Should Lotus have used team orders in Bahrain?

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Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Bahrain, 2012Lotus had their best finish of the year so far in Bahrain, claiming second and third place.

But could they have used team orders to help Kimi Raikkonen take victory? And would they have been right to do so?

In the second stint of the race, Raikkonen was running in third place on new tyres while team mate Romain Grosjean, second, was on used rubber.

Grosjean was doing similar lap times to leader Sebastian Vettel, while Raikkonen was catching the pair of them at around four tenths of a second per lap.

By lap 21, Raikkonen was within a second of his team mate, with Vettel a further 5.4 seconds up the road.

For

Raikkonen lost around two seconds trying to pass his team mate. Had Lotus radioed Grosjean on lap 20 with a clear instruction to move over for his team mate, Raikkonen might have saved that time and caught Vettel sooner, giving him a greater opportunity to overtake.

Lotus would not have been breaking the rules by doing this. The ban on team orders, which was introduced in 2003, was lifted at the end of 2010.

One team which did use team orders during the race was Force India, who instructed Nico Hulkenberg to let Paul di Resta past.

Against

Team orders may no longer be illegal, but that doesn’t mean teams have to use them, nor that they’re always desirable. Giving second-rate treatment to one driver is not the way to get the best out of them.

Raikkonen was able to pass Grosjean of his own accord after a few laps. It’s by no means certain Raikkonen would have passed Vettel had he caught him sooner. In the third stint he only caught the Red Bull at around two to three tenths of a second per lap, and after a single attempt at a move at turn one he slipped back again.

Force India used team orders because their drivers were on significantly different strategies, unlike the two Lotuses.

I say

Lotus had every inducement to use team orders in Bahrain, so it’s interesting that they chose not to. It’s a reminder that not all teams treat their drivers the same way.

Raikkonen lost more time earlier in the race falling behind Felipe Massa. That, plus the difficulty he had passing Vettel when he caught him, means we can say quite confidently that not using team orders did not cost Lotus a certain win here.

It’s not hard to imagine how other teams would have handled the situation differently. Had the two cars been Ferraris, with Fernando Alonso catching Felipe Massa, we surely would have seen an early call for Massa to make way – after all, Ferrari had no compunction about doing so when team orders were illegal.

While Lotus would have been within their rights to use team orders on Sunday, they should be applauded for not doing so and leaving their drivers to sort it out for themselves.

I would prefer to see the FIA bring back and enforce the team orders ban to ensure all teams do likewise in future.

You say

Should Lotus have used team orders on Sunday? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Should Lotus have used team orders in Bahrain?

  • Yes (43%)
  • No (48%)
  • No opinion (9%)

Total Voters: 420

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Update: It seems there was a message from Lotus to Grosjean telling him to move over for Raikkonen. Details in the comments.

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126 comments on Should Lotus have used team orders in Bahrain?

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  1. TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 26th April 2012, 12:36

    No. It didn’t cost Kimi the race victory. What cost Kimi the race was not being braver when he got that massive run on Vettel at turn one.

    • scuderia_fan85 (@scuderia_fan85) said on 26th April 2012, 15:20

      exactly!

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 26th April 2012, 16:13

        I think it is way too early in the season for a team order…and especially one like this with questionable benefit. I think this would have sent the wrong message to Grosjean. The only way this would make any sense is if the cars were so totally out of sinc in terms of tires and strategies that a team order would not have even been needed…it would have been that obvious to both drivers and the team that the faster guy at that point in the race should be let past, with it in mind that both drivers would still be on a strategy to finish as high up as possible, neither driver hindered by an ‘obvious’ order, both of them simply on different routes to the same goal.

        As I say, it is way too early in the season and as a result I was surprised to see this come up as a topic.

        I think it is wrong to compare this situation to FA/FM Germany 2010. That was Race 11 of the season, not race 4. And at the time Ferrari was dealing with some very strong Red Bulls, I’m convinced they didn’t start that race looking to hang FM out to dry, and an opportunity came up with both Red Bulls looking to not finish that race for FA to grab some big points in an effort to reel the Red Bulls in.

        As I say, imho it is way too early in the season for any team to need to make a team order such as this. Let them all duke it out on the track while we have 4 different winners from 4 different races and nobody looking yet to run away with it. If we start to see one driver dominate like last year, then yes sooner than later someone is going to have to be favoured on some teams. But for now? Way too early in a season of close competition.

    • Vettel was winning the race anyway in my opinion

    • Andre (@) said on 26th April 2012, 16:19

      Regardless, Formula 1 is also a constructor championship, Lotus might have lost 10 points because fo that. At the end of the day, Team should come first.

      • fedERROR said on 26th April 2012, 18:52

        HOW???

        If anything, Lotus would have GAINED 7 more points( If Kimi was allowed past Grosjean and because of which had he been able to overtake Vettel ). And in case, Kimi had finished 2nd despite being given an easy pass, the order would have still remained the same.

        I think 4 factors stopped Raikkonen from the win.
        (1) The error in the opening stint
        (2) Being held up by his own teammate
        (3) Vettel being close friend, a daring overtake move resuting in any contact/crash would have strained their relationship.
        (4) But MOSTLY because, any F1 returnee is desperate to justify his comeback, and a P2 without a win *still* does more good than any bravery void of a podium!

      • rocco said on 27th April 2012, 7:25

        It was even way too early in the race for such a call to be made. How Grosjean and Kimi’s cars would’ve developed during the race and what not. They’re not running EXACTLY the same set-up so small differences in temperature and virtually anything could’ve gotten Grosjean the upper hand later in the race even. Completely ridiculous situation to issue team-orders.

        • aghileshwar (@aghileshwar) said on 27th April 2012, 7:50

          Kimi was catching them quickly and we can see from the times that he lost around 5 tenths for 3 laps and if they would have asked grosjean to move over kimi could have had extra 3 laps to attack vettel and the tyre would have been in a good shape !

    • James (@jamesf1) said on 26th April 2012, 16:34

      There is a school of thought to say yes it did. View Ted Kravitz’s video log from the race and it shows he lost a fair amount of time. Falling behind Massa at the start didnt help, pitting at the same time as Vettel meant things wouldnt have changed too.

      Let’s not forget that Vettel ran out of fuel (excluding the samples required post-race) after passing the line. If, through a combination of the above factors, Raikkonen had been closer to Vettel after the final pitstops, he would have pushed Vettel to the end, perhaps over the edge, causing Vettel to run out of fuel.

      However, I do admire the decision not to order Grosjean to move over. 33 points from one race weekend is a fairly sizeable haul for any team. Lotus decided to take the more conservative approach, no need to chuck away points like this early on in the season. Could make all the difference come Brazil.

    • GEOFFREY (@) said on 26th April 2012, 18:12

      Would have been a bad call for the drivers’ relationship over the course of the year. To me, team orders are bad for F1, it would make a one car per team championship we fairly don’t want.

    • Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 26th April 2012, 21:39

      If it was anyone but Kimi, most likely Hamilton or Kobayashi in that situation, they would have stuck down the inside of ‘finger boy’ Vettel. Rustiness in race craft possibly?

      • Aditya (@) said on 27th April 2012, 3:29

        He fought his way through half the field in the first stint,whereas your dear Hamilton couldnt get past a car which was a second slower(Alonso) in the final laps…so who’s the rusty one?

    • Hotbottoms (@hotbottoms) said on 27th April 2012, 9:44

      It’s impossible to say, whether Kimi would’ve won the race if Grosjean had let Kimi pass sooner. But I believe one thing is certain – it would’ve given Kimi a better shot for victory.

      Formula one is a team sport and I think teams should use team orders every time one of their drivers is slowing another and it’s not likely they’re racing for position (in the final standings). It’s not even against the rules anymore, so I can’t see the problem.

    • radosav said on 28th April 2012, 0:32

      grosjean was to let kimi in front of him:’kimi is faster than you, don’t hold him up’. check it on F1.com bahrain race edit

      • radosav said on 28th April 2012, 0:34

        grosjean was told to let kimi in front of him:’kimi is faster than you, don’t hold him up’. check it on F1.com bahrain race edit

  2. bombardier (@bombardier) said on 26th April 2012, 12:37

    Of course they should. Not convinced it would have changed the result, but if I was Eric Boullier, I woudn’t think twice about it.

    • bearforce1 (@bearforce1) said on 27th April 2012, 1:03

      There is something I dislike about EB. I think EB is really nationalistic. I have a feeling that he would have made the order in a flash if Grosjean wasn’t his countryman.

  3. d3v0 (@d3v0) said on 26th April 2012, 12:39

    If I am Eric Boullier, I want my boy Grosjean to win.

    However, Keith is right – the time spent behind Massa’s unusually wide Ferrari was where the delay was. As I watched the race, it appeared to me that Kimi only maybe lost one lap behind the Frenchman, making a highway pass on him into turn 1.

    • Tango (@tango) said on 26th April 2012, 12:59

      Being behind Massa is generally where the delay has been for the past 4 races.

    • Hotbottoms (@hotbottoms) said on 27th April 2012, 9:57

      I can’t see how the time Kimi spent behind Massa is somehow relevant regarding the decision whether to use team orders or not in this situation? If you were Eric Boullier, would you think “nah, Kimi already lost valuable time behind Massa, so I’m going to throw this victory away as a punishment! He’ll learn to overtake those slow Ferraris!”. Problably not.

      And no, I’m not saying Kimi would’ve won the race for certain had Grosjean let him pass. But I think the time he spent behind Massa is completely irrelevant regarding the decision whether to use team orders or not at the time Kimi was behind Grosjean.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th April 2012, 16:35

      Weell, @d3v0, Boullier did say something along the lines of now wanting to use teamorders. Sounds pretty bad, after looking at that radio message to Grosjean that FOM picked up for the race edit then (“kimi is faster than you” – 1:35 into the video)!
      Thanks @tommyb89 for posting that one on twitter

  4. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 26th April 2012, 12:40

    I don’t think so. I don’t think it would have meant Raikkonen won, as Vettel showed some pace towards the end. Besides, they would have only received criticism if they did.

  5. ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 26th April 2012, 12:46

    I think in this instance, team orders were definitely the right thing to do.

    I think the fact both Kimi and Romain were on different tyres could have been enough of an ‘excuse’ to tell Romain he needs to move aside.

    I don’t usually support the rule, but given the fact it’s a) legal, and b) were in with a real chance of victory in a season that’s all over the place (and the fact Enstone have not recorded in a win in a few years now..), I think they should have advised Romain to move over for Kimi.

    • James (@jamesf1) said on 26th April 2012, 20:11

      This is true, think back to China where Rob Smedley called Massa to allow Alonso through as they were on different strategies. In that instance, though, their strategies and relative track position, despite being one being behind the other, where far apart when pit stops are considered.

      However, in this case, Grosjean’s and Raikkonen’s strategies werent poles apart, more like one being the tropic of Cancer, the other the tropic of Capricorn. Not too much to seperate them.

  6. hey (@hey) said on 26th April 2012, 12:48

    IMO if team orders are used to directly affect the order of two team mates in a straight race, then they’re wrong. However, if it’s half way through the race and the drivers are at different phases of tyres, then it makes sense for the team to swap the cars so that they maximise the speed for both drivers over the race. It would be like removing one car-worth of traffic from the track.

    As I say, if its a dirty trick to favour one teammate over the other or to chicken out of a good fight between teammates, then team orders are bad. But if it’s midway through a race and one driver happens to physically get in the way of another’s strategy, then I have no objection to them switching around and both carrying on on their merry ways.

    • Bogz said on 26th April 2012, 13:11

      plus 1

    • Casanova (@casanova) said on 26th April 2012, 17:45

      This. Raikkonen was demonstrably faster and a possible win for the team was at stake. Cynical race-fixing is something quite different.

      • I think if they were on different strategies (2-stopper, 3-stopper) then there’s no problem with it. Like the way Force India do it. They seem to like splitting strategies. But to ask one driver to move over purely because he isn’t ready to pit just yet is a bit much.

        As as unrelated side note, a little maths chuckle.
        Bogz: plus one
        Casanova: e^(i*pi)=minus one

  7. Mads (@mads) said on 26th April 2012, 12:50

    I think they should have done it. Would it change the outcome at the end of the day? I don’t think it would, but they wouldn’t know that by the time Raikkonen caught Grosjean.
    Team orders aren’t very nice, but getting a chance of winning a race certainly is.
    Had I been in Boullier’s shoes that day, then I had made the call. Just to be sure that whatever the outcome might be, it would be the best result they could get.

  8. Matt (@agentmulder) said on 26th April 2012, 12:50

    Nope, and I’m glad they didn’t. If this were the end of the season and Raikkonen had a shot at WDC and Grosjean did not, fair enough, wave Kimi through. Otherwise, leave the team orders for Ferrari.

    • nickfrog (@nickfrog) said on 26th April 2012, 12:56

      Yeah but the problem is that not using team orders early in the season minimise the chances of a driver being in a position to challenge for the WDC. You can’t claw back points that you have “given away”. But then again, healthy competition between team mates might be a better bet regardless…

  9. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 26th April 2012, 12:51

    I voted no. Although it sounds reasonable to have issued a team order in this case, then this would be very easily generalizable to the situation where any driver who is coming up behind his team mate, should be allowed through. Can a team score more points in a race by letting the faster driver through? Yes, possibly, but that’s not the kind of racing I want to see.

    With regard to Raikkonen and Grosjean, who’s to say Romain won’t mount a championship challenge of his own this year? (And as for Ferrari, I even doubt they even have to come onto the radio anymore. Felipe knows what is expected of him).

  10. Sean N (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk) said on 26th April 2012, 12:54

    Remember the Team is the entrant and not the driver. The wishes of the team will always come first because they pay the entry fee, build the car and pay the driver (at least those in contention for wins do).

    True when it comes to sportsmanship and fair play it hardly seems fair on Grosjean to ask him to give up his position but if Lotus wanted to win then logically it was the right course of action. For sure it may have not made any difference in points to the team but it could have. It was close.

    If it happens to Lotus again you might see a different decision. Let’s watch and see.

    • Sean N (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk) said on 26th April 2012, 13:03

      As an aside, if it was logical to let Kimi past to try and get the win it would have been equally logical to let Grosjean back through into 2nd once it was obvious Kimi could not win. However because Kimi fought and past Grosjean without team orders then no-one can deny him his 2nd place wasn’t merited. If anything, this sort of makes a stronger case for applying team orders in the first place.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th April 2012, 6:42

        I think its rather the other way around there @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk, both posts you made are more of an argument for NOT using team orders.
        It makes the drivers know they did the best they could and were not interfered with nor helped out by their team mates. Making for better racing and better motivated drivers at the same time.

        • Sean N (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk) said on 27th April 2012, 15:30

          I don’t disagree with you BasCB but I wasn’t trying to make a case either way for team orders. I was just implying they are inevitable in what is fundamentally a team sport.

          Auto sport is pretty unique in having two separate but concurrent championships. This will sometimes lead to a conflict of interests between team and driver. I am yet to see an effective method to legislate this conflict fairly. To come down on the side of team orders is the only logical solution until a workable rule to ban them is found. I agree with you we would be better off without them.

          The reason I believe Kimi passing Grojean far and square is a case for applying team orders is because it was practically inevitable and they just didn’t optimise their joint race times. Note I said a case for applying team orders and not a case wholly for them in general (which as you know I don’t really agree with).

          Does that make sense?

  11. sid_prasher (@) said on 26th April 2012, 12:55

    I say why not. A team like Lotus needs to make every opportunity count especially at the start of the season. 40 points are a lot better than 33. I would have agreed even if Roman was coming from behind.

  12. Rahim.RG (@rahim-rg) said on 26th April 2012, 12:57

    i don’t why this has been used against…but
    Raikkonen losing time behind massa should be another reason why they should have used team orders….knowing that your driver has already lost time behind a car and may have compromised abit of his race….the team can’t just sit back and keep their drivers in a vulnerable position when they actually have the power to do the opposite…..when they actually could put their drivers and themselves into a better position…
    i think they should have used team orders….even after knowing how important the tyres and the level of degredation of it was there…

  13. graham228221 (@graham228221) said on 26th April 2012, 13:01

    I can’t believe this argument is still going on – Formula 1 is a team sport and I’m pretty sure it always has been, even when teams had to hide behind secret codes and clandestine radio messages.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th April 2012, 13:07

      @graham228221 If it were that simple, why did Lotus not use team orders?

      • graham228221 (@graham228221) said on 26th April 2012, 13:33

        poor teamwork @keithcollantine – in my humble opinion it’s all part of the drama of sport, and moreso in Formula 1 where a good or bad tactical decision made in the first few laps can have a huge effect later in the race.

        Fundamentally, Formula 1 is a team sport and it annoys me when people seem to ignore that. Teams are welcome to let their drivers race if they think it best, and usually in a team’s long term interest that will be the best option (look at Ferrari and what they’ve done to Felipe Massa). But if a team is chasing a championship or a rare win, even a couple of places in the final championship table, I’d be pretty bewildered if they didn’t use team orders.

        • Jake (@jleigh) said on 26th April 2012, 16:24

          @graham228221 but this could well have long-term implications. What if the Lotus drivers end up fighting for the championship? Grosjean denying Raikkonen 7 points could be crucial, in fact, if he had put up more of a fight and kept 2nd it could have made a massive difference. If they had imposed team orders now, how confident would Grosjean feel in his team when it came towards the end of the season?

          • graham228221 (@graham228221) said on 26th April 2012, 16:45

            @jleigh that’s why the team orders ban never made sense to me, it’s to arbitrary. What if the Lotus drivers don’t end up fighting for the championship, then would it not matter? What if they only end up fighting for the constructors championship, and they lose by 6 points?

            F1 already suffers from too many rules that are not clear enough, so lets not pretend that a team orders ban that applies only when two drivers are not fighting for a championship (mathematically or not, or as good as, up to the stewards perhaps), are not fighting for a win (unless only one is fighting for a championship), are on different strategies (something else for the omniscient stewards to argue about) and one hasn’t got a mechanical issue that may hold the other one up (severity of said mechanical issue up for debate) would improve ‘the show’.

            It’s a team sport – hell, with literally hundreds of team members supporting those two little cars on track F1 teams are perhaps the biggest teams in all of sport.

          • Jeanrien (@jeanrien) said on 28th April 2012, 9:40

            There is lot of talking about the lotus case but less about the Force India … Team orders probably helped Di Resta achieving such a result not being hold by Hulkenberg. Indeed he was quicker and would have overtake Hulk but having lost how much time ?

            We have already seen that all teams don’t handle the situation the same way : McLaren let their drivers fight each other while ferrari won’t take the risk that Massa goes overdefensive, as he uses to be, on Alonso.

            Now those are strategic choices, what is more annoying is when team orders come to switch position of the driver in case of a 1-2 finish. In the first place because it is not how race should be won and because the records will only remember the winner.

  14. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 26th April 2012, 13:01

    I don’t think it would have made much difference either way.

  15. ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 26th April 2012, 13:06

    To everyone who thinks it wouldn’t have made any difference, I beg to differ. A few laps worth of life on tyres means everything now. And it’s not just wasting laps, it’s the extra deg you get from sitting close behind a car. The turbulent air ruins that rubber quickly.

    • Rahim.RG (@rahim-rg) said on 26th April 2012, 13:11

      second that..

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 26th April 2012, 13:20

      it’s the extra deg you get from sitting close behind a car. The turbulent air ruins that rubber quickly.

      In that case, all Raikkonen would really be doing is swapping the degradation he got from sitting behind Grosjean … for the degradation he would get from sitting behind Vettel.

      • LosD (@losd) said on 26th April 2012, 14:25

        The reason he only had one chance to attack is probably the degradation. The degradation he lost to Grosjean could probably have given him a few more attacks before he had to fall back, and the first would probably have been with a greater speed delta.

        OTOH, there is a lot of “probably” in there. Fact is, we don’t know.

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