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FIA turns the page as it realises team orders rule is unworkable
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FIA turns the page as it realises team orders rule is unworkable
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Sep 2010   |  11:31 pm GMT  |  207 comments

The full reasons behind the decision of the World Motor Sport Council in the case of Ferrari’s team orders in Germany has been published and it is clear that the governing body has turned a corner from the Max Mosley era.


Yesterday the WMSC decided to uphold the decision of the Hockenheim stewards, that Ferrari had broken Article 39c of the F1 sporting regulations banning team orders, but as it could not prove it on the balance of probabilities, it could not take any further action or press home a charge of bringing the sport into disrepute.

The team orders rule was brought in during the Mosley era, but was worded in such a way that teams were always likely to fall foul of it and moments of high theatre such as in Hockenheim and yesterday in Paris would ensue. Now the FIA under new president Jean Todt is looking to review and possibly remove this unworkable rule.

The intervention of the Williams and Sauber teams seems to have played a part. They wrote to the WMSC in support of Ferrari’s position.

“It is undeniable that the race result would have been different had the contentious instruction not been issued to Mr Felipe Massa,” said the notes today.

As we argued here on JA on F1, the rule was unworkable because there is a time and a place when team orders are appropriate and others where they are not and yet we have seen team orders in various forms over the years, albeit not as blatant as Germany this year.

Acknowledging this point the WMSC said, “There were many examples of what could have been said to be team orders in Formula 1 in recent years, and therefore there has been inconsistency in its application. Also its application to indirect team orders via messages where drivers raise no complaints is uncertain and difficult to detect and police. The Judging Body of the WMSC accepted that this may well have influenced Ferrari’s approach,” as it has for other teams who have acted similarly in the past.

Massa’s face and body language told you that he would have won the race had he not been told that “Fernando is faster than you”. He got the better start and was in front on merit.

He has paid a massive price for this, because not only is his motivation damaged, but his standing among fans, especially in his native Brazil has been hammered. This is a driver who less than two years ago showed dignity in defeat in Brazil, when Lewis Hamilton nicked the world title at the final corner and then 12 months ago showed immense courage when coming back from a terrifying accident to drive an F1 car again.

Yet now in the eyes of many fans he is a diminished figure, who has given up the fight with his team mate by accepting a team order. He is no longer a ‘racer’.

This comes in the same season when Mark Webber, notionally a number two driver at Red Bull has spat the dummy at any attempts by his team to subjugate him. When he had his front wing taken from him in Silverstone he went out and won the race anyway, yelling “Not bad for a number two driver!” as he took the chequered flag. Two weeks later Massa capitulated. The contrast is painful.

Possibly Massa’s contract is worded differently from Webber’s, in terms of acting in the interests of the team, but F1 in the eyes of the fans is about life on the limit.

“In the view of Ferrari, Mr Felipe Massa was not ordered to allow Mr Fernando Alonso to pass; rather he was given relevant information, based on which he decided, for the benefit of the team, to allow Mr Fernando Alonso to pass,” concluded the FIA.

It’s the way it is and there is no other way to look at it than it is massively painful for Massa. The supreme irony of this being that Massa was a protege of FIA president Jean Todt in his days as Ferrari boss and is still Nicolas Todt, Jean’s son’s, highest earning client.

The WMSC hearing and statement has highlighted the awfulness of his situation, “Mr Felipe Massa realised that the best interests of the team and the drivers’ safety were going to be served by allowing Mr Fernando Alonso to pass, and acted accordingly.”

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the documents from the hearing reveal that both drivers had their engines turned down, but Alonso had been allowed to turn his up, unbeknownst to Massa. “Alonso increased his engine speed without Mr Felipe Massa’s being informed. Mr Fernando Alonso was therefore benefiting from a definite performance advantage over Mr Felipe Massa in the moments preceding the contentious overtaking.”

Ferrari is looking for closure on this matter, but this statement means that this is not over, not by a long chalk.

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207 Comments
  1. Joe says:

    The long and short of it is that the FIA bungled this case, and Fernando Alonso and Ferrari got away with a blatant violation.

    As I wrote in my own blog yesterday, the FIA basically contradicted itself with the WSMC’s decision. How can fans, whether hardcore, casual, or merely prospective new fans, take the sport seriously when stuff like this happens?

    http://txtmstrjoeonsports.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/8-sept-2010-when-are-rules-not-rules/

    1. Brendan says:

      Stop the pretence that Team Orders is not both typical and confined to any one team. It’s not possible to prevent or police.

      1. Joe says:

        Pretense?

        I never even hinted that I don’t acknowledge that other teams don’t use team orders, either in my comment here or in my blog. I’m not naive; I know for a fact that other teams have used the same type and style of team orders that Ferrari were caught using (an outstanding example involves Fernando Alonso – him again! -, Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, and the Canadian GP from either 2005 or 2006.

        However, referencing such past incidents of similar conduct by other parties is, in my opinion, irrelevant to the case at hand as Ferrari was only required to answer for the case for which they were brought before the WSMC. All evidence that must be examined should be confined to that one case; all other incidents may be referenced, but since circumstances (key of which is the composition of the stewards panel; remember that the current panel, with an ex-GP driver playing a role in decision making, has only been in existence starting this year) are obviously now very different compared to how they used to be, only the case presently brought before the WSMC ought to have been considered.

        I’m not naive, good sir. It’s somewhat presumptuous and incorrect of you to believe that I think only Ferrari is guilty of such violations. The fact remains, however, that only Ferrari was “accused” and required a defense before the WSMC. They were caught, the stewards at the German GP found them guilty and punished them accordingly, and the WSMC effectively contradicted and invalidated the stewards’ findings.

        For me, it’s not any more complicated than that.

      2. John says:

        I don’t get your somewhat long-winded reply here. You are basically saying the WMSC failed to follow through on a rule, and that is fair. The other person simply said the rule is impossible to police (I share this opinion), but then you went on to declare that you are not simply citing Ferrari on this…yet your blog…which you link on here… ends with a simple summation that Ferrari escaped punishment as the ‘favorite son’ of the FIA.

        You must be an Alonso fan as well, citing him twice for ‘team orders’. Couldn’t find a better example to demonstrate your impartiality and in-depth knowledge of F1 history?

      3. mtb says:

        I am pretty sure that when alonso’s complained about fisichella at Montreal in 2005 he was told that if he was faster then he should overtake fisichella.

        JOHN

        Great synopsis!

      4. Brendan says:

        It’s more that I find it hard to understand why you rile against something ubiquitous .. yet not in all cases. The visibility of a crime is not a measure of its severity. The rule was not always honoured by any major team and only came into being originally to protect the commercial interests. It is a rule to pretend the sport is something that it simply is not.

      5. Matt Devenish says:

        *sigh* It is possible to prevent, it’s just that this sport takes forever and a day to wake up and realise these things.

      6. Stephen F says:

        100% correct Matt. If the FIA used the blatant evidence and a lot more common sense then situations like this one and Red Bulls flexing front wing would be punished appropriately without all this technically they didn’t say let him overtake or the car passes the load test nonsense. No wonder teams try to bend the rules as far as they can because 9 times out of 10 they’ll get away with it.

      7. Brian says:

        They could EASILY be prevented from happening, just get rid of the requirement of having to field a 2 car team!

      8. Zobra Wambleska says:

        There is another way to solve this problem. If the FIA wants F1 to be a “Team Sport” then do away with the drivers title and make it absolutely a sport for team honors. The drivers could then engage in tactics on track that would ensure maximum points for the team. Not sure we wouldn’t lose most of the fans we currently have, but maybe a new type of audience would appear. For those fans that love the strategic game this could be a sea change.

      9. Nando says:

        Easy way to solve it. Have separate races for the constructors and drivers championship.

    2. terryshep says:

      James, you speak of Felipe being ‘diminished’ by this. Wouldn’t it also be true that Fernando is also diminished and to a greater extent than Felipe? Couldn’t pass despite having more power at the time and demanded that Felipe be instructed to let him past?

      Double World Champ? We are constantly told that he is ‘the most complete driver on the grid’ and while I would dispute that, there’s no doubt he is very good indeed. Good enough, I would have thought, not to need to do this to his team mate, though he’s already demonstrated where he stands on that in previous races.

      We don’t know what his Ferrari contract really says about his status but nonetheless, you have to lose a bit of respect for him.

      1. Francisco Matos says:

        Perhaps you haven´t thought about orders given at the begining of the season from Ferrari to both driver:
        Don´t atack agresively between you we don’t want to have a “RED BULL”.
        and Alonso in Germany honored this rule as Felipe never do the same with Alonso.
        Don´t forget in Germany Alonso was side by side with Felipe TWICE, and this guy close doors very agressively. Perhaps Alonso should have said in Ferrari meetings Felipe next time I would not move my car so if we are both out it is up to you.
        The only driver Felipe is been hard this year is with his team mate, because he is NOT able to be hard and competitive with any more driver. Could it be because team directives at the begining of the season that only Alonso is honouring and Felipe is not?.

        In other matters, what I have seen in press conference today and questions and manneras of one english reporter (I don’t know name) is a shame. Why this reporter don´t question Lewis Title when he was involved in the same “Kovi, Lewis is FASTER THAN YOU in the same grand Prix 2 years ago?.

      2. Cliff says:

        Your memory appears to be selective. Let’s not forget that Massa got the jump on Alonso at the start, once that happened he held his position. It was up to Alonso (and the others)to get passed. Like many people have said, nearer the end of the season with a title at stake, I would be able to understand the decision, and that not to say that I agree with team orders. However, swapping drivers positions benefited Alonso…the team would still have scored maximum points.
        As for the Hamilton/Kovi orders in 2008 I would remind you that Hamilton WAS faster than Kovi and managed to pass both Massa & Nelson Piquet on the way to winning the race. If nothing else, we can say that the fans were treated to a race and not a procession as we saw in Germany this year.

      3. Steven says:

        Has Alonso passed any of the drivers in the top 3 teams this year? On the track? It seems everyone calls Alonso the “Most complete driver”, yet he cant beat his own teammate fairly, he needs his teammate’s engine turned down, ad even then he cant pass him. He spent the second half of the Austalian GP stuck behind Felipe because he couldnt pass him that time either, and he crashed out of Spa all by himself, while Massa had a quiet race and finished 4th. Maybe not good enough for a #1 driver.

      4. terryshep says:

        Francisco, neither Felipe nor Fernando have confided in me what Ferrari said to them at the beginning of the season, but I would say that it’s up to the overtaking driver to avoid an accident and if Felipe was in a position to ‘aggressively close doors’ on Fernando, then Fernando wasn’t in a position to overtake, just a hopeful attacking position.

        If two cars are side by side, only one of them is on the right line. When you are racing, you are constantly fending off overtaking moves and road position is one of your main defences. In evenly balanced fights, it’s all about putting your opponent at a disadvantage by forcing him off-line. If Alonso could have overtaken, he would have done so, see his move in the pit lane in an earlier race.

        Please understand that while I think this race win was a little tarnished,I still regard him as one of the best drivers in F1 and one who contributes greatly to our pleasure, for many reasons.

  2. Banjo says:

    The engine situation is very interesting and a point that hadn’t been brought up before. I enjoyed this piece James. Well balanced and thought provoking. Thanks.

    1. Kedar says:

      I was inclined to support Ferrari till I heard about the Engine situation.
      However that makes for an interesting point and a case for banning team orders. The teams now can just ask one of its drivers to turn down the engine or “Save fuel” if they want to enforce team orders.

      1. Curro says:

        That’s what they’ve been doing all year!

        The engine situation revealed in the FIA document is disturbing.

      2. Banjo says:

        Do you happen to know where i could find the FIA document to read?

    2. seisteve says:

      James Excellent article and the note about the engine just proves how a much of a manipulative team Ferrari are.

      Team orders are unworkable and I understand the reasons why they do it… but this extra engine information just makes the taste of this whole episode even more bitter when you add the deceit into the mix.

  3. Steven King says:

    Hi James,

    I have to agree that the no team orders rule is entirely unworkable, and goes against the traditions of the sport. Surely the simplest solutions is to get rid of it, and rely on Article 151c and sensible judgement to decide when team orders are applied inappropriately?

    Cheers,
    Steven

  4. Simon Haynes says:

    A fan’s reaction to team orders depends on whether they support the marque or the driver. If you support a driver, like I do, and follow them from one F1 team to another, team orders give me a sick feeling to the stomach when they disadvantage my chosen driver. (And even when orders benefit my driver, I still feel ‘he should have won on merit’)

    On the other hand if you support your team no matter who the drivers are, then team orders make perfect sense.

    I do think the rule banning team orders is unworkable. I just don’t know that I want to watch races where a nice guy like Massa is laid out like a doormat for Alonso and his ilk to wipe their boots on.

    1. Aaron says:

      This is the problem isn’t it. Most fans support a driver, and see the driver’s title as the whole point of the thing. Yes the constructor’s title is an interesting sideline, but most of us are cheering on our favourite driver(s), not a single team. The teams on the other hand see it the other way around. To them the constructor’s title is the most important thing, with the driver’s title being of only secondary importance. Hardly surprising since the prize money depends on the constructor’s championship.

      1. Brendan says:

        Have to disagree there. Ferrari didn’t move Alonso into the lead to benefit the team’s constructors chances, it makes no difference who finishes first. They moved him there to improve their chances of winning the drivers championship. That’s why team orders like this happen. The teams go all out to win both titles.

      2. bouke says:

        But in this case, it had nothing to do with the constructor’s championship, it was about the driver championship.

        Maybe if it is a team sport, they should just not have the driver championship – oh, that doesn’t work so well commercially? Yeah, I guess that’s true, a lot of fans do support drivers instead of only a team.

        Well guess what, then you need to work to keep the drivers championship as straight and honest as possible, or your sport won’t get the same amount of coverage and sponsorship. If you want to keep your budget, change the attitude, especially as we now can hear a lot more of the radio talk.

      3. Bayan says:

        Your post is in the wrong place. Ferrari were 1-2 here so max constructors points regardless of who finished first.

      4. Bill Johnson says:

        Just a really dumb thought – NASCAR never had a constructor’s championship, and teams fielded multiple cars – we all hear about Childress Racing, etc even though they get no hardware at the end of the season.

        No team orders, either. No need. Coalitions of drivers form ad hoc for a few laps through pit and spotter communications, regardless of team.

        Now the part about driving barges and mostly turnng left doesn’t thrill me…

    2. Rafael says:

      I completely agree with you that fans actually tend to favor or hate team orders depending on whether t’s their chosen driver that benefits or not. I for one am a big Alonso fan, so I felt no such pity towards Massa when he was made to move over. Although, during Austria ’02, I felt extremely sorry and enraged for Barrichello because I was supporting Juan Montoya, and I hated Schumacher being unbeatable and winning over and over.

      I think most of the teams still prioritize the WDC over the WCC (except maybe for a few exceptions like Williams), since the former is considered more prestigious and garners more attention.

      The fact that teams will favor one of their drivers’ campaigns over the other comes down to interests. Whether it be the team’s interest, because they see one of their drivers as more of a “sure shot” compared to the other, in terms of consistency and reliability (see Schumacher and Alonso). Or personal interests derived from a sentimental attachment and/or an eagerness for a return of investment(s) (Ron Dennis favoring Hakkinen over DC, Jerez ’97 & Oz ’98 and the latter type, see Helmut Marko/Red Bull on Vettel).

  5. AndoNeo says:

    Overtaking…

    or manipulating.

    I know what I pay money to see.

    1. Peter Freeman says:

      THANK YOU!

      This is the very core of the truth of team orders; it is FINANCIAL FRAUD against every ticket holder and every television viewer!

      To NOT see this requires an act of BELLIGERENT wilful intelligence!

      1. James Allen says:

        Peter, I can see that you are upset about this outcome, but please remember the rules of this site in terms of comments not being libellous. Some of your other comments have crossed the line and were moderated

      2. Peter Freeman says:

        James I am not as upset at the outcome as I am at the state of the sport. I am a person that looks back in history to see where who we have come from. When I see how some of our ancestors, in the not so recent past, stood to the death for what was right, simply because it WAS right, I am appalled at what we see in the FIA that has RESULTED in this out come. It is not just this incident, but many others over the last how many years, it is anything BUT a commitment to what is right and true! Now one could argue that what is right and true is a matter of opinion, however this does not change the fact that there IS an ACTUAL truth and a right and a wrong!

        I am sorry if what I have said is libellous. I apologise to you James. This site is one of the few places that an ordinary fan can have a voice, it is hard to not say exactly what on needs to say without breaking your rules, which are rightfully yours to make.

        It is true that if we who seek the truth do not stand for it, then dishonesty will stand. I hope you can accept my explanation. All I want is an F1 ruled well and with integrity, a sport we can all enjoy and have confidence in. That does however require, like all good in the world, that we fight for it, and fight against those that would undermine and discredit F1 for their own ends!

      3. Tommy K. says:

        What most of you don’t really understand is that F1 will never lose its popularity and commercial value! All of you people were saying exactly the same things back in the early 00′s when Rubens was instructed to leave Schumi to win! But still…..Everyone watches F1 even more eagerly (don’t ask me why, it’s just the way it is!). Also, nowadays, more countries cover the races, and if it wasn’t for the global financial crisis, the sponsorships would be colossal! Team orders are a part of the game! It’s what you pay the tickets for! To watch a team game! Otherwise, F1 teams should only have 1 car and not 2! F1 fanbase will never decrease! I would say the opposite, no matter what the FIA or WMSC do or rule….

      4. AndoNeo says:

        Sorry not sure I read you right mate. I pay my money to watch a team game?

        I watch my F1 to see the following:

        • Webber to tear Vettel’s hyper reputation to shreds.

        • Alonso to put Massa’s career in the toilet

        • and Hamilton to put Button’s title in perspective.

        If your watching F1 to see Alonso and Massa hold hands and curtsy to each other as they pass then your not watching it right.

    2. Peter Freeman says:

      Sorry UN-intelligence

  6. John Pinx says:

    The FIA are legally correct, but this is a sport sustained by it’s fan-base and such a body really has no place in it. Horner is right, Now anyone can do the shuffle and pay the fine. The FIA have time and again missed a great opportunity to actually do something for the sport and the fans, including the tifosi.

    Ferrari have really earned their hate mail this time, with the revelation about the engine adjustments and Massa’s agony must have increased considerably when he discovered that. It is no co-incidence that Rubens and Felipe are 2 of the nicest guys in F1, and they both have suffered extensively at the hands of Ferrari.

    So we can now ignore the red cars for the rest of the season as they will always finish in the same order, it is only a question of how much more Felipe is prepared to do, like slowing down the field behind to let his team”mate” get away or to create a pit-stop gap.

    Given the mess, and the opportunity for a clean start in 2013, it’s time there was a mandatory clause in all driver contracts which will ensure no penalty for a driver if he decides to beat his teammate.

    Thanks for the insight James, we know you accept team orders, but do you really believe team orders should apply to more than just the result of the teams race, i.e. the constructors championship? What do people like Sir Stirling Moss think – they were racers who would eat their teammate for breakfast;)

  7. True says:

    Massa was told five times that Alonso was faster. It’s over.

    1. Laurence H says:

      That’s not the point from the racing point of view. Overtaking is always (assuming no driver mistakes) about a faster car trying to outwit a slower one. If Button is told by his team that Alonso is faster, he’s not going to ‘let’ him past. He’ll fight him for the position. The current rules are there to try and ensure that this is the case within teams too.

    2. Mike says:

      Not too hard to be faster when you have more engine power, or did you not understand that bit.

      1. andrew says:

        The thing that puzzled me, given the engine saving going on to meet the eight powerplant total season restriction requirement, and thus would have suggested that Fernando slow down once passing Massa; instead he want on to set a fastest lap of the race? Is Ferrari that disorganized or was that a faint attempt to theatrically stage a mock race between the two? Either way, did the WMSC consider this antic?

      2. Steven says:

        They werent trying to save any engines. Fernando needed Massa’s engine turned down so he could catch Massa, and pass him. But he’s not faster enough to pass him without “help”.

  8. Solidus Octothorp says:

    Damaging Massa’s credibility is one thing, but the bigger picture is the damage to the sport as a whole. FIA’s decision and statement sends a message to fans that we shouldn’t rely on races being run on their merits with honesty and integrity. Perhaps that’s a naive view to take in a sport worth billions of dollars, but I predict fans will vote with their feet on the back of this decision much more than teams and sponsors will vote with their wallets.

  9. Chris says:

    So it looks like a favoured driver of a team will now have the ability to always shoot a team mate that out-drew him.

    The Driver’s Championship is effectively dead then. Not too bad for the Tifosi, who largely cheer a car at races, but a bit of a disaster for the rest of us.

    The next time a team is in a 1-2 position in a race, I think I might just switch off.

  10. Nick says:

    It’s hard to know what to feel, really.

  11. Nilesh says:

    It is not over for reasons which go beyond the way in which the sport is perceived by us, the fans. I’ve read numerous articles citing events over decades past arguing in favor of team orders. No one seems to realize that no sport is what it was in past from the perspective of the follower.

    An athlete also doubles up as an idol, an inspiration, a hero and millions of people follow their favorite sportsperson as a reflection of what they believe in. Connecting with these sportsperson with Twitter and Facebook has brought the average fan closer than ever before and this connection makes the fan empathize with their role models. That is why the plucky little Brazilian became so popular after his gutsy drives of ’08 and the accident last year. And that is also why there has been such an uproar after the blatant readjustment of positions in the German GP. The casual but ardent fan is now emotionally connected to the sport and a clinical but pragmatic team decision is not received well.

    Apart from that, what is to say that a decision to allow an external influence on races will not lead to race fixing? Cricket is facing spot fixing allegations and what’s to say that F1 will not see something as such? Since position fixing cannot be limited to just the race leaders, what’s to say that legalizing team orders may not open up a whole new means of obtaining ‘sponsorship’ from bookies?

  12. diane says:

    I have a question, what if mclaren or redbull or another team decide to use team order this weekend? What will happen to them? I’m kind of confuse. I don’t know if now it is legal or not. Jean Todt said there weren’t enough proof? what more proof they wanted? some fingerprints? were they looking for a murder weapon and couldn’t find it? what a joke!

    1. Galapago555 says:

      Maybe they were looking for a driver saying “not bad for a number 2 driver”, or maybe for someone’s new front wing being changed to his team mate’s car. Or, maybe they were looking for someone telling his driver “fuel is critical, you have to save fuel”.

      We will never know.

    2. rafa says:

      the whole point is that you could not make it stick in a law court: you’ve no legal way to prove that it was an actual team order instead of a suggestion that he favour the team by letting his teammate pass. The whole point is that team orders happen in every team all the time, and here people seem to conviniently ignore that or choose not to acknoeledge it. The whole point is that it is impossible to enforce such a rule and that the alternatives are or simply not firm enough (no mathematical chances? That is absurd, by mid season you simply know on the balance of probabilities which drivers will make it, which might, and which wont: in this case, FA belongs to the second group, Massa to the latter) or downright daft (1 driver per team… so, only ten or twelve cars? And only 3 with any chance? Or maybe extend the grid to ten more teams but with only the same 3 drivers with any chances?).

      The whole point is that the stewards did what they had to do: apply the punishment and leave it for the FIA to open the can of worms if they had the guts to. The fIA also did the only inteligent thing: do nothing and revise the rule because everybody knows from the beggining that it was only sweeping dirt beneath the carpet. I would like to see the faces of all the ardent supporters of a heavy fine, banning of Alonso and Ferrari and whatnot, when investigations started on other teams for team orders: what then? start banning everybody? Finning them? Re-arrange all the points in the championship according to the hundreds of time the rule has been broken by every single team? Because that was the biggest problem: the fia could not ban Ferrari without starting a full blown investigation on so many other suspicious radio transmission which everybody knows what they mean.

      The ironical part of this is that if Mr Smedley was hoping to improve Massa’s position in the team by making the show he put up, it actually backfired; from the looks of it, team orders will come back and Massa’a going to have to swallow a lot of exhaust fumes from alonso’s cars.

      1. frosty says:

        this is one of the best posts i’ve seen on the subject.
        thank you.

  13. Peter Jones says:

    James,
    The problem with team orders is that it undermines the credibility of the sport. Who wants to watch a race, a football match or tennis when they know match-fixing is at hand? The massive corporate interests within all sport today have created a culture where this thing is permissable and quite frankly soured me a bit on sports in general.

    1. bouke says:

      But actually Peter Jones, somewhat ironically, in this case, it is the other way around: because F1 has become more corporate, living for a large part thanks to the tv-audience that brings the sponsors on board, the price has to be that those viewers and sponsors are given what they are promised: great racing. Not just teams allowing great racing, when it doesn’t harm their interest.

      I think this is something the teams, the drivers, and also quite a few journalists, such as those of the BBC, and James Allen here should realise: it is not just about the “show”, and it might have been part of F1 for a long time, but that does not make it right for this time.

      F1 is a sport, but if it promises not just a year long fight for two championships, but also 19-20 mostly interesting GP races, those races should not involve race-spoiling driver swaps, and both the championships need to be fought fairly, or they loose their value for the audience, and should also do so for the teams, or it is as if you can just invest enough and get your win: that is not sport.

      Letting a faster driver through to fight with those ahead might still be allowed, because it gives the team more points in a championship, and helps the race be interesting. Blocking of other competitors might be okay up to some level too, although it is easier to not allow it.

      But again, a swap for the lead, just because you like one better (or he has only slightly better odds in the driver championship) is not. And least of all “because we don’t trust our drivers not to take each other out, they are stupid like that, or might be” or nonsense like that: are they adult drivers? If not what are they doing in your car then, and how did they get to lead the race?

      Anyway, James, you do have a great blog that I regularly read with a lot of interest and respect, and you know a lot about F1, but in this I think you and other passionate long time followers need to rethink how the sport has changed, and how the current more transparent world asks for a different attitude to team orders.

  14. Julianne says:

    Perfect, James, as always. I’m a brazilian and what I can report from my country is a lot of people saying they’re not going to watch f1 anymore.
    Fans were already disgusted by Felipe’s driving this year, now they’re disgusted by his ethics as well.
    The fact that a similar story happened to Rubens not a long time ago makes it even worse – Barrichello’s image has improved, but was never the same.
    Being in a poor country, I guess Brazilians feel at least their sportsmen should make them proud, I don’t know if you british can understand that.

    1. Mike Vlcek says:

      Yeah, you’re right. I hope to see lots of fan messages in Interlagos showing their contempt for Ferrari, Alonso and all this dirty game.

      Sad, really sad.

    2. C Pitter says:

      I understand. It is not a sport if a competitor doesn’t try his best to win because his team/manager wants another competitor to beat him, but not on merit, on favouritism.

      I am only watching for Hamilton because he is entertaining. If he left the sport, I wouldn’t watch at all anymore. It is a sham.

      I don’t care if team orders are “tradition”. So was slavery. If something is wrong, it should be changed, period!

  15. kenneth chapman says:

    i find it difficult to understand this latest ruling. are they actually saying that team orders were not issued? if so, and the FIA uphold their decision to accept ferraris point of view, why wasn’t the $100K fine refunded?

    something is flawed in this decision, not guilty but guilty enough to get a fine!!!

    1. christoph von Kretschmer says:

      Good point! How can you say there is not enough evidence on the one hand, but take money in the form of a penalty without admiting guiolt with the other?

  16. Fulveo Ballabeo says:

    In the hearing, what did Smedley say about the tone and content of his message/apology? What was he asked?

    Also, not that it was, but WMSC statement sounds like it could’ve been written the day before the hearing.

  17. Rodrigo says:

    oh deer…. from what I have read in other places, the WMSC could have applied a 5 second penalty to FA. Any explanation given why that was not done? If they had done that, most fans would have been ok with it, and FA would still be technically in the hunt for an *earned* WDC… it will be interesting to see how instructions to FM will be given when he is front of FA in future races… better coded and executed, or just a blatant “Felipe, you know what to do, be a good by and let FA pass”… oh deer.

  18. Steve Smith says:

    It’s a real shame for Massa to have been put in this position. Massa may not have signed a new contract if he’d known his apparent status in the team (he has stated as much). He has started to show signs of the driver which nearly won the WDC before the accident which nearly killed him – it was a horrific injury from which he was always going to take time to recover. He deserves to be on equal terms with his team-mate, although I fear this will never happen while Alonso is at Ferrari. Real shame, as the car is also starting to compete with RBR and McLaren. Competitive drives seem to have been taken up elsewhere – unless Renault can produce a championship winning car – maybe a swap to Renault may be a good move if Ferrari would release him – not sure how he would mix with Kubica though. Unless he can pull something spectacular out of the bag, I fear he could spend the next couple of years as the clear second driver in the team, just as Barrichello, Irvine, et al, did before him with Schumacher – it’s a team structure Ferrari seem to favour. It is difficult for Massa to compete with Alonso if his opponent’s car is given a performance advantage, however!

  19. Steven says:

    Come on Felipe, give us some dirt on Ferrari, its clear they dont want you there.

    1. Phil Bishop says:

      Great insight James, thanks.

      I’m dispirited by the whole sorry affair

      It seems Massa’s reputation is in tatters but I think Alono’s must be dented too as he was unable to pass without *cough* assistance despite having an engine advantage over Felipe. Hardly what you’d expect of a double world champion until you consider the assistance he was given whilst at Renault.

      To fix this mess I’d like to see radio contact between team and driver removed (race director could still use radio) and using pit boards for communication. These should be standardised to only show basic info to the driver. If they can’t communicate, they can’t order…

      Of course teams could “order” their number 2 to let no 1 past should they be ahead and see them in the mirror but this has to be a better solution than only having 1 car per team

      At the same time let’s get rid of variable engine settings. If a driver needs to nurse the car home he can short shift or control the revs with his right foot and the loud pedal!

  20. imrduke says:

    Rob Smedley, genius?…discuss…
    My words are saying one thing while my intonation of them are making it blatantly obvious to everyone that they mean something else, however, only my tone of voice can be called into question and the words, when examined, mean nothing by themselves..my arse is covered, how is yours Ferrari baby…Oh Fernando has gone by you, how unfortunate, nevermind, at least we still get the same points as a team. Now, remember which step to get on at the podium..
    Fernando.finished.in.front.of.you…sorry..
    Sport? Hah…
    The point has come for F1 to decide what it wants to be. Is it a team sport, as in shout for the collective of people that runs the two cars that you support, or is it a driver sport, as in shout for your man regardless of what he is driving this year? Because as far as I can see, the two cannot live together, the perfectly valid arguments of fans on either side of the debate on this blog serve testament to that.
    I have seen comments on the team aspect of cycle racing here, that’s fine but they are not fighting for points in a series, just for the glory, stage by stage or points per event. But F1 doesn’t have 15 or 16 teams with 8 drivers and cars each..and points for hillclimbing or consistent sprinting.
    Accept the rules as they are, Ferrari have got away with breaking them due to the genius of providing an obvious message without later analysis being able to prove that the words meant anything other than what the words actually were.

  21. JD says:

    Your contrasting of Webber compared to Massa is spot on.

    However, in similar circumstances to Germany when there is a command to a driver to save fuel, or when there is a botched pit stop, isn’t there also suspicion?

    What if there were no communications to Massa, and instead Ferrari just let Fernando keep the revs turned up, Massa’s turned down, and Fernando passed on the track? The results would have been manipulated by the team just the same but we probably wouldn’t know because the team order would have happened behind the scenes.

    The only way to eliminate team orders in F1 is to have one-car teams. As long as there are two-car teams (or more) team orders will exist in some form.

    1. James Allen says:

      Answer: Possibly another crash like Istanbul between Red Bull drivers. Chances are the situation there was similar

      1. "for sure" says:

        So what are you saying? We now have to have a sanitised version of F1 where any risk of collision is eliminated? Alonso wasn’t good enough to get past. End of.

      2. C Pitter says:

        Even with a more powerful engine setting it seems.

      3. Peter Freeman says:

        Not chances, that’s what they did! Its been spoken openly about. Vettel had planed his moment and his fuel strategy for that exact move on Webber, it was an illustration of how racing between team mates is supposed to be done, only without Vettel making a hash of it!

        But that there was a crash in the Red Bull camp goes to show WHY the rule banning team orders should have been enforced against Ferrari. Why are they allowed to avoid the risk of a crash when the other teams are not?

        Red Bull raced how F1 is supposed to be raced, Ferrari cheated! They have their lead driver 7 points closer to the leader of the WC, ONLY through breaking the rules… and THAT, is CHEATING!

        Had they raced according to the rules, they may WELL have had a crash, that’s how it is SUPPOSED to be be in racing, and in the spirit and in the letter of the F1 rules!

        What happened James, was financial fraud against every ticket holder and every TV viewer and every advertiser and sponsor! No one paid to see a fixed result, a team cheat, a championship manipulated and a cowardly FIA and WMSC who lack the moral courage to stand up against rule breaking!

      4. Dave says:

        Good point.

        Red Bull were in this position in Turkey and lost out because they let their drivers race.

        Ferrari in the same position gained 43 points for $100,000, purely by telling their lead driver to move over.

        If Fernando really was faster than Massa, then surely he would have found a way past or forced Massa into a mistake. He’s not a double world champion for nothing, is he?

      5. Fausto Cunha says:

        Those were my feelings at the moment! I found myself thinking why the hell i´m paying to watch this!!

      6. Totally agree. The result was fixed, which would, in any other sport, have dire consequences.

        I would not have been happy with anything less than a straight two-race ban.

        Of course team orders can be policed. Team orders are “Driver X, driver Y is quicker than you, please let him pass”, or a similar plan before a race should the drivers be in that situation. Had Massa chosen to let FA pass, that’s not a team order. Had the pit crew dropped a nut when changing Massa’s tyres, that is not a team order TO MASSA. yes, that’s still manipulation but not an order to a driver.

        Suspicions? Look at telemetry, radio transmissions, wording in contracts. That’s how to police it.

      7. mtb says:

        The reports that I read claimed that an instruction was given to Webber’s engineer to inform Webber to move aside for Vettel. This instruction was not passed on.

      8. bega says:

        to me, this is not really about whether or not team order should be allowed, but more about what drivers make of them. martin brundle wrote a blog suggesting that mclaren tried the same engine trick in turkey. brundle wrote that he asked martin whitmarsh after turkey at what point exactly had they told button to overtake hamilton, and that whitmarsh’s face turned blank and he did’t give a response. but in contrast to massa, hamilton, just like webber, wasn’t going to have any of that, and made it clear once and for all that he was not to be walked over. afterwards, mclaren was forced to let their drivers race. massa should have done the same, ignore the order, turn his engine up and humiliate alonso for trying to play him dirty. what exactly was ferrari going to do about it? fire the guy that won his first gp exactly one year after nearly dying while driving their car? sure they could have disadvataged massa at following races, but by obeying the order he became a number two driver anyways. this not only affected the respect his fans have for him, but also lowered his stock among the other teams. he will never ever get another drive in a top team. before, he was a guy that almost won a championship, and now was coming back from a horrible accident. his less than impressive form at the beginning of the season could have been attributed to him having to overcome the effects of that accident. had he won hockenheim, that could have been the beginning of him regaining his form, and he would have clearly beaten a two time wdc with the same equipment, rasing his stock and showing other teams that he was a race winner and a champion in the making. massa would not be the nice guy number two driver who lacks the killer instinct to become wdc, but rather the guy who almost died, and was hardened by the experience, coming back stronger than before. ferrari has a fast car, and alsonso blundered more than one race he could have won. so had massas motivation not been killed off by his obeying of the team order, he could have scored a couple of very good results, just like webber did after winning his first gp this season. he could have been the guy that deliverd while his overpaid ex champion teammate did not. this would have made him more valuable to ferrari, and raised his stock with other teams. now he is the clear number two, nobody will hire him as a number one, or even equally treatet driver, and as soon as alonso decides he wants to get rid of him, he will be history at ferrari. as a matter of fact, i think he will be gone by the end of next season.

      9. JD says:

        Ironic that, given the responses below, Red Bull has gone from receiving harsh criticism over how the team handled Turkey to now receiving praise for racing “how F1 is supposed to be raced.”

        Perception is reality, yes?

        Massa needs to shake it off and put forth maximum effort. At least we now know that Alonso’s relative pace was artificial. Again, if Ferrari has just kept quiet on the radio and Alonso were to have passed Massa on the track, wouldn’t that be a more crushing blow?

        If Alonso’s artificial superiority was not known to the rest of the world then we would all have assumed that Massa was not quick enough. To me, thinking that Massa is not quick enough is more discouraging that him being told to move over.

        If Massa is a beaten man _only_ because he was ordered to move over, and knowing he _still_ has the pace, then he deserves to be a number 2. I sympathize with his injuries and recovery, but if he can no longer summon the competitiveness to fight for his place in F1, then he he needs to retire.

  22. malcolm.strachan says:

    This whole team orders issue is tricky.

    If a team has a rule that says “no contact between team mates”, isn’t that technically a team order? I know that’s reaching, but it still falls within the spectrum. That is at one end, with the other end being a blatant order (“Rubens, pull over and let Michael through”).

    So where do you draw the line? “No contact” seems fair. What about “no competitive passes”? Should the team be allowed to have a rule that says “if a following driver shows a nose, the leading driver must cede position”? Again, that seems fair, as it all but eliminates the possibility of a Turkey-style collision, but it still forces a driver to give up their position and not defend.

    Going further, what about “if the following driver is faster, the leading driver must cede position”? Sounds familiar, and this approach has caused much turmoil. Still, it falls within the same scope as the other two “orders”. If this is unacceptable, shouldn’t the aforementioned “orders” be unacceptable as well, as they eliminate the leading driver’s opportunity to defend using race-craft, rather than merely stay ahead by outright pace.

    On the other hand, if the above order is acceptable, then it is really no different than saying “Rubens, slow down and let Michael pass”.

    Personally, I think they should bring team orders back. If a team wants to take the heat for issuing team orders, then let them. I would rather know that Massa let Alonso by on purpose rather than some sort of orchestrated pitstop mistake, missed apex, or “intermittent engine problem”. If Ferrari can be that blatant with using code-words to issue team orders without saying it in clear English, and the FIA can’t penalize them for it, then the rule should be dropped.

    1. malcolm.strachan says:

      By “take the heat”, I meant from fans and sponsors.

      Personally, I’d buy a can of Red Bull after Vettel and Webber crash each other and lose the race; however, Ferrari telling one driver to slow down and cede position to the other makes me much less likely to be loyal to the brands that sponsor them, even if those team-orders helped them win the title.

      1. Laurence H says:

        Well I, for one, will not be buying any more Ferraris! :)

    2. Simon Haynes says:

      “Going further, what about “if the following driver is faster, the leading driver must cede position”? ”

      The problem with ‘faster’ is that the team can tell one driver to turn their engine up, and the other driver to turn theirs down. Hey presto, the preferred driver is suddenly faster.

      In Turkey this seemed to be what happened with Webber/Vettel, but Webbo wasn’t going to roll over and let the anointed one steal his position.

      1. malcolm.strachan says:

        Agreed… which is why I think that if you allow “team orders” like that, you need to allow the blatant ones as well.

    3. mtb says:

      If McLaren is not be penalised for telling Hamilton that Button will not overtake him after instructing both of its drivers to “save fuel”, then the rule is pointless.

      1. Damian Johnson says:

        That’s a very poor comparison that you are trying to make. No evidence here as both McLaren drivers fought each other driving side by side with two overtaking passes unlike Alonso and Massa.

      2. mtb says:

        No evidence – apart from Hamilton’s conversation with the McLaren pit crew!

  23. Thomas in Australia says:

    Ah what a mess!

    I guess ultimately this is what happens when you have the somewhat unique sporting environment of team and individual competitions running concurrently.

    Would it be fair to say there is no perfect solution?

    1. Tommy K. says:

      No, because there is a solution. Allow team orders OR the teams should have 1 car instead of 2. It’s as simple as that!!

      1. Richard Mee says:

        Or, no pit-car radio. Rip them out of every single car right now, it really is as easy as that.

        It will also cut costs because teams won’t need to employ banks of boffins to pour over screens of numbers left right and centre.

        “Real-time influence from someone who isn’t actually doing the driving” is the true enemy here; because we all know that ‘pre-race agreements’ will mean squat-diddly in the heat of battle.

        No radios: no problem.

  24. Colster says:

    Hmmmm…Did Rob Smedley know that Alonso had his engine turned up in order get him closer to Massa to allow the ‘team orders’ for Massa to pullover?

  25. Stk says:

    After the race I wasn’t very upset by what Ferrari had done because I believed Alonso was simply faster and Massa was out of the title hunt.. Now that I know Alonso had his engine on a higher setting I’m disgusted by the team!!

    1. Mike Vlcek says:

      If Felipe hadn’t given up the position, he’d be now just 18 point behind Alonso, or a mere second place.

      By contrast, Vettel is 28 points behind Webber and Button, 35 behind Lewis. Are Red Bull and McLaren even considering to force these drivers to help their team mates? I don’t think so.

      PS: Felipe is now 32 points behind Alonso instead of what could’ve been 18. ANYWAY, it’s still less than Button to Lewis. Is he REALLY out of the fight?

      People must start to do the maths instead of believing everything they read on the press. Alonso isn’t “faster” than Felipe, he is just coping better with the harder tyres because his style’s more aggressive. It’s as simple as that. I’l already looking forward for 2011 – if Ferrari let them fight from round one, of course.

      1. Rafael Lopez says:

        Been trying to say this for a while!

      2. rafa says:

        dude, it’s not his distance to alonso that matters but his distance to the leader of the championship. I’m not saying that the decision may not backfire on Ferrari, but at the time , given the standings in the championship, and Massa’s substandard driving it was the right call.

  26. Pedro Muir says:

    [quote]As if that wasn’t bad enough, the documents from the hearing reveal that both drivers had their engines turned down, but Alonso had been allowed to turn his up, unbeknownst to Massa. “Alonso increased his engine speed without Mr Felipe Massa’s being informed. Mr Fernando Alonso was therefore benefiting from a definite performance advantage over Mr Felipe Massa in the moments preceding the contentious overtaking.”[/quote]

    Now that is pretty bad really.

  27. “As if that wasn’t bad enough, the documents from the hearing reveal that both drivers had their engines turned down, but Alonso had been allowed to turn his up, unbeknownst to Massa. “Alonso increased his engine speed without Mr Felipe Massa’s being informed. Mr Fernando Alonso was therefore benefiting from a definite performance advantage over Mr Felipe Massa in the moments preceding the contentious overtaking.””

    Massa had pulled a almost a 3 second gap from Alonso after getting the hurry up from his engineer. If the above information is correct then the only reason Alonso managed to reel him in was because his engine had been turned down! So in effect Massa was faster than Alonso in the race contrary to what many thought.

  28. Peter Freeman says:

    I am appalled!In my view Ferrari are a disgrace and utterly unworthy of the esteem they have been help in for 70 years. I actually feel sorry for Massa, had he disobeyed things would not have gone well for him at Ferrari, and where else would he go right now? What other team would he race for? Massa and Webber can’t really be compared, as Red Bull and Ferrari have a different culture when it comes to racing. Honourable and dishonourable. Massa was caught between a rock and a hard place.

    However the FIA took this decision in cowardice. All could see what happened and all know the rules. What more proof than ones own eyes and ears do they need? Every last one of them heard Ferrari stand and lie and did nothing.

    “All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing” On that day in that room of the WMSC, not one single good man was to be found!

  29. J says:

    “Mr Felipe Massa realised that the best interests of the team and the drivers’ safety were going to be served by allowing Mr Fernando Alonso to pass, and acted accordingly.”

    Can the teams and FIA please give up this charade? Safety? Really? The fans aren’t stupid. Massa was ordered to pull over and he did so.

    Do they think we really want to start watching races where the #2 driver holds back the pack for most of the race.

    Do they think we want to see races where one teammate crashes into another teams driver and prevents him from scoring points… oh wait.

    Allowing team orders is a terrible idea unless you own a team. Personally I’d rather see good racing. Bring back Senna VS Prost instead of Alonso VS(lol) Fisichella.

    1. "for sure" says:

      As a version of that old Pakistani joke goes, “Here is the news, first the results of tomorrows Grand Prix”

  30. C Pitter says:

    My gut feeling is that it is just not fair and just not sporting. I keep being told that team orders should return, but how is that entertaining and racing? I can understand how Massa’s stock has fallen – I would be gutted if Hamilton capitulated like that. I would lose faith in him as a competitor. Does this mean that drivers at the start of a season will be told whether they are racers or support staff? What type of driver would accept a support role? That goes against the whole idea of sport. Webber didn’t accept that and his stock has risen as a result which proves that fans want fighters and competition, not processions and pit wall orchestrations. It is shocking to see so many drivers accept that this is part and parcel of F1. I love F1 because of Hamilton’s attitude and competitiveness. I bet he is feeling sick to his stomach about all this – I shall continue watching for him, but I don’t feel I am watching an actual sport. I feel great disappointment today.

    1. j says:

      Agreed. Well said.

      The media and team bosses keep trying to cram team orders down our throat but I don’t know any fans who want to watch that kind of “racing”.

  31. Red5 says:

    Good, lets now focus on the final few races.

    If Alonso can stay in the hunt this weekend it may remain a 3 way fight.

    Respect to Todt and his WMSC team for making a sensible decision.

  32. mrweeks says:

    Massa sold himself low back in 07 when he
    handed a certain home win to Kimi, so I essence he
    had availed himself for exploitation by his
    team from that point its just an opportunity
    for it to happen that had been lacking up until
    Hockenheim, so this hullaballo about him only
    recently losing his standing amoungst fans is a
    bit shortsighted. I certain the Vettel would not
    yield to Webber in AbDhab even if Webber needed only
    a single point to clinch the title especially if
    Vettel would have to be yielding from P1.

  33. Mattoz says:

    The whole saga is very messy – however I think common sense prevailed in that the drivers suffered no points loss. Would have been a farce if Alonso had been rubbed out of title contention when most other leading drivers have played a hand in team-orders in recent times.

  34. murray says:

    A stipulated point or position penalty for the offence would be more appropriate than an arbitrary fine for this rule, and would give Ferrari or any other team more pause for thought before contravening it in the first instance.

    1. murray says:

      penalties for both drivers and the team, I mean.

  35. Justin says:

    Well if I was a team boss and I needed to change the position of my drivers I’d get on the radio and then pop a cheque to the FIA for $100,000 in the post. Seems like a relatively cheap way to win the title for an F1 team

    1. Rhys D. Webb says:

      That’s assuming that if another team was to do it that the FIA will react in the same way.

      I am willing to bet that if McLaren do the same thing there will be some technical reason why if McLaren does it, it brings the sport into disrepute but when Ferrari does it, it’s an unworkable rule.

      Just as when a McLaren staff member had Ferrari data that had been disseminated to an unknown amount they were fined US$100 000 000 yet when a Renault staff member had McLaren data that was admitted to have been widely disseminated they were in no way sanctioned whatsoever.

      The real test of the FIA’s new found ethical practices in the post-Mosley era will come when this new precedent is tested by another teams actions. We’ll see then how different this regime is as this decision alone is just yet another example of an FIA decision in Ferrari’s benefit.

  36. Mark D. Johnson says:

    Massa and Smedly made a b***ks of it. Had they used a bit more tact instead of throwing their toys out the pram, this whole drama would never have happened. We, the fans would have remained blissfully ignorant. To say that Massa isn’t a “racer”anymore goes a bit to far. He did what he had to do to keep his job with a top team. He wouldn’t do too much racing if he hadn’t complied.

  37. Harvey Yates says:

    “Could not prove it on the balance of probabilities . . . ”

    I worked in police prosecutions for a while and that statement means I will have to apologise to every Crown Prosecutions lawyer I criticised when they decided to pull a job for reasons of lack of evidence. In this case, the circumstantial evidence would have to have been 20% less for the case to be overwhelming.

    Other teams acting similarly in the past, eh? I’m not sure that’s right. The essence of this incident was that a car in the lead was ordered to concede position to a team mate who was no faster. When did that happen last? Answers including the word Ferrari will be rejected. It is one thing to order drivers to maintain position but quite another to swop.

    It was a good point about Massa’s behaviour in the past, especially in Brazil. This incident doesn’t alter my opinion of him. In fact the way he behaved with the press afterwards reinforced my impression of an honest and dedicated racer. He was an example to just about every other Ferrari team member who faced the press. I don’t think we can accuse Massa of telling lies.

    Alonso’s bewildering sudden increase in speed has been explained. I’m sure we all knew the reason but it is nice to have the evidence and now we are able to mention it.

    This incident taints our sport and it will be referred to for some time in the future.

    An opportunity missed by the WMSC I feel, at least from a spectator’s point of view. This is not what we go to see, and not the reason we follow the sport. One reason WSC has vastly fewer followers is that it is a team event. Few spectators follow drivers. So now F1 is, officially, just WSC where you can see the top of the tyres.

    Ferrari come away from this hearing in an even stronger position. I can’t help thinking that Danegeld, in the form of points, has been raised and given to them.

    I was hoping that a lid could have been placed on this nasty little incident but the taste of the evidence that has come to light, and one can expect more in the near future, will stay in the mouth for some time. If Ferrari win the WDC/WCC then it will be regurgitated again.

    Why not a suspended sentence? ‘The WMSC have given considerable thought and feel only the strongest possible response is suitable. A two-race ban suspended for the rest of the season.’ Impossible to criticise and the press would be arguing about the severity rather than a whitewash.

    The only positive is that it would have been even worse under previous presidents.

    The first poor decision under Todt in my opinion. He can’t afford too many more.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes and don’t forget an earlier message from Smedley about Massa having a 3 sec lead “That’s important” he said. Clearly that’s what he had to do. But the circumstances changed, as we now know.

      1. Kishan says:

        James, any chance you can ask massa at the next race if he thinks the 3sec Ferrari rule was correctly applied considering that Alonso’s engine was turned up? Also was he or his engineers aware of this fact before the council hearing? Think it could put the cat amongst the pigeons.

    2. mtb says:

      Well it happened in 1997 and 1998. McLaren was the guilty party on both occasions.

    3. mtb says:

      Actually, the final lap of the 1997 European GP is without a doubt the most disgraceful lap of F1 that I have ever witnessed. The manner in which certain luminaries and journalists alleged that nothing untoward happened was ludicrous, and called into question their credibility and impartiality.

      1. Harvey Yates says:

        An odd coincidence is that, in my opinion, an earlier lap of the actual race was one which I would suggest was far, far more disgraceful. The driver at fault virtually got away with it. At least Piquet jnr had the decency to crash into a wall.

        Further, of course, there was the accusation by Fontana against Todt which was, rather oddly, not investigated.

        I feel that both these incidents were worse. But I know that both these incidents are history. What we are talking about is the here and couple of races ago.

        What others have done in the past, and before the relevant rules were made, neither adds to nor detracts from the actions of Ferrari.

  38. Baz says:

    This decision reads a bit like, “We’re going to fine you because we believe you’ve broken the rules. We can’t prove that you’ve broken the rules but we’ll fine you anyway.”

    Surely, if the FIA can’t prove that Ferrari broke the rules, then why are they upholding the stewards’ decision that Ferrari broke the rules? If the FIA can’t prove that the Ferrari broke the rules then surely they should be handing back the $100,000 to Ferrari. Shouldn’t they?

    Apologies for sounding a bit ignorant on this matter. I’ll get my head around eventually.

  39. Bdog says:

    So basically Alonso cheated Massa out of a win one year after his accident, that nearly took his life. Wow!!!! with teammates like that who needs enemy’s How can anyone with that info alone ever like this guy. I used to, not anymore. Integrity means a lot to me and Alonso has none.

    1. John says:

      Wow, what a way with words. You should be a judge/writer? A team will do what is in the best interest of a team. The drivers don’t control a team, so stop blaming this on a driver. A little common sense goes a long way…

      1. bdog says:

        I think I have alot of common sense. Perhaps its ferrari who should of used a little bit of common sense. Just saying if alonso used more engine power to appear to be faster ? to get around his teammate with out Massa knowing well common sense would say he lacks integrity Not judging although that would be easy just stating the facts

        in·teg·ri·ty
           /ɪnˈtɛgrɪti/ Show Spelled[in-teg-ri-tee] Show IPA
        –noun
        1.
        adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

  40. by_tor says:

    It slightly pains me to say it but I think the situation has panned out about right. Ferrari clearly (to any sane observer) executed a coded order and Massa let Alonso past, thus affecting the outcome of that race. Whether it was a good team decision or not is irrelevent to this argument. Ferreri felt it was the thing to do and they did it. The rules (as they currently stand) were contravened, and Ferrari got a financial penalty.

    However it has exposed the underlying problem, and for this, ferrari & Rob Smedley should be sort of thanked. the rule is completely unworkable, and inconsistent. Everyone knows that F1 is a team sport. Each teams has two cars and two main drivers. How the heck could we expect teams NOT have priorities for the team, which will involve making various decisions other than “just letting both drivers race” all the time right to the end of the season, even if it means they will “take each other out” in the attempts.

    So there will be a team strategy. It will vary between teams. Maybe some will have a designated no. 1 driver who will ultimately always benefit, some others (perhaps McLaren) would allow true racing until one of their drivers “mathematically” is in a hopeless situation, and only then would defer to their teammate.

    What we need is complete transparency and clarity. The main reason for the bad feeling from fans is the “sense” that we are being made fools of. We should accept and allow team orders, make sure through media etc. that all fans understand why this is the case, show examples of what teams may do, and make teams reveal explicitly team orders (either pre-existing plans eg for a certain race before it starts Team A would say “Driver X is going to let Driver Y past as early as possible because we wish Driver Y to win”, OR even during a race – if a decision is taken mid-race because of circumstances e.g. one driver is compromised by damage, other driver benefits by being protected by first driver as long as he can keep other behind him (legitimately). But these radio instructions should public and transparent. (Not coded language etc).

    Drivers have to also accept this and those who arguably are the ones who “lose out” should not act petulantly. They should be fully aware of what they would be expected to do when they sign their contracts. If they don’t wish to have to act as second fiddle, they have to be better drivers so they can demand better terms.

    (I presume this is one reason why Webber & Vettel have had so much trouble this season; they are both good drivers, and I bet neither has agreed in their contracts to automatically defer to the other even when the team would like it to be so…)

    These sorts of changes might be unpopular at first, and would take a bit of thinking through to get exactly right, but I believe the general idea that everything is much more transparent to public, and drivers alike, is the only way to progress.

  41. Michael Grievson says:

    Alonso has stamped his “authority” all over Massa this season, Pit lane incident anyone? What Massa should have done is either taken him out or returned the favour to show he won’t be walked all over.

    What Massa should do now is collect his thoughts and tell himself if he’s going to win a championship he needs to put Alonso in his place. Like Hamilton did at Mclaren.

    One thing about Webber/Vettel is you know neither driver is going to give an inch to the other and its exciting to watch a race wondering who is going to make a mistake.

    The difference is in personality. Massa is a nice guy but seems to lack the killer instinct and single minded desire to win at all costs that Alonso has.

  42. Steve says:

    Perhaps if we accept that F1 represents the ultimate intersection of financial investment and sport, then team orders are acceptable.

    But would it be equally acceptable to our emotional investment as fans to force the team management to publish their team’s pecking order before each race so we fans can know unequivocally who’s racing in the ‘A’ league and who’s playing the supporting role?

  43. Andy says:

    At the time this incident took place, it was speculated that Ferrari had an agreement between drivers such that if the trailing driver can show he is faster, the leading driver should let him pass. Then, the fact that Alonso first dropped behind Massa and then managed to catch him again was seen as Fernando proving that he is, indeed, faster, and Massa should let him pass him.

    If there truly is such an agreement in Ferrari, Massa must now feel extremely betrayed, given that Alonso was faster only due to his engine being revved higher.

    Lastly, the excuse “the drivers might’ve collided with each other without the order” simply does not hold water. Were they worried about that, they wouldn’t give Alonso an engine advantage, and they’d tell them to freeze the situation and not take unnecessary risks, like all the other teams have done. It is a team order as well, but at least the driver who has the number 1 spot on merit is allowed to win.

  44. guy says:

    james, you are a very talented f1 writer, i actually don’t fully agree with your stance on this issue in earlier blogs, and i am saddened by the outcome of the hearing (not that i was seeking a harsh penalty), however all of your your articles have been balanced, really well written and above all, interesting. well done and thank you.

  45. JJ says:

    The level of upset seems to fall along team boundaries. I do not begrudge a team using coded messages. Well, maybe in the beginning I did, but since the FIA let it go I have accepted any result where they were implemented. I might be upset that a team is more competitive relative to the ones I like, but I don’t understand the level of indignation being expressed. Ferrari didn’t use any other mechanism that most teams have used elsewhere. The FIA came to the right decision. Maybe they should’ve given the 100k back, too.

    1. JJ says:

      Also, is shouldn’t matter what race Ferrari used their tactic. Rules should be consistent from the beginning of the season to the end.

      Also, people conveniently ignore that having Alonso in the WDC race adds to the excitement and intrigue. Yay!

  46. Mike says:

    Would be interesting to see the reaction should Alonso have problems and Massa lose the WDC by 6 points. I would feel very sorry for Massa but would love the irony.

    1. James Allen says:

      Remember 1999 when Schumacher broke his leg and it was down to Irvine.

      1. Stuart the Old Geezer says:

        Interesting point James.
        What is the engine situation at Ferrari? Alonso compared to Massa?

      2. I remember that very well. Was at the GP, and ashamed of the fans cheering the crash. I did find it odd later in the season when Ferrari ‘Forgot’ one of Irvines wheels, costing him the championship. What did you make of that at the time James? Di you think they did this on purpose so Shumi could be the one to bring the trophy home to Maranello?

  47. Luke A says:

    James,

    If you could please read this when you get the time. I have come up with an idea for re-writing the team orders regulation and, more importantly a way of measuring the ‘cross over line’ when they could become available to a team. I actually think it could work and I’d be very interested to see what you think of it or if it were worthy of passing on to a higher authority. The point made in (3.) and the example that follows it are most important.

    I think if they would like to keep such blatant and unnecessary team orders banned, such as in Austria 2002 and at Hockenheim in 2010 then they need to consider the following:-

    1. The differentiation between a team order deployed solely to swap two drivers who, if left to race, would most likely finish in the order that they currently are, and a team order deployed to make a strategy work (for example) and help out one drivers cause, while not harming the others.

    By this I mean, if one driver is on a completely different tyre (or in the days of re-fueling, fuel) strategy and they need to let that driver through to make the strategy work, when he would eventually pass his team mate anyway, then I do not really see that as harmful team orders.

    2. Once a driver is mathematically out of the championship then there is no harm in him being told to let his team mate through – infact, for most teams, you would expect that would have been agreed behind closed doors anyway.

    3. Possibly some common sense could be used, such that if it can be shown that, while still mathematically possible for one driver to win, it is highly unlikely that they could and would require a quite unforeseeable set of outcomes, then it is understandable to favour one driver.

    The difficulty with this is measuring when that cross over line occurs. I just thought, what could possibly be done is, by taking the best result of each of the two drivers at each race up to that point in the season and then averaging the points scored per race by the highest positioned driver in that team, they could then multiply that average figure with the number of remaining races and see if it is foreseeable that, that driver could still win. In that scenario, if Massa was say 100 points behind with 5 races to go then he could still mathematically win if he won every race and all his other competitors scored next to no points, however, if Ferrari’s average top score per race was say 15 points, then you’d do (15*5) and get 75, so he could be deemed to be unrealistically able to win. To make that ruling more realistic with massive changes in speed throughout the season based on development, you could possibly take an average of the previous 5 races to get the average points scored per race.

    If you did this, or implemented a similar system then there would not be this awkward situation of drivers almost waiting to hear when they’re going to have to move over for their team mate, because they would know when they were out of it based on this system that they could be told to. Also, it would be better than just saying, “once someone is mathematically out of it”, because that still leaves the scenario where, while a driver is mathematically in it, it is almost impossible to do so. People may say, what about Kimi in 2007. Well, this ruling wouldn’t have affected him because he was already the leading driver and therefore it only applies to the driver on lower points to his team mate.

    If we take an example and look at how this system (point 3.) would have worked for the Hockenheim incident:-

    Ferrari’s 5 best previous finishes (i.e. highest finishing driver in the team) in the 5 races leading up to Hockenheim were:-

    (out of points, 8th, 3rd, 7th, 4th) = (0+4+15+6+12)/5) = 7.5 average per race

    However, if you tweaked the rule to say the last 5 points scoring finishes, you’d get:-

    (8th, 3rd, 7th, 4th, 2nd) = (4+15+6+12+18)/5) = 11 average per race

    Before the race at Hockenheim started, Massa was 78 points behind the championship leader, Lewis Hamilton. Therefore, with 9 races remaining, lets see if he was still in it under this ruling:-

    9*7.5= 67.5 (so under last 5 explicit races, he would have been out of it and Ferrari’s team orders would have been legitimate)

    9*11= 99 (however under the last 5 points finishes, he would have been in it still and Ferrari would not be allowed to deploy a blatant swap)

    ————-

    To summarise, team orders need to be available at some point in the season and in certain circumstances, however, nobody wants to see a driver who deserves to win the race having to let his team mate through when he is still in with a feasible chance of winning the championship. Massa, still had a chance in my opinion and under that ruling (taking the last 5 highest points finishes from both drivers in the team) he still had a chance. What we don’t want is a situation like in Austria 2002 when one driver starts helping another from early on in the season and I fear that unless we have some kind of ruling that actually defines this cross over line then it will start coming to that with some teams *cough* Ferrari Alonso.

    The difficult part is writing the regulation to outline the cross over line and with my experience of computing and quite ironically, very closely linked to the MSc project I am currently undergoing where I am investigating the problems of specifying safety critical systems, natural language specification is very problematic and often includes ambiguity. Therefore, what they need are some kind of measurements as you cannot argue with maths!

    1. Luke A says:

      Written a bit more elegantly:-

      “Rule 39.1 – Team orders resulting in two team mates swapping position are not permitted where the points gap of the non-beneficial driver to that of the championship leader is less than that calculated by Rule 39.1A.

      Rule 39.1A – The teams last five finishes will be considered, taking the best placed position from that team and then dividing total points gained by five to conclude a net average for the previous five races. This average will then be multiplied by the number of remaining races left until the end of the season (including the current race). The end result is that which is relevant to Rule 39.1.”

      That is just an example of how it could be done – it might not be brilliantly written in that example, but im sure they could find a way to make it relatively short and simple.

  48. Scott says:

    So Williams and Sauber wrote in support of Ferrari..I guess Williams must be lining up a Ferrari engine deal for next season.

    1. Tommy K. says:

      Maybe that’s true, but that wasn’t the reason Frank Williams supported Ferrari. He just did what seems to be the right thing to do. (even if right is not fair for Massa…). It’s a team sport and team orders should exist! Banning team orders is like banning Sir Alex Ferguson from coaching ManU from the bench!!

      1. j says:

        Right and the next step is to allow inter-team orders. /S

        Let the Ferrari and Mercedes customer cars block for the bigger teams.

  49. Spamse says:

    I’m baffled by the whole team orders rule, it is not only unenforceable, but doesn’t fit with the structure of the sport. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see a straight fight between team mates but that can’t happen – *teams* are acting in their interests for both titles, and drivers are merely the front line employees to accomplish those goals.

    The best we can hope for is that any new rule simply serves to more effectively conceal the inevitable manipulation from the fans; this is essentially what already happens, bar the failures as with Massa and Alonso. The naive fans will be satisfied they are seeing a straight fight, and the teams will continue to do what they have always done.

    1. So you’re seeing it as a team sport – which is fine, but a lot of fans see it as an individual sport, following a single driver regardless who he drives for.

    2. j says:

      The basic claim behind your argument, that team orders are unenforceable, is obviously false.

      The order went out, the stewards caught it and Ferrari was penalized.

      The rule was enforced. All that needs to be changed is to add a harsher penalty.

      Take away championship points.

  50. simon fehr says:

    Hi James…here’s an idea…you want cost reduction and an end to team orders? OK then, only allow the teams to run one car. Why do they have to run two? That would leave the way open for more teams to get involved. 30M euros for a season would be easily achievable and we’d have proper, no team orders racing to the line. Why is that such an outrageous idea?

  51. Spyros says:

    “Alonso increased his engine speed without Mr Felipe Massa’s being informed. Mr Fernando Alonso was therefore benefiting from a definite performance advantage over Mr Felipe Massa in the moments preceding the contentious overtaking.”

    I was reading the post almost sheepishly, until I got to the statement above.

    So, Ferrari’s argument for the ‘Sorry’ response to Massa’s maneuver, i.e. that it was an apology for his car not being fast enough, was… almost true!

  52. Damian Johnson says:

    Why didn’t FIA make Alonso and Massa testify to the fact that team orders did not happen? Sure this would have happened if it was McLaren or another team.

    Is it because one of the drivers under the pain of truth would have been forced to admit team orders to avoid lying to the WMSC and so a deal was struck with FIA beforehand?

    And FIA’s insistence on having one of their observers in McLaren’s garage to protect Alonso’s 2007 WDC. What was that about if team orders are inevitable. Where was FIA’s proof? Ferrari International Assistance – Pah!

    1. Red5 says:

      I think Todt is moving the FIA in the right direction. They made the right decision in the sense that it’s the right thing to do for the sport.

      Many of your observations belong to the Mosley era.

      We all heard the radio transmission and interpret them differently. Not sure that Alonso and Massa testifying would have brought any more clarity. Other than Ferrari are committed to winning one if not both of the championships this year.

      As always, better to fight it out on the track rather than the court rooms.

  53. Steve L says:

    To be honest the whole saga is one that Ferrari cannot be very proud of. I cannot imagine in his heart of hearts that Alonso is very proud of it either.

    James – I am very interested in the fact that the other drivers/teams seem generally quiet on the subject with the odd exception so it seems inside F1 it’s largely ok, but for us fans it’s not. What do you make if this divide if that’s the right word? Or are we just being naive?

    The best thing all round now would be for us to have an amazing weekend at Monza with lots of drama, overtaking, good old fashioned sporting fairness and the best man & team winning – that’s what F1 should be all about – getting decided on track fairly and not by lawyers in Paris…

  54. Damian Johnson says:

    James,

    Thank you for another interesting article, especially about the engines being turned down and Alonso’s turned up to try and pass Massa.

    Do you believe that there was enough evidence to punish for using team orders as this was banned, irrespective of whether other teams have used orders in the past but being far more subtle about it)?

    AND do you think that FIA are now demanding a higher burden of proof of evidence than previously before punishing?

  55. Rob Silver says:

    The result of the hearing of the WMSC was nothing short of a vile, biased whitewash in Ferrari’s favour. There’s zero credibility left in the integrity of F1, or the majority of the teams. I’ll enjoy watching the engineering and following the technical developments of the racing entertainment, but I cannot, with straight face, call what was once “my beloved F1″ a sport any longer.

    Ironically though, I agree with removing the team orders rules as unworkable, but for as long as the rules are as they are, they must be seen to be enforced to the fullest extent. In this case, they have not been. And, again, it is to Ferrari’s benefit. The whole event has unraveled into a total farce of pantomime theatre. Given the match fixing plaguing cricket at the moment, it’s quite the miracle that F1 hasn’t been drawn into the same debate.

  56. Alexbookoo says:

    Is there any detail as to how many laps Alonso’s engine was turned up for? Is it the reason Alonso was able to reel in Massa’s 3 second lead?

    Why can’t engine status be public information, for example on the graphic that shows revs etc it could also show the engine mode. Then we’d have a better idea what we’re watching.

  57. Steve Rogers says:

    I don’t know about Massa’s contract, but Rubens has specifically said that his contract had nothing in it which made him expect the order he was given in 2002. It came out of the blue and shocked and angered him to the extent that he did not pull over until the race was almost done. This is not a matter of contracts but of direct pressure, under the table.

    However, from another point of view, if you are a fan of a driver and that driver fails to do his best because he is wheeling and dealing with his team instead of depending solely on his own merit, then that driver is himself destroying the sport of racing. I can’t imagine the most famous Brazilian driver rolling over as Rubens and Felipe have done.

    In my view, changing the sport so that each team has only one car is the only way to root out these disappointments. Even then, a team would be able to change to another driver whenever it felt like it.

  58. Olga says:

    Massa has known for years what the situation is at Ferrari and by taking the cheque he is well aware of what he may have to do. Ferrrai were never going to pay big dosh to a champion and let him be second best this early in his Ferrari time. Alonse is also de-valued as a result of this. It won’t take too many drive finishing Massa then Alonso and Ferrari will be looking for TWO new drivers. Kimi Raikkonen was a good example of Ferrari’s commitment to a contract.

  59. Bob says:

    Of course they could prohibit team orders and enforce it and thereby ensure a spectacle that the paying public wants (ie) a fair, honest race. But that’s not the F1 way. My real concern with this whole thing is the potential to manipulate outcomes and stages of a race to suit betting positions in markets far removed from the race location … and who’s to know?

  60. Ed says:

    I think its worth trying to keep out team orders. The reaction after Hockenheim was so vehemently negative that I don’t think the rule should simply be removed.

    If they had given Ferrari a big enough penalty, such as a suspended ban, it would at least make them think twice about doing it again.

    I like the “mathematically out of championship” idea. I think that was already the intention of the rule, just look at China 2008, but it would be good to have it writing.

    As a fan of Massa its very frustrating. If he had won the race (and we now know that he seemingly had the pace to beat Alonso), he would surely have got a massive confidence boost and would have been stronger for the rest of the season. However, in two of the last 3 races, Massa has done a better job, so there is some encouragement moving into 2011 – as long as he can fix his qualifying.

    I would love to see him win in Brazil!

    1. Steve L says:

      It’s a good point – there is a lot of goodwill behind Massa from the fans, but sadly not sure that alone will convert into lap time!

      There would be some poetic justice in Massa out scoring Alonso for the rest of season (as he did in Spa), how ironic would that be.

      1. Ed says:

        Well he has some tracks that he has done well at in the past (Singapore, Brazil) and some that could theoretically suit him (Korea, Abu Dhabi), so its possible.

  61. Andersson says:

    Massa can’t trust the team any more. This is what does the most damage. Once the trust is damaged, it is very hard to repair.

  62. Andersson says:

    The ban on such team orders is impossible to enforce.

    There is a principle in our parliament that no law shall pass which can’t be enforced. I’m not sure if it always holds but at least they have a principle about that. It makes sense – if you can’t control it, then there is no sense to make it a law.

    1. Damian Johnson says:

      That does not excuse rule breaking by Ferrari!

      1. mtb says:

        It doesn’t excuse McLaren’s actions in 2008 either. It is a shame that the fans are not being consistent.

      2. Damian Johnson says:

        Ferrari break the team orders and are brazen about it before the WMSC. They never showed the slightest hint of remorse. Is that arrogance again from a “special” Ferrari? I don’t see what that has anything to with McLaren in 2008. Perhaps you are trying to make light of rule breaking by Ferrari.

      3. mtb says:

        2008 German Grand Prix

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epI6u6uA8hM

        “According to Dennis, Kovalainen was simply told that Hamilton was much quicker and he took the decision himself to allow his team-mate by. “The only thing we advise drivers is the respective pace of the other driver and they ultimately call it,” the team principal said. “Lewis was nearly a second quicker than Heikki through the race and when he was told Lewis was quicker he just let him past. ”

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2008/jul/21/formulaone.motorsports

    2. j says:

      This ban is obviously possible to enforce. The stewards enforced it. The rule was broken, the stewards saw it, Ferrari was fined.

      The stewards got it right. The organizers of the “sport” just decided to let Ferrari off with out penalty.

      If you want to stop team orders just give the stewards a mandatory penalty to apply for this infraction. How about a 10 second stop-and-go for both drivers.

      For other infractions, like passing outside of the boundaries of the course, the stewards have no choice. They can’t just give a fine for a random amount. The only possible penalty they can apply is a drive through.

    3. AlexBookoo says:

      Should heroin be legalised then, because they can’t control it?

      1. mtb says:

        If the authorities choose not to apply a regulation consistently, is there any purpose in having the regulation?

      2. AlexBookoo says:

        Most authorities apply most regulations inconsistently. That’s called discretion. It’s how it should be because the world is complicated.

        But it’s an odd response to get rid of a law because it has been broken.

      3. mtb says:

        Well I certainly hope that organisations such as the Civil Aviation Authority do not apply regulations inconsistently. Is your final comment directed at me?

  63. Banjo says:

    Alonso having a better engine setting than Massa rings bells of Istanbul when Vettel had a better engine setting than Webber. Perhaps it’s not as uncommon as we think? Or, as uncommon as it should be!

  64. Doug says:

    If it was McLaren who had ordered Jensen to let Lewis through at Hockenheim… before arrogantly swaggering into a hearing after repeatedly lying to the press and the public for the past few weeks about the most blatant team order we have seen for years… the FIA would have crucified them. It can not be disputed that they have been lying all this time. The way Rob Smedley, who is a man I like and respect a great deal, tried to twist his own words in an interview after the race was just plain disgraceful.

    I can not see how anyone can dispute that.

    Politics/nationalism must have played far too significant a part in this ruling for anyone but the most biased or delusional fans to be comfortable with.

    I wasn’t bothered by the team order, but the rules need to be abided by. If there is a rule for something, and someone arrogantly and blatantly breaks the rule, they must be punished. This culture of breaking rules and then seeking for them to be clarified in some cheeky blissfully ignorant and/or arrogant manner is getting boring now.

  65. Dave Roberts says:

    James,

    I am amazed at some of the comments being made not just by the fans in this forum but also some of the professional commentators. Anyone who has watched the sport for more than a season will surely have been exposed to team orders in one fashion or other. I cannot believe the apparent naivety of some of the comments as though Rob Smedley’s coded message was unprecedented.

    Those of us who have watched the sport for a number of years will realise it is part of the make up of the sport and should accept it as such.

  66. Peter says:

    I commented on this site a few weeks ago that team orders cannot be policed and that soon people would be thanking Ferrari for bringing the issue out into the open. OK, I was wrong on the second point!

    Given that presumably people posting here are F1 fans, I am surprised at the level of ignorance and naivety about the history of F1 – or perhaps people are being disingenuous. We all know when and why the rule was brought in, but surely we also know that what the rule really meant was “don’t implement team orders too clumsily or too early in the season”. And Ferrari broke that interpretation of the rule.

    A new rule saying team orders are only permissible after a certain point in the season, or when driver A is X points ahead of driver B, would still be unenforceable. The reality is that a team which was desperate to get one of its drivers more points would implement team orders whenever it wanted, for example by means of a pre-race understanding.

    The other reality is that while many fans support an individual driver, they know exactly which team that driver drives for and should know pretty clearly whether the team is one which has a “let our drivers race each other” approach or doesn’t.

    Finally, people calling for one car teams may be being logical, but they are ignoring the reality, and history, of F1.

    1. mtb says:

      Bigotry and hypocrisy are the words that I would use to describe many of the comments on this issue.

  67. Dave P says:

    How on the one hand can BOTH the FIA and FOTA put out surveys asking fans for their opinion, their views ( That both say are essential for the survival of F1 ) and then stick two fingers back at the same fans who filled in the survey… James do feel the hypocrisy here… Ferrari et al are always banging on about fans an sponsors. As for Williams, if I were a major sponsor, would I want to be associated with them a team that advocates rigging of results and does not stand for fair play? How can Ferrai be unhappy with Flavio and Pat Symonds for basically doing the same thing as they are, i.e. rigging a result… a plague on all their houses

  68. Robyn says:

    I like the point you bring up about Webber, and I agree – it seems like quite a contrast between the way things work on Red Bull vs. Ferrari. Which is why I think that, no matter what Christian Horner says about how maybe now they’ll use team orders, as well, I can’t help but think: Yeah, good luck with that! Give all the team orders you want – whether either of your drivers will comply is a different story!

    (I’m referring to this, btw: http://bit.ly/9dApkt)

  69. Bayan says:

    I wonder if alonso will do what schumi to rubins did and give a win to Massa at some point.

    1. Rodrigo says:

      I was thinking exactly that… what if FA is out of contention, let’s say in Brazil, and he’s 1 & 2 with FM behind… what will FA do? My money is on that he would concede the win. I wonder if a journalist would ask such a hypothetical question…

      Better yet, would ferrari order the swap for the good of the team? It may help Ferrari PR in Brazil, so it would help the “business” team… note, I see a distinction between the “racing” team and the “business” team… for the WCC (racing team) swapping 1&2 makes no difference, for the WDC (business team) it makes a difference.

  70. Damian Johnson says:

    Ferrari has a history of being treated leniently by FIA/WMSC so this case does not give provide any evidence that FIA are acting any differently from the post Mosley era. Judgement on Todt’s presidency can only be given when we see a team other than Ferrari that is defending its actions at the WMSC.

    1. mtb says:

      Could you please elaborate on that?

      1. Damian Johnson says:

        It could be more of the same from FIA treating Ferrari softly. Even Todt believed team orders were being used but FIA are suddenly coy about punishing a team because there was insufficient evidence. That never stopped FIA in the Mosley. So we need to see if a non Ferrari team gets similar treatment by FIA under Todt presidency before we can say that FIA have become more even handed.

      2. mtb says:

        Please tell me how many incidents this history of being “lenient” is based upon.

        It could be argued that McLaren has been treated leniently by the WMSC if one only considers the most recent investigation into the team.

        When Mansell raced for Ferrari, and Senna for McLaren, many English journalists and F1 fans alleged that the FIA was discriminating against “our Nige” and favouring Senna. The FIA always seems to be acting against whoever these particular individuals support!

  71. David Ryan says:

    James – sorry to nitpick, but the WMSC made it clear in their decision that there was sufficient evidence to conclude that Article 39.1 had been breached and that illegal team orders were used. The reason they chose not to impose further punishment was because similar apparent breaches had gone unpunished and decided it “would not be appropriate” to impose further penalty in those circumstances. That is another legal issue entirely from the one you alluded to – had the WMSC not had sufficient evidence to prove it on the balance of probabilities (i.e. more than 50% likely it happened), the £100,000 fine would have to have been removed.

    The points about the damage to Massa and the engine situation are both very important, though – Massa does seem to have lost his edge compared with Hockenheim, perhaps because he no longer feels he has the team’s confidence and because of the reaction from back home. The engine thing meanwhile does raise some serious questions about Ferrari’s approach to that race.

  72. Grabyrdy says:

    I see that today all the important players in McLaren, Martin Whitmarsh, Lewis, and, especially, Jenson, have come out against team orders.

    Good for them.

    Now that we seem to be stuck with some form of them, it’s time to think about detail. In any new set of rules, the FIA has to find away to distinguish between :

    1 – team tactics and driver favoritism, and

    2 – team decisions about equipment, which are made in the garage and stay between the team and their drivers, and decisions which impinge on the racing on the track.

    That shouldn’t be that hard when terms are carefully defined.

    1. mtb says:

      Lewis wasn’t complaining when Kovalainen moved aside for him at Hockenheim. Nothing less than unadulterated hypocrisy should be expected from McLaren.

      1. Grabyrdy says:

        Well, that’s a really useful contribution to the debate …

  73. Martin says:

    James, what do you think of the idea of removing the pit-to-car radios that I mentioned on your previous blog post ‘Ferrari team orders: did the FIA get it right?’ (comment 12)?

    1. James Allen says:

      That seems a very popular idea among fans here. I’ll ask around the paddock tomorrow

      1. JimmiC says:

        I agree with this as well. Have some sort of display on the steering wheel to warn of hazards and also to display fuel levels and the number of laps completed, but leave everything else up to the driver.

        Also, I’d only allow the driver to turn up or down his engine – not the team – but I’d strip the steering wheel of all the other little gizmos and make it more basic. No more wing adjustments or brake bias tweaks. If your set up is lousy, deal with it.

        Finally, I still feel that making the aerodynamics more basic so that the air flow is cleaner and allowing cars to follow each other through medium speed corners would reduce probably half or more of all team order incidents. If overtaking is possible, there would be no need for drivers to move aside.

    2. Oliver N says:

      You could always have coded messages on pit boards. You could bring a car in and fake a stuck wheel nut. These are clever people who will find a way….you can’t ban it, it won’t work.

      1. AlexBookoo says:

        There are always ways to rob a bank but it’s still banned.

      2. Martin says:

        The reality is there will always be team orders in a sport with teams. My point is they should just make it more difficult. Removing the radio WOULD make it more difficult. Driving past a pit board with covert information, I would say is more difficult to read than to listen to a message over the radio. You can only fit a little amount of info on a pit board and it is shown once a lap remember so it does limit it more. It also makes it more of a driver decision which would hurt the drivers rep more than ever and more likely they would choose not to.

        I think it is logical for a driver not able to win a championship to help his team mate that can. It is called common sense and we shouldn’t remove the small amount of common sense there is left. The problem is Ferrari do it so blatant and unnecessarily.

        Having no radio would make the sport more exciting no matter how the teams are able to get around it.

        Make the driver work harder and he will feel he earns the position more than giving it up.

  74. Richard Mee says:

    The issue is that any influence from anyone apart from the driver detracts from the sport in pure entertainment terms. Agreed.

    Manufacturered results = artificial and dull race = miffed fans.

    3 things to change:

    Radios – bin.

    ECUs or any other systems that can impact car performance and may be controlled by the pit wall – bin.

    Clauses in drivers contracts pertaining to inequality – bin.

    3 little things. Where’s the issue?!

    Give me a big black bin liner – I’d walk up the Monza pit lane tomorrow and just start binning the lot.

    Show the drivers the bloody charts and temperatures and fuel gauge… seriously, give them a nice little screen on the steering wheel with sat nav and a colourful scroll-menu and, if they’ve got the spare time in the race, they can check out anything they want – competitors track positions and split times, tyre pressures etc… find out any information they could possibly need. Give them 5 live if they want it I don’t care.
    If they’ve got a problem though – let them deal with it.

    After all, they’re being paid £millions a year for what? Having ‘focused’ Dads and being born with quick reactions and a good eye for an apex. Rubbish!

    (the last paragraph is not intended to be taken seriously – but the rest of it is ; )

    1. Ed says:

      Its very hard to monitor contracts, but apart from that, I agree.

  75. Oliver N says:

    The FIA have damaged their credibility in this case.

    I am a long standing F1 fan, and consider that I am quite knowledgeable about the sport, but I would expect the rule makers to know a lot more about it than I do. When the arbitrary rule of ‘no team orders’ was introduced without specifics it was obvious that it was unenforceable, there are so many ways of fixing a result within a team. So they were setting themselves up to fail. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the rule itself, if you make a rule, you need to impose sanctions against those who flaunt it. Ferrari clearly broke the rule and (aside from a piddling fine) got away with it. This clearly undermines the FIA.

    Much of the discussion appears to be that this was blatant, and that if they had been a bit more covert, then it wouldn’t be a problem. What you are saying with this is that if you are going to break the rule, then please be sneaky about it. This would clearly be unsatisfactory, so you are only left with the obvious choice that the rule is not enforceable, so therefore you can’t ban team orders. You may not like it, but that’s all you have….Unless you can think of a better way.

  76. Stuart the Old Geezer says:

    James
    Can you clear up a query please?
    How were the Ferrari engines ‘turned down’ at Hockenheim?
    Best
    The Old Geezer

    1. James Allen says:

      All the drivers can run the engines on lower revs, or different fuel mixtures to save fuel or engine life. The drivers all do qualifying and the early laps of the race on maximum everything then turn it all down as the race moves towards the finish. So they were both in wind down mode with 18 laps to go, but it seems Alonso was given permission to increase revs …

      1. mtb says:

        Did alonso have more fuel at that stage?

  77. Nando says:

    Why were letters of general support for team orders from Sauber and Williams mentioned? They’d no relevance to this particular incident under the current rules, Sauber-Ferrari couldn’t exactly be classed as neutral party anyway.

    1. James Allen says:

      Because they both support the idea of team orders returning to F1

      1. Nando says:

        Sorry I meant to ask were they taken into consideration by the FIA when making their judgement.

  78. Jake Pattison says:

    Team orders are fine by me. It will always be a team sport as long as the teams run more than 1 car. I can’t see why all the fuss over it.
    Let’s move along and watch Webber win the WDC :)

    1. James Allen says:

      He’ll have to up his game this weekend..

  79. ed says:

    Certain comments made in defense of team orders are disingenious. For starters, F1 is not a team sport. When a soccer team wins every player in the team is a winner and they all ‘share’ the trophy. When one F1 car wins the other team driver is not deemed a winner and often enough is ultimately fired!
    Secondly (is that a word?) a team claims that swapping drivers under orders is good for the team but when a team is running 1 and 2 then you invert the order the team is still 1 and 2 so there is no benefit to the team.
    There is a team championship and a drivers championship for a reason so let the drivers be drivers! Understandably no one wants to see two ‘teammates’ take each other out but…

    frankly on a tangential thought this issue is an extension of current f1 culture where the driver is a heavily diminished figure even during the race. There are countless people managing the car and constantly telling the driver what to do. Go faster, go slower, change this setting and that… Who’s really driving? Part of the magic of racing is that when I put my helmet on it is just me in that miniscule place and I will do battle with an equally isolated oponent. I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing bumper sticker on drivers daily rides quoting ‘my 85 engineers are smarter than your 85 engineers’. You want to lower costs inthe sport? how about getting rid of 40 odd personnel per team travelling to the races along with the real time telemetry.
    I yearn for changes toward more sport and battle with honor and less mathematicians and computers all calculating the same strategy.
    Call me old I guess…

  80. ed says:

    P.S.
    James,

    Grreat writing great insight and great website. Thank you for your efforts, the sport would be less without it.

    Ed
    (one of the ignored US fans)

      1. ed says:

        wearing my heart on my sleeve over not having a gp. Hopefully austin coorrects that. Our TV coverage is adequate by Speed TV but could be better and for four races in the mid season coverage is provided by FOX TV which is downright poor.

  81. john g says:

    i am one of the few that doesn’t think oh poor massa how terrible. yes ferrari should not have put him in that position but they want their star driver (and lets face it there are a lot more alonso fans than massa fans) to come out on top. massa made the decision to pull over. he was clearly upset afterwards but it just shows he hasn’t got the balls and mentality to do what it takes for a win

    what could ferrari have done had massa won? even if they did manage to drop him at the end of the season, he’d be a much more attractive proposition as a ruthless winner than a meek number 2 who does what he’s told and then sulks afterwards.

  82. Kevin Platt says:

    Double standards, what else can be said. Once again, Ferrari escape punishment.
    McLaren get hammered by the FIA at every opportunity, but Bernie’s favourite team escape with less than a slap on the wrist.

    1. mtb says:

      McLaren has either escaped punishment or escaped further punishment on two of the last three occasions that it was called before the WMSC. Are you sure that the team is hammered at every opportunity?

  83. Ian says:

    Massa wasn’t faster, he was blown away by over half a second in qualifying at the same German Grand Prix.
    Massa has been disappointing a all season. He’s let us down with his performances. As much as it pains me to say, Alonso has been much faster than his over the season.

  84. teamworkf1 says:

    “In the view of Ferrari, Mr Felipe Massa was not ordered to allow Mr Fernando Alonso to pass; rather he was given relevant information, based on which he decided, for the benefit of the team, to allow Mr Fernando Alonso to pass,” concluded the FIA.”

    Very, vety jokable!!!!! Is the SAME thing!!!
    The point of team orders is NOT to manipulate the so call it “racing”!!!!!! Which it doesn’t happen with team orders or as drivers “discretion”!!!!

    It’s such a BS the maFIA still !!!!
    They should erase and start all over again!!!! It’s not working this so F1 series!!!

  85. Rishi says:

    I don’t think the differences between Red Bull and Ferrari are contractual. Webber merely had a stronger case to argue his point because he’d already won 2 races in 2010 and was very close to Vettel (and the championship lead) in the points standings at the time.

    Contrastingly, Alonso has been quicker than Massa at almost all the previous races this season and was himself almost two wins’ worth of points behind the championship leader when it happened.

    I think a mountain has been made out of a molehill a bit really. It was a judgement call; I’d love to have seen them race to the end and would like to have seen Massa win between the two but there was sense in what Ferrari did. Its easy to blame the FiA but in mitigation their hands were tied by past events where similar actions had gone unpunished. What this has all highlighted is the aforementioned flaw in the regulations, and an amendment will hopefully clear things up for the future.

  86. Matt Vogt says:

    Sorry for chiming in late, but my solution to the issue is: make team orders permissible, but ensure that every team fields a nominated first and second car. That way, every driver knows where he stands in terms of team backing, and has agreed to that circumstance prior to any racing.
    Also, the fans would have no illusions as to whether their chosen driver is favoured by their team or not, and anyone betting on the outcome can factor this into their calculations.

    1. Matt Vogt says:

      Of course, teams should be permitted to nominate first and second cars at each race, so that a driver who starts the season in the second car can elevate himself to preferred status by good performances early in the season.

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