Todt says he’s ‘against lies, not team orders’

2010 F1 season

Fans make their feelings known over the German Grand Prix

Fans make their feelings known over the German Grand Prix

FIA president Jean Todt said he supports the use of team orders in Formula 1 providing teams are open about it.

His remarks come as the FIA prepares to discuss article 39.1 of the Sporting Regulations, which is intended to prevent the use of team orders, in two weeks’ time.

In an interview with the International Herald Tribune Todt said he was “not against” team orders:

I have asked the Formula One championship ?σΤιΌΤΗΨ and I go through a sporting working group, technical working group, Formula One commission, and then pass it through the World Motor Sport Council. I asked the sporting working group to review the application of this article and the formulation of this article. I am waiting for this problem to be discussed at the next Formula One commission, which will take place in Monte Carlo on [December 9th].

I am not against team orders, but I am against lies. It is necessary to have the honesty to explain ?σΤιΌΤΗΨ to account for ?σΤιΌΤΗΨ and to say that you did it and why you did it. It is completely unacceptable to apply team orders and then afterwards to ask a whole team to lie.
Jean Todt

Asked if Sebastian Vettel’s championship success thanks to Red Bull’s decision not to use team orders was a “lesson” for Formula 1 Todt said:

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It turned out that, effectively, it was favourable to them. The night before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix everything seemed to point to it being unfavourable to them, and the price to pay.

But the beauty of racing is that there are, nevertheless, unpredictable situations. Why have they never been able to make a good film about Formula One? Because the races themselves are stronger than a film. Because there are scenarios that we cannot imagine happening.

And that is what happened last Sunday in Abu Dhabi. That is why there is such an interest and enthusiasm for Formula One. And thank goodness, because if we had all the races where the starting grid was the same at the finish line, then it would be a procession.
Jean Todt

As Todt mentioned elsewhere in the interview, he used team orders while team principal at Ferrari, most famously at Austria in 2002, which prompted the introduction of the current rule.

Following Ferrari’s use of team orders in the German Grand Prix over three-quarters of F1 Fanatic readers said they should be punished.

A similar proportion said the World Motor Sport Council’s decision not to dock points from the team or drivers was “too soft”.

Read more: Jean Todt’s Approval Rating X

Image via Adam Cooper on Twitpic

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81 comments on Todt says he’s ‘against lies, not team orders’

  1. rather than accepting team orders, I would prefer one driver per one team. Somehow, team orders are against the spirit of racing sport.

  2. djdaveyp said on 27th November 2010, 3:26

    For me its simple. Keep team orders banned. Modify the rules so that the stewards can investigate anything they believe to be team orders, using all telemetry and radio recordings. (That way they can see if a team is lying when for example they use engine temperature as a reason to slow a driver down when the temp is actually normal!).

    If they give the stewards these powers and more hefty punishments to give out, I.e. disqualification, points deductions etc it will cut it out straight away. Especially when after a few attempts they realise they can’t get away with it!

    Then all the FIA need to do is stick to their guns and be transparent about it. They should publish a report that fans can access whenever they investigate things and it would add another dimension to this side of things for us!

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 27th November 2010, 3:58

      This is difficult, I reckon. Two words: fuel economy.

      How would one know the difference when one is saving fuel early on as insurance for later or if he’s being forced to slow for someone else?

      Even with all the data, the answers will rarely be 100% straightforward.

      • djdaveyp said on 27th November 2010, 4:08

        I’ve reworded the above to be completely specific about what I mean!
        For me its simple. Keep team orders banned. Although I have a huge rant and explanation about what I think should happen so take a deep breath and read on!

        All the need to do is modify the rule so that if the stewards believe the rule has been broken they can investigate using every single resource. (i.e. using every piece of telemetry and radio).

        On top of this the give the stewards powers to give out much more severe penalties with respect to if a team breaks this rule; specifically a concrete penalty for if this rule is broken. My preferred penalty being disqualification from the results from the race the offence took place and be banned from the next race as well (although in some cases the investigation may take longer in which case they are simply disqualified from the results of the next race).

        Obviously for this to work the radio needs to be tidied up as well. Any codewords for settings therefore should have to be supplied to the FIA with their meanings prior to their use, for example “yellow G4″ must be defined etc. Obviously these codewords are confidential to the teams and therefore only the teams and the FIA will know the meanings of these unless a contravention of the rule takes place.

        With this, using the telemetry and the fact that the stewards will know what codewords mean if a team orders a driver to save fuel when his teammate is following him with an identical fuel load and they make them make them change a setting, they know a covert team order is taking place and they can investigate.

        I know this is very complicated, but I don’t feel it will need to take place much because after a few examples have been made, all the teams will know they can’t get away with it.

        This is a sport I care about so much, I just want things to be more transparent to this level. I feel the FIA should also publish reports of all investigations, whatever the outcome and make them easily available to all fans.

  3. You know, there is a really big problem with this.
    I’m seeing a move towards having team orders legal, but only if it is clear to the fans that they were team orders.

    One of the problems with team orders being banned, was that it’s hard to work out what is or isn’t a team order, in fact it’s that very problem that Ferrari used to get away with it’s blatant use of team orders earlier this year.

    Now, the last thing Ferrari wants is to be seen doing team orders, it would be a PR disaster.
    So what are the chances of a team, Ferrari or not, trying to hide a team order despite the rules? I think it’s quite high, considering the rules don’t seem to carry much weight.

    So what happens if Ferrari (using them for an example) Are found to have used a team order next year? Maybe the FIA would put them up against the WMSC again, And what happens then?
    Ferrari argue that they did make it clear, And say that it not being clear is just a misunderstanding due to their Italian-English language combination. So Ferrari get off again.

    Whether something constitutes a team order or not is a huge grey area.
    But whether a team order was hidden or not is another ball game altogether.

    The team order rule in place this year is untenable, due to it having such a large grey area.
    But this new idea, is even worse.
    The idea itself is great, and if they can make it work it will allow teams to use team orders in a fair manner.

    But could the FIA write it in such a way that can easily be enforced and not be worked around?
    Not a chance.

    • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 27th November 2010, 12:54

      I agree. I think that any conditions built in to the rule on team orders will constitute grey areas, and make interpreting the rule even worse than presently – and that’s with a rule that is supposedly clear!

      My position, though, is to lift the ban and allow the teams to regulate themselves. In that case team orders will necessarily be rare, and confined to the latter part of the season. Pretty much exactly what we have today, except without all of the “Lewis, the cat is out of the bag; Felipe, Fernando is faster than you” skullduggery we get.

      I can see Todt’s point. After all, is swapping two drivers on track any different to swapping them by ensuring one has an unusually slow in-lap and pit stop? That’s been done before (e.g. Spa 2005, Indy 2006, Brazil 2007). One’s more obvious but not necessarily more illegal. However you phrase a ban I’m not confident that it would stop team orders altogether. So I think the simplest, and fairest, solution is just to lift the ban entirely.

  4. semirossi said on 27th November 2010, 13:41

    Let team orders be. And then ban the radio communication so the driver can blame he didn’t know who was around him and who to let pass. And then the team can kick him out for next season and pay another driver next year to do a better job. :)

  5. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 27th November 2010, 14:57

    Allowing teams to switch their cars in the style of Hockenheim will only benefit one team: Ferrari.

    Why? It’s pretty clear the other teams have qualms about doing so, whether out of principle or – just as likely – because it would make them look bad in the eyes of sponsors. But Ferrari doesn’t have that problem. They have never pretended any principle and their two major sponsors are a Spanish bank who are hardly likely to lose face by anything benefiting their hero Alonso (it’s hard to imagine a situation where this year’s roles were reversed) and a tobacco company who will always find a sponsor to sell some space to because it’s on a Ferrari.

    I don’t know if Todt is consciously aware of this and I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt. But it’s ironic that the fear about him taking office was possible pro-Ferrari tendencies.

  6. hes just tryin to make it look ok because he did it at austria 2002

  7. For me, they can ban pit-to-car, car-to-pit radio, telemetry, the whole lot!

    Have limited info on pitboards, and then you can issue team orders any way you like.

    Sometimes you have to go backwards in order to go forwards.

    Fuel guages would also come in handy for drivers, and a fuel consumption readout…like, in the real world!

    Isn’t it about time that the drivers drove the cars?

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