Sergio Perez, Sauber, Sepang, 2012

Was Sauber’s radio message to Perez a team order to help Ferrari?

2012 Malaysian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sergio Perez, Sauber, Sepang, 2012Sergio Perez drove a superb race in the Malaysian Grand Prix to challenge for victory, ultimately finishing second.

But Sauber’s late instruction to their driver, as he caught Fernando Alonso, telling him to ensure they finished second, aroused suspicion.

Perez was told, “Checo, be careful, we need this position, we need this position,” as he reduced Alonso’s lead from seven seconds to less than one in the closing stages of the race.

On the face of it Sauber may have been prudent to tell Perez not to risk throwing away 18 points for second place.

But the nagging question remains: Why did they wait until he’d caught Alonso before telling him to back off?

If Sauber were happy to settle for second, why did they not instruct him earlier to look after the gap to Lewis Hamilton – who he was comfortably ahead of – and not go chasing after the Ferrari?

It’s doubtful whether Perez paid any heed to the message. He made an error at turn 13 while pushing to pass the Ferrari shortly afterwards and admitted, “the win was possible”.

There are obvious links between the two teams. Sauber are Ferrari engine customers and Perez is a member of Ferrari’s driver development programme. He has been tipped to take Felipe Massa’s place at the team.

Ferrari have allegedly used Sauber to interfere in races in the past. Former Sauber driver Norberto Fontana has said he was told by Ferrari team principal Jean Todt to assist Michael Schumacher during the 1997 European Grand Prix, when Schumacher was racing Jacques Villeneuve for the world championship.

Whatever happened today, it shouldn’t detract from a marvellous performance by both drivers. Nor is it realistic to suggest Perez’s late mistake at turn 13 was him ‘throwing’ the race – when the less risky option of simply backing off was available to him.

Was the radio message another example of Ferrari leaning on Sauber to get a better result in a race?

Or was this Sauber racing conservatively and settling for their first podium finish as an independent team since Heinz-Harald Frentzen finished third at Indianapolis in 2003?

Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Was Perez's radio message a team order to help Ferrari?

  • Yes (27%)
  • No (65%)
  • No opinion (8%)

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174 comments on “Was Sauber’s radio message to Perez a team order to help Ferrari?”

  1. Tell Maldonado if he would be willing to have heard a similar message last week

    1. Saying that team orders was applied is discrediting Alonso for this fantastic win..Dono why a big fuss is only made when is abt ferrari … Redbull has a second team and ve seen in many races where the toro rosso drivers let Vetttel/Webber easily to pass thru and held the other drivers longer.. Even in last race Vergne allowed vettel to pass thru after vettel pitted and came back behind vergne.. but he held rosberg behind him as long as he pitted in the next lap…Isn’t this a team order and why hasn’t been any polling/articles abt redbull team orders.. ? A polling like this itself discredeting Alonso..Its just a radio msg from race engineer of a midfield team struggling for sponsor to bring the car home n not make anything silly…

      1. Dono why a big fuss is only made when is abt ferrari

        There isn’t – I wrote a similar article when there were questions over Red Bull’s conduct in Brazil last year:

        Was Vettel’s ‘gearbox problem’ team orders in disguise?

      2. well spotted, i thought i was the only one thinking that the Torro Rosso drivers are letting Vettel/Webber trough more easily than they do with other drivers
        Perfect example was in australia when Vettel was followed by Alonso just after he exited the pits, and there was a TR driver in front of them…..
        Well i have to say Vettel had a much easier job to pass………

      3. Even if there were team orders between Torro Rosso and Red Bull it would be a completely different scenario. Torro Rosso and Red Bull are financed completely by the same organisation. They are a feeder series for Red Bull. They are Red Bull.

        AFAIK Sauber are legitimately using Ferrari engines only as customers. It is generally accepted good business practice to serve your customers and not penalise them for using your produce.

        Saying that I don’t think this was a veiled team order. At least allow me not to get that much more sceptical about all that happens in F1!

    2. Exactly, I think the Sauber team remembered what happened to Maldonoado and just wanted to remind him that a second place finish is still great for the team.
      …and why do so many people automatically assume that Perez was going to overtake Alonso just because he was catching up so fast. It’s one thing to catch up, but a whole different thing to overtake. I think the message was given with about 5 or 6 laps left and we all saw how well Alonso defended against a quicker Williams car last week in Melbourne.

      1. Well I think it was imminent an overtake from Perez on Alonso. I agree its one thing to catch up and a whole different thing to overtake but Perez was clearly quicker than Alonso and with Sepang’s two long straights and DRS, Perez overtake was imminent, sooner or later, and the race had enough laps left to do it without taking any major risk. I would have given Perez a radio message telling him just to be careful.. instead of something kind of coded as “hold your position”. Now, the less risky option of simply backing off was going to be tooo obvious a team order was given to benefit Ferrari.. so.. with the gap he has over Hamilton.. a bit of an off track excursion was a well disguise. So, who knows? no one is going to admit it obviously.. maybe Peter Sauber was in tears because he knew the victory was his and taken away by politics, on the other hand.. I don’t think Perez would have been that happy if he had to obey those orders. Maybe Perez lost concentration at the radio message and made a mistake.. or maybe his tires were giving up and lost grip.. It was a great race anyway and well deserved place by Alonso and Perez.. although I had to admit I would have love to see and overtake for the lead in the last few laps. I’m mexican and really excited to see Perez fighting for the lead. I you ask me.. I don’t thing there was any order… but an overtake from Sauber and Perez over Ferrari and Alonso was going to make Ferrari look really bad.. so it makes you think conspiracy theories!

    3. I agree with Moonlight, when I heard the message, I thought instantaneously of team orders (just like Croft) but in the end the message made alot of sense, I believe that there were no interest in between just because what had happened to Maldonado in the week before, We’ve heard the line “we need this position” many times and these time didnt sound that “away”. And I dont think Ferrari is smart enough to fool us like the other teams when about team orders.

    4. Ferrari is a shame! And Alonso didn´t know about Nelsinho Piquet accident… And Massa was not ordered to let alonso pass…and Rubens didn´t have to let Schumacher pass….
      I used to like Ferrari. Not anymore.

      1. Can we just cut through the haze of conspiracy for a few moments and apply some basic maths and logic to this?

        Perez’s 2nd place scored him 18 points, which is more than 40% of the total points from last year in one race, and with the midfield looking highly competative this year it’s just common sense to tell him to take it easy when overtaking. If you look at it objectively, it could take Sauber up to 10 races to gain that amount of points with their usual trend of finishes (based on last year of course). So it makes sense to tell him to be careful and make sure he gets at least 18 points than throw it away for an extra 7.

        While I can understand the air of sceptisim from previous incidents, don’t take anything away from the amazing performances of Perez and Alonso today (and before anyone posts silly comments, I’m a massive Macca/Hambo fan).

        1. Amen

        2. Brian, totally agree. The conspiracy theorists need a good dose of Occam’s Razor. Sauber was just looking at the big picture: points = money. 40% of last year in one race is HUGE. The cars are very tightly spaced this year. They needed the points. If it was Vettel in front, they would have said the same thing.

          But man, it would have been sweet to see Perez win.

    5. I think it was a team order, and one that made perfect sense to me, on the following points…
      a) it would have been disastrous if SP had a go at FA and mucked it up for both of them…that would have been far more negatively consequential than not getting 7 extra points.
      b) I think that even before SP heard that radio comm, let alone by the time we heard it, SP was very possibly already thinking that it was great that he had so much pace and was drawing in on FA, but he surely should not give FA a hard time and risk too much. Buxton’s article states that SP is way too much of a racer for that, but at some point there is common sense too…I don’t think SP went wide as part of the team order, I think he heeded the instruction and decided he wouldn’t/shouldn’t race FA but would show the world that he COULD have.
      c) The fact that he went wide while pushing, to imho at least show the world he had the pace, shows also that he could have taken FA out if he had gone full out after him. ie. SP was not immune to making an error in those closing laps that could have been costly for both of them.
      d) FA was not looking to win a race, by all accounts from what we have heard and seen about this car. Wet weather once again made the race a bit of a crapshoot and FA found himself with a potential win, which might be a rarity this year. Sauber probably recognized that to have SP potentially throw away a rare (for 2012) win for FA would not have been prudent. And I don’t mean relegating FA to second place…they had to look at it as worst case scenario, they get into a tussle and both lose out.
      e) assuming it was a team order it doesn’t take away from FA’s win…FA had already earned his spot by leading for much of the race…ie. FA stamped his authority on the day, albeit with help from the weather, but nonetheless FA had already done enough…SP, or Sauber, or a team order didn’t help FA get to where he was, nor is there a guarantee that SP would have passed FA…he went wide just trying to keep up/catch up.
      f) there’s a possiblity FA had more in the car if he needed it, and could have pulled away from SP if he had to, but may have been himself trying to ensure a good finish and no mistakes or issues of unreliability.

      1. Just to add to d) SP was also in a spot few would have predicted, thanks to the weather, and Sauber recongnizing that did not want to see it thrown away…ie. nobody will be putting money down on SP placing second in the next race or fighting for the win…few will even assume FA is now fighting for the WDC in a race winning car.

        1. And g) there is plenty of precedent in F1 for this to be brought up. That is why I am convinced it was a team order, but a sensible one….there have been far more ‘crass’ uses of team orders, to use a word Keith has used in recent weeks when it comes to the use of team orders in F1 in the past.

          1. @robbie I don’t believe that Perez, had he been ordered to let Alonso win, would have done so.

            You have a lot of text there, but Perez’s outright joy on the podium shows that your writing is only drama created in your own mind.

          2. So you are saying Perez would have disobeyed an order. Ok. That’s your opinion. I’d sure expect the guy to be in a heap of doodoo if he ruined or risked his and FA’s races while disobeying an order.

            And the fact that he showed outright joy on the podium shows that my writing is only drama, how exactly?

            I say he already knew not to risk ruining his own and FA’s race, and I say that he showed joy because he got a great result for himself and the team and was lucky he didn’t take himself out of the equation with that off while trying to catch FA.

            I don’t get how to you joy=no team order, when to me joy=a great finish that didn’t result in some great points being squandered, in spite of his off.

    6. Anyone who does not believe that the order by ferrari to tell perez not to pass must also believe usain bolt does not take performance enhancing drugs.
      Just watch the senna movie and listen to what he says. Formula 1 is political. They did the same to him, he caught prost in a rain affected race, only when he was going to pass prost the race was stopped. why not stop the race earlier,same rain same race track.by the way prost was in a ferrari.
      Sauber use ferrari engine. Perez is in the ferrari f1 training program. do the maths. but it is easy and convenient to hide behind oh the conspiricy theory. And ferrari had to win this race Why? Money taiks and so does politics. Did alonso look happy and content with his miraculous win on the podium, i say no he did not. Stop being nieve people and wake up.

  2. BIlis, bilis, more bilis! A mamarla

    1. Did perez run wide on purpose maybe out of frustration, he did not make a mistake the whole race only after he was given the radio message.1 out of frustration knowing he could take alonso, 2 ferrari train him, and he wants to impress his future employer. Bernie ecalstone is the dark force.

  3. Maybe… I seriously doubt it, but if it was, then I still think he’d have gone for a win. What’s ridiculous is the theory that Perez deliberately ran wide. He was lucky to continue after going off at such a high speed corner, so if he was going to “fake” a mistake, he’d have done it somewhere not so dangerous.

    I think, ultimately, it was just Sauber telling him not to be silly. He could have won, but he blew it. Now we can only hope there’s a next time!

    1. One could argue that Ferrari are already grooming Perez to be the new number 2 at Ferrari. Who would want to go there? Perez has the talent to be at a better team… but maybe I’m being too harsh. It was still very nice to see Alonso and Ferrari win a race in that….thing.

      1. you are correct , at the end of your comment you describe Ferrari as THAT THING It’s unbelievable how bad of a car the people at maranello have manage to create. I just hope they developed it fast.

    2. Exactly, I think it was a “don’t do anything stupid” order, yes 1st is ideal but it’s all for naught if you crash trying to get there.

      1. I was amazed when I saw an “unknown name” suddenly second on the F1 Live Timing (no free F1 coverage in NZ), and wondered what team this guy was from: Sauber. Surely if you have to look on the internet to find out which team this guy is from indicates how rarely this team gets podiums.
        I was hoping he would stay second, and wondered how he was able to keep going for so long on those tyres.
        This is the best result they have had for years!
        I think Sauber’s instructions were sensible. It would have been very obvious to the management, although maybe less obvious to Perez as he was chasing Alonso, that finishing second was enough to keep them in both the drivers’ championship race and the constructors’ title race.
        Perez is ahead of Vettel in terms of points, and he is the person most people are expecting to win this year’s drivers’ championship.
        By just finishing second those title championships are still realistically attainable.
        All this would have been lost if Perez got stuck in a gravel trap or crashed out trying to pass Alonso, and the chances of winning a title would have become much more difficult and remote than they are now.
        Great result!

    3. I have to agree with you @damonsmedley, and Perez also picked up the same speed right after that mistake, trying all he could to get close to Alonso again though he knew it would likely be too late. He was just racing for it, and made a small mistake to miss opportunity to win. It happens to the best of them, after they start to get into positions to even challenge. That remains the big news: Sauber has a good car in these circumstances, and Perez made just about the most of it.

      Well done to him and the team, getting higher in the WCC has just become a lot more likely, which is useful as Williams seems to have more consistent speed but haven’t been able to maximize their result.

    4. I do think its perfectly possible that Sauber was both conservative, being happy with 2nd instead of risking all with a pass on Alonso and at the same time considering the fallout from Ferrari if they would succeed.
      But that message would have been given when Perez was still a second or 3 behind Alonso, and no one knew he could have really nailed it by doing the opposite of what he was told to do and race all out to catch Alonso.
      Its no surprise that he slipped up in trying, but he had the car control to bring it home none the less, achieving both that coveted 2nd and showing he might have been able to win, laying down his marker. Great driving from Checo Perez then.

  4. Politics in F1 is no new thing. Sauber have been known for their close relationship to Ferrari. Ferrari have been known to do things like this. Perez was far too strong before he got that order for it to not have made a significant impact on the final race result. I think it threw him off, literally, as he went wide.

    It’s a shame, but you would have seen the same thing if it was Toro Rosso hunting down Red Bull for the win and you generally see that Toro Rosso make life easy against Red Bull drivers. So it’s not just Ferrari/Sauber who are guilty.

    Perhaps the Mercedes clique is more even. I can’t see Force India getting out of the way/laying off a McLaren (gearbox/rear end) or Mercedes (engine/KERS), but who knows, F1 is very political, unfortunately.

    1. And it’s entirely to the detriment to the sport. As are all orders that prevent drivers from doing their absolute best.

      Having said that, I think Ferrari have grown up in terms of inter team orders, I doubt they will ever do it. Orders inside the team yes. But that’s the extent of it.

      Torro Rosso on the other hand can be repeatedly seen to be making it hard for Red Bull’s rivals. And that is a really bad thing.

  5. Is very funny, if there had really been orders, he would have gone slowlier, but no make a mistake that coluld have easily end up very bad. The most logical is simply go slowlier, no 1 second faster/lap.

    Enjoy the race of a true champ and don’t write that things. Do not be jelaus of the best driver because he shows it.

    1. PJ (@pjtierney)
      25th March 2012, 16:47

      First off, slowlier is the single greatest word I’ve read all weekend.

      Second, the way I see it, Sauber really needed the 18 points, as it would be a massive boost to their constructors standings at the end of the year. After seeing Maldonado push past the limit last week you can understand why they were cautious.

    2. I think that even if it were orders to slow down, they would have been given a few laps earlier than they were played live on TV (at the time Perez was behind some 3 seconds). So if they were Perez clearly ignored that, got close, slipped up, but still brought it home in 2nd to take those points.

  6. No. In a word.

    Remember that Sauber almost never find themselves in this position, and their priority would have been on getting the points. They’ll be as aware as anyone that they probably won’t get another podium this year (unless the car is really amazing), so that would have been their priority. And the fact that he ran wide shows he didn’t exactly back off.

    In short, Perez should have won, and had he not run wide, he probably would have.

  7. Not for me.

    I understood: you’re much quicker, do it clean and safe, and don’t screw your position taking unneccesary risks overtaking.

    1. that’s it.

    2. Same here, if their are any team order then perez will not disobey that. but as it is a precautionary orders he make his own choice and goes for it.

    3. If that is what they meant, why didn’t they say that? The message I heard was pretty much “do not try to pass Alonso to go for 1st place”. If they had of said what you interpreted it to mean there would be no need for an article like this, because it would be obvious that it wasn’t an inter-team order.

      The whole thing smells fishy to me, and I feel like we the fans were robbed of a great finish in order for an under preforming Ferrari to save some pride. Being realistic, the win was pure luck, due to the rain, and McLaren screwing up; there is nothing to indicate that the Ferrari has suddenly found some performance and will win some more races this year, so it wouldn’t be surprising that they would try whatever it takes to hold onto this win.

      1. It would be the second victory for Sauber in almost 20 years history ( the other one as BMW). First one victory for Perez in F1, second year driving and 21 years old.

        If they have chosen not to win intentionally, they really deserve not to be in the top of the podium.

  8. No way. Sauber needed the podium. And Perez was attacking Alonso before his mistake. He’d have tried to overtake Alo.

  9. It sounded very suspiciou, to be honest. But I think Perez didn’t give much about it and his mistake was an honest one.

    He lost the race but he fought for it until the end. It’d have been phenomenal to see him overtake the Ferrari, though. Certainly a missed chance for Sauber…

    1. No reflection on Perez, but the message was totally suspicious. It’s not as though Ferrari are above these kind of orders, or Alonso never the recipient of these kind of interventions to ensure his wins. Sad.

      1. It’s not as though Ferrari are above these kind of orders, or Alonso never the recipient of these kind of interventions to ensure his wins.

        The obvious precedent for Ferrari and is Norberto Fontana in a Ferrari-engined Sauber being ordered to hold up Jacques Villeneuve in the 1997 finale, although that was simply an order to an also ran, not to sacrifice a race win. But which races were gifted to Alonso via inter-team (as opposed to intra-team) orders? I’m not sure I can think of any.

        As soon as the team order came over the radio I thought it was a gift to the conspiracy theorists. I’m happy to be proved wrong, but surely there were far easier ways for Sauber to get Perez to back off – “slow down, Sergio, save fuel” or similar. Either way, it seems Perez was happy to keep pushing hard and Sauber were happy to leave the matter – no Rob Smedley-style hand-wringing today.

        My reading of the message was that it was simply a team reminding their driver not to do anything daft and only to go for a pass if it could be done cleanly. Sauber are an inherently conservative organisation – typically Swiss German – and, given that Maldonado, a driver of similar experience, needlessly threw away a valuable points finish just last weekend, they were entirely justified in reminding Perez to keep it on the island.

        1. But which races were gifted to Alonso via inter-team (as opposed to intra-team) orders? I’m not sure I can think of any.

          There’s always room for a first obviously. The connections between the teams (and the driver concerned) are sufficiently strong to make it a possibility at least. I think Keith was right to raise the suspicion, it’s also appearing elsewhere, but it also seems that at most the inter-team ‘order’, if it was one, merely put Perez off his driving enough to secure Alonso the win. Maybe Sauber were just being ultra-cautious and the message meant no more than be careful (if you do try to pass).

    2. The sad thing is that even if we accept that there was nothing there, Ferrari and Alonso kind of bring this doubts on themselves with the behavior they showed threw the years.
      I think that’s something the Ferrari team should look and consider but i doubt it.

      1. Fully agree there @solo, it’s no wonder people look up at something like this (and that’s probably also why the message was played by the FOM tv crew), Ferrari would have done this, no problem, in Todt’s years at least.

        They might even have urged Sauber today to be “cautious, you don’t want to loose those points, don’t do something stupid”, but that’s okay. it is a matter of common sense, and as old as F1 I’d think. Sauber can use those points.

        Even so, pity for that mistake, a 2nd x Sauber team win would have been great!

      2. “The sad thing is that even if we accept that there was nothing there, Ferrari and Alonso kind of bring this doubts on themselves with the behavior they showed threw the years.
        I think that’s something the Ferrari team should look and consider but i doubt it.”
        I copied/pasted your post because I wouldn’t be able to say it better. I agree 101%.

  10. Not a chance. Just warning him not to do anything silly.

  11. NO.

    Remember, radio transmissions that are broadcasted are delayed. So, what we saw on screen was Pereze gets a message 2 corners later, runs wide. But what has happened is Perez gets the message has more than two corners, perhaps half to one lap to think about it and still end up going wide. So, as Keith says it cannot be that he ran wide on purpose.

    And Sauber didn’t wait until Perez had caught Alonso. When we saw the message being broadcasted, at that time the gap was abou t0.4-0.5 seconds. That means when the message was actually sent, the gap was perhaps about 2+ seconds. This means that the Sauber team informed Perez well in advance. Hence, it can’t be a team order.

    Only the Ferrari and Alonso haters (which there are lots of) will believe that this was.

    1. I agree that hearing that message and seeing Perez fly off the track straight away is dodgy, which is why if it was on purpose, he would have waited to avoid suspicion!! (I must add I believe that Perez actually just made an honest mistake – he wouldnt have risked it at such a fast part of the track – surely he would have waited for a slow corner and just ran wide).

      In response to your second paragraph, are you suggesting that Sauber would not give Perez team orders in advance? It was clear that Perez was massively faster than Alonso – had they waited much longer they may have been too late. It makes sense to inform Perez not to attack Alonso at about 1-2 seconds behind.

      So, actually, you have given two arguments in favour of Ferrari team orders!!

  12. While it did seem a little suspicious I’d have to say no. As a few others have said, Sauber know they probably wont be in a position to fight for a podium let alone the win again this season unless there is another freak race like today’s. The last thing they would have wanted was Perez making an ambitious move and losing it all much like Maldonado did last week.
    I think they were just playing it safe and ensuring they secured a well earned podium, and rightfully so.

  13. It would be interesting to have seen the result if McL had not fluffed 2 pitstops for Hamilton, or Jenson had actually seen an HRT race car in front of him, Perez would have been fighting it out with them. Would his team have offered the same advice. Probably. Based on the Grosjean incident last week, no points for fallen heroes. Alonso had this race due McL losing it, nothing more. Great race tho.

    1. I don’t think that’s the case, Neither of the Mclarens showed that they had the pace to compete with Sergio.

  14. Quote “It’s doubtful whether Perez paid any heed to the message”
    even if it was, as you say noway was Perez not going to go for a win,
    whether they changed something on his car to make him slip up we will never know,
    but Perez wanted that win regardless, he is a racer and no one is about to take that away from him.
    well done Perez great bit of driving, i also have to take my hat off to Alonso, a dog of a car and he brings it home in first.
    i love McLaren

    1. @lethalnz, teams can’t change anything on the car from the pits remotely, only when the car is physically standing in the pits, it’s forbidden by the FIA – both for team order like things, and because it would mean a two-way stream of info between car and pits/strategy/tyre/tech. people, allowing for advanced traction and race control, taking the driver out of the picture.

  15. All I’m going to say is – I really, really, really hope not.

    1. If there was “maintain the gap” a couple of times, then we would be 100% sure.

  16. That radio message was totally reasonable to me.Sauber is a small team that aims to finish in the points ,not to win!

  17. No – If Sauber wanted to help Ferrari, Perez would have just slowed down rather than risk a puncture by going off.

    1. @slr The two aren’t necessarily related, as I wrote in the article:

      Nor is it realistic to suggest Perez’s late mistake at turn 13 was him ‘throwing’ the race – when the less risky option of simply backing off was available to him.

      1. I agree with Keith on Perez’s mistake. But I do think there was a team order to have Perez back off – and I say this as a Ferrari and Alonso fan. It was suspicious and Keith’s arguments make sense. Perez could have gone off because he was disturbed by the message, I don’t know.

        I guess we will never know the truth. But despite this being a rare occasion to celebrate the best position for fans like me, it has a bitter aftertaste.

        1. It’s always about Ferrari What about Vettel passing Vergne so easily that’s not a team order?????????????????

          1. yes this happens way more yet never gets covered. the torro rosso’s hardly ever put up a fight against the red bulls.

  18. The cynic in me wud say yes and I would not put it past Ferrari but i doubt it…Perez seemed to ignore it anyway

  19. Ridiculous to even ask the question in my opinion, the team would be ecstatic to finish 3rd let alone 2nd. Great drive by Perez.

  20. Do not be wicked Alonso won deservedly

  21. Very possibly, but while there’s no evidence against it being a normal instruction we have to assume that it was innocent.
    Without the broadcast radio, all it would ever be is a simple mistake from Perez, and we’d get on with it. And even with the broadcast, it all fits that it was exactly that: a young driver getting a bit excited and making a mistake.
    On the other hand, it also “all fits” that it was a stitch-up, the delayed pitstop supporting that.

    It’s either one or the other anyway, and there’s no point speculating. This is Formula1, and even inter-team orders are sometimes part of the game. It’s all moot and what happened happened.

  22. sorry, but this is an absurd theory. they were just telling him not to risk too much. they wanted the win s much as perez, and they did let him get close, but wanted to calm him down so that no high risks were to be involved. everything ok from my point of view.

  23. No way. I think it’s a fair question to ask, but absolutely not.

    For a start we don’t know how much of a delay there was on that radio broadcast and also, from what I remember, Perez was still eating away at Alonso’s time. A second place for Perez is arguably better than what they could have achieved together during a more typical race so in that respect it was sensible to look after those 18 points.

    1. Yeah, FOM…or should I say Bernie? They usually broadcast some message in not-synced time in order to make controversy. Do you remember “Destroy his race ” from Smedley last year?

      1. I do indeed @eggry That only came out on the FOM edit didn’t it?

  24. This type of articles need not to be written. We need to centre on the sport unless the is really something to back up that really makes it deserving being talked about. Unless if course we want to contribute to make F1 the circus it has sometimes seemed to be.

    1. On the contrary, the sporting element in F1 is exactly why articles like this do need to be written. It is essential to have transparency and know that when a driver has won a race they have deserved it.

      1. A great article to provoke discussion. Just think though to be fair a brief paragraph explaining how frequently drivers communicate with the team and how only a few of those messages are actually broadcasted would have been nice. They are usually delayed as well and so there is a good enough chance this was a “make a clean pass” message as opposed to “back off”.

        1. I rather think it might have been a “cool down and just make it to the finish” when he was about 4 seconds behind after his pitstop but starting to catch back up.
          The team probably saw a dream result going down the drain from a hotheaded driver asking for too much on a slippery track.

      2. VERY well said, Keith.

  25. Absolutely not. Look what happened to the guy who was chasing Alonso last week.

  26. “If Sauber were happy to settle for second, why did they not instruct him earlier”

    Maybe they did – we don’t hear all radio communications (and what we do hear, we hear with a delay, as AndrewTanner rightly pointed out above).

    I understood that message as “Sergio baby, stay cool and don’t redbull into him”. :)

  27. Absolutely it was a team order. Although like you mentioned Keith Perez didn’t care one bit about it. He made a genuine mistake, or else we would have seen Perez on top step. This win was very important for Ferrari because of all the flak they have been taking in press.

    On a side note we might see Perez move over to replace Massa pretty soon. Alonso 35pts and leading and Massa 0. Really i feel sorry for Massa but i think he will go.

  28. NO it wasn’t

    they simply told him to be careful when overtaking (they knew he is going to eventually)…considering Perez, only in his second season AND a very aggressive driver when overtaking, they thought he is high on adrenaline behind Alonso and he might do something stupid resulting in a further penalty!

  29. matthewf1 (@)
    25th March 2012, 14:33

    Well I watched an amazing race this morning. Now this afternoon I decide to log on and remind myself about it, expecting to see the headline ‘Brilliant Perez pushes Alonso all the way’, but instead I have to read about this apparent conspiracy. It was a brilliant race, I am so pleased that someone other than Red Bull and McLaren won, so why can’t you report on that rather than lower the tone with this.

  30. Very controversial piece here Keith. Good way to take away all the gloss from great performances by Alonso and Perez ;)

    It isn’t out of the question, but I really hope not. Perez’s reaction from getting out the car wasn’t one who had a win taken from him. He seemed generally elated and knew had he not gone off than he’d have a great chance of winning. Compare this to Massa’s reaction in Germany 2010 or Barrichello 04. Plus as had been mentioned Maldonado threw away great points in the last race by pushing too hard. Perez almost did today, thankfully he didn’t as he really deserved that 2nd and probably even 1st.

  31. Dont dare say anything to your driver, because you never know what the media might read into it. Unfortunately race control have the power to paint what ever picture they want to by showing the audience out of context and delayed broadcasts of team radio.

    To me it was a very simple “be careful because points like these don’t come every day”.

  32. Well this one is really easy, yes it was.

    Does it matter? Not to me. if what we saw after the message was Perez ‘maintaining the gap’ than I hope he tries to maintain the gap more often. If not for his mistake I’m certain he would have at least tried to go past Alonso after start/finish.

  33. I think it was a wise or prudent sugestion from the team, but i don´t think Perez was listening at all as he made the mistake because he was pushing really hard to catch Alonso. Perez said after the race that he thought it was possible for him to pass Alonso and i believe him, he was much quicker than Alonso.
    As you may know radio messages aren´t live so we don´t know when it happened in real time, what we know is that that radio message came when Perez was all over Alonso and then went wide and lost a bunch of time.
    Finnaly, it was all over sauber´s engineers what happened to Maldonado in Australia, so for them was more important the second place but for Perez it was the win and he went to far trying hopefully everything went ok in the end.
    I´m more horried about those problems that afected Vettel at the end of the race ” STOP THE CAR”…………” NO WAIT”……………..”STOP THE CAR”

    1. We also only got a small part of the message. We got the little snippet which is often completely out of context.

  34. One simple word: nonsense!

    No self-respecting sports team would ever sacrifice a win to help a rivaling team. It’s one thing to be used to block other cars and a completely different one to give up a win. I doubt that the message threw him off since we musn’t forget that those calls have a delay between being made and appearing on TV and I’d openly guess he was told before, it’s not like we need to listen to the same call three or four times. Perez simply made a little mistake, he’s still a young gun and stuff like that happens.
    Sadly, some people need a conspiracy just for the sake of having one – it was the same after Heinz-Harald Frentzen didn’t made life hard for Schumacher in Indianapolis 2003, the same rumours, that time completely ignoring the fact that he didn’t made it hard for RäikkĂśnen either in order to ensure the podium spot.

    To say it perfectly honestly, I think this article and the ensuing discussion is a waste of your precious server space and our precious time.

    1. No self-respecting sports team would ever sacrifice a win to help a rivaling team.

      Although it’s been fairly well established that Williams and McLaren had some sort of arrangement at Jerez in 1997 – McLaren wouldn’t interfere with Villeneuve’s attempt to win the WDC and in return McLaren would be allowed to win the race…

      1. Well, that is true. I should have made that clear, that I am talking about those teams that rarely win – of course you’d easily be inclined to surrender a win if it means taking the big one. But Sauber wouldn’t have let their first win slip by.

      2. @TimG…I think you are making it sound like before the race Williams told Mac they could have the win, like Williams had control over that or something. I believe the only talk between Williams and Mac before the race was to do as Max Mosley had asked the teams to do anyway…nobody interfere with the WDC battle between MS and JV.

        But then once MS whacked JV and damaged his car, JV found himself having to limp the car home…he could speed up and be ok but the rad damage made for a risk of overheating and so JV had to slow down at times to ensure he would at least finish the race high enough up to seal the WDC.

        So it wasn’t until JV’s car was damaged, (otherwise he was on pace to take the win) that Mac gave DC an order to let MH past, and then Williams told Mac that they would not give MH a hard time if he could catch up to JV…and with a damaged car JV didn’t want to race anybody and risk a dnf from overheating the car or from an off just for the sake of a race win when I believe it was 6th place that would have been good enough for the WDC.

  35. I wish one of the options in the poll was “I don’t know.” ;-) I did think the message was strangely worded, I’ll admit. However, Perez didn’t look like a guy who was intentionally staying in 2nd place after he received that message. He looked like a guy who was trying like H*** to get to 1st place and then slipped up in the process.

    Either way, great drive from Perez! Feel-good story of the day (for me, anyway)!

  36. TheGreatTeflonso
    25th March 2012, 14:55

    It just seems to me that there are always unhappy people around. Sauber’s message wasn’t suspicious at all, when Maldonado was chasing Alonso in Australia the commentators where I watched (Asia) voiced that Maldonado would be wiser to ease off as Williams would have wanted the points. Seconds later, he was off, and Williams had nothing.

    Sauber’s financial woes are well known, so the points would have been vital here. The truth is while I have thought highly of Perez for a long time, he simply didn’t perform as well as Alonso. I believe that the Sauber is able to race at about the same pace as the current Ferrari, but it takes care of its tires significantly better. All we saw was Perez performing very well in a car that was faster than the Ferrari. He should have won, and should have won so easily. He didn’t because of his own mistake, which he made even after the cautionary message that we heard. Sauber would in all likelihood not have another chance to finish 2nd for the rest of the year, so would a team that needs money risk everything for 1st? I believe they simply told him don’t make any risky manouveres when overtaking. Unfortunately its a moot point because Perez simply made a mistake and the opportunity is gone. There was one driver that didn’t make a single mistake this weekend, and he was in my opinion driving the fifth or sixth fastest race car to victory. To the ‘fans’ that choose to think that there is something under-handed going on, you can’t really be fans for long, because I firmly believe we have more transparency now than before, and things go on (without being broadcast) for decades in this sport. When you find a sport that is so pure that there is not even some unhappy party voicing an allegation, let me know. Good luck :)

  37. I am really shocked that Keith posted this…he has gone down a lot in my estimation. I am simply too shocked for words.

    1. I don’t see what you’re objecting to. When it happened during the race there was a lot of questions about it in the live blog and loads more in my Twitter feed. It was clearly one of the biggest talking points after the race.

      I’ve put forward both sides of the argument – I haven’t taken a side myself – and I’ve invited you to offer your own opinion. What’s wrong with that?

      1. I got my new tablet PC from my daughter last week. Obviously, I now get tabloid contents :-)

        Now, seriously… Keith, I think it is clear that EVERYBODY admires your journalism (why do we log in otherwise??) but when you get this amount of criticism, do not over-defend…

        1. @astonished I always stand up for myself and justify what I have to say. If you don’t do that, you can’t expect anyone else to do it for you.

          That’s part of the whole reason why I have comments on articles. I often read articles on other sites which aren’t comment-enabled and find myself thinking “no way would someone make that claim if they didn’t have to justify it to their readers in the comments”.

          1. Well, this is entirely up to you. In fact, I do not have any legitimacy to give you any advise…

            If (big IF) I were in your shoes I would be happy the less I would have to chip in after writing the article itself, because it would mean that it my position has been expressed in full and without ambiguity.

          2. @astonished And that is the case sometimes.

            But not everyone comprehends everything fully every single time. And sometimes they choose not to, to push their point of view.

            With something controversial like this you always have people, usually hiding behind anonymity (this is not aimed at you!), using any spurious means available to attack you.

            These range from the outright crazy (calling me a xenophobe) to less unsubtle approaches like rejecting the premise or misrepresenting a contrary opinion in order to discredit it.

            On top of that I have to factor in that some people will just read a headline and then head to the comments, and then usually post comments that are already answered by the article.

    2. He went up in my estimation (not that he cares or should care). It takes a somewhat brave individual to open the subject of race fixing. Ferrari are famous for their influence, and Alonso is known to have benefitted by winning thanks to his team fixing the race, as another poster mentions below.

      1. Bit of a massive over-reaction there.It’s a perfectly legitimate question seeing as it was discussed in the commentary. Read Keith’s response above, he is presenting it objectively. It would be bad journalism not to mention it.

      2. Sorry, should have been a reply to Aditya :)

  38. Said it on another thread as well. This isn’t anything more than a tabloid subject.

    If you look at what Maldonado did in Australia it’s quite easy to understand why the team got cold feet and asked Perez to be careful and not risk 18 points for 7 more, especially since he was starting to lose grip. He made a small mistake and drove a bit more careful afterwards. It was obvious then that closing the 5 second gap to Alonso and passing him all in just 5 laps was an unrealistic scenario. He got a well deserved second place and that’s all there is to it.

    I think it’s safe to say if it weren’t for his off, he would have pushed, passed Alonso and won the race, regardless of what the team told him.

    As for the radio comm arriving at the wrong time…a bit of a 2011 Hamilton-esque excuse, innit?

  39. A lot of the responses shooting down the theory (and, that’s all it is at this time) very much remind me of the responses around the time of ‘Crashgate’ in Singapore…

    1. I couldn’t agree more.

      1. Thirded.

  40. No way was it a conspiracy with ferrari. I am sure Sauber were thinking of Maldanado last week and how he lost everything for the team.

    As an aside as I said else where I think the distraction of the radio caused Perez to break rhythm and concentration causing him to crash. The team made a bad call, Perez was a second a lap quicker than Alonso and with DRS would have easily without risk passed Alonso.

  41. No, I don’t think it’s the case. of course Perez could win but as you saw rookies usually ruin their race with silly mistake. Just ask Maldonado what he did in the last race. Perez definitely made mistake and I don’t think it’s some kind of intended action. It was just a mistake. small but big.

  42. I don’t believe this radio message was a team order to remain behind Alonso, I think it was a message reminding Perez that he was in a great position for points and not to do anything rash. Although you can understand if people get suspicious when Sauber run a Ferrari engine and Perez is part of the Ferrari youth academy.

    The bigger problem I have is more to do with the Red Bulls, Toro Rosso have claimed they are an academy team and therefore don’t seem to have the ambition to fight for titles which any team in F1 should ultimately have even if they are long shots. I noticed in the race that Vergne let Vettel past with ease and it happened in Australia also. For me, I think Toro Rosso should be thrown out of F1 and put into GP2 if they wish to have an academy team.

    For teams with youth academies, I have no solution. Should they be contracted to their parent team and only allowed to drive for that team initially? Or should we just accept the fact that these things will happen?

  43. I think it’s a completely valid topic to bring up. Especially as the radio message is something that will have some people believe that it was a conspiracy and others believe that it was a completely normal reaction from a midfield team who badly needs the points. I don’t think it was a team order to help Ferrari but their links to Ferrari and Ferrari’s past behaviour in the sport makes it a valid question to ask. Keith usually has very balanced opinions and articles and I don’t think that this article diminishes Alonso’s or Perez’s race.

  44. Alonso is great. It is the teams and all the rest of F1 I don’t trust.
    I think what chrashgate showed us, is that F1 lacks a watchdog. The only ones who can ensure that F1 stays a sport, is us. The fans.
    So whenever something strange happens we should put aside our favorite driver and team, and remember that we are first and foremost F1 fans.

  45. When in doubt, blame Ferrari.

    It’s simply not possible for a 2nd-year driver under the pressure of fighting a two-time World Champion for what would have been his win to make a mistake on a drying track. Right?

    1. Of course that’s possible – like I said in the article:

      Nor is it realistic to suggest Perez’s late mistake at turn 13 was him ‘throwing’ the race – when the less risky option of simply backing off was available to him.

      But it doesn’t prove there was nothing untoward going on with the radio message.

  46. everybody needs points – and more so midfield teams like sauber – the team was right to suggest to Perez to be careful
    I don’t see any malice in that – Perez did try hard and made a mistake. What if he’d spun out and crash like maldonado did in the last race (would have been really sad wouldn’t it)
    Let”s not take away any credit from both Alonso and Perez for the brilliant drive. The Sauber is certainly faster than Ferrari but both did a great job getting the first and 2nd position :)

  47. Odd how with less than 10 laps left, Sauber tell Perez over the radio that Alonsos tyres are older than his (a bit of a come-on..?), Perez then closes within a second of Alonso, only to be told to hold ‘we need this position…’

    The fact that Perez continued to push even after he went off, shows that either there was no intent to tell Perez to hold 2nd, or, Perez didnt ‘understand’ the message :]

    1. Haha, you’re right! I bet on that Perez didn’t understand :P

  48. Was Sauber’s radio message to Perez a team order to help Ferrari? or Is Keith being abducted by an evil being? ^^
    Come on Keith how you seriously think for a second that this could happend?
    Last season Sauber got 44 points in 19 races, this season 30 in just 2!! that is money for the team!!!
    Crazy races like this one we lived wont come to often with the favourite drivers off from points.
    The wall team knows how fast his driver is performing but also the risk he (and all the team) is taking, and a voice of calm down doesn´t mean any conspiration theory, only you just grab the points that we will take the money, thanks

    1. This is F1, we’ve seen far more serious controversies than something like this.

      It does appear odd that Sauber waited and watched Perez close on Alonso lap after lap after lap, only to then tell him to take it easy that they need the points. If its true that they were content with second, why not look after the car, turn the engine down, land manage the gap to Hamilton in 3rd. They could see that he was catching Alonso quick-time, but waited until he was nearly all over his gearbox to tell him..

      1. Teams talk to their drivers several times a lap. It’s very likely they said something similar before that moment. It’s just that the coverage loves to pick stuff out of context and then have people to make a fuss where there’s none out of passion instead of rationality.

    2. @titob

      Come on Keith how you seriously think for a second that this could happend?

      As I think is pretty clear, I’ve not taken a side on this one (not yet, anyway).

      But this sort of thing is not unheard of in Formula 1 – particularly not with these teams, as explained in the article.

  49. In my opinion”yes”. Let’s wait and see how long it takes for Perez to switch to Ferrari…and how much they pay Sauber for him. I believe that there will have to be a proper amount of time before the switch…two or three more races. And I believe the payoff will be significant…perhaps the difference between first and second place money at Malaysia.

  50. Interesting theory Keith but I expect more balanced reporting from your site. There are loads of Alonso fans in the UK & this kind of reporting borders on the Xenophobic

    I’m fed up of this kind of anti-Alonso reporting & will being going elsewhere for my news.

    Not everyone in the UK loves JB & LH & Mclaren – wake up!

    1. JS – I think that’s completely over the top.

      You say you want a more “balanced” view. I’ve explained both sides of this and invited people to make their own mind up. So how would you like me to make this more balanced?

      I have no idea what your reference to the McLaren drivers is about as this doesn’t concern them in the slightest and they aren’t mentioned in the article.

      Accusing me of xenophobia is downright insulting. I have given you no cause for it whatsoever.

      I am just as ready to praise Alonso as I am any other driver.

      Last year I picked him as the second best driver of the season and I remember many objections from people saying I should have put Button ahead of him. Is that another example of my pernicious xenophobia?

      Today’s race report calls Alonso’s win “superb” – which it was. Is this another example of me hating people who aren’t from the same country as me?

      I’m perfectly happy to debate anyone on the facts. Hence this balanced article. Your claim that it is motivated by xenophobia is disgusting and totally unfounded.

      1. The mere idea of writing the article is a little yellow, in my opinion. I, personaly, don’t think there’s doubt about Perez’s behaviour.

        But what I, for sure, won’t ever like is gratuitous accusations like JS’. Good replay Keith!

        I don´t like the article but I do like your style.

        1. Fair enough :-)

    2. Please. The possibility of (inter-)team orders was the first thing many people thought of when FOM chose to broadcast that radio transmission, as I’m sure FOM knew would happen when they did it (they seem to enjoy encouraging controversies like this one). Keith did not make all this up; people were already talking about it. All Keith did was present both sides and give us a forum in which to debate it ourselves. That’s not “tabloid” or “anti-Alonso” or “xenophobic” or any of the other over-the-top inaccurate adjectives I’ve seen used in the comments on this post.

      1. they seem to enjoy encouraging controversies like this one

        Keeps F1 in the spotlight, I guess @aka_robyn

        Fully agree with you on this post, and thanks to @keithcollantine for giving us the opportunity to voice our opinions on the matter here.

  51. I think it was a Sauber Team mistake. To be so nervous up to the point to contact the Driver who was driving the race of his life, fully concentrated, and comment to him how important was to arrive to the end. What the team has done is to provoke Sergio Perez loose his concentration and suddenly realize how important was not only for him but for the team also, to finish the race.

    I think Sergio has just not been able to cope with the pressure, he lost his concentration and make a mistake. Full stop.

    I’m pretty sure is Sauber Team the responsible of not having today an extraordinary win today.

    1. I agree with you. See below (sorry, didn’t scroll to the last page to read all comments before posting!)

    2. I don’t.

    3. That occured to me as well @idr, although I think it might have been given when he was only starting to do thos blistering laps to haul Alonso back in. Still even then it could have helped some uncertainty to nip into him.

      Great to see he still went for it and even after that slip-up catched the car and got back going at Alonso.

  52. No, i don’t think so, great drive by Sergio anyway congrats for his first podium

  53. Sangeen Khan
    25th March 2012, 17:37

    This sort of topic is expected by a ‘troll’ or a ‘hater’ in forums.I really didn’t expect this on f1fanatic.No such topic was created in melbourne when the Torro Rosso let the RBR through at once but then held Alonso when getting lapped.Or in Abu Dhabi 2010.

    1. There was nothing to suggest anything untoward went on in Melbourne, nor was it especially consequential.

      But when we had another scenario involving alleged team orders in Brazil last year involving the Red Bulls, I did write an article:

      Was Vettel’s ‘gearbox problem’ team orders in disguise?

      As with that article, I’ve provided both sides of the debate and encouraged people to make up their own minds. That is not “trolling”.

      1. Sangeen Khan
        25th March 2012, 18:33

        Well it seems the people have spoken.

    2. The best way to get rid of “hate” is to let people voice their opinions in a civilized debate, far better than not talk about worries and conspiracy theories at all.

  54. TheGreatTeflonso
    25th March 2012, 17:38

    I don’t think there was anything wrong with the topic but, this blog has always been very informative, and I think one has to realize that most F1 fans, particularly vocal ones, haven’t necessarily been watching F1 for that long of a time. Some of the comments are absurd in terms of anyone that has watched this sport for more than a decade would know.

    I think it was fine bringing this up, but it should have been put into proper context, such as past instances and possibilities. Instead the example was Ferrari in 1997, so it comes off a llittle slanted. There are surely other examples, considering the only point of contention was part of a radio message out of context. Peter Sauber has already responded to this and explained, logically. Some of the comments are bordering on illogical.

    1. Instead the example was Ferrari in 1997, so it comes off a llittle slanted.

      I think given the teams (potentially) involved, you couldn’t ask for a more pertinent example.

      But I take your point that there might have been value in mentioning there are other examples of collusion between multiple teams in the past in F1.

  55. Michael Brown (@)
    25th March 2012, 17:47

    In short: No.

    In long: Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

  56. 6 laps to go: Alonso is a sitting duck with Perez within DRS range and the engineer tells him to be careful?

  57. Personally, I’m somewhat intrigued by it.
    I’d definitely say it’s a possibility, and I would more than likely angle more to that possibility, but I’m not totally denouncing the idea that it wasn’t team orders.
    I mean, Ferrari have quite the history of pulling stunts like this, and in all fairness, remember how many people were claiming Glock let Hamilton past all those years ago at Brazil, despite Glock being on the incorrect set of tyres?
    Sure, I’m biased against Ferrari… never liked them that much, probably never will. But by the sounds of people congratulating Alonso on his ‘fantastic win’, I ‘d say I’m not the only biased person here.
    I mean, it was a good race, but there was nothing terribly remarkable about Alonso’s win. He basically got gifted it on a silver platter after Mclaren buggered up Hamiltons pit-stop.
    But a massive well done to Sergio! Drove his heart out today, regardless of this controversy :)

  58. @Magnificent_Geoffrey
    Congrats!! You must be very happy!!

    Regarding the doubt in hand… the answer is NO… Although Perez is of the Ferrari Academy, it would´ve been his first ever F1 victory!! I would´ve cared less which car was in front… I would´ve gunned it and try to go for it! Perez ran a true race! It was so unfair he made his mistake! I was really “dropping” some bricks when I saw he was catching up and it would´ve been very close but I guess Alonso was a bit luckier! All in all, a GREAT race!! We need more of these!! Heck… even Hamilton seemed Happy with his third! It´s funny how he was smiling this time in the podium!! And it was awesome seeing him playing around with Alonso with the champagne!! Seems both drivers have really matured a lot!

  59. It could well have been a coded message to not attack Ferrari, but possibly for the reason that Sauber didn’t want their young, talented and fiercely competitive driver, presented with his first chance to fight for a Grand Prix win, to somehow overextend himself in the heat of things and “take out” Alonso, an exponentially worse result than throwing himself off or embarrassing “big brother” by leaving him in the dust. I agree with Keith that a “manage the gap” message much earlier would have been a more natural expression of a true intent simply to be happy with a P2 result. The timing is definitely worthy of suspicion.

    On another note, I believe that what the message did do was throw off the youngster’s rhythm. To my eye, Perez was clearly in the “zone,” throwing down fastest laps one after the other, reeling in one of the fastest pure drivers on the grid. He was fast, precise, smooth, and relentless. It takes a lot of mental and body control to to be able to downshift successfully to a slower, mistake-free rhythm when forced to back off unwillingly from the “zone” like that, even for the greats and usually acquired after much experience. It’s because the body and car have become seamless in the new rhythm, which “flows” out of the body because there is no interference from the conscious mind. When told to slow down, suddenly the brain has to interrupt a now-natural rhythm and try to find a new, unnatural-feeling consciously-altered one. This puts the body into a state of awkward internal communication which very frequently leads to mistakes, and I am convinced that Perez’s loss of control almost immediately after the radio transmission was the result of it. It is exactly what happened to Ayrton Senna at Monaco in 1988 when he was 46 seconds or so up on the rest of the field and driving in the zone. The team told him to slow down, that his lead was safe, but when he did, he said that he lost concentration, got out of rhythm, and put it into the wall. In his mind, as he told one of his coaches some time later, he was already thinking about the podium ceremony. This phenomenon has happened to others. Luckily, there was paved runoff where Perez went off, or he might have been sitting in a gravel trap like Grosjean and, as David Hobbs likes to put it, “it would all have ended in tears.”

  60. Of course it was. We’ve seen some clean DRS overtaking’s on straight line, what risks would there be to collect that first place when he was a sec faster without DRS.
    Full name of team is Sauber Ferrari, as they use Ferrari engines and Sergio is i Ferrari driver academy isn’t he?
    There is no doubt in my mind that this was team order which is sad because it means there are now three driver (Massa, Perez and Kobayashi)out there who aren’t allowed to win if Alonso is in front or one place behind probably.

  61. It’s understandable given the relationship between Ferrari and Sauber that people think there’s foul play here, but where’s the evidence?

    We have a radio message that told Perez, “Be careful, we need this position, we need this position.”

    The language and timing of the message suggest that they were worried about losing a rostrum finish if Perez and Alonso clashed, or in the worst case scenario that Perez cost BOTH Sauber AND engine supplier Ferrari to lose the chance to win. It was a simple reminder to be cautious as he caught Alonso.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t cars powered by Ferrari engines pass another Ferrari car today? If Ferrari were using their leverage as an engine supplier then why not use it to avoid the embarrassment of having one car finish far outside the points and behind midfield teams that are using their engine? Surely that’s worse looking for them than having a Ferrari powered car take the win in an unpredictable race where the driver, set-up and strategy were bang on the money?

    I saw no evidence of Sauber kneeling to Ferrari today. I saw a young driver in their second season for a midfield team make a slight mistake that cost them their chance to challenge for what would have been a superb underdog triumph.

    F1 is political, we all now that. Why people feel the need to politicise this though, I don’t know. Supposing Sauber were trying not to tread on Ferrari’s toes, at least take comfort in the fact that if that’s true Perez had the integrity to do all he could to challenge Alonso.

  62. A great race and win by Alonso? More like a poor race by McLaren!! Superior team, superior car, superior drivers!!!!!! Ferrari don’t stand a chance this season unless they seriously sort out ‘The Thing’!!!!! By the way, what is the Force India’s front wing made of, razor blades????

  63. I, in no way, think that Sauber told Perez to back off because of pressure from Ferrari. Yes, they have Ferrari engines. Yes, Perez is in the young driver programme for Ferrari, but neither Perez, nor Sauber would throw away a win, if they thought it was possible.

    After watching Maldonado crashing out in Melbourne, and with how close the midfield battle is this year especially, the team wanted to remind their driver that second is still a great result, and 18 points would be ridiculous to throw away just to have a half-go at passing Alonso. So that is where the message came from.

    If you look back at the beginning of 2011, the podiums that Renault secured at the time gave them the jump on the other teams to give them that all important 5th place in the Constructors, and Sauber needed those points.

  64. It’s possible, but I seriously doubt it. To me that message didn’t sound like anything other than a reminder to Perez not to do anything stupid, particularly poignant given what happened to Maldonado last week. To Sauber (and anyone, for that matter) 18 points won are far better than 25 points lost through recklessly going for glory.

    When Perez went off I was really worried he’d gone and done exactly what his team were warning him not to do, and thrown it away. Fortunately he recovered, and I think his little off was nothing more than a mistake, rather than a deliberate attempt to throw the race.

    It’s easy to get the conspiracy theories going given the historical relationship between Sauber and Ferrari, but I think he would have been given the same instruction regardless of who was in front, and on this occasion it just so happened to be Alonso. Personally, if I’d been on the pit wall, I think I’d have given Perez the same message!

  65. Remember Belgium 2009? Fisichella had the pace but finishes second behind a Ferrari, only to join Ferrari the very next race. Imagine if Perez ends up joining Ferrari? The conspiracy theorists will love it.

  66. Some of the comments on here directed at @keithcollantine for having the audacity to write an article about something that people were talking about are ridiculous. It seems to be the same everytime anything is written that involves any perceived criticism that directly or indirectly involves either Alonso or Hamilton. This is a sport, enjoy it and don’t take it so personally!

    As people have said we don’t have the full context as to everything that was said and when, so it’s only speculation. I don’t think it’s unrealistic that Sauber were worried about a coming together. Monisha Kaltenborn said on Sky during the rain break that Perez was ‘temperamental’ (I think that was the word she used) so they obviously had some concerns about him. That they didn’t pit on the same lap as Alonso might also be a sign they were being conservative. I don’t think that there was any pressure from Ferrari – but it’s not impossible that there was, or that Sauber had a mind to the implications for their relationship should anything happen. It was a discussion point, and it was certainly worth Keith writing an article about it.

    1. Keith rightfully gives many other conspiracy theories a firm back of the hand, espeically those regarding McLaren. I would put this one in the same category.

  67. Nothing in it at all, I would be telling my driver the exact same thing in that situation. I see it as “ok your getting close to him, remember second is a fantastic result don’t throw it away chasing the win”. I find it hard to compare this to 97 really and I’m surprised everyone thinks it is. It’s exactly what I would have told him in that situation

  68. Either way, I question if Sauber really belong on the grid. It’s only the 2nd race of the season, they have a chance for an immortal victory that would give them more publicity (and opportunity for sponsorship) than a season-full of 9ths and 10ths… and they issue that directive. Utterly pathetic. As Brundle said, the same conservatism that caused then to leave Perez out for a lap too long and that cost him the win. I have a load of old Sauber gear I proudly won in a competition, may just stick it under the sink now.

  69. You’ve got to be stupid to believe that this was a coded message. How often do Sauber find themselves in the top 5, let alone the top 3? 18 points as a massive hault for a midfield team such as Sauber, and with this year’s midfield tighter than ever, featuring Mercedes, Lotus, Force India, Sauber, Williams, Toro Rosso and arguably Ferrari themselves, they cannot afford to throw away a points haul like this, this year. If they can grab big points like this in and out a couple of times this year, this result could contribute to a 4th or 5th place in the constructors championship, which equates to mega bucks in prize moenry at the end of the year. A small team like Sauber would kill for that sort of money!

    The front tyres were wearing away on Perez’s car, and following the spin and losing the heat, the tyres didnt have anything more to give to try and catch Alonso once more. I feel that had Perez not had a lapse in concentration and put his wheels on the white line he’d have passed Alonso in the following laps. His car was quicker, he was in great form and really gunning for it.

    People need to see this another way. Would Mclaren radio one of their drivers to ease off if Mercedes were in the lead? No. Furthermore, would Toro Rosso have ordered their drivers to ease off if they were chasing down a Ferrari. Hard to believe given their parent team fund them.

    People need to stop looking at an arguement which just isnt there. Sergio made a rookie mistake today. He believes he could have won today and has been quite honest about his version of events. He even admitted that after he almost binned it at turn 13 that the team were right, he should ease off a bit.

    He’ll win a race yet, today is just part of a steep learning curve he’s on.

  70. I wish Perez had won because we would have been talking about great driving of the two underdogs.

  71. Shame on people for even considering this !!

    This article takes away the greatness of Alonso, you don’t want anyone to rememeber this great win, only to remember this stupid article. Shame !

  72. Alonso (@alonsomanso)
    26th March 2012, 0:28

    When you made a “team order” the driver dont go off track
    this is the second year of Perez in F1 plus was the first time ever leading a Grand Prix.

  73. forget the consipracy theory, this only conclude one thing, perez (or sauber) dont deserve that win. wether it’s because ferarri order or not, if it’s ferarri order then shame on them (sauber & ferarri), if it’s only a “mistake” made by perez, then he didnt deserves the p1, or maybe perez (n sauber) never deserve a win… maybe they just lucky to have p2..

  74. Radio message to Perez was most probably what cost him the victory. He was in a very hot situation, and that message does make a driver insecure and he looses focus.
    Really sad, hes a driver and is there to win not to come home second. And we all want to see them race for victory.
    Strange that a team would not realize how to talk to the driver in a smarter way, he could have landed in the gravel, therefore i think there could be some involvement from the engine supplier Ferrari.

    1. I agree the radio messed him up just like Smedley messes Massa all the time.

  75. An improbable victory for Alonso, conspiracies abound!

    Shocker!

  76. Ferrari pulled out from FOTA over cost dispute, later Sauber following same suit without any reason.

  77. Why in the world is everyone so up in arms about the idea of team orders? They are now, by the Sporting Regulations, legal. They have been used in racing of all venues not just F1. There are after all two championships going on there, drivers and constructors and to have the constructors looking out for their interests is perfectly understandable. Let’s not forget that F1 is no longer a gentleman’s sport but a cut throat multi-billion dollar business where team orders, spying and stealing data and intellectual property happen all the time. I say get over it and enjoy the spectacle that F1 had become. By the way I’ve been an F1 fan since the days of Sir Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio, and things are very different today, not better, just a lot different.

    1. Trenthamfolk (@)
      26th March 2012, 9:40

      “Why in the world is everyone so up in arms about the idea of team orders?”

      Simply because they mean that drivers and teams do not win through merit, but through some other mechanism that is not sport. Team orders discredit F1 as a sport and if a driver can’t win a race without the benefit of team orders, they don’t deserve to be part of F1.

      It may not be cheating (any more) but it is not ‘sporting’ by any stretch of the word.

      1. How is it not sporting? It’s a team sport, the team issues instructions that are to its benefit vs other teams. That’s how team sports work.

        1. @psynrg As far as rules enforcement goes, I think it would be helpful if we distinguish between two different kinds of team orders:

          ‘Hockenheim 2010-style’ team orders, where one team manipulates the result between its drivers (Ferrari ordering Massa to give up his win for Alonso).

          ‘Jerez 1997-style’ team orders, where two teams collude to influence the result somehow (that one race alone gives yield Ferrari/Sauber and McLaren/Williams as possible examples).

          Now, I happen to think both are wrong and shouldn’t be allowed, but that’s besides the point.

          ‘Hockenheim 2010’-style team orders were legalised at the end of 2010. But at the time ban was lifted there was a lot of talk that ‘Jerez 1997’-style team orders would not be tolerated. The assumption was it would fall under the celebrated article 151(c) on “bringing the sporting into disrepute”.

          But it remains to be seen if the FIA has any more appetite for enforcing it than it did the previous ban on team orders.

          There is a wider significance, too. There is much discussion about reviving customer cars in some form, but that could lead to further opportunities for, and accusations of, collusion between teams.

  78. Trenthamfolk (@)
    26th March 2012, 9:32

    Alonso drove a great race, and took full advantage when the race shook down in the end. I take nothing away from him, aside from those gawd-awful sunglasses!

    I think the reason that there was suspicion raised, is because Ferrari have a long and sad history of cheating and and issuing (often illegal) team orders, to the massive discredit of themselves and the sport. Is it any wonder no-one believes the Prancing Ponies to be clear-cut?

  79. Just because other teams use inter-team politics to throw hookey results doesn’t get away from the fact that it’s CHEATING!! This is why Briatore was banned from F1. I’m hoping it doesn’t become any more evident that Whitmarsh is scuppering Hamilton (there’s circumstantial evidence for this already – if it’s the lead car that gets first pitstop- which they made such a fuss about in Aus – why wasn’t Lewis brought in first in sepang). We know about Red Bull and Webber.Inter-team orders to save losing points is one thing, but if it means fans getting excited that history is going to be made, when a smaller team is probably going to win, but there’s actually no political way it can happen – that’s fundamentally NOT racing. Ferrari should be big enough to say – we got a good result today – there’s no saying Perez would’ve def passed Fernando. If they lost they should be broad shouldered enough to say – yes, and make no mistake Sauber are actually an extremely talented organisation that went with their racing acumen before their business acumen and hail them for it!!! Doesn’t bode well for future upsets like this that F1 is so well known and loved for.

    1. Hey Sam Hain, I think you may find all your answers here: The Truth

  80. Yes, Sergio is a very racy driver, and has done some exceptional things in F1 so far, but lets us not forget the guy he was chasing down kept the invincable Michael Shumacher behind him for a win wqhen Michael was driving for Ferrari and Fernando was driving for Renault. Catching FA is one thing, getting past him is another thing entirely.

    1. Agreed, but not with DRS and absurd rules that mean you cannot adequately defend an attack. Never mind speculative team order scenarios. The aforementioned is fact.

      Watching Nige (Mansell) on the Sky F1 Heroes series the other day when he was recalling the outrageous battle he had with Senna at Monaco and how it is without a doubt one the greatest or most memorable moments in F1 history. But also that it probably wouldn’t be allowed today because Senna would have been black flagged for blocking tactics.

  81. Team order? No… but had that engineer kept his mic turned off, this article would be about Perez’ first F1 win along with some rumors that he’ll be in a Ferrari seat next season.

  82. It didn’t occur to me that the radio message was a team order to help Ferrari at the time and I still don’t think it was.

    You just have to look back to the Australian GP when Maldonado crashed out when he was in a position to score more points for Williams than they did for all of last season.

    If Williams had sent a similar message last week no one would have thought twice and there would probably have been some praise for making such a call.

    Sauber would have remembered what happened in Australia and didn’t want to risk it, and you could say Perez running wide later on proved them right.

    I didn’t like hearing the radio message as I was cheering on Perez to close the gap and was hoping we would at least get a decent battle for the race win if not a victory for Perez which would have been more unlikely than Alono’s victory.

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    13th February 2015, 10:27

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