Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Hockenheim, 2010

Team orders ban scrapped for 2011

2011 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Hockenheim, 2010
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Hockenheim, 2010

The FIA has scrapped the rule banning team orders from the FIA Sporting Regulations.

As of next year the rule stating “team orders which interfere with the result of a race” will no longer apply.

A statement released by the FIA said:

The article forbidding team orders (39.1) is deleted.

Teams will be reminded that any actions liable to bring the sport into disrepute are dealt with under Article 151c of the International Sporting Code and any other relevant provisions

Ferrari were found to have used team orders during this year’s German Grand Prix.

But the World Motor Sport Council stopped short of imposing a penalty that would have stripped the team or its drivers of points.

Do you agree with the FIA lifting the team orders ban?

  • Yes, teams should be allowed to use team orders (54%)
  • No, teams should not be allowed to use team orders (46%)

Total Voters: 1,264

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159 comments on “Team orders ban scrapped for 2011”

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  1. Christian Biddon
    10th December 2010, 15:22

    I think this is a mistake. Nothing leaves as bad a taste in the mouth as a team switching drivers in the way that Ferrari did this year.

    We all know that team orders are used but personally I’d prefer it if they were sneaky about it.

    1. I feel the exact opposite. The team order wasn’t the problem, it was the way Ferrari ‘lied’ to everyone and got away with it.

      Seems about 50/50 on the poll, but for me team orders had to come back in to give the sporting code at least a fighting chance.

      1. Ferrari lied… Dude , the reason they were fined was bcause they did not lie. Massa and Rob smedley made sure that everyone knew they did a favour to Ferrai/Alonso. Had they kept silent and asked Massa to SAVE FUEL, everything would have gone fine. The only mistake Ferrari did was revealing the team orders

        1. The problem I was referring to wasn’t the fine.

          1. John, I agree fine wasn’t the problem and what Ferrai did was absolutely wrong. But Ferrari made full use of the loophole in the reglations. If regulations have some loopholes then exploiting them isnt wrong. It is equivalent to double diffusers which were introduced last year and they were legalized co of the loopholes in rules. My point is if Massa/Rob claim to be a team playe so great that they are ready to forfeit their win so that the team wins, they should not have made it so obvious by saying ” Sorry, good lad, just stick to it”. Even a 2 year ols can understand wat Rob meant. If you look at the post race interviews of tukish Gp,both Lewis and jenson could not answer even 1question properly but since journalists did not have enough proof of what exactly happened , they just went clea like a ht knief thru butter platter.

        2. Right on Gill!
          Ferrari is upfront in what they believe.
          At least they are not thieves as McLaren in 2007.
          It took a worthy honest man, Alonso, to disclose them.
          LOng live Ferrari.

          1. There is a very simple, easy solution to getting rid of team orders: one car teams.

            If you don’t want a two-car team to be able to react, coordinate, and compete as a two-car team, then mandate one car teams.

            Otherwise, let the teams do what they will without demanding that they treat fans like children.

            Ferrari’s actions in Austria 2002 may have been cynical and reflect poorly on the team to those who value equal treatment among teammates, but they are also admirable in that they were the most open and honest of any team orders. They made it explicitly clear who was the fastest driver, then made the switch in plain view. There was no attempt to deceive, no nodding and winking with commands to “save fuel” or other childish insults to the fans’ intelligence. Everyone knew the score, and everyone knew why they did it. If two-car teams are to exist, then team orders will exist, and open and honest is how I like them.

    2. Team orders are as old as the invention of the wheel.

      The problem is that some team orders were to obvious, while others for several years were serving no one else but over estimated Micheal Schumacher.

      If no for team orders Schumacher will NEVER get seven times the World Championship!

      In my opinion team orders which eliminate from the race the racer trough prearranged crashes or other type of Knockouts the entire should result in DSQ of the team form season!

      As it is THE Constructors championship, it is for me not understood at all why the world championship is even awarded also to the drivers!

      Granting that it is the THE Constructors championship the team orders are rather natural for as long as we do not eliminate the drivers from competing against each other, what should be all time ago done done at “Constructors championship”!

    3. Ok, but what Button was doing in Abu Dhabi when Hamilton still tried to win the title? Do you believe he was doing his best to overtake Alonso just for fun?
      This would be hipocrisy to critisize just Ferrari for team orders.

    4. Completely agree. I can see the sense in scrapping the team orders ban because it’s difficult to enforce, but I don’t tune in to watch people switching places, or – and this really infuriates me – driving slowly and blocking to allow their team-mate to unfairly make a gap to the rest of the field. It’s simply unsporting.

      1. Not many will agree with me but i find the rule to be a necessity. You say it can be enforced because they can get away with it but the rule serves the purpose of being there and making sure the teams at least have something to fear and will avoid being shameless.
        They don’t have to catch every single little team order, they just have to have it there so there is at least a certain level of control.
        Ferrari doesn’t do it because it likes to be open. They do it because they think they are above everyone else and they can act shamelessly.
        In our society we have laws about punishing murderers, robbers etc. Many of this individuals commit crimes and get away with it. Does that mean we should just scrap the law since we can’t get all of them and let them spread chaos as they wish?
        Not being able to enforce it in an ideal way doesn’t mean it shouldn’t exist.

        1. The problem wasn’t not being able to enforce the rule, the problem was refusal to try and enforce the rule.

        2. Hear hear Monad. I’d rather they looked into radio comms, say have driver -> team and FIA -> driver only, i.e. get rid of team -> driver. The team still has the option of the pit board to tell the driver to conserve fuel, the FIA can warn of yellow and blue flags, etc. and the driver can still give information to the team. But the team can’t repeatedly badger the driver to give way to his team-mate.

          This wouldn’t eradicate team orders, but it would make it much harder for teams to arrange them – and easier for the drivers to disobey.

          I think the majority of fans (and especially casual fans) expect to tune in to watch a fair fight and see the best man win, that’s what the FIA should bear in mind. But I guess that as long as they’re in the open I’ll know which teams to consistently “BOOOO!”

  2. When you think about it, this is actually extremely clever on the part of the FIA.

    Part of Ferrari’s defence against the charges they faced before the WMSC was that there were numerous previous transgressions of Article 39.1 that had gone unpunished (including some of their own actions). By getting rid of Article 39.1 and the blanket ban on team orders, the FIA now has legal recourse to overlook some of the less consequential team order events, while still being able to whack anyone with a disrepute charge if they go too far.

    A step backwards in terms of consistency, but at least it means that any future team orders charges should stick, coming under the remit of ISC Article 151c, rather than Sporting Regulation 39.1.

    1. …and be punished in a manner consistent with Ferrari’s meaningless fine? There’s no point in a punishment that isn’t a deterrent to breaking the rules.

      1. After the Brazil GP Niki Lauda told Dr. Helmut Marko on german television that thanks to Ferrari he knows what to do.

        Just send 100,000 bucks to the FIA and let Webber pass Vettel.
        That “punishment” was a bit of a joke for everyone.

        As long as there is no possible way to control something, there shouldn’t be a ban on it. The teams will find their ways.
        It’s just terrible how obvious Ferrari’s actions were in Hockenheim.

        1. The one thing nobody mentions is that it was Rob Smedley who was blatant about the team orders. I think he should have been reprimanded or even fired by Ferrari. A little more grace by Rob and the whole thing would have blown over.

          Unfortunately he is a good engineer and Ferrari must see that. I just hope he has more team loyalty than driver loyalty next season… of course it doesn’t really matter next year, does it?

      2. That punishment was under a flawed system, which is what Red Andy was saying.

        Going forward the excuse that other transgressions had gone by unpunished before will not be able to be used and therefore the FIA will be able to punish on a basis they see fit.

      3. Not necessarily Keith, punishments under 151c have ranged from $100,000 to $100,000,000. With the rule banning TO’s gone so is the precedent established under it, it remains to be seen just what will be enforced and how heavily in 2011.

      4. And anyway, it still only means: as long as you make sure that it looks like it isn’t planned, or alternatively, if you can convince the stewards that you are using team orders as has been done in the past (with Ferrari 2002 and 2010 as extreme examples of what was ultimately allowed), then you can do it.

        Unless the FIA don’t like you, I suppose, leaving a comeback for Ballestre/Mosley like vendetta’s from FIA open.

        I am against team orders in principle in modern F1. But, if it is done, it should be very clear how, why and when it will happen, preferably in advance. That way it won’t be an appalling surprise, but just a disappointing event that unfortunately effected the race. Still not great, but more like a rule we don’t like than a scandal.

      5. I agree. But wasn’t it up to the WMSC to make the punishment meaningful?!
        In practice now we can see in every other race a team orders their drivers to swap positions, whenever team’s drivers are trailing each other. At the end No.1 driver wins WDC by a handful of points and we have to believe he is worthy champion!? I say if F1 is so much a team sport as they want us to believe let’s abolish the WDC. Or maybe we can introduce something like Jim Clark Trophy again for No.2 drivers.

      6. Who was that said ‘If that’s all FIA was going to fine then all the teams will put it in next year’s budget as a line item. Let the bean counters do their thing!

    2. I think its just a cop out… The FIA should have given clear guidelines on how team orders can be used, and how they should (must) be made public.

      We all know that in seasons to come there will be times when teams will want and need to swap their drivers around, and they will… Its happened plenty of times and no one has really muttered too loudly, what upsets people is when its done unfairly, when we are lied to and treated like mugs, when the team gets caught but gets let off with a paltry 100,000 dollar fine. Put it above board and let us fans decide who we will and won’t support and see how that affects the sponsors….

  3. The team orders issue is one that I always change my mind about, because it seems to be a no win situation. Banning them all together doesn’t work because its impossible to police, and its part of the sport. But removing the ban altogether means that there is nothing to stop teams insulting everyone with actions like Austria 2002 or Hockenheim this year. And what if teams start to write team order situations into contracts? That would not be becoming of something which claims to be a sport.

    Bringing the sport into disrepute is not a quantifiable rule, its a wishy washy clause that was put in for kangaroo court situations. And it seems that as long as a team doesn’t lie about what they’re doing, the FIA are happy for them to do whatever they want with their drivers.

    Something needed to change, but I’m not convinced that removing the ban altogether is the right solution.

    1. I pretty much agree with you on that.

      Sure, using the “disrepute” for any cases where the FIA feels it was done wrong might work.

      But it is another rule that will only work depending on circumstances and people involved, which is a bad thing for any sport or society.

    2. +1

      We don’t need another generation of Eddie Irvines. But like you say, it’s impossible to police.

  4. Well at least they are going to do something about teams who cause problems for the sport. But I still think there needs to be a proper rule out there concerning teams which tell their drivers to switch positions. The team orders rule just needed more clarity, it needed to say what team orders are acceptable, and which team orders are not.

    1. I think the word ‘team orders’ should be dropped from the rules but not the rule itself. It could go something like ‘…any information or gestures given to a driver that would lead him to make a decision to swap positions with his team mate is forbidden…’. That would make the rule more specific and policeable.

      I’am thoroughly disappointed for the decision to drop the rule.

      1. That would make the rule more specific and policeable.

        No it wouldn’t. There is still no way to prove which information or gestures are significant and what they meant, you would still have the same unenforcable rule you had in the past.

        1. You don’t need to know what information meant what, if drivers swap positions then by that definition you could punish the team even for showing the split time on the pitboard or any radio message.

          1. Driver’s swapping positions is the definition of racing, by your rules a driver can never pass his team mate without the team being punished for it.

          2. Well I mean ‘let past’, going half throttle for a half of a straight is somewhat obvious.

          3. Yes it is but you can always make a small “mistake” and run wide in a corner letting your team mate slip through. Who will judge whether this was a legal pass and based on what information?? The point is that the whole Team Order business is unenforcable, no matter how you define the rule the Teams will find a wayt around it. Better just to scrap the whole thing.

  5. i just voted, now there is 46 votes for, and 45 against… i voted for.

    How much more divided can the community be over this issue?

  6. Wow,

    50% / 50% with 45 votes each. Must say i am surprised!

    1. I just vote for yes,and the votes for yes are now more.You can have team orders but more in a subtle well planned way,you cannot NOT have team orders,it just doesn’t work.

  7. “Teams will be reminded that any actions liable to bring the sport into disrepute …”

    The FIA have not come out and said that they are unequivocally allowing Team orders. They banned a rule that was at best difficult to prove, especially if everyone on the Team lies about it. A blatant act – such as one which interferes with the result of a race and produces a public outcry – can still be dealt with under Article 151c.

    1. But Todt stated before, that he does not mind it being blatantly obvious. Instead he minds when the teams are not being open about it.

      That would mean that what Ferrari did ion Hockenheim would have been OK, if they had not lied and tried to convince us it was not a TO!

      1. Exactly. That’s why the FIA have got this one correct.

  8. No, teams should not be allowed to use team orders.It was a mistake,yes it is a team sport, team-order should only be used when the other driver is out of contention not when he is still in a chance of fighting the WC.

    But one best thing is that the second driver may get angry & may do something crazy, we may hear a lot of ” Not bad for a number two driver”

  9. I know they had to do it because it is impossible to police, but it still seems like a sad moment in F1…..

    December 10th 2010 – Team orders officially legal.

    1. It’s only for a comparatively short eight-year period that they’ve actually been illegal at all. Maybe it’ll be one of those things like mobile phones and the Internet, that we won’t remember how we survived without… ;)

      1. It’s been there since I started watching, so it’s all I know, just like refueling and slicks were new to me :D

        1. Team orders were banned? Man, how did I miss that one .. I’m really sure I saw tons of teamorders from many teams in the last few years .. that can’t be right …

  10. Good news! No more hypocrisy! Btw does that mean Jenson will quit? He did say he will if team orders were to come back :)

    1. Good cacth – he did say that. should make for some interesting quotes, from him and all the other drivers.

    2. He said he would quit before being a part of team orders, not if it was declared legal.

  11. I suppose now people will be arguing over the definition of “bringing the sport into disrepute.” It doesn’t seem likely to be something many fans, the FIA, and the teams themselves will agree with each other about.

    1. “Bringing the sport into disrepute” has been a useful catch-all rule for the FIA for years, dating back to the days of Balestre when drivers like Senna would be hauled up before “the beak” if they dared criticise the FIA. More recently it was the rule that collared McLaren (for Spygate & Liegate) and Renault (for Crashgate).

      It’ll be very useful for the FIA to only investigate those team orders offences they feel like without setting any irritating precedents, although as I said before it is a step back in terms of consistency.

      1. Exactly. Any rules set reliant on something like the “disrepute” thing for many/most of the groundbreaking rulings is foul and inconsistent. Exactly the opposite of what a ruling body should try to achieve.

        1. Indeed, both your posts make clear why this rule is too unclear and vague to be fair and consistent. And thus it again will put the burden on the stewards to react promptly and make arbitrary decisions with little guidance.

      2. Yeah, I can see how that would be useful to the FIA! How well the teams will be able to anticipate the way this applies to team orders now is, I guess, what I don’t get. (One of the things I don’t get, anyway.) Presumably they shouldn’t use them in circumstances like the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix…

  12. What a bad move by the FIA. I predict that we will hear a lot of cynical radio transmissions next year that will anger fans to no end.

    1. One positive might be, we could actually learn, weather Red Bull are using TO or not.

      1. You mean, confirm what we already know, surely.

  13. I think it’s good, not because I support team orders, but because there’s no point in having rules that you cannot execute.

  14. I am curious what the point is of the reference to Article 151c. Does it have any teeth at all? The same article already existed this season, it’s hard to think of anything that brings the sport into more disrepute than certain events this year, and it still wasn’t enough to really invoke this rule and its “dire consequences”.

    1. It had the teeth to give McLaren the 100 Million $ fine!
      Also one of the favourites for infamous Balestre rulings against Senna in several cases.

      This is the perfect rule for ruling with injustice and politics/backroom politics, as it is impossible to clearly define up front.

  15. I voted no for emotional reasons.

    It’s just impossible to police, however.

    “Saving fuel”, or “Managing tyres”, or “brake temperatures” or whatever can all mask teamorders.

    And the only way to really police those things is to look into all the data and telemetry after the race, resulting in more green table decisions.

    Alternatively, there should be a steward at every team, continuously looking at all the data… “How come you’re asking Massa to manage his tyres, mr Smedley? I see no indication of graining in his laptimes”
    or..”Why stop at lap 15? There’s no advantage in that, unless, mr Domenicalli, you want Massa and Alonso to switch places…”

    It’s just impossible. Maybe I should’ve voted yes…

    1. It’s just impossible. Maybe I should’ve voted yes…


  16. Is this improving the show? i think not. If they cant enforce the rule i don’t see the point of having a two driver team. If Red Bull had used team orders this season, the championship would have been over half way though the season. Then the team with the best car will stand a much better chance of winning the drivers title then they do when they don’t use team orders. I don’t watch F1 to see the 2nd driver holding up the competitors, i want to see drivers fight, team mates fight and even crash. There is nothing as exciting as seeing some serious team mate rivalry. I just hope that Red Bull and McLaren won’t jump the TO boat next season.

  17. Whether a team is sneaky and issues team orders in a stealthy fashion or if it is done in a blatent manner in front of everyone it is all the same in the end… TEAM ORDERS. How they are issued should not matter.

    Not being aware of when team orders are used shouldn’t matter. It is still team orders. It makes me think of stealing is ok, as long as you don’t get caught. It still the same thing.

    Team orders are team orders and team orders are integral to F1 in it’s current formula and in all formulas from it’s history.

  18. ooh wheres the finger wagging “this isnt sport” merchants now? brilliant rule change. i agree with keith on most things but ive fundamentally disagreed with this stupid rule from day 1. so Keith, if most people agree there should be no team orders, why have they been allowed again?

  19. I’m against team orders being used but I’m glad the ban has gone. If team orders are used then I’d rather it was done in an obvious and open way rather than with a wink and a nod which I personally feel is even more insulting to the fans.

    The fans should always be at the heart of the sport but this is a business and the team always comes first. They’ve not just got their own cars to think of but sponsors etc and while I’ll never like any team order I do accept that sometimes I can see why they’re used and I don’t think the ban was ever really workable. Take Ferrari, that was so blatant but still they got off pretty much.

    I do feel that drivers aren’t as protected now which is a shame but I’d rather they got rid of a rule that wasn’t working than kept it for appreances.

  20. the fine should be increase to something like $2 million IMO. but than again that amount is still just a penny to big team like ferrari and mclaren

    I’m against removal of team orders but let’s wait and see when 2011 season finally unfold

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