Ecclestone: Red Bull and Mercedes wrong to use team orders

F1 Fanatic round-up

Christian Horner, Bernie Ecclestone, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2011In the round-up: Bernie Ecclestone isn’t happy with the use of team orders in the Malaysian Grand Prix.


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Ecclestone slams Red Bull (The Telegraph)

“At this stage of the championship, I do not believe there should be any team orders. It does not matter who it is.”

Vettel should be suspended – Watson (BBC)

“The only purposeful way to bring him to book is to say ‘you will stand out one race'”

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier indicates he’d be interested in signing Robert Kubica if he’s fit enough to race in 2014.

Hamilton denies Ecclestone RBR claims (Autosport)

“It makes me a bit nervous because we have quite a good relationship and I’m quite open with him about a lot of stuff.”

BBC Radio 5 Live: Tony Livesey

Hear me discussing the Red Bull team orders row at the 1hr 26min mark.

Unhappy Webber considering his future after row (NBC)

“Webber?s dissatisfaction is about more than just the situation at Red Bull. He has repeatedly criticised F1???s current generation of tyres.”

Synopsis of FIA Race Director?s media Q&A session (FIA)

“A points-based system [for driver infringements] is still being discussed. There is significant support for it but not unanimous support. It?s a complex question and we need to get the balance right because banning a driver is a serious issue. We need to make sure a driver genuinely deserves any ban. We will be monitoring offences and running a [hypothetical] system in the background to see how it would all work if put into practice. We need to do that for a while.”

Ego Management Tips From Ron Dennis (F1 Speedwriter)

“The relationship between any two human beings is a very complicated thing, like in a marriage, and the drivers’ relationship is very, very complicated. But the negative aspects of having two such drivers can be turned to produce a motivating force.”

I’m sorry for Webber, but bloody-minded Vettel saved us from a procession (Daily Mail)

Jonathan McEvoy: “And what does [the lifting of the team orders ban] lead to in practice? It means that Red Bull’s pit wall can order one of their drivers not to overtake another. It means that a three-time world champion, namely Sebastian Vettel (whose actions I do not condone given that Mosley’s rule has been discontinued) cannot race as freely as he could. It means that when he defies his team’s instructions, disharmony is created and his reputation sullied.”


Comment of the day

FormulaLes has some thoughts on how Sepang could be improved:

1. Getting to and from the circuit is a nightmare. It?s 60km from downtown Kuala Lumpur and they have a freeway running all the way to the circuit, and the airport which is next door, but normal traffic rules don?t seem to apply. At the circuit people park on the freeway blocking lanes – no joke.

On race day for the Moto GP it took three hours to go 60km on a bus to get to the circuit. The buses that run to and from KL are infrequent and seem to be managed by completely incompetent people, they have buses full of people going nowhere, they have drivers who stop at service stations to buy a news paper etc… There is no priority for buses, they have to sit in the same traffic jams as cars, and the end up driving in the shoulder to get anywhere.

But what really frustrated me is that there is a train from KL to the airport, that stops at the airport, that could have been extended 4-5km to the circuit, and used to get people to and from the circuit. Why this never happened makes no sense to me.

2) Timing, as far as I can tell it rains every afternoon in Sepang, both the Moto GP and Formula One start the races too late. It’s hard to get spectators to a race, especially from overseas if they can’t even be guaranteed that they will see a whole race.

3) The circuit is a bit run down – well the circuit isn?t but the spectator facilities are. The toilets get blocked up, the grandstands are rusty and look like an abandoned ship that has been left to rust away. Also pedestrian movement is not particularly well thought-out.

What I mean is it appears that it was well thought-out by Tilke, but the operators of the circuit do strange stuff like put the signing stage at the main entrance of the circuit reducing footpath width down to like two metres, causing massive bottlenecks.

4) You cannot walk around the circuit. You look at the aerial photo and there is heaps of green space, but you?re stuck in your one spot. If you bought a grand stand tickets that is the only place you can go. Unlike the Australian Grand Prix, if you buy a grandstand ticket you can walk around the whole circuit and watch from different general admin vantage points with no problems.

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171 comments on Ecclestone: Red Bull and Mercedes wrong to use team orders

  1. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 26th March 2013, 6:59

    I don’t agree with Watson at all, a ban doesn’t go far enough.

    Red Bull should have him lined up against a wall and executed by firing squad, that would be the only proportionate response to this truly horrific situation.

    What a pathetic, headline grabbing suggestion from Watson.

  2. Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 26th March 2013, 6:59

    @keithcollantine What thread was this on? Would love to reply to that directly.

    Just to reply to FormulaLes’ comment.

    1. You CAN go to Sepang by train. You’d then go down at KLIA and your ticket gets you a free shuttle ride from there to Sepang. That system worked very well when I was there.
    2. I suspect the timing is deliberate, especially in F1. And not just because of European TV times. Remember, Bernie joked that he wanted to install sprinklers at F1 circuits… ;)
    3. That’s always been the weak spot of Sepang – they can do a lot better in maintaining spectator facilities. I remember in 2009, the stands were leaking during the rain.
    4. I suspect they limited access for crowd control purposes, which can be abused if not handled properly.

  3. Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 26th March 2013, 7:26

    Lots of rose-tinted views of the team orders ban. The kind of orders we saw on Sunday (hold station at the end of the race) were deployed throughout the time team orders were supposedly banned, apparently because they didn’t “interfere with the race result” in the same way that getting one driver to let another through did. Think about Monaco 2007, where Hamilton publicly complained that he hadn’t been allowed to challenge Alonso.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 26th March 2013, 7:47

      As in real life, we can only hope that a majority of drivers ignores enough of them to make teams think twice about using TO in cases where it really matters more than just to give them a less stressfull time on the pitwall because they are keeping margins.

  4. F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 26th March 2013, 8:37

    shut up, bernie. this guy is the first to feel the wind change direction.

  5. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 26th March 2013, 9:10

    “Ecclestone criticises use of team orders • Watson says Vettel should be suspended”

    Slightly wide range of opinions in the paddock on the moves then. :D

  6. paulipedia (@paulipedia) said on 26th March 2013, 9:42

    Recalling a similar problem he encountered while at Brabham, the team he owned for 16 years from 1971, Ecclestone explained: “I had one driver challenging for the world championship – I’m not going to say who it was – and the other guy that weekend happened to be b—– quick. I said to him, ‘Whatever you do, you ought to take it easy and let the other guy pass you’. He said, ‘I wouldn’t do that.’ So I replied, ‘Well, you can stand up in the seat of the car and wave him past, so the whole world can see this if you want.’ But he insisted, ‘I’m not going to do it’. So we just made sure he didn’t have enough fuel in the car to finish the race.”


  7. OEL F1 (@oel-f1) said on 26th March 2013, 10:11

    I for one hope that Dietrich Mateschitz shows his loyalty to Webber and makes sure at least there is some action against Vettel for this.

    • Traverse (@) said on 26th March 2013, 10:16

      Why? What’s the point? If I were Red Bull I would start negotiations with Kovalainen. Webber has had his time at RBR.

    • TMF (@tmf42) said on 26th March 2013, 11:21

      @oel-f1 Mateschitz will ask Horner why he didn’t let them race till the end – we saw how he thinks in 2010 and 2011 in similar situations and I would be surprised if his views have changed. The reason why RBR didn’t went all out and had some sort of team strategy so far is Marko and we all know where his allegiance lies.
      Though I wish Mateschitz would take Marko down a notch and hand out the same order they received in 2010 – let them drive.
      Because, Mark and Seb are only a great team if they are both let loose. And with 1 exception they showed countless times that both are excellent racers and can go wheel to wheel without crashing.

  8. Sherlock said on 26th March 2013, 10:56

    Who the hell is John Watson???

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th March 2013, 11:32

      1982 world championship co-runner-up and five-times Grand Prix winner. Also holder of the record for winning an F1 race from the lowest starting position (22nd).

      • Palle (@palle) said on 26th March 2013, 21:34

        With this amount of F1 experience Watson ought to be wiser, so the (rhetoric) question made by @sherlock is fully justified IMO. With the number of times Horner has experienced that he can’t control his drivers, Horner should ask himself what is needed for him to either learn the lesson or learn a method to confine his nervousness during the racing action between his 2 drivers – its a glitch in an otherwise good management, not to trust his 2 experts ability to judge and apply their skills on track to satisfy their personal drive to try to win, even if the closest competitor is Your team mate.

    • sonia luff (@sonia54) said on 26th March 2013, 18:32

      you’re obviously not much of an F1 fan if you don’t know who John Watson is

  9. Maciek (@maciek) said on 26th March 2013, 11:22

    I’m not a fan of team orders as a rule, but what happened on Sunday is hardly comparable say to ‘Fernando is faster than you’ or ‘Let Michael pass for the championship’. Both Red Bull’s and Mercedes’ orders to their drivers were based not on promoting one driver over another (maybe in the case of Merc) but mostly by wanting to get maximum points for the team and preserving the cars for later races. If you want to place blame somewhere, place it on the tyres, place it on the engine and gearbox per season limits. Or don’t place it anywhere. Both teams told both their drivers to cool it and 1 out of 4 didn’t listen. It’s just that he happens to be the one who’s won the last three championships and so this just makes him look like a greedy little bleep who’ll throw his teammate under a bus to win.

  10. TMF (@tmf42) said on 26th March 2013, 11:46

    The difference between RBR and Ferrari in terms of team orders is clear. Ferrari would have pitted Webber 2 laps later and handed Vettel the victory.
    RBR tried to be equal to both but didn’t factor in that Seb can’t control himself .5s and an overtake away from a win. it’s like they never met him before.

    Vettel showed bad behavior and you can blame him for being a crappy teammate and an egomaniac – but I respect him even more as a racer. to quote Senna: “And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver because we are competing, we are competing to win”

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 26th March 2013, 13:16

      But Webber was competing for a team win, Vettel was only competing for himself.

      • tmax (@tmax) said on 26th March 2013, 15:23

        @hohum Everybody competes for himself. So is webber. He had made it very clear. He raced and almost took Vettel out of the race in Brazil 2012. Had webber been a team player he would not have done that.

        Lets not make Webber a saint !!!!

      • @hohum – at the end of the day, there’s a drivers and constructors championship: the drivers care much more about the former than the latter and as Senna said they will always go for the win.

        Besides, team orders weren’t right to be imposed at all this early in the season: I agree with Bernie in that respect entirely. Teams may want to just bring the cars home, but they have to recognise they have drivers who want to win also. Things like this would make me support a team orders ban.

      • PaulF1 (@paulf1) said on 27th March 2013, 14:42

        How would either Vettel or Mark’s win influence team points? it wouldnt.

  11. tmax (@tmax) said on 26th March 2013, 15:30

    and Thus the Boss Speaks. I really agree with him. There was no need of such team orders at early stages of the race. Let both of them race and let the sport be enjoyable. It now looks as if team orders are the most holy thing in F1.

    I can understand the frustration of Anti-vettel fans. The last 3 years had been really bad for them. On top of that he comes back to take the lead in wdc this year. So when people say I lost respect for vettel i can understand that it is their frustration speaking.

    By not obeying team orders, Suddenly Vettel has committed a huge crime and by obeying team orders Webber is a saint. While some time ago, Webber was a saint for defying team orders :)

  12. I agree with Bernie wholeheartedly and strongly disagree with Watson: why would Red Bull suspend their number one driver, when he is the most likely to win them the driver’s championship? It’s hardly as if nobody in history has disobeyed team orders (Senna to name just one) and he wasn’t suspended for a race, so why should Vettel? Absolutely discipline him, which is what Watson is trying to get across, but the way to do that is not to suspend him – that is opening the door for Alonso or the like to steal one of the trophies Red Bull I’m sure wish to retain.

    • Not wishing to sound dismissive of Webber’s talent, but he has been beaten the last three years and I see no reason why that would change. Red Bull would only be shooting themselves in the foot by suspending Vettel.

  13. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 26th March 2013, 17:12

    Vettel should be suspended – Watson (BBC)


  14. Clem said on 27th March 2013, 3:01

    Maybe if Bernie thinks red bull and Mercedes should not have team orders he should fly over to Germany and discuss it over some lunch
    O wait he can’t do they he would be arrested

  15. PaulF1 (@paulf1) said on 27th March 2013, 14:31

    Absolutely right. Now we have a situation where neither driver is comfortable and both’s confidence is shaken. Does not bode well for the next race.
    This is what they should do; tell Vettel OK this once, tell Mark to stop sulking and get on with the racing, and stop interfering team orders unless we are at the stage where the championship can be decided by a positional change.

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