alonso, Domenicalli and di Montezemolo (if he’s there) at the very least. If I were a judge presiding over such a case, I know I wouldn’t release them on bail, knowing full well that they’ll probably do it again a week later in Abu Dhabi.

    Sure, that might ruin the championship – but team orders are never acceptable. One driver should not have to give up something he has worked towards for the sake of another who simply cannot match him. Alonso might have been faster than Massa in Germany, but he clearly wasn’t that much faster if he needed team orders to win. To me, the World Champion is the best driver in the world. And if a driver cannot win a race or get a podium or whatever without his team-mate moving over to assist him, then he is clearly not the best driver in the world and he never deserved the title in the first place. But I’m willing to bet the FIA will revoke the team orders ban just to appease Ferrari.

    I hope Alonso’s engine goes in the race an he has to take a grid penalty in Abu Dhabi.

    • Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 5th November 2010, 8:26

      I hope he doesn’t win, but I’d disagree with you that ‘team orders are never acceptable’. If I was leading the final Grand Prix of the season and I was out of the Championship mathematically and my team mate who could win the title by winning was second, I would have no hesitation to move out of the way. My team-mate and my team winning a World Championship is much more important than my winning one single race and it would be selfish in the extreme to not yield and let my team win the big one.

      If you really want each Grand Prix to be an all-out race for the win everytime, the answer is simple. Get rid of the World Championship. Team orders only exist because teams are trying to capture the ultimate prize and the Championship is what really brings the team dynamic into the sport in the first place. Eliminate the Championship, eliminate the team orders issue.

      I’d rather that not happen however. I watch a Grand Prix for the excitement of racing, I watch an entire season for moments like the final lap of Brazil ’08.

      • Steve said on 5th November 2010, 9:06

        Well said Magnificent Geoffrey.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 5th November 2010, 9:44

        If I was leading the final Grand Prix of the season and I was out of the Championship mathematically and my team mate who could win the title by winning was second, I would have no hesitation to move out of the way. My team-mate and my team winning a World Championship is much more important than my winning one single race and it would be selfish in the extreme to not yield and let my team win the big one.

        I have no problem with that. But Felipe Massa was still a championship contender in Germany – for all we know, a victory on the anniversary of his accident would have buoyed him and he could have won the next three races, becoming a title contender in his own right. I don’t see why one driver should be made to sacrifice his own title ambitions for the sake of his team-mate, especially when that team-mate is already a championship contender and would continue to be so, even without the extra seven points he got for winning.

        • Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 5th November 2010, 10:02

          I should clarify. I fully agree with you that Hockenheim was an unjustifiable use of team-orders. Felipe deserved and probably needed that win to help him recapture his rare but brilliant top-form and to have him win one year from the accident is something I’d have been thrilled to see even though I can’t stand Ferrari.

          What I reject is this idea that team-orders should be banned outright, with a universal ban under any and all circumstances. In my opinion, banning teams from pulling a China 2008 in order to prevent another situation like Hockenheim is an unnecessary overkill response.

          I also believe that Hockenheim was a very peculiar and unique situation and it’s actually quite unlikely we’ll see such a unjustifiable instances of team-orders again any time soon.

          • John M said on 5th November 2010, 17:05

            What I reject is this idea that team-orders should be banned outright, with a universal ban under any and all circumstances.

            And this is exactly why it is impossible to enforce. There are circumstances where most people would agree that team orders are the right course of action (e.g., last race, team-mate out of contention). But, if it’s okay in one circumstance, how do you penalize it in another? There’s just too much gray area. I’d rather see races decided on the track (even if it is affected by team orders) than litigated at the WMSC.

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of team orders. I just think it’s impossible to police. Subtle vs. blatant? It doesn’t really matter. Subtle somehow makes the fan feel like they weren’t cheated, whereas blatant raises peoples’ ire. If I’m going to get hit upside the head, I guess I’d just as soon have it straight, rather than getting a kiss on the cheek at the same time.

      • Lachie said on 5th November 2010, 10:00

        “If I was leading the final Grand Prix of the season and I was out of the Championship mathematically and my team mate who could win the title by winning was second, I would have no hesitation to move out of the way.”

        But this isn’t team orders, its a noble gesture by a gentleman racer (and an act that would have you hailed the saviour by the team and give you boasting rights).

        Booting Massa out of the way mid-year against his wishes was a team order.

        • Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 5th November 2010, 10:06

          Booting Massa out of the way mid-year against his wishes was a team order.

          Correct. However, you could say Kimi moving for Felipe in China ’08 was a noble and gentlemanly gesture and not a team-order, but an all-out ban on team-orders would not make that distinction. That’s why I believe that blanket enforcement of the ‘no team-orders rule’ would be a bad thing.

          • Invoke said on 5th November 2010, 10:22

            you could say Kimi moving for Felipe in China ’08 was a noble and gentlemanly gesture and not a team-order, but an all-out ban on team-orders would not make that distinction.

            Personally I can’t see why they would not be able to make the distinction.

      • If I was leading the final Grand Prix of the season and I was out of the Championship mathematically and my team mate who could win the title by winning was second, I would have no hesitation to move out of the way.

        But that’s not a team order, that’s your decision as a driver, so it’s not even against the current rules.

        • RaulZ said on 5th November 2010, 13:32

          Allways is a driver decision, don’t forget it.

          Massa could avoid the order as he did before in the same GP.

          I think Webber and Button received team orders in Instambul but they decided not to obbey.

          And I repeat again what I told then: In Spanish TV, before Hockenheim race, marc Gené, ferrari test driver, said that both drivers (and the team) had an agreement that if some driver was faster that the other this one will allow the overtaking. Thet’s strategy.

          I really will be allways misunderstanding why you talk about Team orders then, and now everybody is asking for them to RBR.

          What I really see is that there is something dark and deep with Alonso. If he hadn’t won that race in that manner now many people would be looking for new excuses to say he doesn’t deserve the title. i.e: Alonso only won 2 races because the rest were given by RBR, the flex wings (Extrange that noone go on complaining about that issue in RBR, but I’m sure in Ferrari would be another thing)… English press asking massa today about it but noone asking about it to RBR who for sure will do it on sunday or in abu-dabi. Shame…

          Guys, I think that many people had a real personal problem with Alonso. And it doesn’t make any sense to me…

        • Daniel said on 5th November 2010, 14:24

          So what if the team asks you to make a noble gesture instead of telling you? Is that a team order?

          • dyslexicbunny said on 5th November 2010, 18:22

            I think this is partially a problem though too.

            Suppose you’re in the situation Daniel with Nick behind you. Before the race I, as your boss, tell you that you are expected to make a noble gesture if it is needed and your employment would end if not.

            Is that a team order? Technically I have given an order that would affect the outcome of a race. Can you enforce such a conversation? I highly doubt that.

            I strongly dislike team orders but the more I think about it, the more I think the ban is just not effective as written. Hopefully we can get sufficient clarification in the offseason.

      • Invoke said on 5th November 2010, 10:16

        If I was leading the final Grand Prix of the season and I was out of the Championship mathematically and my team mate who could win the title by winning was second, I would have no hesitation to move out of the way.

        But this is not a team order at all, it is your own decision.

      • BasCB said on 7th November 2010, 12:48

        Although I largely agree with Prisoner Monkeys on this, I do feel there is place for thinking about allowing team orders at situations like in 2007 or 2008 between the Ferrari team mates.

        But on your point about happily moving over for your team mate to win, I am not that sure I would.
        Fine, you move over, your a gentleman, team player and so on. BUT you might never win a race, and you will be judged to have been a loser because you did not have that winning instinct.
        That is where I think Massa should have called Ferrari’s bluf here and just made it to the finish and face the consequences. Would they have fired him? Would we see a inner team fight like we saw with McLaren in 2007? Maybe, or even quite likely.
        But if Massa would have been fired up by it and would have won the championship or even came close he would have made a huge impression on the world.

    • Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 5th November 2010, 11:05

      I’m liking this… Ferrari seems to have touched a nerve. :)

    • Henry said on 5th November 2010, 11:53

      “It would be like going to watch the soccer, only to see everyone on one team take dramatic, over-acted dives at every opportunity, and then win the match by scoring penalty kicks. It’s not cool in soccer and that’s a team sport – so why is it suddenly okay in Formula 1?”

      Although I agree with much of your comment, I feel that I should just be slightly pedantic about this, because unfortunately if you did watch much football (sorry I’m english!) you would see the irony here; they do all try to dive the whole time, in order to gain penalties or free kicks or to penalise the opposition. In fact since football still refuses to use video replays to help with referee decisions, this has affected matches, championships, even the world cups. Footballers do cheat. but. at least most people will agree that it is cheating! whereas in our beloved F1 no one really will go so far as to say that dirty word!

    • LutzF1 said on 5th November 2010, 15:19

      That prosecutor is just seeking media attention.

      The law he talks about is only applicable on NATIONAL sporting events, which is not the case with F1.

      • If the French national law has anything similar, a case would still be possible since that is the country in which the FIA lives and the FIA would find it difficult to prove that an incident like the one in Germany was within the letter of the regulations (even if convention indicates otherwise). In that case, it would also be possible for someone to bring a case concerning Hockenheim itself. No sporting penalties would accrue since I’m talking about a civil court case (or two) here, but it would make teams think twice about what they were asking from their members…

  9. dragon said on 5th November 2010, 8:15

    A two tiered championship? You make it sound like Massa’s had to move every race. For all the talk of Massa ‘helping’ Alonso, he hasn’t had anywhere NEAR the pace to do so. I’m so sick of this story, it just gives me the impression as always that Alonso would be an underserving champion, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

    • Steve said on 5th November 2010, 9:16

      True. Thats the only time Massa helped him. Since then Massa has been useless to Alonso.

      My opinion is that it is a team sport, and also a sport which you cannot compare to other sports. The team wants a WDC, and if their weaker driver tries to prevent that from happening by getting in the way, then the team has every right to get that driver to move out of the way. After all, they pay the drivers pay check.

    • Joey-Poey said on 5th November 2010, 14:55

      yes, but there’s two reasons this has had such a huge impact and is still being squabbled over.

      1)Should Alonso win by less than 7 points, his win in Germany will be a huge factor in what won him the championship. It’s pretty crummy to think that someone could win by being handed 7 extra points he didn’t actually earn. It’s a driver’s championship which means the season’s points are being rewarded for their driving skills. I think most people can agree that whining for your teammate to pull over is not a “driver skill.”

      2)every event in the championship has ramifications on the following events. As many have said, there’s a lot of “what ifs?” that we can never answer, BUT it is likely that a number of decisions that were made after Germany would have been affected. Massa’s morale could have been infinitely improved and mayhaps he’d be driving better for the rest of the season. It could have been between six drivers seriously contending. Moreover, mayhaps he would have been competing with Alonso for later wins which currently have boosted him into first. We can never truly know how things would have been, but it’s a shame to have not been able to see. And if Massa did wind up in the same position, then Alonso could refute anyone that he’s winning on strictly his own merits.

  10. TommyC said on 5th November 2010, 8:15

    i agree completely. but the reason the case team orders is so prominant at the moment is because red bull and mclaren have fantastic drivers who want to and can win the championship. if you look at 2000-2009, the world champion has been the driver far and away better than his team mate, hence no need for team orders (which is why austria 2002 was a complete outrage).

    Fernando and ferrari is a tricky one. Alonso has always been faster than massa, he just had an unfortunate start to the season. ferrari knew by hockenheim that alonso was their only real chance at the title despite them both being in mathematical contention. that’s why it looked so bad for the sport to fans and, particularly casual fans. I suppose ferrari had almost given up on the constructors by that stage too given that webber/vettel and button/hamilton seem to be better driver combinations. Similar to 2008 where hamilton carried mclaren on his shoulders while ferrari ran off with the constructors cause massa/kimi was a much more complete package.

  11. We can say a lot of things but one is for sure. On the grid there will be plenty of egoism, adrenalin and place for mistakes. I hope for a good weekend with a lot of turnovers. And as McLaren fan I say – Forza McLaren ;)

  12. Glad the caricature is getting good responses so far! I’ve put it up on my blog now also:

    http://singleservingjack.blogspot.com/2010/11/f1-drivers-caricature-finished.html

    Cheers!

    Neil

  13. AlonsoFollower said on 5th November 2010, 8:37

    Massa is a good driver. And a much better professional. And a gentleman, in the old school sense of the world.

    His words two years ago when he lost the championship in the last race still resonate in my head when I think about an example of how to behave in a sport.

    Yes, the sport fanatics want a winner and that is important for a lot of them, and the sponsors and teams. There are loads of money involved.

    But for me, when watching a sport, it is not really important who “wins”. Usually, the winner is the one who deserves it most. But not always. And that’s not important. What is important is the effort they put into that. Massa has had to recover from a near fatal accident and has returned back to the track without much luck this year, but he has kept trying all the time.

    If he gave way to a team mate in a race was because he felt that it was the right thing to do. And he was probably right. But this is the time for Felipe.

    I really hope that Felipe wins in Brazil. He really deserves a victory. And I hope that the win does not prevent Fernando from winning the world championship. If Fernando loses the title because of this, so be it. The final races have proven that all contenders deserve the title equally well.

    Even if I’m a Fernando supporter, I’m not going to feel bad if Webber, Vettel, Hamilton or someone else wins the title. All of them have done an excellent job during all the season and equally deserve the title.

    • Adam Tate said on 5th November 2010, 10:10

      AlonsoFollower: That’s one of the best comments I’ve read in some time on this site, thankyou!

      Keith: fantastic article, I rank it among your best, possibly your best ever. You have made a great argument, and well captured what I and many fans are feeling. Thankyou!

    • LutzF1 said on 5th November 2010, 15:25

      COTD

      (comment too short)

  14. “Let’s be clear: we’re not talking about a team having to choose which of its drivers get the only example of a new performance upgrade, we’re talking about a team ordering a driver to give up his chance of winning a race to help his team mate.”
    Except when that performance upgrade could make a difference of a few hundred seconds per laps and allow to win the race.
    Can anyone explain to me the if one is more unfair than the other? There is no difference! Both give a driver an advantage, period!

    • Daniel said on 5th November 2010, 14:33

      Good point. Say both my drivers had a car advantage at the last race of the season, both were mathematically in with a shot of winning th title, but only one had a realistic shot, and needed to win with his team mate second to guarantee it. What’s to stop me taking a few performance parts off the No. 2 driver to ensure he qualifies a little behind his team mate and only has the performance to finish second?

    • BasCB said on 7th November 2010, 12:53

      It might be unfair, but it is all but inevitable at times when they constantly bring new bits and not ruining competition. Otherwise you would need to have a spec series.

      If the team is not capable of giving both guys the best equipment, than that automatically penalizes them in the constructors championship.

  15. JCCJCC said on 5th November 2010, 8:40

    Warning: I don’t intend to offend the British people in general, when I refer “British” in the text above, I’m talking about part of their press.

    I’m sick and tired of this talk. There are some british press who suffers of lack of sportmanship and fair play. They couldn’t stand a german winning (maybe because of a native anti-german feeling?). They can’t stand a Ferrari winning over the british teams, and since the events of 2007 they can’t stand Alonso winning.

    So, they (some press) start to make a huge noise, diverting atentions to one or another situation that happened, and try to sell us the idea that they only won because they cheated.

    Please, stop that.
    Team orders is a regular thing in motorsport, they started the first day a team put 2 cars on the track, even Fangio took use of team orders, do we complain that his 5 titles where unfair? Off course not. All teams do that, and I repeat, ALL TEAMS. Remember the save fuel in Turkey? Wasn’t Button giving up a victory without fight? Remember when… Well there are so many cases that I don’t have time to write about them.
    The strange thing is that we only remember the Ferrari’s, why? Read the first paragraph.

    P.S.: Anyone now a good place (caffe, bar, pub, etc.) to watch Formula 1 in Rome in the middle of real fans?

    • exactly my thoughts.

      • Electrolite said on 5th November 2010, 9:56

        It’s not necessarily because they ‘can’t stand’ German drivers or Ferrari winning – it’s just what the British press often thinks is something we Brits we enjoy reading, or grabs our attention, based on many cultural stereotypes and myth. Trust me, when something bad happens to Lewis or Jenson there’ll be still be headline making a mockery.

        • Electrolite said on 5th November 2010, 9:58

          And (sorry for the double post) I hope that last comments about ‘real fans’ isn’t directs at us Brits either :(

          • JCCJCC said on 5th November 2010, 11:14

            The real fans post isn’t direct to Brits at all. It’s just that I will be in Rome next sunday, and I’m looking for a place to watch F1, and I don’t want to see it alone in the hostel or in a caffe with a small TV in the corner…

      • I couldn’t agree more. This article is nothing more than your average anti-Ferrari rant. British media are already campaigning in order to devalue Alonso’s hypothetical title. They hope that by repeating the same thing over and over again (ie Alonso won the title because Ferrari cheated), the fans will buy it.

        And let’s not forget the cheesiest sentence to ever conclude an article.

        “Why, one might reasonably ask, should a driver like Massa be expected to risk his life to help Alonso win a world championship?”

        Thanks for the laugh.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th November 2010, 11:02

      Remember the save fuel in Turkey? Wasn’t Button giving up a victory without fight?

      If you’re saying McLaren have been using secret team orders from an early stage to help Hamilton then why didn’t they instruct Button to hold position behind him in Japan instead of taking points off him?

      They couldn’t stand a german winning

      If that’s aimed at me then, frankly, it’s offensive. I don’t care about that.

      • JCCJCC said on 5th November 2010, 11:26

        In Turkey there was a team order to keep places, that’s prety much obvious. An order that restricted Button for fighting for the victory. The goal was to protect the chances of both drivers and avoid a crash like happened in Red Bull, so what? It was a team order that reduce to zero the fight for the first place. For me it was almost the same that what happen in Hockenheim. But for me it’s ok, I never said I was against the team orders…
        I don’t understand is how some people can blame Alonso for what happened in Hockenheim and forget the rest of the story…
        For example, what happened in Hockenheim 2008, remember? Oh right, Kovalainen was too far away… Or not, remember the classification of the WDC before that race? Ham-48, Mas-48, Rai-48, Kub-46, Hei-36, Kov-24
        So, 24 pts, 2 and a half victories…
        Massa before hockenheim in 2010:
        Ham-145, But-133, Web-128, Vet-121, Alo-98, Ros-90, Kub-83, Mas-67
        78 points, more than 3 victories…

        So, the possibilities of Massa where smaller than the possibilities of Kovalainen in 2008… The fact that he gave up is place to help the best placed teamate is normal.

        Avout the anti-German feeling, I’m not talking about you. I don’t know you for that long. I’m talking about the Austria-gate of 2001-02, and for the noise that followed, motivated in my opinion by an native anti-german feeling off some british press. I don’t know if you shared that opinion or not.

        “Half of a true, its the same as a lie”
        “Repeating a lie constantly wont turn it true”

        P.S.: Sorry for my crappy English…

      • Daniel said on 5th November 2010, 14:36

        Maybe because that would have been an obvious use of team orders? If Button was much faster than Hamilton, and they had to get on the radio and tell Button not to overtake that’s team orders clear cut. If they are taking the moral high ground, or want to be seen to be following the rules then they can’t do that.

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