German Grand Prix – The key decisions
Insight
German Grand Prix – The key decisions
Strategy Briefing
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Jul 2010   |  10:55 am GMT  |  275 comments

The German Grand Prix at Hockenheim didn’t turn out the way many people expected for many reasons and there were some big decisions taken, which we will be talking about for some time.

The two widely different tyres behaved far better than expected, leaving few tactical options to the teams, while Ferrari were more competitive than many had expected and were the centre of attention. They took a one-two finish, but not in the same order in which they ran for most of the race.

Ferrari: Mechanism to prove who's faster (Darren Heath)

But what was the mechanism by which this crucial decision was taken?

If it had been agreed before the race that Alonso was the driver Ferrari wished to take maximum points from the race, then there would have been an arrangement in place to switch the cars around if Massa found himself ahead. It doesn’t appear to be the case here and anyway I doubt whether Massa would have agreed to that.

However he would have agreed to a system for establishing who is the faster driver. It seems that there was an agreement in place about the size of lead and a mechanism for showing who is faster, as a basis for Ferrari to make a decision. This may be a legacy of incidents earlier in the season, such as Australia, where Alonso was held up by Massa and the team took no action.

Judging from the messages to Massa from his engineer Rob Smedley, it seems that the notion of a three second lead was important, Smedley pointed out to Massa that he had three seconds in hand over his team mate at one point and described that as important.

But Alonso soon ate into that lead, getting it down to below a second, which was his way of proving that he was faster. Faced with Massa’s inability to match the pace and having lost the three second lead, the team had the evidence it needed to tell Massa that Alonso was faster than him, which was clearly the agreed etiquette.

I’ve been researching this a bit over the last few days and this kind of arrangement is quite common within teams. There has to be some way for teams to assess which driver is faster on the day and if the driver who is following can prove that he can close up a gap then it shows that he is faster.

This tipped the balance in Alonso’s favour in Germany.

We saw it last year in Germany when Jenson Button was behind Rubens Barrichello and Ross Brawn radioed the Brazilian to say that they were losing time to Rosberg and that if Barrichello couldn’t keep the pace up then he “should let Jenson have a go”.

So it was last weekend; with a threat from Vettel in third place and mindful of the championship situation, Ferrari formed its decision.

On a wider theme, the much discussed three step gap between the super soft and hard tyres didn’t create the tactical variations many had hoped for. Both tyres were just too good and a repeat of the chaos of the Montreal race was never on the cards from the early practice sessions onwards.

Hockenheim is a track which improves quickly once some rubber goes down and despite the rain over the weekend, it rubbered in and this meant that the supersoft lasted well in the opening stages of the race.

This caught out Mark Webber, who pitted on lap 15 and lost a place to Jenson Button, who pitted on lap 24. Webber had done a run on Friday on supersoft, where he had quite a lot of graining and this might have spooked him a bit into deciding not to run too long on that tyre in the race, even though he knew he was racing Button, who was likely to run longer.

Conversely it was another example of Button’s smooth driving style giving him the ability to make a set of option tyres last longer than his opposition. He did the same in Silverstone where he gained two places by staying out longer. Here he jumped Webber and picked up a vital position.

Button was helped in this by the new tyre pace on the hard, which wasn’t great. Although the track temperature of 25 degrees meant that the hard tyre didn’t struggle to warm up, neither did the new tyres give an injection of pace, so a well managed set of used supersofts was still faster than a new set of hards. The situation was tailor made for Button.

The experiment of the three step gap revealed that the four tyres in the Bridgestone range are too close together to make much of a difference. What made Montreal so enthralling was that both tyres were suffering from high degradation.

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  1. David Newsome says:

    I read in F1 Racing magazine that Alan Jones and Carlos Reuetemann’s contracts stated Reutemann had to cede the lead to his teammate if he was not seven seconds ahead while running first and second. I agree entirely with your analysis of Rob Smedley’s comment – ‘keep this up and you can win’. In this comment, “this” had a very specific meaning which obviously informed their decision later in the race.

    1. Damian Johnson says:

      That’s history! A FIA law was introduced in 2002. No team orders or at least don’t do it so blatantly that everyone knows what you are doing. Ferrari were caught with their hads in the cookie jar and so they should be punished or are they so special that they are above FIA?

      1. Galapago555 says:

        But they have already been penalised, or did I see a different race? They have had a 100,000 USD fine, haven’t they?

      2. Damian Johnson says:

        They have not been punished sufficiently according to the race stewards. They can only impose a mximum fine of $100,000. That’s why they have received this fine and also been referred to the WMSC by the racing stewards where a more appropriate punishent can be applied for rule breaking. In any case, $100,000 is a trivial sum for an F1 team.

      3. nmphotog says:

        This is so baffling. How many times have we heard in the past few years, “so and so is faster, let them have a go…” on the radio and a teammate gets a free position a couple corners later?

        Does nobody remember Lewis passing Kovy in Germany? Raikkonen moving over for Massa in Brazil? Massa moving over for Raikkonen?

        There are people seeing “red” here. Now everybody is a huge Massa fan? The guy who punted Hamilton out in Japan in 2008 and was a villain?

        The entire rule is a total farce. If the FIA has any smarts, they will find common ground with teams and create a sensible mechanism for this sort of thing and take it out of the gossip columns of hypocrisy.

      4. Leo says:

        Yeah thats like 10 bucks to Ferrari! It should have been 1 million euros!!!

      5. Adauto says:

        The fastest driver always wins in rally racing. In Formula 1, if you want to win, sometimes you have to learn how to overtake and take some risks.

        That’s F1 racing.

      6. Brandon says:

        No u can just get your teammate to pull over apparently

  2. Gilles says:

    Conclusion: you cannot artificially create the parameters for an exciting race – QED.
    From the above, another suggestion then: why don’t all the tracks copy the asphalt specs from the Montreal track, to make sure tires degrade enough ?

    1. JJ says:

      I’m certainly not an asphalt expert – but I’m pretty sure that the abrasive surface is largly due to the temperature extremes in Montreal (-20 degree winters) and also because the track is only used once a year.

      Factors that aren’t able to be copied – unfortunately.

      1. monktonnik says:

        Not without some serious air con! :)

    2. JezW says:

      Alternatively, make tyres more marginal so more frequent pitstop strategy is necessary (ie. 2+ a race) to remain competetive over race distance than simply one stopping.
      Slightly generalising, but overall with this years mostly one stop strategies – the race does lose it’s exitement after the last car has pitted…
      (Either that or a random sprinkler system… joke… almost)

      1. Galapago555 says:

        Probably a good point. Or, more simple, going back to last year and allowing refuelling during the race.

    3. Darren says:

      Or you just tell the tire manufacturer the super soft has to be grippier and therefore wear out quicker, and the hard tyre harder and put the medium and soft somwhere in the middle.

      Or get goodyear back to make the compounds they did 20 years ago. Did they not used to have about 5 different compunds and you were free to use which ever ones you wanted? You could even mix the sets if you wanted, i.e. soft on the front hard on the back.

      Would it not be better to let the teams use which ever tyre they want and not have the use both compunds in the race rule? Have some teams charging around on softs making a couple of stops and some on hards nursing them to the finish.

      I suppose this leads back to the overtaking problem and the fact track position rules over speed. This kind of strategy used to work in the good old days, but i suppose that was because of two facts. 1. overtaking was easier, 2. a hell of a lot of cars used to retire, if you were in a half decent car and finished the race you were pretty much guarenteed decent points.

      can we not run to 1987 specs….. ;)

      1. Jez W says:

        And 3rdly with no pit lane speed limits back in 1987 the time spent going in/out the pit lane took much less time therefore less of a ‘hit’ piting that extra time (of course we cannot go back to that)

  3. AlexD says:

    Absolutely great article, really interesting to read. I think it is becoming more interesting to read this blog rather then to watch races:-)

    1. Lucian says:

      I would also add it’s extremely interesting reading some of the suggestions in the comments. After the monaco overtake-on-green incident between Schumacher and Alonso there has been a lot of talk in the comments section about banning pit-to-car radio. Others have suggested the only way to enforce the ban on team orders is to take away radio. It would also put an end to pit wall engineers doing the driving instead of the drivers themselves, as we have seen with Massa and Smedley and also others.

      Does anyone see a really important (eg safety related maybe) argument for keeping pit-to-car radio? I don’t.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        Fully agree with you, mate. The point is that, anyway, team orders could be delivered before the race (e.g. if the other driver is less that 1.5 sec behind you after lap X, then you have to yield… They may be very limited as well, and also we will have real drivers, not this kind of robots doing what they are told to do by their engineers.

      2. Trent says:

        Exactly- keeping the ban on team orders will not prevent them happening, it will just make them be delivered in ever more crafty ways.

        I bet right now Ferrari are working out how they can achieve the same outcome, by pre-planning before the race and not delivering a radio message DURING the race.

      3. Richard Mee says:

        But even if teams did make agreements behind closed doors prior to the race, how will the driver in front know the time gap without being told… and why would he ever make the call to move over without instruction?

        I personally think banning radio transmissions from pit to driver is an excellent next step.

        Nothing to stop Charlie Whiting keeping an open line to the drivers to warn of safety issues.

        Where’s the problem?

  4. Francisco says:

    James,
    That was exactly my point when I commented in other post.

    I think it is fair within the same team to have a race based on time rather than “do a RebBull”.

    You are the man with inside information , my question is very simple, was this the case in Ferrari last weekend or we are trying to have a best guess?

  5. Alan Dove says:

    I sometimes wonder James if the teams would rather have a time trial event rather than a race event! :)

    1. Formula Zero says:

      They sort of do already without rewarding any points, ‘qualifying.’

    2. Jez Playense says:

      If it means a win, all the teams will do anything!

  6. KidrA says:

    Yes, we all saw Alonso taking it easy few laps to increase the cap to Massa and then again going quick and catching Massa, showing that at that point of the race he was quicker but does this give a right to team orders at that point of the season, I don’t think so.

    1. Paul Elliott says:

      I think they had every right at this stage in the championship, Ferrari are in a different position to McLaren and Red Bull, Alonso has a very small chance of taking the title, Massa has almost Zero chance the Red Bulls are to quick. They are there to win Titles its a team sport and sometimes they have to do team orders its just how it is. Now if Alonso and Massa was close in terms of points and general performance this year only then it would of been an outrage. My opion. Just a thought do you think there would of been this up roar if it was Alonso who gave up the lead for Massa?

      1. Galapago555 says:

        Probably no. Not to mention if the situation was the Team giving an extra lap during Q3 always to the same driver…

  7. Kedar says:

    Thanks for this James, Finally I get to read a non biased, intriguing opinion on what really happened. I was a bit disappointed the way this whole thing played out, but from a championship point of view this makes a lot of sense. I am now interested to see if a similar thing happens with the other teams, given 3 of them are still in the championship race

    1. Formula Zero says:

      Other teams aren’t as big of a risk takers as Ferrari. But any team will do the same if necessary. 1st person in the line would be Christian Horner & Helmut Marko. They would rather pit Webber 5 times for drinks break to Vettel the champion if possible. Jenson & Lewis are too close in terms of points for McLaren to do it, unless Ron Dennis becomes too involved.

    2. Lam says:

      They broke the rules, period.

      1. JF says:

        Indeed, like many other teams since 2002.

  8. Mark Edwards says:

    I just don’t accept this “in the best interest of the team” that keeps going round and also the use of examples in the past which are not comparable to last weekend!

    Let’s not forget Ferrari had a 1-2 and were never under serious pressure from Vettel, so the team had maximum points. Had Vettel been challenging them and Massa not able to challenge I don’t think that anyone would quibble about the decision to switch, but this isn’t about proving who’s faster, it’s about Alonso being Ferrari’s number 1.

    Could anyone seriously suggest that Fernando Alonso would have moved over if the situation had been reversed and Massa been quicker – no? This is just a way for Ferrari to try and screen what we all know anyway and journalists who don’t want to fall out with them going with it!

    1. Mile says:

      100% agreed with this.

    2. Galapago555 says:

      Ok, it is obvious that you deeply dislike Fernando. I don’t know the reason, but that’s it.

      Going back to the point: you say you “don’t accept this “in the best interest of the team””. Again your point of view. It seems that you do not share the opinion of Mr Montezemolo… by the way, he is only Ferrari’s CEO.

      And it is also obvious that Fernando would not have yielded to Massa – because he is the #1 driver (do you have any doubt???), because he has outscored Massa this year, and because Ferrari hi

      1. Galapago555 says:

        … because Ferrari hired him just to win the WDC, not to be following his slower team mate.

        (sorry, I pressed the wrong key!)

      2. Garra says:

        if fernando is so fantastic, why isnt he capable of passing massa on track?

      3. Mathew says:

        Galapago555 said “And it is also obvious that Fernando would not have yielded to Massa – because he is the #1 driver (do you have any doubt???)”

        But Fernando is not the number 1 driver in the team. Stefano Domenicalli said that Ferrari have no number 1 driver and that both drivers are equal. I can not believe that he would lie.

    3. Carl says:

      Could anyone seriously suggest that Fernando Alonso would have moved over if the situation had been reversed and Massa been quicker – no?

      why did you ask the question if you were just going to answer it for us?

      I believe that if the situation was reversed and Massa was much faster than Alonso and had the potential to win the championship, then Alonso would have been man enough to move over.

      1. Joe says:

        Ludicrous, Alonso is absolutely ruthless no chance he would ever sacrifice the points if positioned had been reversed

      2. matt nz says:

        Why ask the question and then answer it? It’s called a rhetorical question. It’s when then the answer is so blindingly obvious that everyone (Alonso Fan-boys excluded) knows that there is absolutely no way that Alonso would ever move over.

        In fact we know what Alonso does when he has a faster team mate. He throws his toys out of the cot. Accuses the team of favouring his team mate. Then quits the team and moves back to Renault.

      3. Carl says:

        Wasn’t it his “faster” teammate that threw the toys out of the pram first? taking Alsono’s slot in qualifying and breaking the agreement. Hence Alonso’s retaliation by blocking Hamilton and preventing him from setting a time.

      4. Emma says:

        Alonso fans do recognise that he wouldn’t move over, but they say that it is because of his supreme motivation and determination to the pursuit of driving excellence. Not because he is a selfish little child.

        In denial.

    4. Brace says:

      Massa fell within a second of Vettel’s reach.
      Where do you think Alonso would fit in that gap of 1 second if he stayed behind Massa?

    5. Lucian says:

      I think Ferrari no longer believe they can win the constructors’ championship, and the only shot they have left is for the drivers’ championship. Since Alonso was 30 or so points ahead of Massa in the championship at that point, having him win was in the best interest of the team by widening the gap between Alonso and the other championship frontrunners.

      As for Alonso not moving over, that’s just how his character is, most F1 alpha dogs wouldn’t have moved over at this point in the season unless their contracts specifically instructed them to. And it wouldn’t have made sense in the context of this year’s championship anyway.

      No offense to Massa, i think he’s top of the pack on a good day, but he’s never really been a team leader. His only chance at glory so far has been in a year when Kimi was way off form. He has far more experience at being the number two driver and doing “what’s best for the team”. In a year where he’s struggled every time on the hard tire, he can’t seriously be hoping to have a shot at the title.

    6. Chris R says:

      I have to agree. This 3 second gentlemans agreement is just a validation of the team orders, for the FIA, and media.

      I will really believe it when I hear “Massa is faster than you” said to Alonso during a race.

    7. Galapago555 says:

      >”and also the use of examples in the past which are not comparable to last weekend!”

      Don’t know why we can not compare what happened in 2008 (KOV yielding to HAM, obbeying team orders)… well, probably I DO know why:

      - in 2008, team orders were executed in a more subtle way (KOV behavied as a professional, not like MAS, whose childish way of yielding to ALO is compromising so much his employer;

      - in 2008, McLaren boss blatantly admitted that KOV had yielded to HAM, and this was accepted by all the media (especially in the UK) as an absolutely behaviour, plenty of team spirit and sportsmanship;

      And, the very important difference: in 2008, both the team and the driver were British. It is obvious that this is the big mistake from Ferrari and ALO, and they can not anyway change it, so I am affraid that we will have similar troubles any time that ALO dares to win a race again. It will be very interesting to see the rest of the WC, and how hi is treated as a vilian again and again by the unbiased British media ;-)

      1. Mathew says:

        But did McLaren tell Kovalainen to move over for Hamilton or did he decide to do so himself… that is the difference. Perhaps Kov knew that he was expected to do so but Ron Dennis did not come out and tell him to do so.

    8. yer says:

      agree, FA is the new no.1 in Ferrari because Santander wants it to be that way, Massa u can stop racing now, u will only be a barrichello

      1. drums says:

        Alonso has been faster than Massa all the season, in the .3-.6 sec range. Thus, if you hate Alonso and Santander, you should know better why.

    9. Nathan Graham says:

      Wouldn’t winning both championships, driver and constructor, be in the best interests of the team? Therefore giving the maximum points to the driver with the most points already would seem to be in the best interests of the team.

    10. AMAY says:

      Mark, I do not understand your point. The main interest of a team is, no doubt, to win the drivers championship. So Ferrari did what they did exactly “in the best interest of the team”. Legal or ilegal is other discussion. The constructors crown is always a secondary target for the teams.
      This article can explain the way that Ferrari has had to avoid conflicts about drivers in the track this year. Mclaren uses the “fuel economy calls” strategy in 2010 but remember 2008 in the same circuit and curve, Kovalainen was better actor than Massa. And Hamilton won the championship. From my point of view deserved. I like Hamilton.
      Red bull just crashed both cars (dangerous!!) when fighting for the lead in Turkey and after that change the strategy giving better car to the no.1 driver: in Silverstone the new front wing and in Germany Webber did not enjoy that half a second in Q3 to qualify better.
      We have to understand what has happened. What could have happened is something for fortune-tellers.

      1. TGv says:

        To AMAY RE: “The main interest of a team is, no doubt, to win the drivers championship. So Ferrari did what they did exactly “in the best interest of the team”. Legal or ilegal is other discussion. The constructors crown is always a secondary target for the teams”

        I was under the impression that teams like Ferrari, Mclaren, Renault,and previously Honda, BMW etc – “Constructed & SOLD” cars – based in part on technology developed in Formula One.

        I was NOT under the impression that they were in the business of winning Driver Championships so they could build better drivers and sell them in their business
        instead of the road cars we all know and love so much.

        Mr. M and the Maranllo designers might be virile – but i dont think they have managed to seed a world championship driver from scratch yet…regardless of how much trying they might be doing at home with the missus

        If Ferrari could already do this – dont you think they would have had Michael sticking it as hard to everything OFF the track as he was everyone ON it?

    11. Laurence H says:

      Your last paragraph is spot on!

    12. Nesto says:

      “In the the best interests of the team” doesn’t just mean the WCC points. They also have interests in obtaining the WDC, which sounds like an individual goal but that is where the glory is and the team benefits here as well. They kept the same WCC points but strengthened their bid in the WDC with Alonso getting maximum points as he is the front-runner for the team.

      As for pointing out that Alonso wouldn’t have moved over for Massa… well, doesn’t that confirm the team’s statement that it was Massa’s decision ??? Because, no matter what anyone says, it is HIS decision. I don’t see anyone else inside that car. Either way, someone wasn’t going to be happy but his job was not in jeopardy if he chose to take the win.

      At the beginning of the season, there was a feeling out period for the team and drivers. After Australia when Alonso was stuck behind and ended up protecting Massa from a hard charging Hamilton, Alonso began to stamp his authority with the pit lane maneuver in China and stating, “I will not be held up by my teammate” who shouldn’t be hindering the other in the first place. Why risk both drivers because the guy in front is holding the other up ? If a team can, they will. But it takes cooperation on the part of the driver or else nothing happens. They can’t FORCE him to cede position. Massa chose to blatantly slow down for all to see, I’m sure thats not part of the agreement. It’s probably more along the lines of “if he’s faster, don’t make it so hard for him to get by” or “don’t defend so viciously that you compromise your tires and race”. The point is, its not to make it look legit but that you don’t defend to the death as if your rival were trying to overtake you. Its your teammate for pete’s sake!!

      Alonso wouldn’t have done the same for Massa, correct?? Thats why it’s always the driver’s decision, not voluntarily but ultimately he is the one responsible.

    13. Trent says:

      Williams used to claim the constructors championship was more important than the drivers to them. I never understood that, and I think most other teams wouldn’t view it that way.

  9. Rungs says:

    Was a shame that the tyres held together so well. The race needed something to spice it up a bit – it was one of the dullest of the season, made worse by all the teams under-fueling their cars which meant the race was effectively over after half way.

  10. guy says:

    If you’re right james, massa could have either shown he was faster by pulling out a lead (which he sort of did but I assume this was too late) or then pushed alonso once they had swapped places and prove that he was then faster – would that then allow another swap back? If not the second placed ferrari will always have an advantage if he is quick?

  11. Racehound says:

    has to be entirely true of the team thinking behind the switch….after all, Fred was on fire in Germany from practice1….Massa did exactly the same as Hamilton in Monaco 07 and got exactly the same result….a stewards enquiry into team orders!!! love these insights James. #:)

    1. Carl says:

      Who is Fred?

      Fernando is the Spanish equivalent of Ferdinand. Which driver is called Fred?

      1. Formula Zero says:

        Did you find out the asnwer? If so let me know too mate.

  12. JR says:

    Yes, but, but… who is faster can change throughout the race. Wasn’t it rather early for ‘team orders’ to come into play; both in the race and in the season?

    Handing a place to a team mate should be in the gift of the driver making the gesture, not an instruction from ‘the management’.

    We have a good rule that’s being deliberately flouted. The fact that some teams are better at conning the spectator than others does not make abuse of the rule OK. if we knew what each driver had written in his contract then that would make it more transparent. The problem with the current set-up is that it makes some drivers look macho, while other drivers look unfairly weak and second league.

    1. Formula Zero says:

      Well drivers can’t always tell where his team is or how he is doing unless the team let them know you know.

      1. JR says:

        I don’t have a problem with a driver being kept informed, so he can genuinely decide whether to let his team mate pass — as I say, that’s his gift to give — I do have a problem when the information he receives is code for, “let your team mate pass, or else”.

    2. Jez Playense says:

      When you spend 250million+ per year on your team, you can decide this…

  13. “…and if the driver who is following can prove that he can close up a gap then it shows that he is faster”

    They really are very clever, these F1 engineers. A stroke of pure genius.

    1. Formula Zero says:

      That’s why they don’t get paid by the hour I guess.

    2. monktonnik says:

      Yes, their perspicacity is the envy of us all.

      As far as this whole swopping team mates debarcle goes, I have just one more thing to add, and to quote Murray Walker:

      “Catching is one thing; passing is another”

      To my mind, anything other than a competitive overtake is a bit of a let down.

      1. John Gibson says:

        Given that the teams require their drivers not to crash into each other, team-mates tend to be very circumspect about attempting overtaing moves on one another. When was the last time we saw such a genuine overtaking move among teams toward the front end?

        In other words, the view that “well, Alonso should have just passed Massa” is naive in the extreme, and simply (and stubbornly) obscures reality throgh dogged, pointless pursuit of an ideal.

  14. Daniel Hoyes says:

    It was interesting that the 3 second gap to Alonso (3.5s at one point) was established AFTER Alonso had almost overtaken Massa on the hairpin. It was almost as if Alonso had voluntarily slowed and given the gap to Massa in 2-3 laps, only to then set about reducing it just to prove a point to the Ferrari management. It was the equivalent of when Alonso drove close the McLaren pitwall on the Indianapolis pit straights in 2007, and it was the same message he was sending out…

    1. rodrigo says:

      my thoughts exactly….

      now we know about the potential Ferrarri 3-second rule. But why 3 seconds? Why not 5 seconds? What is the likely speed difference to make passing very possible? Maybe teams want to know a driver has enough of an advantage to potentially make a pass stick, but don’t want to chance drivers crashing, so they make it easier to pass once the speed difference is demonstrated?

      Knowing that these team-rules are a possibility makes the entire Sunday event more understandable to fans like me.

    2. Kedar says:

      I was following Ferrari on twitter and they said clearly “Fernando saved the tyres and now is pushing to reduce the gap from Felipe” before the move actually happened (source: twitter.com/InsideFerrari)
      This shows that the Ferrari team wanted to give Felipe and Fernando enough time to establish who was quicker and then made the call guess this is as fair as taking away the wing from one of the cars and put it on the one which had a wing failure!

    3. Lam says:

      So he should pass him like a man than if he is faster…not whine like a girl on radio to let everyone let him pass.

      That is not a real champion in any way,

      1. drums says:

        This is ridiculous! In Alonso’s words. Like a girl? Preposterous, absurd. Alonso has not the right to speak. Not even two words.

    4. Jason C says:

      Definitely. It explains the “this is ridiculous” comment by Alonso, who must have expected to have already proven himself the faster and therefore Massa to move over. It also explains why immediately after this Alonso dropped back then decreased that gap again.

    5. "for sure" says:

      I don’t care if it was three seconds, three nano seconds or three weeks. Alonso wasn’t quick enough to gain the lead on merit. If F1 is about gift wrapping a win for the favoured son, it is about time we were paid to watch.

      1. Daniel Hoyes says:

        If no one thought that Alonso was enough to gain the lead on merit then I don’t think we’d all be as annoyed as this. We’d seen Alonso faster all weekend and everyone could feel a cracking race brewing up, which made it even worse when the order came.

        This is nothing like the Red Bull situation. Red Bull having one wing MEANT that they either had to favour one driver, or give the wing to neither which would disadvantage the team. This is like developing the car to one drivers tastes, or giving one driver newer parts. As long as teams let the drivers race and don’t directly manipulating the positions on the track, then this is within the rules.

      2. "for sure" says:

        As others have said, you can claim to be faster but overtaking is what counts. The winner is not the fastest driver when viewed in a limited specific context (otherwise F1 may as well be a time trial) but the one who finishes the race in front. To use a soccer analogy, a team may have 70% possesion, more shots on goal, more corners, more free kicks, be awarded more penalties, but still lose the game. Alonso couldn’t find the back of the net, he had to be gifted the win.

  15. Peter Freeman says:

    James I have to say that there is a difference between drivers swapping position on track to try get at least one car ahead of the opposition on track and swapping for one driver to come first over the other. The two to my mind are not the same at all, the first is done for the purposes of racing and competing, the second is done to aviod racing and competing with each other, this is not the spirit of F1.

    1. rodrigo says:

      sadly… it is in the spirit of the team

    2. AMAY says:

      I understand your point, but Alonso was trying to get at the championship, and that is even more motivating than getting at car ahead.
      If this theory of the 3 seconds gap is true, it is a fair rule (faster must lead), well known by the drivers (not an order) that avoids stupid crashes like Red Bull’s and soft messages from the wall asking to change the engine map to save fuel.

  16. Werewolf says:

    An interesting analysis of when Ferrari (and doubtless others) consider it is acceptable to choreograph a race. I would be the first to acknowledge uncritically that team orders have always been in F1 and that probably every successful championship campaign has employed them at some point; however, individuals’ actions have to be judged according to the sensibilities of their time.

    The current sensibility, supported by a written regulation, is that the type of team order issued by Ferrari, coded or otherwise, is both politically incorrect and illegal in F1. Whether that’s right or wrong is another debate.

    Modern rules aside, my personal view is that, at this point of the season, such an order was at the very least premature and was always going to be controversial. Were the extra points for Alonso worth the risk of disqualification from the race or a penalty that could have dropped him further back than second?

    At a time when Domenicali’s leadership was beginning to erase past perceptions and when team favouritism was already a hot topic following Red Bull’s actions at Silverstone, Ferrari’s management decisions must be questionable. It is all too easy to conclude that Ferrari still considers itself bigger than the sport.

    Lastly, whilst not being wholly opposed to team orders in certain circumstances, I have to say that rallying, sprints and hillclimbs are about being faster; F1 is about racing and overtaking.

    1. Jez Playense says:

      All these sports are about winning at all costs, especially F1.

    2. Shane says:

      In every rally race I have watched in the recent past, team orders play a significant role. Especially for Loeb. His pace in the early stages of a rally usually see him sweeping the course for slower drivers, which reduces his ability to win. Often his supporting cast will be allowed to run in front of him to do the sweeping so that in the latter stages of the race he can go flat out.

      That being said, maybe Ferrari’s order was a bit premature, but considering their dire position in the championship hunt I can’t disagree with their move.

  17. John O'Neill says:

    The gap closing idea is interesting.

    Not sure if I’m the only one who thought this (and maybe I missed something) but I was amazed at how Massa suddenly seemed to open a large lead on Alonso from nowhere during the race on Sunday. I commented on it at the time “how has Alonso ended up that far back?”

    Perhaps Alonso deliberately let the gap open, so that he could close it down again to justify being the faster of the two drivers?

    1. Emile says:

      I think that is what happened. It was 3.0, perfect. Then he came back at more than .2 per lap. the right thing to do IMHO was to get massa out of the way (where he has been all year)

    2. dimitris says:

      Or, it was simply the tyres performing at their maximium for Alonso but not for Massa at the particular point in the race. We all know about the performance curve of tyres. Massa could have still pulled away. How long does a team wait until it issues orders? (Mind you I am totally against team orders). Was it worth to Ferrari? The bad publicity, I wonder how their main sponsor views this, the demoralizing effects on Massa, which means they practically have no chance for the constructor’s championship, the fact they may lose points, the fact that they may not be able to use team orders when they would most need it later in the season, etc., just to push down everyone’s throat, and especialy to Massa, that Alonso is their no 1 driver? I certainly cannot see any other reason for the order at this particulat point in the season.

      1. Not a McLaren Fan says:

        Hello dimitris,

        I guess anyone who watches carefully at Alonso and Massa this season can see what is happpening. It is not a moment in the race, it is almost always, Massa is not performing well with hard tyres (nor is he faster with the softer ones, but with the hard ones the pace is significantly slower than Alonso’s) We saw smoke coming from ther tyres several times when his team-mate was chasing him. We saw the same in Australia, saw it again in China. Now it is not the moment for Ferrari to loose points just for saving the pride of Massa, if he is faster he must show. A team wins thanks to its drivers, not despite them.

        And if next year the roles change it will be Alonso’s time to do the same, though I don’t foresee it because he adapts easily to cars and tyres. Specially this very post by James Allen shows that the behaviour of Ferrari is not corresponding to this preference for Alonso, because if they had previously decided in his favour they would have made it in the pit stop, while in race they did exactly the same time (4,7 sec.). I watched the race carefully and it was clear for me what was happening when the gap grew up to 3 sec and then in a few laps it was gone. I don’t know if it was agreed previously or it was just Alonso giving a break to his tyres for a later attack with less weight, but what was happenign was apparent.

      2. dimitris says:

        It is reputed that Hakinnen and Coulthsrd had an agreement: we do not screw up the team by crashing into one another. Whoever turns first in the first corner stays ahead unless something dramatic happens. I have no great problem with that, or with one teammate helping the other in the last few races to win the championship if he has no mathematical possibility to win it himself. Sunday’s event substituted, however,mathematical possibility, which is acceptable in F1, with probability. A decision was made to make one of the drivers no 1 based on probability. But if the impossible is taken out of sport, if surprise and the unexpected, the desire of individuals to go beyond their limits, are not part of sport, then forgive me but I do not think we have a sport worth watching any more. Consider for a moment the following scenario. An F1 driver, who got almost killed last year, returns to F1. He has problems reaching his previous form. He slowly gets over psychological barriers, fights with his worst fears and nightmares, shrugs off criticism he is through, and suddenly he finds the courage to tame the monster inside him and surpasses his own limits in a race no on expected he could win. That what Massa did last Sunday. He then fights in every race, wins points, podiums, and with luck he could even win the championship. It makes no difference whether he wins or not. What should Ferrari have done? Decide in terms of probability models, like a shopkeeper does, and in the process destroy and demoralize a very good driver and humiliate a human being?

      3. Not a McLaren Fan says:

        Hello dimitris,

        I can not reply to you properly because of the reply nesting in the site. Just two things:

        1. I thik the decision was based more on risking the cars (fight between Massa and Alonso added to Vettel comming and cars with lost lap in a narrow circuit, this is enough for me!) than in mathematical possibilities of title.

        2. Massa taking the lead you can see it in a very epic way or in a more fact based way. He was slower than Fernando all weekend (more than 4 tenths in Q3 is a lot for professional drivers in normal conditions). He was 3rd and Vettel almost hits Alonso, so he can not progress. Then Massa is 1st. All the other facts are the same that during the rest of the year: slower than Alonso, problems with hard tyres. In F1 every detail counts, if he has problems and can’t take 100% of the car is normal he is not leading the team. Don’t see him surpassing his limits and so, but nobody knows that I guess

        I agree he is a very good driver and deserves better results but reality is tough

    3. Formula Zero says:

      Alonso made his best move on Massa at some point before Massa made up nearly a 4s gap. But Alonso got out of shape and was unable to take the inside line because of traffic. So Massa was able increase the gap by the time Alonso adjusted himself. At that point Rob Smedley told Massa as far as I remember from the radio conversation, ‘Filipe you have got 3s gap over Fernando. Keep it going. You can win this, common.’ But unfortunately Massa was incredibly uncomfortable with his tyres; he was out of shape in many corners, especially the final corner & turn 1 & didn’t manage to maintain the gap. So, there was nothing about justifying who was faster. Alonso was the fastest driver in the entire weekend. He set the highest number of fastest lap in the entire race as well. So, hate him or like him, it’s obvious who the fastest driver was.

    4. Andy W says:

      To me Massa pulled away because he was the quicker of the 2, and Alonso didn’t start to ‘close’ him down until Massa started to hit lots of back markers, or thats the impression I got watching the TV coverage.

    5. Carlos says:

      Aren’t downforce and engine cooling both significantly reduced when following another car closer than 2 seconds behind?

  18. Umar Ali Hayat says:

    James,

    Bridgestone or any other company would never want their tyres to degrade and they only way the montreal situation can re-appear is when the tyres are made in a way that they degrade quickly.

    Another Thing that can make for a good show and involve strategy as well is to get 3 tyre changes mandotary or atleast 2. I have no idea why that is soo difficult to implement.

    P.S Bridgestone would be mighty pissed after Montreal GP.

    1. Formula Zero says:

      Even with 2/3 tyre changes things won’t change much. All the teams will follow the same pattern. Now having the refueling strategy is different matter because teams will start & finish the race with different fuel strategies. Now, that will shake up the field and certainly make the show much better. The purpose of not having refueling was to reduce cost which has made the show pretty boring. Plus not having any in season test at all what so ever isn’t a good idea either.

      2010 Montreal is only Canadian Grad Prix in recent memory that didn’t involve a single safety car. That’s what made the race boring rather than the tyres. Again it’s because the new rule allows all top 10 teams to have no choice but the same strategy.

  19. Andy W says:

    Was Vettel actually catching Alonso and Massa at the time they swapped positions? From what I remember of the TV coverage the gaps between all 3 drivers were roughly stable at the time Rob got on the radio with the infamous message.

    1. Formula Zero says:

      Massa had the worst traffic issue throughout the race as well mate. And yes Vettel was quite threatening & Alonso was catching Massa as well (more or less 0.5s per lap before Rob Smedley made the call). If the points gap between Massa & Alonso were much lower (say 5-10) then the result would’ve been the same, only maybe the order would’ve changed.

      1. Andy W says:

        but hadn’t Massa and Alonso been navigating traffic that Vettel still had to deal with? I know the times between the 3 were fluctuating but they were still relative to each other (or that was my impression), and if Vettel was closing up quickly then how come the gap between him and Massa stayed relatively similar to the gap between Vettel and Alonso?

        I am also curious as to why Ferrari thought that Vettel would be a threat to Alonso even if he did catch him? I am sure that Alonso could have held him off far easier than Massa could have (especially a disheartened Massa who had been coerced into letting his team mate past).

      2. Formula Zero says:

        Well my explanation to this that Vettel was closing the gap because Alonso was unable to have clear air & got stuck behind Massa. The way Vettel was approaching The gap between Massa, Alonso & Vettel would’ve been around a one second. After Alonso was given the lead, he was able to pull away from both drivers. I do believe Massa was given a fair chance to win the race. His first stint was outstanding & that earned him the lead. But He couldn’t extend the gap or keep it around reasonable time which made the team interfear.

        By the way, it may sound funny, but it’s true; having Vettel charging fast is a risky business by all means. Ferrari could’ve ended up getting no points at all, because Vettel does anything to overtake. For Example, running into people more than the number of wins in his career.

      3. Andy W says:

        Vettel wasn’t closing up on Alonso the lap times published on F1fanatic show that to be the case, the only reason that Alonso was closing down Massa was because Massa was hitting the back markers first…. because he was in the lead.

        As to you assertion that Massa was given a ‘fair’ chance to win the race… you must be mentally retarded to think that, as he was given instruction to slow down and let his team mate past and thats why he didn’t win the race. Alonso had had the opportunity to overtake earlier in the race when Massa was obviously struggling to get his hard tires upto temp and find the balance of them and Alonso failed to capitalise.

        I can fully understand why Ferrari wanted their drivers to take the flag in the order they did, I agree that Alonso is the ‘better’ and ‘faster’ driver, but the reality is on that day Massa was the faster driver and the better driver, he took the lead from a great start and then fought off his team mate, until Rob Smedly was forced to threaten Massa’s puppies in a coded message to let his ‘quicker’ team mate past.

    2. Jonathan says:

      The gap between Alonso and Vettel was stable… Vettel was not threatening the Ferraris significantly. See F1Fanatic for analysis on this point.

      1. Andy W says:

        So what Rob was telling Massa was that because Alonso was ‘faster’ he should win the race, maybe they believe that because Alonso was faster all weekend (well up until the lights went green on Sunday and the race started) that he should win the race…

        In which case I assume they believe that Vettel should be leading the championship by a huge margin as he has most often set the pace in Free Practice and Qualifying… Maybe this is going to be their new strategy for cost cutting in F1, don’t bother to race on the Sunday because who ever was faster upto that point ‘should’ take the win. *FACE PALM*

  20. Alex T says:

    Let’s hope next year’s Pirelli tyres are of poorer quality than this years Bridgestones, that’s all I can say.

    The Bridgestone tyres are just too good, they add nothing to the show.

    I can understand why Bridgestone want to do this as it reflects well on their brand, but this is a sport and they should design their tyres to last no more than half a race tops before they lose all their grip (whilst remaining safe, obviously).

    Vettel did the whole race on the hard tyre at Silverstone, and was still setting fastest laps at the end of the race. How boring is that!

    1. Formula Zero says:

      Well reliable tyre may not be entertaining but consumers would rather purchase Bridgestone because they are so reliable based on their result in F1. The show this season is messed up because of the inadequate rule change, not the tyre. By the way, don’t worry Pirelli will make the show better because they are not even gonna last more than 25/30 laps unless they are able to gather some good datas in testing.

    2. Mikael says:

      In my view the Bridgestone tyres are not too good at all, they are just “safe”. With a tyre war they would be more on the edge and probably much “quicker” but fall away more rapid than todays tyres. The problem is to find that balance when you’re not pushing the development of the tyres as you would have with a tyre war.

      I’m not in favor of a tyre war only saying that a such would produce tyres more on the “edge”.

      1. Alex T says:

        They’ve got to make this a rule for next season – that tyres must be designed to drop off after 30 laps. Then the manufacturer would be forgiven for producing a product that deteriorates so quickly. Otherwise, don’t apply to F1!

        If you’d excuse the pun, BRIDGESTONE – GET A GRIP!

    3. Shane says:

      I would also like to see the FIA work to reduce the downforce on the cars tremendously. If the cars were more dependent on mechanical grip, the tires would get destroyed much quicker.

      Of course, I haven’t a clue as to how they should go about this. Remove the wings? No diffusers?

  21. Gord says:

    I think the FIA (or whoever promotes F1) needs to put more emphasis as “team” sport, and less emphasis on the “individual” drivers. That way, the fans will be more okay when teams do what Ferrari has done.

    1. Mrmr says:

      How many years and dollars of marketing spend would FOM have to invest to emphasize “team sport” in F1? Lots of both. This is the real issue IMO…no one remembers the Constructors title, it’s the Drivers title that is called “World Champion”. The CC in marketing terms is worth something like 10 percent of the DC and that is what the teams are really racing for — DC bragging rights to call yourself “World Champion”. FA is in the best position to bring is home to Ferrari and 7 points will matter at the end of the year.

    2. tharris19 says:

      No Way! Drivers drive, not the teams. Everyone has a favorite driver, not necessarily a favorite team.

  22. Formula Zero says:

    Nice article mate. Yep we are all focused on the Ferrari case for all the right reasons. However, there were certainly many more key decisions were made during the German Grand Prix that affected the results. For Red Bull, reliability has always been the problem. Otherwise they would be out of reach in the championship for sure. Still it was interesting to see them pitting Vettel so early. Not sure if it was necessary. The practice time showed that the soft tyres weren’t too bad to run for 20/25 laps. Certainly that was the key decision for Jenson Button to gain a place in the pit stop. And De La Rosa nearly finished the entire race on soft tyre anyway. So, maybe other big teams could’ve taken a bit more risks & run the soft tyres a bit longer. Massa certainly looked a lot happier in the soft compare to the hard tyres. Maybe Massa had trouble adjusting the hard tyres because he was mentored by Schumacher for a long time & he adopted the similar style. They are both not very comfortable with hard tyres it seems.

    Whatever the order was at the end of the race it certainly didn’t change the outcome. Ferrari was the hot favourite to finish 1/2 & they got it. If Massa was in the hunt to win the world championship, Ferrari would not have acted so foolishly. They would’ve done the same thing to Alonso if he was as far behind in the championship as Massa. The problem was the way they did it was very poor. Having only one pit stop in a normal race it is hard not to impose the team order not so publically. I mentioned 2007 Brazil race in my post German Grand Prix comments here. The biggest difference is of course the single pit stop. People like Horner & Gascoyne are taking this opportunity to hammer Ferrari. Well, all I can say to Horner’s comment is, ‘saying & doing is not the same thing mate’. Gascoyne is yet to prove himself as a worthy engineer in F1 too. He can say whatever he likes. The reality is $400m per year budget while he was in Toyota were wasted mainly because he didn’t use that money wisely.

    Anyway, as far as the key decisions in German Grand Prix goes were Ferrari making right decision at right time to make the entire weekend work according to their plan. I quoted Martin Brundle before & quoting again, ‘Ferrari winning the German Grand Prix is a good result for formula 1, not just for Ferrari.’

    1. JR says:

      Ferrari would still have been almost certain to have got a one two — even if they hadn’t broken the rules.

      So, I agree, it was good result for F1. It would have been an even better result if they hadn’t illegally manipulated the positions.

      1. Formula Zero says:

        Every team wants to win both championship. In this instance it was the right decision for them. As JA pointed out in the earlier article, ‘this is an opportunity to look at the rule book again.’ At least now Ferrari is in better position to win the driver’s title than it would’ve been if Massa won. That’s all it counts at the end of the season. People would be questioning if those 7 points cost Alonso the championship. The point gap between Alonso and Massa was too large even before the German Grand Prix with only 8 races to go. Another quote from Martin Brundle while answering Jonathon Legard, ‘I would’ve done exactly the same.’ Some people in F1 just don’t have the gutts to say it. Everybody would’ve done the same.

      2. "for sure" says:

        …Ferrari are in a better position right up to the point that the WMSC cancel their points from Germany. And if that doesn’t happen, and Alonso wins the WDC on the strength of the extra points, imagine how hollow the celebration will be.

      3. JR says:

        In that case the only logical business approach for any leading F1 team is to decide before the season starts which driver is their ‘lead driver’ with whom they will try to win the drivers’ championship. Their second driver should then be instructed to do his best to come as high as possible in each race, but in the event that his lead driver can be assisted — say by letting him overtake, or ‘accidentally’ running one one of his opponents off the track — he should do whatever is necessary.

        I said it on another thread and I’ll say it again; F1 is not a team sport, but if we are going to allow team rules then they should, at the very least, be totally transparent. We need to know before the start of each race under what basis each driver is lining up on the grid — to win, or to assist his lead driver. Anything else is not fair on spectators.

  23. Werewolf says:

    I recall posting after Montreal that tyres were only one of several factors contributing to that particular race. Hopefully, Hockenheim will help bury the myth that F1 can be spiced up by artificially manipulating compounds.

    Unless F1 is going to race on deliberately inferior tyres, something no manufacturer is going to be keen to supply, the FIA and FOTA have got to look much more closely at aerodynamics and track design.

    At F1 level, the former has no relevance to production cars and a reduction in its effectiveness, perhaps combined with an increase in power output, would not only make the cars more difficult to drive and hopefully more exciting to watch but should improve overtaking and, with more lateral and radial movement, of itself increase tyre attrition.

    1. Michael says:

      Good observations yes but its very hard to reduce the aerodynamics without taking away a key area of innovation that is still available in F1.

      Look at all the areas were teams speak of making large steps in performance and they are in the aerodynamics. There isn’t much room for innovation that allows large steps are the mechanical level.

      I don’t think we want all inferior compounds, but their must be a larger differential in compound performance.

  24. Adriano says:

    I think a tactical error was made in Webbers case. RB should have kept him out a little longer at least until he could rejoin the track without being caught up in traffic. As for team orders, it’s a difficult situation. The drivers are performing for a team, not just themselves. But on the other hand, I really felt for Massa who had to relinquish his position after a great start and drive. I don’t know how financial bonuses are allocated to drivers in regard to race wins or finish positions. But maybe drivers who are instructed to allow team mates to pass to take the glory of a win or extra points should be compensated with their team mates race salary…

  25. Bav says:

    Is motor racing about letting a faster driver through because lap times show he is faster?! What is the point in calling it motor racing! I’ve heard of this thing called overtaking, apparently it means to catchup and pass in a race.

    1. Lam says:

      Alonso fans don’t see it that way.

      To them racing means; everyone slow down and let Alonso pass when Alonso waves his arms in his cockpit like a lil kid.

      1. Dantton says:

        Good old Alonso bashing… typical.

      2. "for sure" says:

        …I don’t recall Alonso becoming a saint just yet. When he behaves as he does he gets criticised. Only a rabid Alonso fan could not be embarassed by his frequent tantrums.

      3. Dantton says:

        And what exactly he did wrong this time? Complained about being stuck behind the slower teammate?
        Does this make him responsible for Ferrari actions?
        I don´t think so… That was a team call.

    2. Dantton says:

      I almost agree with you, chap.

      Except that Fernando and Felipe race for the same team. There are higher stakes here. They couldn´t risk playing a Red Bull in Turkey (as Mclaren almost did at the very same race).
      Ferrari did the right thing, wich is maximise their chances in both championships.
      I really don´t get what the fuss is all about. In 2008 Mclaren did it in Germany, BMW did it in Canada, Ferrari did it in China. There´s more, in the Brazilian GP qualifying session, Kovalainen clearly lifted off so Hamilton would qualify in 5th spot (if the memory doesn´t fail me)… Why crucify Ferrari and the drivers?

    3. John Pugh says:

      Bav, I think you may have missed it. Let me explain overtaking. Overtaking does happen in F1. What you have to look out for is a driver missing three upshifts out of a corner due to a telepathic transmission from his engineer. The engineer shields the telepathic transmission so that the driver of the car behind does not really know what is happening. The driver of the car behind dutifully breezes past (only because that is what he is employed to do – you understand). The engineer tries not to burst into tears. The second driver in his best husky, emotional, concerned voice asks how the first driver is afterwards, not because he knows what has happened of course, but just because he is such a nice guy. The first driver (now second) tells the press that the whole thing was all his doing. This is to save the team’s blushes – because they are so self effacing. The team principal informs the press that that by this wonderful piece of motor racing the dreaded Hun coming out of the sun behind them has been thwarted – Simples!!!

  26. monktonnik says:

    Jenson is continuing to show his class in moving up the field after a better qualifying but disappointing first lap. If only he could qualify as consistently well as Hamilton I think he would by doing a lot better with his race craft.

    James, did you notice Webber overtake Button of track on the first lap. JB had braked to avoid Vettel and Webber seemed to jump left and fly past, in a very similar way to Raikkonen at Spa last year. Is there an unwritten rule that overtaking off track is allowed in the first lap, or if avoiding an incident?

    1. Shane says:

      That drives me nuts too! It happens all the time. I have been thinking that a mandatory stop & go for any off-track incident irregardless of the reason would solve this problem.

      1. monktonnik says:

        I can understand it at the start of the race from a safety point of view, and I guess you have to take a pragmatic view.

  27. Nando says:

    Alonso closed that gap so quickly because of being more fortunate with the traffic rather than being much quicker. The importance of the 3-second gap for Smedley was that with a gap that large Ferrari could never get away with team orders.

  28. Nik James says:

    It would be interesting if the positions had of been reversed (Massa was on the higher amount of points before the race and Alonso was on less albeit not mathematically out of contention whether, with Alonso leading the race trailed by Massa). Whether:
    a) Ferrari would have still made that call to swap the positions of the cars
    b) Alonso would have moved over anyway…

    Call me cynical but I cant help thinking that Alonso would never accept that type of call and I serously doubt whether Ferrari would make it. Cruelly it explains why Alons has two WDC’s to his name and Massa has none, nice guys don’t finish first in this sport.

    1. JR says:

      I agree. It’s called sportsmanship and it’s something some drivers and teams seem to have difficulty in understanding.

      Lewis Hamilton always says that he wants to win by overtaking all his opponents in a fair fight and he always feels rather disappointed if he makes the lead through other people falling off. That’s the attitude that makes people warm to him. Alonso it seems, like MSC before him, just wants to win and doesn’t care how.

  29. EM says:

    If only Ferarri had an ounce of PR sense running through their red veins at the moment.

    Imagine the scene that could have unfolded at Hockenheim on Sunday had the team had one iota of how they come across to the average Formula One fan…

    Rob Smedley on team radio: OK, so, Vettel is catching our one-two, Filipe we need you to push harder

    5 laps later

    RS: OK, so, Alonso is faster than you, Vettel is catching you both, let Alonso have a try at the front

    1 lap later after Alonso overtakes Massa

    RS: Good lad, well done. Now stick with him or Vettel will have you.

    Sure there would have been a discussion about team orders, but at least we’d all have seen WHY the decision was made. However Ferarri and they’re multi-million pound marketing machine wouldn’t have been called cheats, race-fixers, bad for sport, unfair, liars and all the other terms being heaped on them around the F1 globe.

    Alonso would not be called a bully, cheat, liar, duplicitous or all the other names that anyone other than his family seem to be hurling his way now.

    I hated what I saw on Sunday. I was waiting to see if Alonso could make it past Massa, he’s a stunning driver and takes no prisoners. I was denied that. Now if the scenario above was presented to me I would have understood, it’s racing and no team wants to be beaten by another team.

    As we saw with the Ferarri switches towards the end of the 07 and 08 two seasons the F1 public can take team orders when they’re open and don’t harm someone else’s chances.

    One theory I’ve seen developed is that Rob Smedley wanted it all out in the open as it was the worst coded message of all time and he’s a smart guy, he could have talked about saving fuel, that the tyres wouldn’t hold, that the oil needed cooling, but he didn’t.

    One more point after Alonso declaring in German ‘there are no team orders’ is anyone else like me less inclined to beleive his post Singapore comments of ‘I knew nothing’?

    One more point

    1. DK says:

      Last para, + 1 :)

    2. Thalasa says:

      So, why do you think Piquet Jr didn’t point at Alonso? Is it out of pure love?
      Piquet senior doesn’t look to me the friendliest of the guys out there.
      And, as I always say, Alonso didn’t need to know for the plan to go ahead.

      1. EM says:

        I had always given him the benefit of the doubt, you’re right he didn’t need to know, there’s no evidence he knew and no one involved claimed he knew.

        However it was so easy for him to downright deny team orders in Germany that it made me question whether Alonso was also lying when he denied any knowledge of the Singapore conspiracy.

        Perhaps he wasn’t implicated because he wasn’t the fish that was supposed to fry in the fall out from that scandal.

    3. "for sure" says:

      I never did believe it, and apparently nor does anyone on the pit lane.

    4. Rich C says:

      Agree about Smedley’s delivery of the orders.

  30. AmandaG says:

    There has been a lot of speculation on forums such as the Autosport BB and PF1 about this 3 second rule. At first I didn’t believe it then I re-watched laps 22-50 with it in mind that it could be what was going on and it did look like something was going on behind the scenes.

    I can understand why some teams would employ this tactic as it avoids collision. I also must admit that re-watching it with that in mind it actually made it quite interesting. The question there lies, how does that fit in with rule 39.1?

    1. Francisco says:

      It really makes sense.
      I was trying to understand why FA was 0.5 second behing FM and 2 laps later he was 3 seconds with no incidents of any kind (at least nothing was shown on TV).

    2. Jonathan says:

      “how does that fit in with rule 39.1?”

      Still team orders, still illegal.

  31. rodrigo says:

    ahhh, knowing there may have been a gentlemen’s agreement between team mates, such as the 3 second gap rule, puts the events of last Sunday in a different light. Thanks James for this insight into how teams work, greatly appreciated and now feel less upset at Ferrari and FA… still feel sorry for FM, but if he had agreed to such an agreement, internally, it was a fair win for FA from Ferrari’s perspective.

    But somehow I still want to see *racing*. I personally don’t think raw speed should determine the winner (the 3 second Ferrari rule). If that was the case, why not have drivers do 10 “qualifying laps” on the track by themselves and the driver with the fastest average wins. It wouldn’t be much fun to watch… not for me anyway.

    The teams and FIA certainly have to re-think the no-order rule for next season, to give strategy flexibility to teams, give drivers an honest chance at the WDC, and make racing exciting for the fans.

    1. Jonathan says:

      “Gentleman’s agreement”! Ha! Did you see Massa’s face afterwards?

      1. rodrigo says:

        And there is the problem… if an N-second rule exists, then Massa should not have a problem, but he did, the post races images tell it all… oo, maybe he should not have agreed to it?

        All that I am saying is if team have these internal rules, then drivers should respect them… but maybe the agreement was not to gift a win but to not aggressively block and cause an accident? Perhaps the way the pit-wall message was made as an *order* and without FA making many serious attempts to pass upset FM? I don’t think we know the internal working of the team and what happened behind the scenes to make judgement calls.

        But obviously something not quite right happened, the fans know it, the teams know, and the drivers know it, even if some try to justify the 1-2 swap, not all parties seemed to be in agreement to the team order to swap.

        As a fan, I want earned wins by passing and defending, not gifted, unless the leading driver has no chance of winning the WDC and wants to give up the win to a team mate.

        I do understand the team’s point of view… but the team should understand the drivers and the *fans* point of view with a desire for a fair honest *race*.

      2. Jonathan says:

        They may have come to an agreement after the problems in Australia, but I doubt Massa ever imagined they’d enforce it when he was leading a race!

  32. Michael P says:

    I still don’t understand why so many people are so annoyed with the Ferrari strategy of focusing on Alonso as he is 30+ points ahead of Massa.

    Who won the WDC in 2008. Did Heikki not let Hamilton pass him in the very same race in Germany? Did it make the victory hollow? Did it make the WDC title hollow? Were the same rules in place??? Did we hear the same uproar??? I didn’t think so.

    LESSON: The Shoe hurts when its on the other foot!!!

    1. jose arellano says:

      hahaha exactly

    2. adam says:

      Heikki was running fourth at the time and did not have the pace to win. Hamilton did and went on to win.
      Massa also had the pace to win and would have done so without outside manipulation. We know this because Vettel couldn’t overtake him and nor could Alonso.
      With a win worth 25 points the gap between Massa and Alonso was not as large as it at first appears. It therefore seems logical to conclude Ferrari are running a no.1 and no.2 driver strategy, despite Domenicali specifically saying they don’t !

      1. Michael P says:

        Ohhhh thanks for clearing that up… A driver is allowed to intentionally let his team mate pass you so long as it is not for the lead of the race. DOUBLE STANDARD if you ask me.

    3. Rafael L says:

      30 points ahead when a race win is 25 points. Conclusion: 30 points means much, much less this season than in previous ones.

      1. Michael P says:

        Problem for Massa is that Alonso is much faster and has been all year… out qualifying him by 1/2 a second or more at most tracks. When your team mate is that much quicker than you… 30pts is a mountain… even with the new point system!

      2. Rafael L says:

        Alonso is quicker, but he is not more reliable.

        Crashed in Qualifying, false starts, not to mention Massa continually has better starts than him.

        Racing is about the package as a whole. Not just being fast. Otherwise we’d have drivers do 10 qualifying laps and whoever has the fastest average can be declared the GP winner. That would be no fun.

    4. Jonathan says:

      Remember that 30 points under the new system is just over 10 points under the old system, i.e. a win and a points finish.

      Massa could still finish this season ahead of Alonso. If he does, his bosses will look like idiots.

      1. Formula Zero says:

        His bosses are already crucified by the majority of the media & the fans that love to just enjoy a fair race. Not to mention the gamblers.

        But if Massa does finish ahead of Alonso that will be good for everybody. Ferrari has put Alonso in the best possible position out of the two drivers to win the title. So Massa finishing ahead of Alonso is not going to put any question mark over the team. Then it will only Alonso to blame (keeping in mind many more things could go wrong in a race).

    5. johnpierre rivera says:

      here here!!!!!

    6. AP says:

      there is a word for this: hypocrisy!

  33. Cabby says:

    In the end, we the fans pay for the sport, nobody else. Many sports struggle to find sponsorships, because nobdoy is interestet in the sport, so whatever anybody inside F1 thinks about what is ok what is not, they should take notice, you included james, that most of the people watching F1 and being “involved” in that sport fell the Alonso pass was not ok, in the same way the Schumacher pass in 2002 was not ok, even though team orders were allowed then! Period! This is free market research for F1, no need for expensive forums oder questionaires!

    1. James Allen says:

      I take your second point but I don’t agree 100% with the first. Fans pay a lot in tickets etc, but the TV is free to air. Fans need to watch it to justify the spend by the TV network, but there is no outlay in most countries for fans to watch the TV.

      Manufacturers and sponsors pay a lot for the sport, not all their customers are F1 fans, so the fans aren’t paying even indirectly there. Companies do it because it enhances their brand.

      1. Rodrigo says:

        Wow, I did not expect such blindness regarding the audience importance from a journalist! Why do teams fight with FOM over TELEVISION RIGHTS MONEY??? Where does this money come from? Broadcasters only pay FOM the right to show races because they know they will have millions of fans watching their channel, and so they can sell advertising space.

        And F1 only “enhances the brands” because we, the stupid fans, watch the (free) TV and think: “Oh, look, its a Mercedes/Ferrari/Renault winning a race. That must be a hell of a good car.” “Oh, Bridgestone can make premium tyres.” “Look, Lewis is using a Vodafone!”…..

      2. James Allen says:

        You misunderstand – I was saying that the audience (the fan) is very important and should be listened to more. But I was pointing out that the fans don’t physically pay for everything.

      3. Cabby says:

        The cost of advertising and sponsoring is included in the price of the final product. If F

      4. Cabby says:

        The cost of advertising and sponsoring is included in the price of the final product. If F1 does not help sponsors to enhance their brand, it makes no sense for them to sponsor the sport or buy advertising space on TV, the BBC decide not broadcast it.

      5. Alan Dove says:

        James it’s the fans that watch the racing, free or otherwise, that provide the actual value for investment. Viewing figures for F1 races have a direct influence on whether a company invests in it or not. Also, when branding, you have to take into consideration what you associating yourself with.

        Also, talking about branding, the FIA are going out of their way making motor sport (under the FIA) more of a meritocracy. At the moment it is clear they are not happy about the lower formula being overly professional. but F1 isn’t immune to this line of thinking. Even if it isn’t entirely realistic within F1 framework I suspect the FIA will not be happy with what happened last weekend. It goes against what they’ve been working towards in recent years.

        The FIA are training to make motor racing more ‘accessible’ and that means changing people’s perceptions of motor sport from the ground upwards.

      6. James Allen says:

        I agree with you

      7. Jonathan says:

        Right, but the bottom line is that fans keep the sport going.

        Fans appalled by perceived underhand tactics = fewer viewers = less sponsorship and TV money.

      8. Mattw says:

        It is a simple matter of ‘Bums on seats’. Without people watching, there will be no TV companies paying for the coverage rights – and there will be no sponsors paying to have their name on the side of the car

      9. monktonnik says:

        Do you feel that Ferrari’s actions reflected the values of their sponsors or did anything to enhance their brand?

      10. James Allen says:

        It’s interesting how McLaren’s sponsors stuck with them during the espionage scandal of 2007 and the $100 million fine and then the Hamilton lie-gate scandal of 2009. There is a lot of emotion swirling around at the moment, but business leaders have to take an overview

      11. Bayan says:

        James,

        First of all, keep up the great work. Love your site.

        Regarding your comments above, I have to disagree with you. TV is not free in all countries (at least in the US and Canada). To watch F1 on TV, you need to pay for the channels that show the races. So fans (at least a portion of them) do pay for F1. And if you want to watch it online for “free”, then you need to pay for internet so there is a cost (albeit smaller) associated there as well.

        Regarding your second point, I “half agree” with you. I would think the manufacturers and sponsors want to enhance their brands using F1 so that those who watch F1 can buy their products/services. So fans are paying whenever they use products/services from one of these sponsors/manufactueres. If there were no fans (or no one watching F1), I don’t see manufactures or sponsors wanting to spend millions to enhance their brands.

      12. Rafael says:

        I agree with you 100% about fans, James. I’m no F1 insider, but I honestly think that fans are listened to or consulted too much with how F1 should be run. All these new gimmicky regulations popping up are an attempt to please the fans. Only for the fans to realize they don’t really like it.

        So many fans out there have been saying they’ll stop watching the sport bec. it is “scripted”/”manufactured”, but that’s never the case – Formula 1 seems to continually grow. Plus, fans never really put money into F1. If a circuit fails to generate grandstand attendance, they are dropped and another willing country takes their place. Simple. And people still watch it. Globally.

        Plus, it’s not like these “fans” would stop supporting the corporations who bankroll the teams, truth is the world has become increasingly reliant with their various products and services.

        I’ve been following this sport since I was a kid (since ’98), and I often don’t like what happens but still, that’s just the nature of F1 – politics, controversy and all. I’ve learned to live with it and even love it.

        So, fans out there… get off Ferrari’s back and stop being such an Alonso hater. Give the guy a break, he’s a double world champion. No one seems to be complaining about Fangio winning one of his titles that entailed Peter Collins voluntarily giving up his car. No one is saying, “Fangio should have said ‘no’!”

      13. James Allen says:

        I think F1 should listen more to the fans. My point here was in response to a statement that the fans pay for everything in F1, which I do not feel is true

      14. Midnight Toper says:

        I thought Nick Fry coined it quite well following Hockenheim.

        “The show is what generates the fans; the fans are what generates the sponsors, and the sponsors generate sponsorship which allows us to run the teams. So they are the customers at the end of the day, and we have got to put on a good show”.

        It’s chicken and egg, i’m afraid, we both need each other.

      15. JR says:

        If we substitute the word ‘consumer’ for the word ‘fan’ I think it all makes sense. Without the consumer buying cars/fuel/pay-per-view/energy drinks/mobile phones/whatever there would be no F1. Consumers, influenced by the image of F1(whether they’re fans or not), in the end pay for the whole shebang. It’s simple economics and what they think and say matters most.

    2. johnpierre rivera says:

      as fans, none of us want to be cheated, and to say ferrari cheated just misses the point. im not inplying that you are saying this, but that seems to be the overall sentiment, over the last 3/4 days. it is just not that simple. say you were in charge of a multi million dollar team and you were looking after all aspects of running this F1 team. the most important being the championships and this is your primary directive, in this case from Luca di Montezemolo or Fiat, then i would reason, at the end of the day (race), the job you have been hired to perform, is to win those championships. i doubt that you would jeopardize it by a possible mistake such as the two redbull divers made. fans or no fans, teams have a complex and difficult task of managing many parts of a race team, its politics and it’s actions on race weekend. it is not always about just one driver or just one race. whether we (the fans) like it or not, the TEAM made a decision that they thought was going to benefit then come novermber. put yourself in Stefano Domenicali shoes for a while, give this issue a thorough and comprehensive thought and then see if you have the same point of view. if you still feel disappointed by what ferrari has done, fair enough, not everyone is going to be happy 100% of the time in the cars, in the team, on the pit wall, in the stands, that is the same in all sports, (team orders are in every substitution in basketball, line change in hockey, pincher change in baseball, play calling in football (american). all done for the benefit of the team. if however, we as fans, take in to consideration what the teams have to do to ensure the results that the TEAM wants, then ferrari’s action are not as unsavory.

    3. Nesto says:

      The fans shouldn’t have much, if any, input into how the sport is run. Why? Because as they’ve shown, they are far too emotional. I’m passionate about this sport too and while I have ideas, I’m in no position to run it or tweak things.

      Certain regulations need work and frankly, I think they just need to be made less complex. The safety car issue, for example, is ridiculous and is easily rectified but its too damn confusing. It should not be a lottery IMO and no one should lose or gain position because of it.

      That is F1 for you tho, nothing is ever simple. Knee-jerk reactions, however, are not the answer in anything but thats what you get when you start to react and/or think like the general public. I’ve said it before, we are merely spectators in this grand sport but we are not financially invested and actively work in the sport so why should we have a say in anything?

      F1 always has drama and these last few years have been close, did we NEED a new points system that is essentially the same and ruins future comparisons and records ?? It’s because of the outrage and mindset of the fans that we have this idiotic team orders ban. If theres ever a barrier for teams, they will find a way around it.

  34. David Newsome says:

    I had a quick look and, this season, the Ferraris have competed in 58 pre-race sessions against one another (excluding those when only one car was running). Of these, the score is 51-7 in Alonso’s favour.

    In other words, Alonso has beaten Massa around 9 times out of 10. More worrying for Massa is pace; Alonso has routinely qualified half a second quicker than him: 0.7 seconds in Australia, 0.6 in Spain, 0.7 at Silverstone, 0.5 in Germany again.

    Alonso is clearly the number one even if this isn’t written in either man’s contract. The decision to move Massa out of the way was made with the benefit of ten races worth of data on which to form a judgment.

    Alonso is the only one of them likely to challenge for the Championship on the evidence leading up to Hockenheim.

      1. Lam says:

        Why do you keep supporting the breaking of F1 regulations?

        We all know Alonso is your fav but seriously, this bias makes this site go down the hill.

        Any un-biased commentator would say; they broke the rules, punish them properly, disqualify, period.

        The discussion about team orders being there etc, is not the issue. Issue is they broke the regulations and insulted the intelligence of the people by lying about it.

      2. James Allen says:

        I have said that, quite clearly, read Monday’s post. This article is looking into the mechanism by which they made the decision. I’m sorry if you are not bright enough to understand this fairly obvious point

      3. Formula Zero says:

        Because this is one of the incidents that should be looked at very carefully & be sorted out properly. Ferrari’s actions were the breach of regs. But that doesn’t mean that the regs are a bit flaud. This is the opportunity to change it accodringly.

    1. Francisco says:

      David, very well argued!
      I wonder if you have the data for LH vs JB.

      Cheers

      1. David Newsome says:

        McLaren (63 sessions)
        Hamilton: 44 Button: 19

        Mercedes (64 sessions)
        Rosberg: 47 Schumacher: 17

        Massa’s record relative to Alonso is worse than Schumacher’s relative to Rosberg.

      2. David Newsome says:

        Red Bull, interestingly (67 sessions):
        Vettel 43 Webber 24

        These include today’s morning running in Hungary, which puts Alonso up 1.

    2. Racyboy says:

      Good point,thanks.

      Still,it would have been nice to see him take Massa squarely on the track and earn the win.

    3. jose arellano says:

      +1

    4. The Kitchen Cynic says:

      If that’s the criteria then I can’t wait for the following radio exchange!

      “Ok, so. Nico is quicker than you. Please confirm you understand…”

    5. Rafael L says:

      Fernando Alonso may be a faster drive – but is he BETTER?

      FM has had much better starts this season than FA and frankly, is more reliable.

      Those 30 points that he is behind Alonso are mainly due to bad luck, not a lack of skill.

      1. Formula Zero says:

        Well his records say how good he is. The concept of who is better or worse is more linked to people’s sentiment rather than the records.

      2. "for sure" says:

        On that premise every other driver should defer to Schumacher, and allow him to win every race. You can argue to the death why Alonso should win, the simple reality is he coudn’t win when it came to the race itself.

      3. canuck says:

        Let’s look at facts.

        The result in the most recent poll of active F1 drivers: FA is considered as the best by his peers.
        Another fact: FA was quicker than Massa.

        Another point: It is not reasonable to complain about Ferrari breaking a rule that was broken so many times before, therefore establishing a precedent.

        Another point: While I read so many posts about the way Ferrari broke the “no team orders rule”, fans seem to expect that this rule is broken in a more tastefull, hidden way.
        This is a ridiculous argument.
        Fans want better quality of deception!

        The teams position makes sense; why risk burning engines, gearboxes, or crashing on a teammate?
        Yours is a very good article on the reasons why decisions are taken.

        I always enjoy your blog; keep up the good work.
        Cheers,

    6. Jonathan says:

      Ten races’ worth of data… and no respect for rules or sporting values.

    7. johnpierre rivera says:

      finally someone with some pure facts to support what is obvious. nice post.

      1. JR says:

        How do we know that on some of those 9 times out of ten Massa wasn’t asked to move out of the way? I suppose now the argument is that it’s ten times out of eleven!

        Some critical thinking has to go on here. I wonder, are some people a little sceptically challenged?

  35. Robert says:

    Whether it is technically right or wrong, the dubious morality of it all leads me to hope that Massa wins this week with a few cars between himself and Alonso. The question is, was the win worth it for what they have done to Massa. They have knee capped the poor blighter and every driver on the grid will have lost some of their respect for the guy.

    1. Lam says:

      There was a poll on a very popular F1 forum. I don’t know if I am allowed to link.

      72% lost respect for Massa after this, more than 3000 people voted. The other 28% were all die-hard Alonso fans obviously.

  36. Red5 says:

    Red Bull and Ferrari seem to be hogging the limelight so far this season. Too many feet and not enough mouths.

    Isn’t it about time McLaren were given a draconian penalty for clever and legitimate innovation?

    How established does a team have to become before incurring the wrath of FIA? With the exception of USF1 who never got out of the starting blocks, it looks to me like the longer a team has been racing the more likely they are to be on the end of hefty fine.

  37. richie675 says:

    Hi James,

    Quick question about the tyre strategies and challenge for next year: you say the Bridgestones are too close together to allow much difference unless in exceptional circumstances like at Montreal, are we to expect that Pirelli will create high degradation tyres or just tyres with greater differences? Will the same option/prime rule apply or could this be tweaked over winter?

    Fantastic insight as always and a really amazing website, been here everyday since launch and it’s simply brilliant. Can’t wait for the next article…

    1. James Allen says:

      That is the talk, but I’m not sure it’s in the interests of the teams or of Pirelli – after all F1 is about excellence, so why have mediocre tyres?

      BTW – Thanks for your invaluable support.

      1. Dan says:

        As there is a trade off between grip and durability, I think the public would understand the principle of a tire that was blisteringly fast for 10 laps, then dropped off, against one which is averagely paced but lasts the race.

        If there was a big step in grip (and by extension durability) between the tires, it may make differing strategies more prevalent.

  38. joesat78 says:

    Ban team orders – for all, despite teams suggesting that its improbable, etc. This is not a show or a drama or a cruise. This is a RACE, pinnacle of car racing. Any slightest hint that there was team orders – should be investigated and if proven, the team should be banned for 3 races.
    What part of my statement is hard to understand? Where am I wrong? Please counter

  39. Jasper says:

    Great insight as always James. I guess that 3 second rule might explain why Alonso suddenly dropped back so suddenly and then started pumping in FLs to get on Massa’s tail again. And it would also explain pyschologically how Alonso felt that he earned the win because he beat Massa on those pre-agreed terms rather than overtake Massa properly as we all would rather had seen.

  40. BillDay says:

    James,

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your objective and dispassionate treatment of this “team orders” episode. All the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth around this topic is really tiresome and not at all enlightening.

    In any sport, the creation of an unenforceable rule always results in bad behavior on the part of the competitors and hurt feelings for the fans.

    1. James Allen says:

      I agree 100% with your second paragraph

      1. BillDay says:

        But not the first?

      2. Formula Zero says:

        I can answer that for you mate. ‘NO’. Because the first paragraph shows either anger or disliking from an individual, not the entire matter as a whole or factual. So the answer is ‘NO’

  41. A lot of this undercover manouvering by the teams would not be necessary if we had, you know, cars that could actually overtake each other in a race…

  42. David says:

    I’m not sure I like this three second rule idea. It doesn’t take into account the driving skill at the start. Look at this example.

    At turkey, Webber spent the first half of the race defending against Hamilton and probably used some extra fuel and tyres doing so. Now Vettel has less than 3 seconds gap, so he has the right to pass for the win?

    If I was Webber and I knew this rule existed why not let Hamilton fly off into the distance, then you will only lose 3 points to your team mate instead of 7.

    Track position is track position.

    1. Formula Zero says:

      Vettel & Webber both are in strong position to win the title. Makes sense?

      1. David says:

        I see your point. I agree that Alonso was more points ahead and that this win now makes him a real title contender. Good for Ferrari and in a way good for fans, we now have McLaren, RedBull and Ferrari fighting it out.

        On the negative side, it means that when one team does this all teams have to do this if they want a real chance at winning the WDC.

  43. Carl says:

    The fix is to ban radio communication from the pit to the car.

    There isn’t really a need for it. In fact we have frequently heard Alonso to tell his race engineer not to talk to him.

    They would still have a pit board so would know when to pit, and information such as fuel mixtures could be given there.

    MotoGP banned radios a few years ago and hasn’t suffered for it.

    1. Formula Zero says:

      Disagree with banning radio communication. Already there’s very little room for strategies. Without radio communication it will be more boring.

      By the way, I still don’t understand how could anybody compare Moto GP with F1. They are different as ‘apple’ and ‘orange’. The only thing is common between them is ‘fruit’ (racing).

      1. "for sure" says:

        You are correct you cannot compare the two. In Moto GP they race.

  44. Glen says:

    “The experiment of the three step gap revealed that the four tyres in the Bridgestone range are too close together to make much of a difference. What made Montreal so enthralling was that both tyres were suffering from high degradation”

    I think two different tyre companies should be appointed next year. One company should make the soft and the other company make the hard tyres.

  45. Eric Idle says:

    Some team radio, or perhaps not:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zSg_2KRyl0

  46. richie675 says:

    No problem – thanks for the Fans’ Forum invitation :)

  47. Chris R says:

    To be perfectly honest, I think I dislike the dishonesty and blatant lies that the people involved had to come out with, rather than team orders.

    I admired Michael Schumacher for being perfectly blunt after, but of course he didnt have to tow the party line and lie.

    But he showed, that to win the Driver’s championship, the team is vital, sometimes being helped by the other driver.

    The only ones who should determine who is number 1, and number 2, are the drivers and the teams. I think they should get rid of the team orders ban.

  48. Bob says:

    I know tactics are, and will continue to be, of great fascination to anyone interested in F1. But seeing as so many comments on this blog are happy with overtaking deals, how about this … in the interests of reducing uneccessary competition why don’t teams do deals with each other so when say Hamilton catches Alonso, Alonso pulls over to let him pass under a McLaren-Ferrari deal? And maybe money could be involved (Bernie taking a slice of course). Teams could pay each other for uncontested overtaking rights – maybe even to the extent of getting a driver to slow down to allow another to get within the contracted ‘overtaking window’. Oh and let’s keep the deals secret for at least a couple of years so the fans still think there are real drivers in real cars contesting real races. Now, there’s a set of real F1 tactics for you fans of Machiavelli!!

  49. Daniel says:

    The real drama here is that overtaking is still too infrequent and a faster driver still needs team orders to overtake his slower teammate.

  50. Pete Doughty says:

    Its interesting that Massa is now saying he is still free to race and win – and in a similar situation, he would still regard himself as able to win!

    One possible way they could change the rule – which would be fair on one level – is the driver that has to yield, in order to enact the team order ’switch’, should do so by taking a ‘drive through’ pitstop.

    In this way, the team can make the switch – to enhance a number one drivers championship position – but at a potential cost to they`re constructors championship position.

    It would introduce an element of choice/strategy/risk to the team orders issue. It could also appease the other teams who are on the receiving end of team orders.

    You still have the problem of ascertaining when a switch takes place and proving it – but at least when its as obvious as at Hockenheim – there could be an established process, or the team suuffer a penalty (like overtaking off the track – if this happens the position should be given back immeadiatley).

    What do you think James Allen and others?

    1. James Allen says:

      That is a heavy penalty on the driver yielding. Makes them look even more 2nd rate

    2. "for sure" says:

      If you want to promote one car ahead of the other you withdraw the less favoured car. Easy.

  51. Flintster says:

    Lets all hope for another Ferrari 1-2 this weekend to get us back in the hunt….

  52. Frespeech says:

    Being faster than your teammate who is in front is one thing, passing is another.
    The facts are Ferrari would have picked up the same number of points as a team had they not stolen the race from us, the F1 fans.
    In my opinion the WMSC (FIA) should throw the book at Ferrari rather than do as throw within F1 want, i.e. remove the ban on team orders.
    F1 fans, the normal fans and not the likes of us who follow every little detail of F1 do not want to see races won like this and at the end of the day F1 would be a far better spectacle if races were won on the track as they should be.
    If other sports conducted themselves as F1 does they would be taken to court, either F1 wants to be considered a sport or it doesn’t.

    Whilst we’re at it let’s get rid of the stupid blue flags at the same time, Senna didn’t need them did he and neither, |I suspect would Hamilton, it would also show us who are those with true overtaking skills and those that don’t have it – Vettel maybe?

  53. Vinola says:

    JA~ I’m sure you’ve read this article by Brian Moore. I thought its a well reasoned and logical piece, and I happen to agree with his stance. What do you make of his arguments?
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/ferrari/7914828/Brian-Moore-Ferrari-apologists-have-left-Formula-Ones-credibility-in-a-sorry-state.html

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t thing he understands F1 as well as he needs to in order to make such heavy handed comments. Flitting from sport to sport looking for a fight is not what I consider to be good journalism

      1. "for sure" says:

        Well it didn’t strike me as ‘heavy handed’? Rather I suspect he has reflected what a large number of ordinary F1 fans feel. They want to see a race, not a rehearsed pantomine, with all the spokesmen lying through their teeth afterwards.

      2. the other rodrigo says:

        I sort of disagree. I don’t think he was off the mark from how most F1 fans feel… the regular fans, not the ones who know the insides and out of how F1 really operate, at the sporting and business level, the the regular guy who expect racing between drivers for the WDC and team strategy for the WCC.

        I don’t know enough about Moto GP to comment on that, but the comparison to Tour de France was fine, the point being that the teams are open about who they favor and why and how what their team strategy is likely to be, all of this clear to the regular fan of that sport.

        He may have written his opinion in an over confrontational manner, but if you read past the writing style to the substance, I think he is saying what a lot of forum posters have been saying, I took his piece as a voice of the masses, not a voice of the insider…

        but the fact that this particular win-gift has generated so much discussion says a lot about the fact that team orders should be adjusted, not eliminated I hope, but not be so vague and general as to hamstring a team’s strategy. Hopefully over the break when things cool down FIA and the teams will get together and think about it in a reasonable and fair manner… maybe I am hoping for too much :)

    2. Formula Zero says:

      Well he got your attention mate & a lot of people others that looking for attention. That’s what I make out of his crazy article. I wonder where he graduated from (or ever finished his course)

  54. Obster says:

    Perhaps an agreement that if you want to swap positions like Ferrari did-the yeilding driver must come into the pits to do it. Then you risk losing position-and constructor points for the team. The team should be penalized, and it needs to be points. Ferrari were penalized a fraction of the retail cost of ONE of their street cars.

  55. JoeAngersIII says:

    I can’t believe the attitude of F-1 and it’s insiders to continually to attempt to justify what is essentially race fixing. If the guy behind you is faster, regardless of whether he’s your team mate or not, it his JOB to find a way around you ON THE TRACK. Why is that such a hard concept for people to fathom. Isn’t that the whole point of racing!?

  56. Malcom says:

    James, I think its fair to say drivers and principals won’t always see eye to eye as far as team targets are concerned. No driver, as we have seen many times before, and quite recently at RBR, will take the number two driver title lying down. It seems to be a specific insult to them.

  57. shostak says:

    Congrats Mr. Allen for this article and for your behaviour in this Ferrari ‘scandal’. You are a true professional. I cant say the same of the most of your british colleagues.

  58. Sammy says:

    I think we forget to mention ‘the way’ Massa let Alonso pass.

    Why couldn’t he lose the lead in a ‘fake’ battle?

    If the 3 sec rule is a fact within the Ferrari team, than Massa should have given the lead to Alonso in a less obvious way.
    A good team player would do it like that.

    In my opinium very bad managed by Massa rather then Ferrari.

    1. Zobra Wambleska says:

      How many times have we heard this? Making the victim responsible for the crime. Pathetic.

      1. Sammy says:

        Ofcourse he is a victim of his own foolish behavior.
        He has to drive fast and listen to teamorders.

  59. joesat78 says:

    Summary
    1. Lead drivers: No, team orders can’t be banned as its not realistic. INFERENCE – I get a better shot at the title, even if I’m slower than my team mate in some races

    2. Second drivers: Hell yeah. Team orders should be banned. INFERENCE – It gives me hope that someday I can consistently beat my overestimated teammate

    3. Team principals: Banning team order is impossible. INFERENCE – Who cares about racing, as long as we make a good show-off and win at least one of the title… I’m good.

    4. Biased fans: Ban team orders… period. INFERENCE: As long as my idol driver (be it Hamilton, Alonso, Jenson), I enjoy F1.

    5. Racing Fans: Ban team orders man… I wanna see real racing action. All 24 racers should have a fair chance to prove themselves. As such, the performance difference between cars makes the race more boring. How could someone argue that as long as these guys “ACT” and make everyone believe that they aren’t NOT acting…would it make a worthy race… it makes them cheaters and it makes us fools… MAKE THIS INFERENCE YOURSELF

  60. chetz says:

    was just reading felipe massa s comments: i am not a number 2 driver.

    it just set me thinking. ferrari are looking good with their upgraded package. say they repeat their hockenheim pace performance. n again we r in the position where massa is leading alonso n alonso is “faster”.

    will ferrari do it two races in a row? i just hope we find the answer to this question…

  61. Damian Johnson says:

    James,

    Have you thought about replacing Luca as Ferrari’s press officer?

    1. James Allen says:

      He does a good job in very tough circumstances. I’m not banging a drum for Ferrari, merely taking a balanced view here

      1. johnpierre rivera says:

        hey james

        i (and i am sure everyone feels the same) really appreciate this blog and the forum in which we can all have a say. F1 is such a crazy animal and we are all so over top about it and to be able to post agreements and dis-agreements with each other and with you is really one of the best parts of loving F1 in the internet era. thanks for all of your dispassionate views and insight. despite many contributors being cranky with you and some of your views, you still manage to stay on point and not take anything personally. i know this site must take a large portion of your time so thanks for letting us be a little close to F1. i read many blogs, but only really reply on this one b/c of the way you handle the really controversial and provocative issues and talking points. it would be cliche to say keep up the good work, so, keep up the great work.

      2. Damian Johnson says:

        James,

        Where is the balanced view after you have tried to see the world through the lens of Ferrari to justifty their actions? Why not comment more fully on the counter arguments?

        1. Massa still had a mathematical possibility of winning the WDC.

        2. Massa could easily have defended his lead against Alonso and won the German GP.

        3. There was no evidence that Vettel was catching Alonso.

        4. No doubt Ferrari put the points you raised to the racing stewards but they still took the view that Ferrari were imposing team orders.

        5. There is a constructors title for Ferrari and they would have received maximum points so why try to manipulate the WDC and spoil Massa’s chance to win it.

        6.Why should Ferrari tactics manipulate the drivers championship which can adversely affect the opportunity for drivers in other teams where there are no team orders?

        It’s obvious that those who are congratulating you on your article are Ferrari supporters!

      3. Flintster says:

        Seriously get over it. Alonso is Ferrari’s best chance for the title…!

        They did the right thing, just didn’t go about it the right way!

        Yes I am a Ferrari fan. Long may the 1-2′s continue!

      4. Damian Johnson says:

        Flinster,

        So it is a win at any cost, even if that involves cheating? It’s agianst FIA rules! Why is that so difficult for some people to understand.

  62. Lilia says:

    Let’s make it a rally then. What does it matter if Alonso was faster or not. Is not like they had another ten cars to past and Alonso had to go threw because he could overtake them and Massa couldn’t.
    They where alone. Massa only had a GP win in-frond him.

  63. Brian Kiloh says:

    James,
    It is interesting to hear some of the other drivers come out in favour of team orders and stating that Alonso deserved to win the German GP but none of them seem prepared to state if they would have done the same thing as Massa and let their team-mate past for a victory…
    We now have Massa insisting he isn’t a no.2 driver and will have the chance to win this weekend – what if Alonso is behind him in second place with one lap to go? Why would this be any different to last weekend?
    Teams are trying to have it both ways – if there are team orders then there must be a clear driver hierarchy, to pretend anything else is just more deception…

  64. rmf says:

    “It seems that there was an agreement in place about the size of lead and a mechanism for showing who is faster, as a basis for Ferrari to make a decision.”

    The agreement itself was not kept secret apparently, as Marc Gene told a few minutes before the start of the race that Ferrari’s plans were that the driver who emerged first from turn 1 would have the protection of the team unless he was clearly slower.

    My understanding is that, later in the race, Fernando could have asked for the ‘time-trial’ three times until the previous agreement was conceded by Massa’s team. My guess is that it would be only logical for the race engineer of the leading driver to choose at which time in the race the agreement is put in place, without compromising its own race. If later he has to communicate that the output was contrary to his driver, we could somehow understand the ‘sorry’ part of the message.
    Terribly worded if that was the case, as everybody understood otherwise.

  65. rmf says:

    As an aside, if true that such an agreement is in place, in the next GP the faster Ferrari driver could be either Alonso or Massa. Is that the reason why, although Massa did let Fernando through, he does not see himself as the second driver for the next races?

  66. Mhndr says:

    I just feel this whole thing has been exaggerated way too much. Ferrari did what they had to do on a championship point of view and although I am not a huge Alonso fan, anyone would agree that only Alonso has the realistic chance of winning this year championship. Yes, it is cruel to not have let Massa win on his 1 year anniversary from the accident last year but we all know what Ferrari as a team have been going through over the past 2 or 3 grand prix’s. They saw an opportunity that would put one of their drivers back in contention and they did. And I am utmost sure that all of this media bashing that is going on is all from Britain. Where were they back in 2008 when Kovalinen was asked to let Hamilton let by. When it favours a British driver they would talk nothing and now when it is Ferrari they are all over them. Its a known fact that Ferarri are prone to criticism and media bashing over the years. Anyway, I happened to look at couple of experts comments Eddie Jordan, Martin Brundle, Mark Webber, Robert Kubica, Ross Brawn and Bernie Ecclestone. They all seem to agree that a team has absolute right to decide on which of their drivers should win which would put them in a better place. For god’s sake, it is a team sport. If there is an individual who is self obsessed, he should not be in Formula 1 at the first place. Be a Roger Federer or Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. Its an individuals sport not so with Formula 1.

  67. StefMeister says:

    On Tyres.

    Im actually glad the tyres held up at Hockenheim, I hate the idea of trying to intentionally make tyres that wear, grain & fall apart.

    What we saw at Montreal was down to the track surface (Due to the harsh winters they have there) & its been a problem with a varierty of tyre compounds & manufacturer’s at that track for years.

    I stick by something I’ve said in the past that there should be 3 compounds avaliable (Soft/Medium/Hard) with teams able to run whichever compound they want with no mandatory pit stops.

    The softest compound should have great speed but wear faster, the medium should have medium speed & medium wear & the hardest slower speed but be capable of lasting a full race.

    This is what Pirelli/FIA/FOTA need to be looking at, Sometimes the best way forward is to take a step backwards & in my opinion they should do this with tyres.

    The suggestion above was what we had Pre-94 & then we often saw better racing & intresting tyre strategies where some would pit to change tyres & others would go the full distance.

    A lot of people here seem to think mandatory stops will create better racing & varied strategies. Many series have tried this & i’ve yet to see mandatory stops improve the racing & 90% of the time everyone picks similar strategies anyway.

  68. CB says:

    Anyone who believes in this 3 second rule also believes in Santa Claus.

  69. Arcturis says:

    This wont do at all

    Alonso may well have been quicker in ceding and then making up a 3 sec gap to Massa- but we dont know what fuel use strategies both Massa and Alonso were on at the time. Alsonso might have been quicker for a shortwhile then would have to slow down to conserve fuel. Massa seemed to have no trouble keeping up with Alonso to the end

    It may well be that Alonso was quicker and there is one surefire way to tell i.e. pass Massa legitimately and win the race.

    Besides which being the “best of the best” is not just about speed is it – is it?

    1. rmf says:

      Arcturis,

      the fuel strategy was actually the same for both drivers: tank filled till the end of the race. The point under discussion has nothing to do with Alonso being lighter, as both him and Massa needed and could finish the race.

      For me, the full verdict is completely different depending on whether the agreement was in place. As different as using fair play or not. The agreement may be smart, silly, not proper of real men, whatever. The real question for me is whether the conditions for Massa and Alonso were the same or not. As simple as that.

  70. drums says:

    “The agreement itself was not kept secret apparently, as Marc Gene told a few minutes before the start of the race that Ferrari’s plans were that the driver who emerged first from turn 1 would have the protection of the team unless he was clearly slower.”
    I also heard Gené saying that. Massa’s engineer words should be then put in this context. Even if reluctanctly said. And yes, as Massa has said after, it was Massa’s decission in the end.

  71. greg says:

    James,
    Thank you for the clarification. I was wondering why Alonso gave up trying to pass so easily when he clearly had the pace and your “3 second gap” explanation makes perfect sense.
    Unfortunately, the FIA under Mosley created short sighted rules without any substantive way for teams to make way for the faster driver, hence, they had to develop their own guidelines. Time for a rethink Mr.Todt!

  72. B.Ware says:

    James,

    I have just read Massa’s Hungarian GP press conference answer to whether he was now Ferrari’s #2 – he is not a number two driver and would quit racing before he would accept that position.

    Is it so hard to believe that it really was his decision to cede the German race to his team mate for the good of the team?

    I have always admired Felipe for his honesty and humility, if not necessarily his all around driving talent. And it struck a chord when he replied directly after the race that it was his decision. I admit that it’s near impossible to get the full measure of a situation while watching a broadcast from thousands of miles away. You were there in person and I would be interested in your personal take on this aspect.

    Although I was just a lad when they took place, I am still deeply moved when I read the accounts of drivers going out of their way to help their team mates or other drivers – even when they still had a chance to win the Title! Men like Collins, Moss, & Villeneuve, to name but a few, were true gentlemen who considered their word above all. They knew that becoming World Champion by sacrificing their honesty would be a hollow victory at best – a virtue many of today’s drivers will never have.

    I suspect that the various scenarios were discussed before the German race and while I’m sure that Massa wanted to win, he chose to be true to his word no matter the personal sacrifice – or whatever names the self-righteous press would attach to him.

    I am convinced that the ultimate call was his. Massa did, in fact, make the decision to let Alonso through – just as he said he would if the situation arose.

  73. BobF1 says:

    Allowing team orders is allowing contrived racing. It lowers F1 down towards the NASCAR level. What’s next, the Lucky Dog, or Green, White, Checker? How about resetting the points at an arbitrary point in the season. Imagine! The Chase for the WDC!

  74. Dougie Smythe says:

    Winning an F1 race is just not about having the faster or fastest car. It’s also about having the talent to do successfully overtake the car in front of you. It certainly isn’t about whinging to the pits and getting someone else to order your teamate who is in front to move aside.

    If Ferrari or any other team thinks that getting their “no. 1″ driver to win a race with the help of team orders in the middle of a race is fair, then they should be quitting F1 and just make roadcars. That way they can’t take the fans and supporters and especially the spectators for a ride (excuse the pun :-)

    1. drums says:

      “It certainly isn’t about whinging to the pits and getting someone else to order your teamate who is in front to move aside.”

      No, this is not nor wasn’t. The point was Ferrari Team Racing remembering Massa what the pre-race agreement was and asking him to fullfill it.

      1. "for sure" says:

        Well let’s hope that this agreement is fully disclosed to the WMSC. They then will have no choice but to disqualify Ferrari for breaching the rules.

      2. drums says:

        As McLaren and others should be. Fair enough then.

  75. Andy Will says:

    Totally agree with your comments James and this could help clarify FA’s comments of ‘this is ridiculous’ over the radio. He was already on FM’s tail and proving he was quickest, but struggling to overtake. If team strategy on deciding who was quickest was already made, then FA may have been asking why he wasn’t allowed to get past. This would mean he is legitimately asking why orders were not being followed rather than TV making him look petulant, which they seem to delight in.

  76. Arctuis says:

    Thanks rmf

    the thing with the the fuel is the rate of use.

    Both cars have to adopt” fuel saving” speeds sometime in the race as neither have enough fuel to race at top speed the whole race.

    Comparing 2 drivers relative speeds at one point in the race means you have to know also whether they are currently slow because they are conserving fuel – or are just slow, have already done their conserving fuel or will have to in the future slow down to conserve fuel. We dont know where either Massa or Alonso was at the time of the ” incident”. Massa could have been slower because he is slower or because Alonso was choosing to run top speed for a short time to demonstrate an apparent nut misleading advantage.

    My argument is that it doesn’t matter if the 2 drivers are allowed to race. It matters greatly howver if one driver is preferred because at one point in the race he is considered “faster”.

    Personally I think Massa should have taken the consequences of not allowing Alonso to pass. Alonso should learn to overtake and Ferrari need to remember this is motor racing not team racing.

  77. Neil says:

    We would not be discussing this so much if both drivers had answered the press conference questions with ‘we had a gentlemans agreement’, which is obviously the case.

    There are two reasons thatd didn’t happen:
    1. massa clearly didn’t believe fernando was quicker at 1st pass attempt
    2. Being s gentleman isn’t what it used to be

    having said that, if you view rob smedleys dialogue in that light, as an intimate, apoplogetic reality check. I had assumed it was poorly coded so everyone would know, but maybe it was that felipe wasn’t budging……

  78. Pilluli says:

    In my opinion, the only way to stop racing orders in F1 is to allow only 1 car for each team. All other measures (like the one being used right now) are just for show.

    my 2c,

    1. Pilluli says:

      Or to completely remove the driver championship and leave the constructor one only…

      1. Flintster says:

        Whats in it for the driver other than the fat pay check! wouldn’t happen….

  79. David Newsome says:

    On this teammate pre-race session (with both cars running) battle, some interesting summaries from the above:

    Alonso has finished 52-7 (/69) ahead of Massa

    Kubica has finised 52-6 (/68) ahead of Petrov

    This gives some indication of the measure of relative performance between the Ferrari drivers. Nobody would suggest Petrov is equal number one to Kubica on pace alone. Yet, at Ferrari…

    1. Mathew says:

      That’s because Petrov is a rookie and has never won a GP and did not come 2nd in the 2008 WDC.

      1. David Newsome says:

        That’s exactly the point. Massa’s performance relative to Alonso is not what you would expect from a GP winner and a Championship runner up.

  80. Josh M says:

    Is it true Massa was given the order THREE times? No wonder Rob was so SLOW AND CLEAR with him asking him to confirm that he understood:

    http://formula-one.speedtv.com/article/f1-ferrari-issued-felipe-massa-team-order-three-times-in-german-grand-prix/

  81. Livo says:

    Nice banner for this GP James. Thank you, aye!

  82. Pat says:

    At least we got to see a pass. Besides the brilliant start by Massa, and the stupid move by Seb, the race was a snoooooze. Thank you Ferrari for giving us something to talk about!

    1. Rodrigo says:

      Maybe you were asleep, but I was closely following the laptime battle between Massa and Alonso, and found that very exciting, as well as the question marks on wether Massa would do well with the hard tyre, and also the move Alonso tried just after the pitstop.

  83. gavin cameron says:

    James,
    When the council meets, I understand that the team can be punished and that the punishments can be wide ranging. However, I don’t see how Alonso can be punished. He neither gave the orders or carried them out and although I realise that he was the one that benefited, you cannot punish him for the actions of others. Or can you?

  84. Brian Kiloh says:

    James
    I see German magazine Auto Motor und Sport is reporting that Massa received the “Fernando is faster than you. Do you understand? Can you confirm?” message three times before he moved over. They also seem to suggest that Alonso allowed the 3.4s gap to Massa in front to happen as when warned about it by his engineer, he allegedly replied that this was no problem as he could quickly close the gap…

  85. Thomas in Australia says:

    Can’t help but think that the fans are being forgotten about here.

    I don’t mean the hardcore fans who read blogs, autosport etc, i mean the casual fans who make up the majority of the F1 audience.

    This incident, justified or not, would have turned off a lot of casual F1 fans, i’m sure of it.

    Removing all of the political and financial garbage, at the end of the day the race result was fixed.

  86. Stephan Roux says:

    There’s only on solution to the team orders issue, allow teams to ask drivers to “hold station” and disallow any driver who can still mathmatically win the championship from relinquishing his position at the bequest of the team.

    Therefore the team can avoid team mates running into each other and have 2 car support when one driver is eventually going for the championship.

    This would avoid scenes of drivers lifting to let team mates past until it makes total logical sense

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