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.


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.


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?

  1. matt90 (@matt90) said on 26th April 2012, 14:44

    On an unrelated note, that Lotus picture looks great without any of the red endplates in there to spoil it.

  2. Danksa (@danieljaksa) said on 26th April 2012, 15:02

    I voted yes. F1 is a team sport. That’s why there are two cars from one team on the track. Team orders are a tactic that can, and should be used by the team, whenever necessary to get the team over the line first.

  3. IDR (@idr) said on 26th April 2012, 15:02

    I do not see for that case where’s the point for team orders. I remember Kimi not having big problems overtaking his team mate.

    Generally speaking, I do not like team orders, but I understand that today, sometimes Teams have to give a driver a team order just to be sure, that driver is gentle enough with his team mate when the teammate is running with different strategy, or clearly much faster.

    I those cases, the driver who is ahead would not be fighting for anything, so he should let his teammate pass him not creating a big deal with that.

  4. scuderia_fan85 (@scuderia_fan85) said on 26th April 2012, 15:23

    its far TOO early in the season to be using team orders. if Kimi has a chance to win the drivers title, i expect Lotus to then imply team orders and vice versa if Romain was in a shot of winning it.

  5. Tinakori Road (@tinakori-road) said on 26th April 2012, 15:37

    It would have led to a more interesting race for the lead if Kimi had gotten by quicker and maybe been able to make two or more attempts to pass Vettel. I thought overtaking for the lead is what racing was all about. Besides that, if Vettel had been passed and was back in dirty air, maybe Grosjean could have closed and tried his hand at passing Vettel. That would have been interesting to watch

  6. DaveW (@dmw) said on 26th April 2012, 15:47

    The team should have ordered Raikkonen to stay out an extra lap instead of pitting right behind Vettel; having pitted right behind Vettel, they should have ordered the pit crew not to do a lousy pit stop. Also we can talk about their Q3 strategy. This discussion falls squarely in the basket of fruits and nuts that we could have had for Christmas. Should Grosjean have been told to let him by? Yes. But it was not nearly the most auspicious act or omission in that team on Sunday that affected the outcome.

  7. MW (@) said on 26th April 2012, 15:56

    If you’re not stretching your machinery, drivers and the rules to the limit then you’re not going to win in F1.. It’s a no brainer for me, Yes! If you can maximise your % chance of a win by using team orders legally then do it.
    I, like keith has expressed, would rather teams didn’t use team orders. But I think theres no point in having rules you can’t enforce 100% of the time.

  8. Alfred (@afya) said on 26th April 2012, 16:14

    Yes, They should. Altho Romain was fast, he couldn’t catch kimi let alone vettel on the whole match. Play as a team, it’s good for both drivers.

  9. Aditya (@) said on 26th April 2012, 16:31

    I must say, this is not the first time that Mr Collantine has polarised opinion. It is very bad of Mr Collantine to say: “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”. You are no one to say that, you are clearly polarising opinion as regards Ferrari, especially using the word “surely”. Your job is not to assume what could have = happened.

    • Aditya (@) said on 26th April 2012, 16:33

      Sorry for the =

    • bag0 (@bag0) said on 26th April 2012, 17:17

      @thekingofspa Seriously?
      You think if MAS was P2 ALO P3 catching him, Domenicali would just sit there and watch?
      Well maybe, for 1-2 laps, then Alonso would say something like this on the radio: I am mutch faster then Felipe.
      And this is not a polarised opinion, its a sure thing. I would not say you are polarising opinions if you said that the sun will rise tomorrow morning and then set at the evening.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th April 2012, 21:49


      this is not the first time that Mr Collantine has polarised opinion.

      Nor the last!

      It is very bad of Mr Collantine to say: “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”

      I don’t think it’s an unreasonable assumption in the slightest, given the example referred to in the article.

  10. Slr (@slr) said on 26th April 2012, 16:40

    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.

    That’s exactly how I see it. Teams that use team orders are basically showing a lack of respect to the leading driver. Grosjean was ahead of Raikkonen fair and square, and deserved the chance to fight for his position.

  11. mrgrieves (@mrgrieves) said on 26th April 2012, 16:42

    With or without hindsight i’d say use team orders. The best result for the team has to come first and with Kimi fastest and more likley to catch him i’d have certainly move Roman over to give him the crack especially with Kimi on the faster tires. By not doing so it ruined his best chance of making a move and winning

  12. Ral (@ral) said on 26th April 2012, 16:51

    I think they did the “right thing” not telling Grosjaen to let Raikkonen past, on several levels. They’ve avoided the trap of mentally demoting Grosjaen to second driver and it could even be construed as a vote of confidence in that the team obviously didn’t think they’d crash eachother off the track while fighting fair and square for position. They’ve also avoided the negative connotations for Raikkonen of having to need team orders to pass his team mate in the same car.

    Whether it was the “correct thing” to do results wise, is a bit more tricky. Nobody can know one way or the other.

    Which means that on balance, the conclusion has to be Lotus’ decision was probably correct longer term. At the moment, they have two drivers totally fired up both with the car and their own ability trying to drive the team forward, and not one driver sulking (or worse) about having been made to pull over. There will most likely be other similar opportunities to come for which, again, they have two cars in the race now in a good frame of mind and feeling like they have the support of the team to try to make the most of these chances when they come along.

  13. Sangeen (@sangeen) said on 26th April 2012, 17:33

    There was a time when Redbull were a team that did not use team orders.I think Lotus missed a trick there.When the stakes are higher,or maybe the next time such a situation arises,the may very well use team orders.Every team does them.I would hate to bring the team orders ban back.We all know they do it one way or the other anyways.

  14. Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 26th April 2012, 18:02

    I, too, find it commendable that they decided to let the two drivers figure it out. If Grosjean had been in any other car, Kimi would have had to pass him legitimately in just the same way. It’s a race and likewise you must be able to prove your worth. With two cars on the same strategy, Kimi had the same tools/ability to put himself in the position that Romain was in. And he did thusly once he passed him. You’re there to race against your teammate just as much as every other car on the track.

  15. Dev (@dev) said on 26th April 2012, 18:04

    kimi had fresh rubber so he had to go ahead, team orders were fair. force india team orders were fair too. i think team orders is fine as it’s a team sport. it’s only a problem when we have two drivers have similar race strategy in terms of tyres & pit stops they should be allowed to race. but it’s the teams call finally we need to accept that.

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