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On team orders at McLaren and Red Bull and a pact at Ferrari
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On team orders at McLaren and Red Bull and a pact at Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Sep 2010   |  1:58 pm GMT  |  247 comments

We are now getting into what is known as the ‘Business End” of the season and with five drivers still in with a shout of the title, separated by a scant 24 points – less that the points from a win – it’s shaping up to be the most exciting finale in recent F1 history.

Five drivers can win it, no-one knows for sure who will. But one thing is certain – four drivers will lose it.

No-one wants to be left in that position and thus the whole issue of team orders and teams prioritising one driver over the other has been a recurring theme throughout this season. This is because we have three teams all at a high technical level, with very strong drivers.


Red Bull allowed their drivers to feud from the early part of the season onwards and this culminated in the collision between them in Istanbul.

Ferrari kept seeing Alonso tucked up behind Massa and asking to be allowed through as he was faster. It happened in Australia and then in China Alonso took matters into his own hands and passed Massa as they came in to the pits. And so in Germany the team took matters back into their hands and moved Massa over to let Alonso through.

At McLaren we had a spirited battle between the drivers in Istanbul, but since then the team and both its drivers have made it abundantly clear that they are going to race to the bitter end, even if it means losing the title to another driver.


I asked Martin Whitmarsh point blank on Saturday in Monza whether the team and it shareholders had spoken after the 2007 season about how they let Raikkonen steal the title by allowing their drivers to race and whether they had resolved never to let that happen again. He replied that this was the McLaren credo and would stay that way as long as he’s in charge, even if it means losing the title this year.

So this throws the spotlight on the other two teams, especially Red Bull.

On Sunday many rival team engineers were puzzled by Sebastian Vettel’s phantom engine problem, which seemed to only afflict him for one lap, but in that lap he was passed by Webber. As it turned out he then went long on the tyres and managed to jump Webber and others to finish fourth. Was the engine thing some kind of team order, it was whispered? I think the outcome disproves that theory, but today Flavio Briatore, Webber’s manager, said “Red Bull haven’t realised yet that if they continue like this, with Webber and Vettel racing against each other, they could lose the championship.”

“At Ferrari there is a clear situation with Alonso the team leader and Massa lending his hand. It’s not the same with Red Bull, not even with their strategy in the race. They have thrown away a hundred points, Vettel’s made all sorts of mistakes. If they don’t want to win the championship, this is how to do it.”

He would say that, wouldn’t he?

Vettel would point to Sunday’s race to show how he started two places behind Webber on the grid and ended up two places in front of him to show that he is the one the team should back, despite his 24 point disadvantage. Vettel is quite capable of winning in Singapore and if Webber retires it will be more or less all square with four to play. So clearly it’s too early to call Vettel off.


Meanwhile at Ferrari the situation appears to be clear cut, but I saw a very interesting article by Fulvio Solms in Corriere dello Sport, which said that there is a pact at Ferrari, whereby Massa will help Alonso for the rest of the season, but on the basis that he is free to challenge for wins and the title in 2011.

The theory goes that Massa has been struggling with the 2010 Bridgestone tyres and has expectations that the Pirellis for next year will be more suited to his style of driving.
“He’s very happy at Ferrari, the only problem is getting the Bridgestones up to temperature and it’s true that he is hopeful about the arrival of Pirelli, even if no-one knows yet how the tyres will behave,” Massa’s manager Nicolas Todt is quoted as saying.

There is a cultural debate at the heart of this story – pragmatism versus sporting romanticism. It is not about Italian values versus British, it’s just different attitudes to going racing.

F1 is a cynical sport, but McLaren’s approach and Red Bull’s thus far, has given this championship a thrilling edge. Sooner or later the maths will start to intervene and some decisions will be taken – Red Bull will surely crack first, after all it is not easy to imagine the Red Bull owner accepting the same fate as befell McLaren in 2007, given the investment and the fact that the team has enjoyed such a car advantage all season.

If it comes to it, McLaren will let their drivers go into Abu Dhabi free to race each other. And if someone else wins the title so be it. Is that noble or foolish?


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247 Comments
  1. Jameson says:

    I understand that team orders are unavoidable in this day and age of multimillion dollar sponsorship deals, but the team orders are extremely disrespectful to drivers and fans. However, I think the majority of the public wouldn’t mind team orders being applied when one driver is mathematically and realistically eliminated from championship contention.

    1. Paul Kirk says:

      Well Jamison, I can’t see how team orders can be considered “disrespectfull to fans”, I mean most fans are in it for the entertainment value, and some are in it for the technology as well, and whatever happens is entertainment.
      As for the drivers, I would assume that mature F1 drivers would accept the fact they were no.2 if they were consistantly slower than their team mate, or their results indicated it, or their pay packet was smaller.
      Anyway, I’ll be happy if Weber or Button (preferably Weber) wins the WDC.
      PK.

      1. Andy W says:

        Can I suggest that many fans really dislike seeing a team break the rules of the sport to favour one of their drivers over the other, they might also find the way that Ferrari behaved post race to be hugely insulting… Pretty much everyone who isn’t a Ferrari apologist was up in arms after the race.

        As for the drivers, when both drivers have a contract that gives them equal footing with their team mate on paper might find it rather galling to have it made apparent to them that their contract isn’t worth the paper its written on.

      2. Richard Mee says:

        Of course it’s disrespectful to fans!… when Joe Fan pays £300 of his hard earned cash – cash that could probably be used for a million other important things in the current climate – to attend a race it’s a very special occasion. He wants to see a genuine contest and celebrate a rightful, memorable victory…to be able to say ‘I was there’.

        There is simply not £300 worth of value in watching cars going round in circles with both the finishing order and the level of permitted competition on track dictated by the suits in the pits!

      3. Jameson says:

        Hi Paul,

        Team orders are disrespectful to fans of racing, because the fans are there to watch racing which involves drivers actually making real attempts to overtake other drivers–including their teammates. Fans also want to see their favorite drivers fight for a win, and not concede position as a result of an order from a suit. There were numerous reports of Massa’s stock in Brazil dropping with fans after the incident at Hockenheim, and there was even a shirt made with those infamous words printed on it.

        A mature driver would expect that his team would allow him to have the same engine settings as the “faster” driver. We will never know if Alonso was actually faster than Massa, as Massa was not allowed to turn his engine settings up while Alonso was.

  2. JM says:

    The pact theory at Ferrari is interesting.. but will it hold?

    Massa’s record of loyalty to Ferrari is impressive…but I do not believe in Ferrari doing favours to their loyal drivers except for giving them a win or two here or there…

    Say next year Alonso is WDC and Half God at Ferrari.. 3 times WDC.. he will even more firmly stamp his authority on team strategies. I cannot imagine Alonso playing second fiddle to anyone… not even when he has a realistic chance of winning the 2011 WDC.

    1. Andy W says:

      It will hold up like a paper fire guard, if Alonso wins his 3rd WDC then he will be even more belligerent about getting a 4th next season, and if he doesn’t then Ferrari will be even more belligerent about giving him every opportunity to get his 3rd next season.

      It seems to me that Massa should have a chat with Eddie Irvine and his great pal Rubens and then decide if he is happy to play 2nd fiddle at Ferrari and be competing for race wins (when his team mate isn’t behind him) or he should pack his bags and look for another team (Force India seems like it could use a driver of his talent to push them to the next level).

      1. Mr. Vain says:

        It’s very simple to me. Though I really like Massa, if he wants number one status, then all he needs to do is be quicker than his teamate.

      2. Andy W says:

        What like he was in Australia when he was in front of his team mate, and the coded message was given that Alonso was ‘faster’ and again in Malaysia when he was once again in front of his ‘faster’ team mate and given the coded message and then again in Germany when he was once again in front of his ‘faster’ team mate before being given the infamous coded message (four times).

        Terms like faster and quicker are rather curious when applied to F1 races, because drivers have different relative speeds at different parts of the race for all sorts of different reasons… thats why points are given for finishing order not for being ‘quick’.

        The reality is it seems that Massa has come under repeated pressure this season to let his ‘quicker’ team mate past despite being in front of him on the track… my feeling is that if a driver happens to be ‘quicker’ than the guy in front he should overtake him, not rely on his team to order his team mate to let him past… especially when the rules specifically state that team ‘orders’ such as were given in Germany are against the rules.

      3. tharris19 says:

        The car is developed around Alonso, not Massa. Technically it will be impossible for Massa to get the speed out of the car the way Alonso can since it is his data they are using for their setup. Setup also plays a major role in how well tires heat up. That won’t change with the Perelli tires.

    2. Damian Johnson says:

      I agree. Massa is in danger of becoming another Ferrari ‘paycheck’ driver so I guess it’s not surprising that Ferrari would need to strike a deal with Massa on team orders to try and keep him on board until the end of the current season.

      I suspect that Ferrari will then break their word on that deal come 2011 as I can’t imagine for one moment that Alonso would ever accept being the second driver in a team. If Alonso fails to win the 2010 WDC, there will be even more pressure on Ferrari to back Alonso even earlier in the season than 2010.

      So the question is how long will it take Massa to wake up and smell the coffee that he will always be the number 2 driver while Alonso is at Ferrari?

      1. xman says:

        Ferrari realise alonso is their best chance of bringing them a championship and they are acting accordingly! If this ambigious rule was not there alonso would have been closer to webber as ur reading this. The team itself will know better than anyone else who their best driver is, only they can make that assesment. Its mclaren and RBR who are taking ppl for a ride with their fairytale equal status bull. This is business and what drives it is winning! You wont see any team taking part in this so called sport if they have no cash even if they have equal treatment in their team. Ferrari wants to win. And champions do what needs to be done.

      2. Damian Johnson says:

        I don’t share your ethics that it should be a “win at any cost because that is what the history books will show”. Although a great driver, I am not alone in thinking that Schumacher’s wins at Ferrari are tarnished because of the assisted nature of his wins. Winning should mean something because it was earnt fairly and by that in F1 I mean where another driver has not been artificially gifted additional points through a simple swap with his team mate.

        I sincerely hope F1 looks forward on the issue of team orders, if only to give clarity on what type of team orders that are not acceptable.

    3. Marybeth says:

      “I asked Martin Whitmarsh… in Monza whether the team and it shareholders had spoken after the 2007 season about how they let Raikkonen steal the title by allowing their drivers to race.”
      Is that why Ferrari returned the favor the next year and made Kimi their 2nd driver to Massa…& gave the WDC to LH at McLaren in 2008…?

      1. James Allen says:

        Do you think that is what happened?

      2. Marybeth says:

        James, I should have put a little smiley face after I wrote that and before I posted it. :)
        As you said here, Ferrari does a pact.
        Kimi won the WDC in 2007 & then was 2nd to Massa in 2008. FM did not win in 2008, traction control issues, so Kimi was made 2nd again in 2009. I believe that that is when the problems at Ferrari began. Kimi was probably thinking that he had one more year on his contract, 2010, to prove the driver he is when allowed to be 1st again.
        FA showed up with Santander money & was afraid to have Kimi as a teammate, so Kimi was out. I think that Ferrari broke his heart & that is why he was out for year, trying to come to grips with what had happened. I think that he believed that just being the fastest driver would keep his job, that he could trust Ferrari. He did not realize how tight for money they are, ye olde cash flow problems. I think that he could have won the WDC in 2008 if Kimi had been their 1st. Look at how well he did after FM’s accident when he was made 1st again in 2009 in the 2009 turkey. I would like to have seen how well Kimi could have done as 1st all year in 2009. As if that wasn’t bad enough, then Ferrari bad-mouthed him. Whitmarsh has said that Kimi was good at car development.
        I am glad that he is looking for a seat to come back next year. That sounds healthy, for him.
        It will be interesting to watch FA when he is made the 2nd driver next year.
        I certainly went on a lot longer than I meant to. You are probably wishing that you had never asked. :)

      3. Marybeth says:

        James, I found this on Crash.net in an article “Raikkonen manager contacts Renault” in the comments section; “But hey, this news bit is NOTHING compared to what the italian Derapate F1 site wrote: According to Derapate, Raikkonen will return to Ferrari in 2011”, from someone named JP.
        I have no idea of the validity of this, just thought that I would include it in the conversation. :)

      4. Jason C says:

        Remember the assistance that Massa had with the extra win awarded to him for Spa? Without that (unfairly given, imo) gift, it would not have been anywhere near as close.

      5. mtb says:

        I remember the penalty that Hamilton was rightly given for cutting a chicane and subsequently failing to surrender the advantage that he obtained from doing so.

      6. Damian Johnson says:

        Good Point! The Spa 2008 will go down as one of the great injustices to McLaren during the Max Mosley era, FIA gifting additional undeserved points to Massa.

        Simply outrageous that FIA retrospectively applied new rules on what handing back advantage meant even though Hamilton did this to the letter of the rules at the time, the accepted customary practice was to drop behind the tail of the leading driver.

        Many ex F1 drivers including Brundle still rightly refer to Hamilton as the moral champion of Spa 2008. In spite of this, it is to be expected that there are still a small but hard core who support FIA’s decision only because their favoured driver or team benefitted from the decision.

      7. mtb says:

        A small core of F1 fans, overwhelmingly those who belong to a particular demographic, will continue to rely on their prejudices as opposed to the facts, and therefore claim that Hamilton’s penalty was undeserved. Fortunately there are numerous open-minded individuals such as (former McLaren driver) Alexander Wurz who have pointed out otherwise. If only the aggrieved members of the aforementioned demographic could also obtain information from sources other than the media of their own country.

      8. Damian Johnson says:

        The McLaren injustice at Spa 2008 amply demonstrates that the hard core who support FIA’s decision do so only because Massa and Ferrari benefitted from the decision. Those who follow the sport with an open mind, would not seek to criticize McLaren at every opportunity irrespective of the facts. Interesting to note that those who do also tend to blame the English media when the facts get in the way of their own prejudice.

      9. Andy W says:

        I think Ferrari had no choice but to back Massa over Kimi, quite simply because Kimi wasn’t performing to the best of his ability for most of the season whilst Massa was.

      10. S2K says:

        And that is exactly the situation this year when Massa is performing far from his capabilities, whilst Alonso is still in the title fight. I’ve always seen F1 as being a team sport and therefore I’ve always backed the team orders even in Austria 2002 when Ferrari took the correct decision given the fact that Barrichello had no chance to win the title that year.

      11. Andy W says:

        Except for the fact that Massa has been performing well this season considering the injury he was returning from….. Massa has always been a confidence driver (drives well when he has it and doesn’t when he doesn’t), if Massa was pressured in 2 out of the first 3 races to let his ‘faster’ team mate past then that will have done nothing to help his confidence… and hence will have degraded his performance.

        As for 2002 MS had no competition that season apart from his team mate… who had huge problems with reliability I seem to remember in the early season. By the time Hungary rolled around the results were pretty much academic MS was going to get the title.

    4. Jason C says:

      Definitely agree with this – there is no way that Massa will ever get to be #1 along side Alonso, unless Alonso is injured à la 1999.

    5. Richard Mee says:

      Of course, unless Massa can continue to improve his pace to reach Alonso’s current level in 2011 this whole debate is academic, because he won’t be consistently challenging anyone for anything.

  3. Stevie P says:

    For me, letting team-mates race until one of them is not mathematically able to challenge for the championship is the only logical thing to do when the team-mates are of a similar ability. e.g. McLaren.

    Whereas, if one say is a rookie and the other is an experienced driver, then I’d go with the experienced driver from the start and let the rookie do the best he can (and judge him by taking that discrepancy into account). e.g. Renault.

    What I dislike about Ferrari’s attitude is that they kept saying the drivers are equal, but the German GP proved that they’re not.

    I like Red Bull’s attitude, but I can see how decisions they’ve made can be mis-construed into favouritism for one driver over the other. The front-wing at Silverstone springs to mind; Horner should have told Webber first and then given some media outlet his reasoning behind it i.e., that the leader in the championship had first dibs on equipment – this would have prevented the outbursts following that incident.

    I don’t mind, what the teams do in backing their driver(s) – I just wish they’d give us (the fans) a clear picture – so I’m not so het-up, as I was after Germany.

    But, each to their own… and there will no doubt be differing opinions on this topic :-)

    1. Andy W says:

      So roll it back to 2007 and Lewis’ rookie year, should McLaren have forced him to play second fiddle to Alonso?

      1. Sideshow bob says:

        It’s better to win than not to win. I’ve often been slightly partial to Mclaren over Ferrari but Whitmarsh’s comments are making me think about re-evaluating my position. If McLaren are willing to lose a title in order to preserve driver equality (which I’m not sure I believe) then they aren’t committed to victory. It would disappoint me if 2007 was not a bitter enough pill for them to have learned their lessons… perhaps McLaren has a very anti-Alonso sentiment which leads them to feel, “well if Lewis couldn’t win it then better Kimi does it, as opposed to Alonso…”

        Ferrari knows that after all is said and done, after everyone has had their whining and crying, all that matters is who won the title. Maybe there’s a reason Ferrari is No. 1 all-time and McLaren is not.

      2. The Guru says:

        You cant be serious!Lewis had an 18 point lead with 2 races left,it was his title to win. Maca gave it to Kimi,quite a joke though!

      3. Damian Johnson says:

        “Ferrari knows that after all is said and done, after everyone has had their whining and crying, all that matters is who won the title. Maybe there’s a reason Ferrari is No. 1 all-time and McLaren is not.”

        I disagree with your suggestion that win at any cost is more important than how you do it. History casts a dim light on the Schumacher era at Ferrari that characterized exactly the approach you are advocating.

      4. Andy W says:

        Sorry but Alonso had made his own bed at McLaren and given most of the team plenty of reason to dislike him rather intensely by the end of the season.

        Whilst I understand your stance on ‘win at any costs’ its something that I (and many others) find distasteful, because we would prefer our chosen teams to win within the rules*.

        *Yes I am aware of the team order that asked Kovi to let Lewis past, and I am aware of Kimi helping Massa out in 2008. I am also able to distinguish the various differences between those events and what happened in Germany this year.

      5. Kedar says:

        I agree, the history books only tell you how many world championships you won not how many times you played fair for both drivers, which anyway Mclaren didnt do in the past with Coulthard and perhaps Montoya.
        Button is threatening to retire if the Team orders become a norm because he knows deep down that McLaren is more or less Hamilton’s team. Jenson doesnt have a good record when it comes to team loyalty (AKA Williams-Honda situation) anyway

      6. mtb says:

        MR JOHNSON

        History rightly casts an even dimmer light on the lengths that McLaren went to in 2007, and again in early 2009, to progress.

      7. Nando says:

        2007 is an abnormality, spygate made the championship so different for Mclaren that you can’t compare it with any possible future situations.
        The FIA prevented Mclaren from using team order by putting observers into the team after spy-gate, not that Alonso would of followed them.
        They were never going to go the other way and succumb to Alonso’s blackmail and ask Hamilton to gift him a WC.

      8. Damian Johnson says:

        MTB,

        Of course, history will show that the darkest period of all in F1 history was Singapore 2009 and the winner of that race was Alonso whose strategy appeared to benefit from the actions of his team mate. An exmaple of team orders?

      9. mtb says:

        MR JOHNSON

        Perhaps you are referring to 2008 rather than 2009. The actions that led to the deployment of the safety car were IMHO downright disgraceful. In addition to unduly influencing the race, the lives of drivers, officials and spectators were put at risk.

      10. Damian Johnson says:

        MTB,

        The darkest period in F1 history potentially came from the use of team orders at Singapore 2008 with Nelson Piquet Jnr’s crash. The debate was whether this was a team instruction or not in order for their no 1 driver Alonso to gain an advantage. It might be more than a coincidence that Alonso has been involved in a team orders controversy or more accurately, the lack of them at other teams also such as at McLaren in 2007 where he demanded no 1 driver status but was refused.

      11. Any1ButLoois says:

        Yes they should have. If they had, they would have won.

      12. Stevie P says:

        Ok, I’ve rolled back and here’s what I think; McLaren (and the F1 fraternity) were actually taken aback by how well Hamilton settled in during 2007. My gut feeling is that at the time they expected Alonso to lead the way and for Hamilton to learn the ropes – with no expectation\pressure in his first year. Then Hamilton showed that despite his inexperience (within F1) he was a challenger and they didn’t really know how to handle the situation. Alonso got racked off as he believed he was “team leader”, Hamilton got racked off because he wasn’t able to race his team-mate, Alonso became more racked off when his team-mate was allowed to race him etc, etc… it snowballed from there, from that lack of clarity.

        But this is a senstive subject, the “Alonso vs Hamilton at McLaren” debate does polarise opinions and I don’t wish to re-open that can of worms – the above is simply my take on it. If you disagree, that’s fine by me.

        I voted in the poll for “prioritise one driver only when the other can’t win it” – as I believe in equality and I want to see all drivers race each other; but if a team decides to prioritise one driver over another, I simply want them to tell us, so we understand the situation. Renault are clearly favouring Kubica over Petrov – something I agree with – thus as a consequence I have been quite impressed with Petrov. If he stays at Renault for a second season and makes the mistakes he has this year then he won’t be with them for a third season.

      13. Allan says:

        I don’t think McLaren should have forced Hamilton to play second fiddle to Alonso as, throughout much of the season, it was not obvious that Alonso was doing that much better. I agree that everyone, including the team, expeceted Alonso to stamp his natural authority on things. As it turned out, Hamilton exceeded expectations and had a great advantage going into the last couple of races which was squandered by some driver and team errors (pit call in China for instance). In hindsight, we can play “what-ifs” ad nauseum and surely manufacture a CERTAIN conclusion that Alonso would have won… but I don’t think it is that simple.

        I do think Alonso was given a fair shake at McLaren, and rather like that McLaren let the two race. Yes, if Lewis had been ARTIFICIALLY held back, Alonso would likely have won…

      14. C says:

        The championship was lost for McLaren the day Hamilton didn’t follow team protocol in who would get the extra fast lap in qualifying, Alonso slowed him down in the pits and was given a penalty that, became a whole lot more than the couple of points he was short of to win the championship.

      15. Galapago555 says:

        “I do think Alonso was given a fair shake at McLaren”

        I agree with you up until Hungary race. IMO, after Hungary, Lewis had better treatment than Fernando (e.g., being the one to have an extra lap during Q3).

      16. mtb says:

        From Hungary onwards, McLaren essentially functioned as two separate teams. I can’t imagine that either driver would have paid any attention to any team orders implemented.

      17. rhogan says:

        MTB,
        Absolutely agree with you that things changed after Hungary at McLaren. Read the official FIA transcript of the “spygate” affair and you’ll get an understanding of why that was so. As an employer myself if any member of staff threatened me the way that Fernando threatened Ron Dennis, they wouldn’t have to worry about who was getting preferential treatment – they would be fired! To me McLaren should have done more to limit him after Hungary. Random punctures and mysterious engine failures should have prevented him from having any impact on the championship.

  4. Andy W says:

    Sorry but it wasn’t team orders or the lack of that caused the accident in Turkey between Mark and Seb, it was the fact that one car was proceeding down the straight in a straight line and the other car for some unknown reason decided to turn into the side of it. The fact that the 2 cars happened to be driven by team mates is neither here nor there, nor is any collusion by the team (or lack there of) relevant.

    When it comes to the rumours you mention about Massa giving aid this season in order to get a ‘free to win’ deal next season I wouldn’t trust any such deal if I were Massa, because as soon as Alonso is behind him the team will start to apply the same pressure they did from the 2nd race of this season if what you say about Australia is true.

    As for the rest of this season I think that unless Seb closes up the gap to Mark significantly over the next two races that Red Bull will blink and team orders will come into play (assuming Mark keeps at the sharp end of the title battle), Red Bull have a trophy room that has been very nicely stacked over the last season and a half and they are desperate to add a WDC to their collection.

    McLaren are playing a different game and unless one of their drivers drops out of contention I don’t see them implementing orders, however I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes down to the last race the drivers themselves don’t help their team mate out on their own imitative… if only so that the conceding driver has that card in his pocket come next season.

  5. andy mcc says:

    good article james, im not sure wether its noble or foolish of mclaren to let them race but it is enjoyable to watch .I dont want go over the team orders debate again but who enjoyed what we saw in germany? right or wrong it wasnt fun to watch.

    1. Shane says:

      I agree 100% that it wasn’t fun to watch. The charade is ridiculous. I have no problem with Ferrari ordering their drivers to do whatever Ferrari feel is in their best interest. In my opinion, Felipe Massa and Rob Smedley handled the situation poorly. I also do not like the “fuel-savings” from McLaren or the “engine problem” at RBR. Whether or not team orders were involved, the simple state of the rules leaves us all wondering. I say repeal the rule and if Ferrari want Massa to concede a position to maximize their points haul or whatever reason they have Ferrari should be able to radio their driver and inform him that he needs to allow his teammate past. No shenanigans, no drama. They will of course be pressed by the press to explain it, and they should be able to just calmly explain their thinking and why they made the order.

      1. Andy W says:

        Its the only way to do it, above board and in the open… Let the teams sell their team orders to their sponsors/ fans and leave it at that….

  6. **Paul** says:

    I thought the Vettel engine issue was actually a brake issue, hence when it disappeared it was gone completely.

  7. irawan says:

    Dear James,

    In your recent article you mentioned that the public is being robed of entertainment when team orders apply. I think that is a bit harsh to say, and I have to say that I do not agree with your opinion. Let me track back a bit. The public was robbed when the crash scandal happened in Singapore. I felt that F1 was not a sport or entertainment it should be. I almost hated the sport and also felt that it might be true that everything about F1 is orchestrated. Plus the outcome was even worse. No one went to jail for that incident. I think Flavio should spent some prison time. One reason for that was a life and death issue (I need not elaborate on that). However, team orders should be allowed because it serves a different purpose, and that purpose is to let 1 driver and 1 team win the championship. That is not robbing entertainment out of us its actually entertaining to see which team chooses the 1 driver. What makes F1 special than any other motor racing is that, it rivals everyone from drivers to pit crews and technical superiority and if that means team orders are necessary to win the championship let it be, don’t be a fool like McLaren (they should have Alonso win another 2 championships – McLaren would have ripped millions in profits)!!!!

    Many thanks

    1. Steven says:

      Alonso fan?

      1. Mat says:

        Steven – Stupid remark. Are other comments all xenephobic McLaren fans with a pro-British agenda over reacting to an issue which has been blow out of all proportion? No. It is a point of view. I am a fan of the sport, but if anything a Williams fan, but everyone has an opinion and I really don’t see as what happened in Hockenhem as truly detrimental to the outcome of my enjoyment of the sport. Team orders have always existed in the sport and whilst Ferrari have without doubt executed them in this case crudely, lets not pretend that McLaren, Red Bull and the rest are not all doing the same thing at different points, just in different ways. Each time ultimately makes the same, rationale, logical choices Ferrari did. They just dress it up better, but I don’t blame any of them from doing so.

      2. Galapago555 says:

        And so?

    2. Richard Mee says:

      You pay your money to watch the ‘race’ situation you describe… I’ll hold on to my cash though thanks and maybe watch it on TV, unless there is anything else better going on.

      1. mtb says:

        That is your decision. Team orders have always played a part in motor racing, and always will.

      2. Damian Johnson says:

        I wouldn’t blame you for doing that or even choosing to swich off. That’s why F1 needs to evolve by reflecting the wishes of the fans and the results of surveys such as the one on this website shows that fans do not want a manipulated WDC through the unrestrained use of team orders, even if this was the norm in the past. Unfortunately, it is a familiar although weak argument to say “Team orders have always played a part in motor racing, and always will”.

      3. tharris19 says:

        Team orders are going to cheapen the sport to the point that it will put tv revenues in jepardy then stuff will hit the wall.
        I will say it again, if bring team orders to the USGP the press will have a field day and Austin will be cow pasture in a couple of years.

      4. mtb says:

        What is even more familiar is the tendency of some so-called fans of F1 to condemn instances of team orders that are implemented by teams they clearly dislike, yet fail to comment on team orders implemented by teams that they clearly support.

      5. Damian Johnson says:

        Another weak argument often used by those who advocate the use of team orders is to suggest that those who desire an unmanipulated WDC driver worthy of the title would “fail to comment on team orders implemented by teams that they clearly support.”

        This fallacy is made typically because they are trying to diminish Ferrari’s brazen rule breaking of FIA’s rules on team orders. They have no option but to use spurious examples because they are not on the scale or severity employed by Ferrari, that impacts on the WDC.

  8. Chris says:

    James, you said, “If it comes to it, McLaren will let their drivers go into Abu Dhabi free to race each other. And if someone else wins the title so be it. Is that noble or foolish?”

    To me, it’s neither noble or foolish — it’s sport. I know a lot of Formula One insiders think that’s rubbish, but that’s what fans want to see.

  9. Louis says:

    Vettel’s engine problem have been explained as having a brake/brakes temporarily stuck at “on”, probably after a bump in one of the chicanes…

  10. Jeb Hoge says:

    If my speculation is correct, this is the reason that of the three top teams, McLaren is the only one where the drivers haven’t been obviously displeased with each other this year. Look at the body language and even gestures that the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers exhibit (I’m still amazed at Vettel’s “crazy” finger twirling after he and Webber tangled). There’s just a ton of tension.

    Maybe Lewis & Jenson hide it better, but I’m guessing that because they’re not dealing with team orders, team principals giving and taking away trick parts, and the press punching up quotes and supposition about discord, the McLaren drivers get along well, even though they’re obviously still competing.

    1. Shane says:

      I agree that the McLaren drivers seem to be getting on well. Perhaps McLaren are making these statements because they feel they have two world championship winning drivers that are behaving like world champions. I imagine that they have already sorted out the various championship scenarios and both drivers have agreed to their roles. Currently both drivers are in the hunt due to their individual efforts and those of the team. I would think that if either of the drivers for McLaren are realistically eliminated from the WDC then they will assume the support role without fanfare.

    2. Olivier says:

      Button and Hamilton are truly a joy to watch, aren’t they?! Having no team orders lead to (1) more harmony in the team [better team spirit], (2) better cooperation [better car] and (3) better development [better results]. It is a clear win win to me.

      Ferrari on the other hand are awful to watch. Massa is clearly not enjoying himself in team Alonso.

      1. Damian Johnson says:

        I agree. Team harmony at McLaren is strong when compared to some other teams. And Massa does look very unhappy does n’t he!

        I suspect that there is building tension in the Ferrari garage, after the Alonso chop on his team mate on the inlap to the pits so early in the season. I suspect that Massa will not allow that to happen in 2011 now that he is alerted to Alonso’s methods.

      2. tharris19 says:

        You have more faith in Massa’s fortitude than I do. I have seen any backbone out of him this year.

    3. mtb says:

      I find it very hard to believe that Button and Hamilton can be buddies after Button’s antics at Istanbul Park.

  11. Mattw says:

    The truth of it James, that the value of a championship is dependant on how you won it.

    A championship handed to you on a plate is no championship at all.

    And just think how BORING 2007 would have been if McLaren had orchestrated the championship from the beginning…. zzzzzzz

  12. Silverstone79 says:

    If you had two drivers each with a chance of the title at the last race, it wouldn’t matter what you said to them anyway….they are not going to listen !!

    True, sometimes you will fall on your face at the very end and another driver will nick it but I am sure the victory would taste all the sweeter knowing you have raced and beaten everybody and didn’t need help in order to do it.

  13. Francisco says:

    Foolish!
    On the hand, great for fans!

  14. F1 fan says:

    McLaren and Ferrari are both going down different paths, but both are correct. The reason they are correct? Because both have made a choice. Sure they are polarised but they have made a choice and now know how to prepare for that choice along the balance of the season.

    Red Bull is wrong, because it clearly hasn’t mandated its drivers or team with one cause or the other. I would imagine and get the feeling that the drivers don’t really know if they are fighting each other or if there is a lead driver.

    This indecision is what will lead them to be more likely to lose the chamionship and in this regard Flavio is right.

    Indecision is the wrong decision.

    1. Steven says:

      I think Red Bull made a clear choice, the problem is that it blew up on their face. First because of un-reliability, and second because Vettel has made many mistakes. On the other hand Webber has had a very strong season with a few mistakes. IMO their choice is still Vettel, but they cant ask Webber to back him because Webber is ahead on the WC standings, therefore RB’s only choice is to let them race, forced choice.

    2. Richard Mee says:

      Red Bull’s making the mistake of an underconfident team still not aware of its acession from the mid-field to the front-runners.

      It has the appearance of equating the longterm retention of Seb with success.

      If they just were to focus everything on the car instead of trying to manipulate driver politics they have shown they have the engineering talent to lead the pack in any case.

      Driver retention is therefore not going to be an issue because the top drivers will seek to drive their car…

      1. Samuel says:

        Thats a brilliant point, and exactly what I think is Red Bull’s kryptonite.

  15. Andy C says:

    I think it is completely up to the team how they want to play it, and what they stand for.

    If Martin wants the ethos of the team to be around fair play and the quickest guy wins, then surely neither driver would have a problem with that.

    I personally don’t like team orders, unless the other driver is mathematically not able to take the title himself.

    However, if Ferrari and its stakeholders want titles for the team and one driver over another, that is absolutely up to them.

    I fully believe in the McLaren approach, and I am sure it creates positive motivation for all involved in both pit teams, engineers and drivers.

    Would Jenson go to McLaren if he thought (ignoring who is the quicker driver) it was sewn up that Lewis would always get preference. Absolutely not.

    Similarly, would Massa go to Ferrari now if he knew of the current push on Alonso? Probably not.

    James,
    any chance of a season so far review of the drivers battles within the teams (and who predicted who would win at the beginning of the season)?

    Keep up the great work.

  16. Geordie Porker says:

    I’d love to say that McLaren’s attitude is the best, but if were in Whitmarsh’s position, I’d say: “sorry Jenson, but this year is Lewis’ year in this team”…I’d have said that after Spa and I’d have looked ridiculous right now after Lewis’ mistake.

    However, you have to say that McLaren are honouring their drivers well, even if it ends badly.

    Personally, I’m not sure you can play the ‘team orders’ card properly unless it’s written into the contracts. All you do is upset one of the drivers who will believe always that he has a chance (otherwise he wouldn’t be in F1).

    Would be good to see some transparency – a contract clause saying that at a certain (points gap / points left) percentage that one driver gets preferential treatment. If that’s in both contracts, they can’t argue and it’s a motivator for early in the year.

    Regardless, this is still one of the best F1 years I’ve ever seen…hope 2011 matches it.

  17. Banjo says:

    Nobody ever said the Nobel thing was the easiest or most sensible. How different teams handle their drivers could well decide this years championship so it’ll be interesting to see the different approach at work. Yet another element making this a fantastical exciting finale.

  18. JoTorrent says:

    In 2007 the championship wasn’t lost bec

  19. MR says:

    If after 2/3rds of the calendar has been completed and one driver is 35+ points in the lead then start prioritising them.

  20. Justin says:

    Hi James,

    So what could be inferred from this is that Alonso will win the title because the Red Bull and Mclarean drivers will neutralise their chances of winning?

    Surely since most of the championship contenders are in the same boat whereby they are racing for themselves it puts us back in the position where any one of them could win.

    I think it makes for a great championship, wouldn’t be great if all 5 drivers had a possibility of winning the title at the last race (when Button rises to the occasion and clinches it)

    1. JF says:

      If Button wins the WC, the look on Hamilton face will be priceless. But the best outcome would be if Alonso wins by less than 7 points, the English press will go postal!!

    2. Rory says:

      Justin, you just gave me an idea.

      It sounds crazy, but what if Mclaren ARE prioritizing the constructors championship?

      With both Redbull and Ferarri appearing to have clear number one drivers before the first race of the season, could Mclaren be counting on the other two teams to sacrifice one driver in an attempt to win the WDC?

      The post season revenue share is based on the final constructors rank, not driver rank. With all the cost-restrictions, could Mclaren’s plan be to build up a season or two of “winners cash” and then be in a position to blitz the other teams when the rules change.

      I also suspect that Button’s claims that he was to be given equal footing might be true, at least for the first season.

  21. GP says:

    James, your article demonstrates what a fantastic season we’re having, and it’s only going to get better!

  22. Dino says:

    I think the team orders situation arises because the concept of having “Driver Standings” and “Team Standings” is essentially conflicting. To win WDC, you need to put your eggs in one basket. To win Constructors, you need both drivers to do well. Arguably, the teams this year that are doing the latter are the ones who don’t have team orders and may ultimately suffer the fate of losing the WDC as a result.

    Spectators tend to back drivers rather than teams (understandably, as there’s more human angle in a driver than in a faceless team), so it should be expected that they feel “robbed” when team orders interfere with the results of a race.

  23. zaxxon says:

    It is not foolish neither noble. It is simply false, a lie.

    Let’s just remember how Ron Dennis admitted they told Kovalainen that Hamilton was faster than him in Germany 2008. English teams play exactly the same game, but they don’t get punished.

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

    1. Cliff says:

      Lewis was faster, by some margin. HK could not keep up with him once he had let him passed. They were only close on the track because of a safety car. The punishment Ferrari recieved was more for the way they informed the world what was going to happen. Still atleast Massa now knows his place.

      1. zaxxon says:

        The only difference is that in 2008 the world wasn’t “informed” because we didn’t hear the team radio in our TVs. Who decided not to make public the team orders in that case? And also british media reaction was quite different, then and now.
        You know, the facts are exactly the same in 2008 and in 2010, but for McLaren there was no investigation and no punishment. The race director, english as Hamilton, didn’t think McLaren was breaking the rules, but 2 years later, having exactly the same situation he does.
        McLaren uses team orders as everybody else. They are not better nor worse.

      2. Cliff says:

        You completely miss the point! Had Alonso been in a similar situation to Hamilton in 2008, I would have agreed with the team order. Fact is, Alonso and Massa were running together on the track. The it’s not the order that was the problem, it was the execution (radio messsage).

        James, is it me or does Massa’s body language suggest that he is unhappy with his current situation. I know he has re-signed for Ferrari, but he used to have a smile on his face, now he just looks resigned to his fate.

      3. JF says:

        Team orders are team orders. All the top team would to the same. If they have a Driver who is well ahead in the WC and his teammate has’nt really matched his pace for most of the season then they will use team orders. If they get 2 strong drivers who are almost neck to neck in the WC they will let them race.

      4. zaxxon says:

        I agree with that, JF: all the top teams give and will give the same “team orders” in the same situations. Perhaps RedBull is the only one has clearly stated that Vettel is the team’s #1, when they took Webber’s front-wing to replace Vettel’s. But the rest of the teams will act as you say.

  24. john g says:

    In my opinion, team orders should not be banned. a driver races to win each race and to become WDC. he should not want or expect help from any other racer, team mate or not. it devalues the championship if you have someone helping you all the way.

    as long as drivers don’t take each other out, ensuring the team gets the same number of points, the issue of primary and secondary drivers should not exist.

    as a team philosophy, it’s clearly up to the drivers at mclaren who are fair racers through and through, it’s mostly that way at red bull who want to be, and it’s certainly not at ferrari who as always want to manipulate the race result for their main driver wherever possible.

    1. Ncedi says:

      That’s the problem though isn’t it…if they are allowed to get racey they WILL at some point come together. The team are trying to protect themselves from not only that but also the losing the WDC by letting the driver’s mugg each other (2007).

      Although not directly refering to your post, my feeling is that Alonso cannot win in any situation. He stays behind his team mate, his racecraft is questioned. He gets gatvol of staying behind and passes, he’s called stupid for risking everything. The TEAM ask Massa to let him pass, he’s a person who will win at all costs even unfairly. Team orders or not,he’ll be a villian.

      1. Damian Johnson says:

        “That’s the problem though isn’t it…if they are allowed to get racey they WILL at some point come together.”

        But that’s racing! And that’s exactly what the fans want to see I would suggest. The holy grail that F1 is always chasing is more overtaking not less through team orders. So why should we see this from a team perspective?

        If the drivers are worth their salt, they will not come together with their team mate. I don’t believe that this is an inevitability as you suggest.

        And your example, 2007 was a set of specific circumstances involving one difficult driver that played his part to the full in those events.

  25. PJ says:

    Fair play to McLaren for letting their drivers race, even if it potentially means another 2007-type result.

    As for the poll, when one driver has no mathematical chance, I think it’s prefectly fair for that driver to ‘assist’ the team’s title contender. The swings in points we’ve seen so far* show that even if a driver is 30-50 points off, they could be back up there in 2 races.

    *I think this is partly down to the 25 point system, which works better than the 10 point system in my opinion.

  26. Galapago555 says:

    Great point of view, as usual.

    Fully agree that we are not discussing Italian values versus British, but about different ways to approach the competition.

    I believe if I were the team owner, I would want my drivers to race each other while any of them had the possibility of winning the WDC. But I would give team orders as soon as it became impossible (not “very difficult”, but actually impossible) for one of them to win.

    I have to say that I am still sceptical on MacLaren letting its drivers free to race each other till the end of the season, if this could mean loosing the WDC like on 2007. If they do so, I will be happy to admit I was wrong, and it will make me change my ideas (prejudices?) about the team.

    1. Damian Johnson says:

      It would not make sense to let both drivers compete at the last race if one of the drivers was out of the running. I think the unofficial position with McLaren is to let them race provided both drivers have a mathematical chance.

      Being intelligent race drivers, Hamilton and Button would readily accept the supporting role, not least because they have a healthy respect for each other along with the relaxed atmosphere in the team despite the competition between them for the WDC.

      1. Damian Johnson says:

        EDIT: Hamilton and Button would likely accept the supporting role when either no longer has a realistic if not an absolute mathematical chance.

      2. mtb says:

        hmmm…so it is now acceptable to implement team orders under some circumstances…who cares if you are depriving the fans at the circuit and those who are watching the race on TV from a spectacle?

        The FIA should either allow team orders or ban them. If team orders are going to be banned, then penalise every team that implements team orders.

        And fans of the sport, as opposed to fans of a particular driver/team, should consistently either condemn teams who implement team orders or say nothing when a team implements team orders.

      3. Damian Johnson says:

        Having a pre determined #1 driver at an early stage or eliminating the WDC hopes of one the drivers (against their will) while they still have a realistic possibility of winning the WDC is quite different from having no mathematical possibility.

      4. mtb says:

        But if your primary concern is to ensure that fans, both at the circuit and TV viewers, can enjoy the best possible spectacle, isn’t there a distinct possibility that by implementing team orders in the last race of the season this will not be accomplished?

        If team orders have been introduced, a driver with a shot at the championship has one less competitor to worry about – a variable has been removed from the equation. All watching, both those who have paid to attend the event and those who have given up their time to view the event on TV, know that if the championship contender is behind his team mate then his team mate will allow him through. Similarly, if the championship contender is leading his team mate, all viewing will know that the team mate will not challenge the championship contender. Hence, an element of predictability has been introduced.

        The race could be far more interesting if the championship contender had to overtake his team mate in order to win the championship, or if he could lose the championship through being overtaken by a fast-closing team-mate.

        Despite claiming that you want to see racing, you seem to be prepared to accept a less interesting race.

        What about those fans who pay money to see a RACE? What about the casual viewers who switch the TV on and can not understand why a discernibly faster driver either allows himself to be overtaken by his team mate, or refuses to overtake his team mate?

        Are you willing to disregard these people? Or do these people just have to accept that they were deprived of a RACE because the championship was at stake?

  27. JoTorrent says:

    in 2007 the title wasn’t lost because of free racing. It was because Hamilton and McLaren badly managed it in the last couple races. Kimi should never have won it and Alonso wasn’t a factor either.
    The way they threw it away particularly in CHINA was unbelievable !!

    AS for this year’s situation, I think that ALONSO and MASSA situation is particular given that the spaniard was consistently faster than the brazilian in free practice, qualifying and particularly in race trim. Not only did he have a big margin point wise over Massa but he was much quicker as well, so FERRARI had an easier choice in backing the spaniard. Only Alonso’s mistakes kept the margin from being huge.

    In McLaren situation, Hamilton is faster and a better racer but Button is smarter and wiser. If a choice had to be made, Hamilton should be the bet.

    In RedBull’s case, the choice is the hardest given how closely matched is their pair of drivers : quali trim or race trim there’s nothing to choose between them.

    1. dkfone says:

      Yes Alonso was faster in race trim but only because he had been told to turn his engine up while Massa was turned to turn his down.

  28. colm says:

    Regarding the Alonso / Massa “arrangement” at Ferrari, where Massa can run for wins next year if he lends a hand this year – I don’t believe that and can’t see it ever happening. It’s more Ferrari media spin to placate Massa (and F1) fans.

    1. Damian Johnson says:

      Mercedes? Massa will have more chance of winning at Grand prix in their current 2010 car due to team orders at Ferrari.

  29. Rafael says:

    I especially liked the line “pragmatism vs. sporting romanticism”, it puts a lot of things into perspective. Team orders is in F1′s DNA because it is a team sport; I mean, in the last race of 1956, Peter Collins was on the verge of becoming F1′s 1st British champion but instead he chose to give his car up to Juan Manuel Fangio, given the Argentinian was Ferrari’s numero uno. Racing gives the impression that it’s all mano-y-mano, raw talent and raw passion and that team orders go against that nature because – aside from it being unfair – it is contradictory, given it is a cold and calculating gesture.

    But in racing – as in any sport – it takes more than just skill and passion to win, you have to be opportunistic and strategic too. And Formula 1 teams are smart enough to know this, which is why unfortunate events like Austria ’02 and Germany ’10 had/have to happen: it doesn’t meant that just because you’re in a dominant position or just bec. you’re having a good day, you let your guard down and let your emotions take over. Do that and you’ll have a repeat of McLaren’s ’07 season and what Red Bull is experiencing this year.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m also just a fan. Haven’t even been to a live race. But I’ve been following F1 since I was a kid (12 years now), and although I love seeing these guys race, I also know and understand that at the end of the day it’s all about the world championship(s). Which is why I understand, and support, team orders because it is a gesture of a team doing everything they can to get closer to the title(s).

    1. Richard Mee says:

      Hi Rafael,

      I’ve no doubt you will go to a live race soon enough. Given you’ll be spending hundreds of pounds/Euros once you’ve totalled the cost of tickets, travel and the rest… would you be happy to then watch an exhibition of strategic ‘team’ driving… or do you want unadulterated racing where you know 100% that it’s man against man to the flag?

  30. ian says:

    ‘ Is that noble or foolish?’
    NOBLE!

  31. enzofan says:

    I think this article is not entirely accurate, the team that has let their drivers race 100% is the Red bull, we have had a few occasions this season where McLaren have told the drivers to save fuel while following each other which is blatant method of telling them not to race. When it comes to team orders McLaren are kidding themselves if they think somehow they allow equal treatment, let’s not forget Kovi let Hamilton pass a couple of times last year due to team orders and Hamilton also got all the upgrades first. If we look further back we all remember the clear team orders in 1997 and 1998 from them.

    The fact is Red Bull has had the fastest car on some tracks while on others McLaren and Ferrari have, overall Red Bull have had the best car but worst reliability, and the fact that their drivers have been competing with each other throughout the races has cost tem points..

    1. Richard Mee says:

      MacLaren don’t want their drivers to take each other out with marginal overtaking moves…granted… and have clearly acted to try to prevent this. I’d argue that such actions are different to overtly favouring one or the other driver for the title.

    2. BBT says:

      Mclaren has the worse reliability of the top three.

      1. enzofan says:

        No they have not, Red Bull have had by far the worst reliability this season, I think you are getting confused with the amount of retirements, many times Red Bull have had reliability problems in practice, qualifying etc in addition to this they have had issues in races but have finished them therefore it does not come up in the statistics..

      2. BBT says:

        I agree with that, let me put it another way. Mclaren have lost more points due to reliability,which is far more important.

      3. enzofan says:

        again you are mistaken, the reliability issues that Red Bull have had has cost them far more points, it has meant thay have finished lower in the points than they should have when they have not retired, which all add up, they have issues with drivers being stuck in gear, new parts failing, engine probelms, transmission issues, electric, hydrulics and brakes, etc although they finnished they should have scored far more if its was not for all these issues, Mclaren have not had many issues but when they had some they resulted in retirements.

  32. john says:

    I don’t really understand Massa problem with the Bridgestones tyres. In 2008, he almost won the wdc with the same tyres.

    1. colm says:

      They were grooved tires in 2008. This year they are slicks. Different animals apparently.

    2. Ed says:

      I think the narrower front tyre also makes an impact, because he didn’t seem to have a problem in 2009.

  33. diane says:

    mclaren didn’t loose in 2007 because they let the drivers raced each other. China 07 didn’t have nothing to do with the drivers racing each other. And despite losing the wdc, if it wasn’t for the spygate, mclaren would’ve won the wcc. Letting the drivers race is the best approach to win both championship.

    1. Ncedi says:

      Actually in China it did…unless you dont remember “we were racing Alonso”. They kept Hamilton out trying to pull a gap over Alonso, who they thought might catch Hamilton and pass after stops.

  34. Jason C says:

    So how does Martin explain “Heikki, Lewis is faster than you”, and “Will [Jenson] pass me? No Lewis”?

    1. BBT says:

      Because he was also faster than the car in-front of Heikki, simple.

      So the team gains more points.

      Not like Ferrari where the team get the same points but favours Alonso.

  35. Jim says:

    The optimal strategy for the teams is to let the faster driver on the day through, regardless of position in the championship – it avoids nasty collisions (like in Turkey) and will help challenge in the constructors championship (where the money is allocated to teams). Only then should they consider the drivers championship.

    Massa, therefore, should have let Alonso through in Oz and China, and was right to do so in Germany (given the speed at which Alonso pulled away from him). Red Bull should have let Vettel through in Turkey.

    1. Craig says:

      Vettel was only faster in Turkey for one lap because Webber was told to turn down his fuel setting.

  36. Robyn says:

    “There is a cultural debate at the heart of this story – pragmatism versus sporting romanticism.”

    I guess it is hard to view competition between faceless constructors as anything other than merely pragmatic, as opposed to the much more romantic and compelling competition between individual drivers. I’m still struggling with a way to reconcile the two. I know plenty of people have wondered about this lately, but — why *do* teams need to have two drivers?

    In any case, I have to admit, I like the approach McLaren is taking, even if it is foolish — at least the way some people would define “foolish”!

  37. Taib says:

    McLaren’s strategy is foolish. It is one thing to stick with your own principles but if they go agianst the major objective then the principles must be discarded. The objective of the driver’s world championship is one driver to become champion. Sacrificing both drivers at the cost of sticking with a principle of letting them race is naive.

    My personal opinion is this. The drivers should be told at the start of the season that they will have to race one another until certain situations arise.

    i) One driver is too far behind the other in points.

    ii) The drivers relative pace to each other. If one driver is slower then his team mate throughtout the season then priority should be given to the quicker team mate.

    iii) The team no longer has the resources or is in the position to support both drivers.

    This season Felipe Massa has been consistently slower then Fernando Alonso sometimes even qualifying 8 tenths of lap slower. That is rookie standard. Ferrari found themselves after Silverstone that Felipe Massa had not scored in three races in a row, was slower throughout the whole season then Alonso and was a very far behind in the title race. Fernando Alonso was far behind also but had more points then Felipe Massa. The Ferrari car was not quicker then the Red Bull. The team no longer could support both drivers and should have explained the situation and then inform both that Massa will support Alonso. They then should have released a press statement on their web-site saying that Massa will support Alonso and then showing the reasons. That would be a lot better to the public and there would not be such an outcry.

    1. Mark M says:

      Seems people are quick to forget massa’s massive head trauma. There is a strong chance he has had to relearn certain nuances of driving a f1 car and with the limited testing I would imagine it will take a season driving to get back to the standard pre Hungary ’09. See schumacher’s standard this year. No massive testing mileage so no chance to dial himself to the car and vice versa. Judge massa on next year this is just season is just the final part of rehab.

      1. Taib says:

        If Massa is not up peak condition then that is even more reason for him to support Alonso and he should not have taken points of Alonso for example in Australian where clear as daylight Alonso was much faster.

        Even if Massa was at his best he is not consistant enough or fast enough to challenge Alonso, who is probably the best driver on the grid.

      2. Mark M says:

        I didn’t say he wasn’t at peak condition i was stating that with the limited testing available he wasn’t in the best position to shake out the ‘ring rust’ from having an enforced lay off. He has been playing catch up to alonso all season. And if alonso is the best driver how do you explain fp3 at monaco the fact he ended up behind massa at the first few races and struggled to find a way past him and his extending the pit lane entry to overtake him

      3. Taib says:

        If you want to become champion especially with five other challengers around you then surely you have to be at peak condition? Top of your game? What you are saying is completely nonsensical. If Massa is not at his best then that is further reason to support Alonso because Alonso is fighting for the championship. The situation is clear. If Massa is not in position for whatever reason to challenge Alonso then he should let Alonso take priority.

        No driver has a had a flawless season and Alonso has made many mistakes this year but that hardly detracts from the fact he is the most allround best driver. He is a double world champion. Even with the mistakes he has made he is still in the championship hunt in a car that has only been the fastest in one or two grand prix.

  38. Dom says:

    Noble, it’s how sport should be done. No quarter until the bitter end. Then shake hands and drink at the bar together.

    Professionalism has a lot to answer for.

  39. Noelinho says:

    I have a great admiration to the way McLaren are going about their business. I think it’s as much the drivers wanting to know the won for themselves as anything else.

    At the end of the day, if Lewis or Jenson win the title, it’ll be because they beat the others hands-down, no favours, no funny business. They won’t owe their title to anyone – and that’s the way they want to win it. And to be honest, it helps that they’ve both won the title before. That’s something the Red Bull drivers can’t fall back on.

  40. semder says:

    Hi, James.
    This is the first time I’m writing a comment here. Great site, I’ve been reading it for a while. English is not my mother tongue, but I’ll try my best.
    I think that Webber and Hamilton are the most likely and realistic championship contenders. Button is not very likely, I also don’t believe that Alonso will win it. Vettel is very debatable – I mean, last year he had a strong end to the season, but he did not have such a pressure on him, although theoretically he was fightinh for the championship. But he was chasing Button and so Jenson had the pressure on him.
    This year Red Bull must deliver and you are right – sooner or later they will have to prioritise. I think that with Ferrari it is all clear. Mclaren can afford to support both drivers, as long as it doesn’t become counter-productive.
    Cheers! And keep up the good work!

    1. Alex says:

      Mate, that is good English!

      1. semder says:

        Thanks, Mate!
        I try my best. Obviously I would like to speak like some of the native speakers, so there still is room for improvement.
        On the subject I would like to add that it is each teams business how they treat their drivers. I don’t think that there is one recipe how to do that. One team thinks that team orders is the right way, the other is convinced that they are free to race – if there are not special circumstances (like in 2008 when Raikkonen was unfortunate and Massa was chosen to be the team leader, although initially Ferrari hired Kimi to be the team leader and to deliver regular wins).
        We’ll see at the end of the championship who was right and who was not.
        By the way, team orders is just one problem. This season all kinds of mistakes did cost a lot more than some occassional team orders. For example, one of Ferrari’s biggest mistakes was not letting Alonso give back position to Kubica during British GP.

  41. John says:

    Just some thoughts on this…but it will be interesting to see how the championship plays out this year.

    Red Bull – While Vettel finishing ahead of Webber at the last race might remove the theory of an ordered pass in the race, I think personally the team knew they were on different strategies and that if Vettel didn’t let Webber through it would have compromised both drivers as the race moved along.

    Ferrari – I don’t really understand the theory that there is an pact that allows Massa to race for wins in 2011….to me it seemed that Massa had been racing with Alonso up until the recent team order. Alonso had to race him hard in the early races to get past, and in the last race they even bumped into each other out of the 1st corner…I would have thought his ability to race for wins was always there at the start of a championship and its up to him to beat Alonso.

    Mclaren – Martin Whitmarsh’s statements on Mclaren’s credo must be something relatively new surely, because Hakkinen and Coulthard clearly drove with team orders? More power to them if they can make it work…but I would be stunned if at the last race a situation arose where one driver needed to let the other take position for a Championship win and they didn’t make it happen.

    1. Damian Johnson says:

      Comments by Stefano Domenicali earlier this week on the subject of team orders was quite confusing because he implied that Ferrari had not changed their position on team orders.

      Was that because Massa was always the number 2 driver? Or did that mean Ferrari were still treating both drivers with equality?

      Either way, the Ferrari communication is at best confusing or it’s more dishonesty.

      1. mtb says:

        “The only thing we advise drivers is the respective pace of the other driver and they ultimately call it… But it is a mark of both his (Kovalainen’s) professionalism and his sportsmanship that, aware of his situation relative to Lewis’s, he made it relatively straightforward for Lewis to pass him. It’s a joy to have two drivers who are not only super-competitive but also super-cooperative.”

        Ron Dennis (being extremely ‘honest’), Hockenheim 2008.

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

    2. Craig says:

      I don’t think Vettel was on a different strategy until after the incident that saw him drop behind Webber. Once they saw Webber stuck behind Hulkenburg, and that Vettel was doing better times, that’s when they decided to leave him out as long as possible.

      1. BBT says:

        Spot on. Agree. Craig.

  42. Omar kamal says:

    First we can’t compare Ferrari situatuion with Mclaren or Redbull. Massa is obviously slower than Alonso with fewer points!!!
    I am pretty sure that either Mclaren or Redbull will do the same if one of their drivers has a clear advantage over the other. In 2007 it was different with both Alonso and Hamilton in the bid for the championship, so it was unfair to exclude one of them.

    For now, both Redbull and Mclaren should stop playing with “fair” card, both will make the move when they are in the Ferrari position.

    ( I consider the Redbull front wing issue as a type of favourism, in fact it is worse as Webber didn’t have the option to choose unlike Massa)

  43. Clyde Brolin says:

    Manager or not, you’d have thought Mr Briatore is the last person Mark Webber needs in his corner asking for team orders as he heads to, of all places, Singapore…

  44. Uzair says:

    James this is a request very unrelated to this topic. Since I have no other means, here it goes.
    Can you blog about what you consider are the most beautiful cars in F1 history?

    Great blog. Thanks

    1. colm says:

      Honda RA300. Who needs wings?

    2. Dom says:

      It would be fun in the off season :)

  45. bullhorn says:

    I don’t think McLaren didn’t use team orders in 2008. I know what Dennis and Whitmarsh say about it but there are a lot of people who don’t believe them.

    Early season they kept giving Heikki the heavier fuel load for Q3 and Whitmarsh kept explaining it away by saying that they were preparing for safety car periods. But they were only preparing for it with Heikki.

    I think Heikki believed that explanation for some time but eventually he too stopped believing it. I saw his demeanour and voice a few times very angry about it.

    Such a strategy will make you lose in the long term because the safety car is an exception, not a rule!

  46. Young Slinger says:

    As a fan, I want to watch Racing, not pit stops, team orders, devious underhand actions or any other type of cheating, because cheating us, the paying fan, is wrong. Unfortunately, the way F1 is organised and run, money is the god. Sad. To watch two of the best drivers fighting side by side, without causing damage or an off, cannot be beaten. Jackie Stewart made the point that before F1 became safe (Thank God for that) if someone did an off, he probably would not live. There are many comments that team orders have always existed, even drivers giving up their cars to a team mate, but this is 2010. Things have moved on, so to me, my driver missing out on the Championship, or my team missing out on the Constructors title means less than good, exciting, racing on the track. McLaren have the right attitude, hopefully so will Red Bull, making for an exciting finish to the season.

  47. CJ says:

    I think Whit is trying to play the greater than thou trick but I don’t buy it. How many times did we see Kovi practically drive off the track to let Hamilton through back then?

    Now that Ferrari has received a lot of backlash, McLaren is trying the play the righteous team only a couple years after their whole scandal.

  48. JD says:

    Ferrari and McLaren are giants of F1. They can “afford” to lose a championship due to infighting because we are certain that they will come back fighting the next season.

    Red Bull is different. We do not know how resilient their organization is. Despite the Newey Factor, if they lose the championship this season, there are no guarantees that they will be fighting for another one any time soon.

    For Massa this is deja vu from 2007-2008. It will be interesting to see if Alonso’s performance drops off in 2011 the same way Raikkonen seemed to lose it in the latter part of 2008.

  49. Richard Bell says:

    I agree with Mclaren, let the drivers fight for the title, that way the driver who wins can say he beat every driver on the grid fair and square. Otherwise he has to say I won the title with the help of another driver, just like Michael Schumacher does for all his titles.

    However, if I was team boss and my sponsors said to win at all costs, I’d certainly give team orders.

  50. jonrob says:

    Will Pirelli tyres heat up quicker than Bridgestone? If so will they last as long and do they actually need to?
    Does a high wear rate track warm the tyres quicker than a smooth track?

    I keep thinking of Ruben’s statement about his time at Ferrari, waiting for the thanks and reward which never came, I can’t help wondering if Massa’s time at Ferrari is going to end up the same way.

  51. LUIS says:

    I think that Maclaren has used team orders plenty of time this year. The last one was at SPA when Button (in second) was instructed to slow down the other drivers in order to give Hamilton (in first) a sure winning. You will ask: how he knows that? Well after Button’s collision with Vettel, the engineer told Hamilton by radio something like this “Button it is out of the race, therefore be prepare for the other drivers to close the gap”. Why Button was not closing the gap? Why Vettel was faster than Button? Why without Button Hamilton should expect more competition? Interesting questions that nobody is asking.

    1. Nando says:

      Button damaged his front-wing on the first-lap and was struggling to stay ahead of Vettel, I think that should explain all your questions.

    2. jbstans says:

      Because Vettel couldn’t overtake a house, let alone a talented racing driver. Track position is very important in F1. It’s much easier for a slow car to defend against a faster car than it is for a faster car to pass a slower car.

      Cars pitting and the car that was behind them suddenly accelerating by 0.5sec/lap or more happens SO SO often.

      How can you not have seen it before? Even if Spa was your first race it probably happened several times..

  52. Stuart the old geezer says:

    yes this is all very rational but what happened at Ferarri in 1999? MS ego or what?We could have seen a Ferarri WDC Eddy Irvine.

    1. mtb says:

      Well we saw Damon Hill WDC in 1996 and Jenson Button WDC in 2009!

      1. Stuart the Old Geezer says:

        Thanks for that, but I wasn’t just being nationalistic. The point I was trying to make somewhat clumsily, is that to say GP Motor Racing is a ‘team sport’ does not always apply. In 1999 the Ferrari team did little to help Irvine win the final race which would have given him the world championship. I can remember poor old Murray Walker practically in tears when he realised that Schumacher was not going to let Irvine past to have a crack at Hakkinen. Irvine lost the WDC by 2 pts; what happens if as appears quite likely Alonso runs out of engines, suffers some poor results and Massa comes back into contention? Who will the ‘team’ support then?
        Reading that Sauber have used up all their engines it would be interesting if James could give us some statistics on the teams and their engine count. I understand that every new engine used brings about a 10 place grid drop; the last few races could see some strange grids!

      2. mtb says:

        Sorry, I wasn’t implying that you were. I was just pointing out that drivers who were hardly class of the year won the WDC in both of those years.

  53. f1m says:

    McLaren saying that they let their drivers race each other is just pure hypocrisy. It may be true that they don’t have a number 1 driver (I even doubt that much) but whenever the 2 McLarens have started to actually race each other on track we have immediately heard radio messages in the lines of “diminish your pace, you are short of fuel” which we all know what it means. So lets just call things by their names.

    f1m.

    1. Mart Hugh says:

      I have a clear recollection of Coulthard being told to yield to Hakinnen at the last race of 97 (Jerez) because he was quicker than the scot. That was the turning point for two world drivers titles for Hakinnen.

  54. james b says:

    The issue for me is things are still so tight in the championship that you would be foolish to put your eggs in 1 basket. I must say i think quite a few people get cpnfused with the new points system and forget that under the old system 5 drivers are essentially seperated by 9 points. For me i think you need to be something like 40 points behind with 3 races left before you say back one driver.

  55. Nando says:

    Although the principle are the same, there is a perceptual difference between a team mate moving over to gift a race win and just keeping the status-quo. The rule-change was brought in imo to stop teams blatantly swapping drivers position, not with any intent to get rid of team orders.
    What has now been coded “fuel-saving” has always happened when a team have a sure-fire 1-2 situation after the last pit-stop.

  56. Brace says:

    As Bernie puts it nicely “it’s team strategy, not team orders”.
    And I completely agree with that. They are doing it with an aim at winning WDC. They aren’t doing it just so that they could boss someone around. It’s a strategy for giving yourself the best possible chance of winning WDC.
    Teams who aren’t doing it, are choosing that way because they don’t want to put all their eggs in one basket.
    It’s basically two types of strategies for winning WDC.

    1. Craig says:

      But why does the team care about the WDC over the Constructor’s Champion? Because of that no.1 that goes on the car of the WDC the following year, I believe. All the constructors want the 1 & 2 numbers. So I think that a good part of the team orders would disappear if they awarded the car numbers based on the CC instead of the WDC, and they’d just let their drivers race each other, so long as they don’t take each other out.

      1. Cliff says:

        The Number 1 will follow the WDC, irrespective of the team he drives for the following year. However, it’s the WCC that will bring in the big money. Points make prizes!

  57. BMG says:

    The reason I believe Redbull should support Webber over Vettel are; Vettel has made too many mistake under pressure this season.

    The list goes like this; Turkey he runs into his team mate, Silverstone he panic’s and runs wide getting a puncher,Hungry he allows more than 10 car length gap between Webber and himself.

    His driving style seems to be harder on the car than Webber. If you look at some of the problems he has had most of them are related to his driving style, for example you just need to look at what happened to him on Sunday with the brake problems, this was due to his driving over the curbs and in fact he has had quite a few problems with his brakes this season.

    What Webber needs to do is be more aggressive at the start, he looks like he is just trying to finish the race at the moment. This may be due to the track not suiting the car but if he is not careful this may change his mind set and cost him big points.

  58. Damian Johnson says:

    James,

    The results of your poll show conclusively with a two thirds majority that F1 fans do NOT want the Ferrari approach of manipulating the WDC by allowing unlimited use of team orders.

    We can only hope that FIA will hear this message when they review team orders. Allowing team orders when a driver no longer has a mathemtaical chance is a good compromise.

    1. Mike says:

      With all respect, I suspect the demographic of this site is somewhat skewed towards British fans. If this were a poll on the site of an Italian or Spanish journalist, we may see a different outcome.

      1. Damian Johnson says:

        I agree that is a possibility but it shows that in Britain at least and I suspect Brazil also, that team orders are not popular, except of course as you say in countries where Ferrari gain prejudiced media coverage such as Italy and Spain.

      2. mtb says:

        But team orders are clearly not an issue for certain individuals when the team that such people support implement orders, or when a driver from their nation is the benefactor of such orders.

      3. Damian Johnson says:

        MTB,

        “But team orders are clearly not an issue for certain individuals when the team that such people support implement orders, or when a driver from their nation is the benefactor of such orders.”

        One could say that about Alonso, willing to accept the benefit of being the favoured driver at Ferrari while previously complaining about Hamilton favouritism at McLaren.

      4. mtb says:

        Yep.

        One could also look at some of the comments made in recent weeks by Hamilton about only wanting to win fair-and-square without any undue assistance, and contrast that with Kovalainen’s status at McLaren in 2008-9 and the deeds of Hamilton and his team in Melbourne last year.

      5. Damian Johnson says:

        MTB,

        And one can always try and point to spurious examples such as Kovalainen’s drive at McLaren to distract from the debate about using team orders. There was a gulf in talent between Kovalainen and Hamilton to the point where they never had to do anything to ensure that Hamilton was a #1. Quite a different situation to a close pairing of Massa and Alonso with one driver’s very realistic possibility of winning the 2010 WDC cut short so early in the season.

  59. Banjo says:

    James,

    Slightly off topic, but at the Monza GP it was mentioned that Jensons higher downforce set up should help him get a better start. I’m assuming higher downforce gives better traction and so a better launch? This considering,why are Red Bull, whom have the best high-downforce package,struggling at the start of races? Renault don’t seem to have this problem, so i wouldn’t imagine it to be a problem with the engine. Or, is it merely a driver issue?
    It has been widely reported that Red Bull themselves are aware this is a major issue and concern for them and are themselves looking into it. Your thoughts on the subject would be appreciated.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think the McLaren just has better mechanical grip than the Red Bull. THe problem with the starts is something to do with bite point settings and all the things they have to prepare at the start. Look back at my Lotus Steering wheel video for some insight into that

    2. Frankie says:

      Jenson’s higher down force had nothing to do with getting off the line, only once he was up to 50mph+. The double clutch system and settings they use for the starts appear to be giving several drivers problems, a lot of the time not necessarily their own fault as they are in the hands of the engineers to a big extent.

  60. Neven says:

    It is foolish to think that there are no team orders at McLaren. Button is saving fuel very often….

  61. Steven says:

    One way to look at it is, you let them race from the begining of the season, the faster drive will assert himself by scoring more points, if one driver isnt significantly faster than the other it will be a fair fight.

    People accuse McLaren of favoring Hamilton in 2007, but what I think REALLY happened was that Alonso asked/demanded #1 status and the team refused, and thats where Alonos’s resentment comes from. If he wanted #1 status he should have gone and soundly beat Hamilton, but he couldnt, rookie or no rookie.

    1. James Allen says:

      That’s the way you hope it works, My article was what about if they are all in contention?

    2. Jodum5 says:

      Really, how is it the team’s business who is in contentioned for the DRIVERS championship? Their principal concern should be the CONSTRUCTORS championship. As long as their drivers (read employees)understand they are not to jeapordize the teams standing in the WCC, I don’t see what the problem is.

  62. JohnBt says:

    No team orders? Think about it if we’re not naive fans.

    All through the years in F1 the teams with the “best screenplay” got away with it.

    And please don’t be fooled by McLaren’s so called ‘we let our drivers fight it out’ motto.

    But of course there were also genuine winners, but as the nature of human beings we keep dwelling on the bad more than the good.

    One cannot deny that this season is truly fantastic! in F1 history. It depends on who you’re supporting, as Ferrari’s screenplay at Germany sucks due to bad directing.

  63. Alf says:

    Frankly, I think RBR are stark raving mad.

    McLaren have it easy, to any neutral obser it is very clear that Lewis is the faster driver, Jenson has barely (if ever) been with Lewis on a dry track so they don’t tend to meet on Sundays.

    At RBR, both drivers are super tight and they have compromised each other all year. Seb has had the team in hios corner and some 15 races to shake Mark off and he’s trailing, it’s time to back Mark now before it is too late.

    At Spa and Monza Mark look as fast, if not faster than Seb. Poor starts hurt him but he needs clear air in the Red Bull as it hates a straight line.

    Seb i sonly 24 points behind but that means you are relying on DNF’s now, what if Seb gets one and he’s stolen points from Mark?

    Do it now, right now … or they will both miss out.

  64. DK says:

    As a fan, I want to see all 5 contenders go down the wire and shootout in the last race. It will be interesting if this happen, and see how the team play their strategy in the race.

  65. D. says:

    I am sensing that Alonso is going to steal this WDC out of nowhere. The F10 appears to be solid everywhere. Couple that w/ Alonso being the clear focus of Ferrari’s efforts and the fact that he remains the top driver on the grid, and you have a winning recipe. Mathematically this is Webber’s title to lose, and I am fairly confident that he will find a way to do it.

  66. David Turnedge says:

    Got to admire McLaren’s racing credo – it’s what we all want, isn’t it?

    But I’m actually a fan of prioritising a driver once his partner has no hope of winning the Championship.

    It’s a team sport, contested by individuals, and fate does play a part – imagine throwing everything to a lead driver only to see bad luck play a part in his defeat – that’s why none of this is easy.

  67. Colin says:

    Going off Topic, do you think that with Singapore predicted to be a (very) wet race at this stage, that Mclaren which have performed well in the wet this year will be closer to the Red Bull than expected?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, the McLaren is more sure footed in the wet, especially in the cross over stage when the cars are on slick tyres

    2. Craig says:

      I don’t know who’s predicting a wet race in SG. I live (t)here and it’s simply as unpredictable as pretty much anywhere, though it doesn’t really rain much after dark.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        They predict “scattered storms” for the whole next week, being the “precipitation chance” at 60%. Anyway, the forecast is not too reliable until 72 – 48 hours before the due date, so we will have to wait and see.

        http://www.weather.com/weather/tenday/SNXX0006

        If it finally rains, I would put my money on Jenson!

  68. Wombat says:

    We all want to see good clean & fair racing.
    Manipulation erodes confidence in the sport.
    But towards the end of the season fans understand what is at stake and would be prepared to allow team strategy as long as it was transparently clear to all what was happening.
    This year we seem to have had two cases where one driver was allowed more power to pressure his leading team mate with the ‘leading driver’ unaware of what was going on.
    But following the Barrichello and now Massa experiences don’t be surprised if pride does get in the way.
    A fascinating end to the season coming up.
    By the way the American say ‘stable mate’. The term seems more neutral and appropriate then ‘team mate’ given the icy relationships in teams these days.

  69. Red5 says:

    Respect to McLaren for standing their ground.

    I see the sponsors and investors, pouring millions of dollars into the sport, obviously wanting their man to win the Championship. This puts external pressure on the team to back the strongest driver.

    You can see from the car livery the difference and the degree to which businessmen are pulling the strings.

    To a certain extent, McLaren and Ferrari can manage the championship situation with a free hand, although Martin and Stefano approach the dilemma from opposite sides.

    Red Bull, and for example Force India, cannot break away from the financial strings that will eventually favour one driver over another. Dietrich Mateschitz as well as Vijay Mallya are hugely successful business men, the pressure to win will undoubtedly push sporting romanticism to one side.

    Having said that, this year’s championship is shaping up nicely and for the fans. These different approaches to team tactics are providing enough on track excitement and intrigue to keep fans, sponsors and the team owners happy. At least for now.

  70. Sergio says:

    McLaren has two english drivers. This is the key and no comparison has been possible with other circumstances. Anything could be excusable (even with “special manners”) for the English media against foreign competitors, but NOT in the 2010 case. This is just the moment for these kind of polls.

    1. Nando says:

      The biased of the English media, (only major country whose TV coverage tries to maintain some impartiality btw ) is overstated. The red top tabloids, equivalent to propaganda papers like Marca I suppose aren’t read by the majority of F1 fans. Hamilton has been absolutely ripped apart for his misdemeanour’s and tax dodging in our press, and Button was written-off as an also ran.

      1. mtb says:

        The BBC’s coverage is probably as impartial as you could expect a coverage to be (although it does owe something to RTL).

        The editor of a certain weekly English publication, with a history of bias towards English teams, this week felt the need to comment on the inconsistency of its readers’ attitudes with regards to Hockenheim 2008 and 2010. That should tell you something about the twaddle that many so-called fans of the sport have been regurgitating in recent weeks. It is a shame that knowledgeable people continue to behave in such a bigoted manner.

      2. Damian Johnson says:

        TV is a far more powerful way of reaching and educating the public through its F1 coverage than any weekly publication. In Britain, we can congratulate the BBC and (ITV when they provided the broadcast) for providing a quality and unbiased coverage of F1. But can the same be said in other countries such as Italy of Spain? I somehow doubt that British racing teams receive the same amount of fair and impartial TV coverage in these countries as non British racing teams do on British TV!

    2. Damian Johnson says:

      You are certainly unlikely to get an impartial account in any of the the Italian newspapers “for sure”!

      1. Sergio says:

        Problem here it’s not impartiality. Everyone has its own preferences. Real problem is the huge influence of English media and English establishment in F1. I accept they deserve all bells and whistles as a F1 founders, but it’s unnaceptable to see how some English driver has 50 points more by a very biased aplication of rules and a unique privilege to infringe the rules. They are able to put the finger in some affairs and avoid others with their media machinery. Even the FOM retransmission and replayings are the main keys of stewards investigations. A completely shame that this English court has the power to claim justice in the sport.

      2. Nando says:

        Mclaren had to deal with Max Mosely whose personal vendetta against Ron Dennis cost Mclaren $100 million and allowed one of the main culprits ammunity. The new head of the FIA is Jean Todt.
        The stewards have access to alot more information than just the FOM feed, would be surprised if they spent a great deal of time looking at that.

  71. racyboy says:

    As a fan, I want to see them race to the very end, but if I was responsible for a team, I’d have a #1 driver sorted before the season started.

    Noble or foolish? Both.

    1. F1Novice says:

      I’d call it Boring :(

  72. F1Novice says:

    Whatever a driver thinks outwardly, the majority of fans and probably the drivers’ peers do not rate a championship – won by blatantly having their team mate moved over for them and subsequently act as a clear No2 driver – over a Championship won in a clean equal fight to the bitter end.

    I think what’s different in the McLaren camp is that you have the current World Champion defending his World Champion status – it is up to all the other drivers to take that away from him INCLUDING Lewis – the No1 plate should be earn’t not relinquished to you by your team mate or any other driver for that matter…. as in boxing – the judges expect the challengers to TAKE the title away from the Champion, if it is too close to call & there is doubt the Champion generally retains his title.

    Let’s remember Jenson won his Championship with hard graft over many years AND WITH NO TEAM ORDERS why should he have to cave in and support Lewis until it is mathematically impossible for him to retain his title ?

    We tend to forget that these guys put there necks on the block every time they step into these ,lets not forget proto-type and now largely un-track tested, machines capable of doing 200 mph+ and cornering at 5g’s and shouldn’t be demotivated or distracted in anyway by team orders.

    1. Galapago555 says:

      “Jenson won his Championship with hard graft over many years AND WITH NO TEAM ORDERS”

      Do I remember some strange (and hardly understandale) strategies re refuelling for Rubinho, that put him after Jenson, having been in front of him at the start of the race? Maybe it was Barcelona 2009?

      1. F1Novice says:

        You conspiracy theorists do may me smile :)

      2. Galapago555 says:

        I do not consider myself a “conspiracy theorist”, but if I have made you smile, than I am happy. :-)

        This is what I read of Rubens’ words after the race:

        “If I get a whiff that Ross favoured Jenson today I will hang up my helmet immediately. But I don’t think he would do that..”

        I am not suggesting any “conspiracy”. I am just saying that after the race, many people thought that Brawn GP had made decission wich favoured Jenson. Btw, Rubens seemed to be one of those…

      3. F1Novice says:

        Obviously unfounded as Rubens hasn’t hung his helmet up and is still going strong – and by the way one of my personal favourite drivers :)

      4. Galapago555 says:

        Or maybe he simple did not get any whiff…

        But probably you’re right, and Brawn GP behaviour was fair and square. I do believe that Jenson is not the kind of guy who would accept such an unfair situation.

  73. Steve Rogers says:

    It’s brilliant that F1 has such fine sportsmen as Martin Whitmarsh, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Once you have accepted the idea of actually racing rather than wheeler-dealing, you’re in the clear for a great season’s work and no crap going on behind the scenes, and it seems like McLaren have done that. That’s exactly what makes me a McLaren fan – it’s not because they’re champions or even winners, it’s because I know I can trust them to play the game and not rip me off. Teams like Red Bull and Ferrari are just too dodgy, and totally fail to get me excited.

  74. Sikas says:

    If it’s so much of a team sport, why have a WDC at all? If it’s truly a team sport then why not make it like football, where the winning team gets the trophy and all of the team members get medals? 

    The fact is, F1 isn’t really a true team sport, because of the WDC and separate WCC. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other team sport where individual team members are actually in competition with each other. 

    The conflict lies in the fact that fans usually support individual drivers not teams, although there are obvious exceptions. But there is the issue of money and need for sponsorship. F1 is possibly the most capitalist (rather than egalitarian) sport there is. Teams need sponsorship money, and to get the most cash they need to win races and titles. The WDC is the most important title in this sense because the fans tend to follow their favourite drivers and it much better to have a personality to market your brand than it is an engineering organisation. (The exception perhaps being Ferrari.) 

    Unless you make radical changes to the sport then there are no easy answers to team orders. You could have teams based on country like with football, although then you’ve got A1 GP. If you remove money from the equation then maybe teams will race for the sport of it, but then it wouldn’t be the F1 we love, in fact it probably wouldn’t even exist. Banning team orders hasn’t worked in practice, so you’re left with the situation of allowing team orders but alienating many fans. The emphasis is on the teams, not so much the rules, to produce great racing and fair results. If this doesn’t happen then maybe fans need to hassle the sponsors. After all if fans are seen as merely consumers then this is perhaps the best weapon against team orders.

  75. Mj says:

    Going slightly off topic but I feel relevant,
    Is which drivers have good engines and gear boxes left, as this could also start having a large impact on qualifying and race performance if some drivers have to start preserving engines as well as tyres.
    James would you be able to expand on this

    1. James Allen says:

      I will find out more about this, it’s clear many readers are interested

  76. Bruno says:

    I recall that Ferrari had a similar pact in 2007/2008. Backing Kimi in the 1st year and then Massa in 2008, when he only lost out by a single point.

    1. mtb says:

      Are you sure that such a pact existed? Massa’s 2007 championship campaign ended at Monza when his engine blew.

      1. Bruno says:

        Massa did indeed retire at Monza 2007, but it was suspension failure but the onus was with Kimi previous to this. 2009 it was clear and I recall them stating that the weight was behind Massa to secure the title, from an early point in the season.

      2. Bruno says:

        Typo, I meant 2008

      3. mtb says:

        Well if you have checked up the details and it was suspension failure the I will not argue with you. I am pretty sure that Massa had led more laps than any other driver at that stage but had suffered more from reliability. He won the race in Turkey shortly before Monza, and won twice before that. It looked to me as though Massa had been given the same opportunities as Raikkonen up until that point, but poor reliability eventually ended Massa’s campaign.

        In 2008 Raikkonen was given the same opportunities as Massa until late in the season. The former simply did not perform

  77. Vernon says:

    If a team has a clear number 1 and number 2, could that lead to the number 2 driver blocking for the number 1 driver? That is, if number 1 driver is out in front and number 2 driver is coming second, the number 2 driver could slow the others down. I am not sure that is good for the sport.

    1. Peter Hermann says:

      Wait- are you saying you never saw such a thing happening? How long have you been watching F1? Its a quite common practise lol….and do you really think F1 is a ‘sport’?

      Its a big business. Circus Maximus. A show. Entertainment for the audience.

      If F1 had no ‘scandals’ of their own Bernie would have to invent them.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        Fully agree. I always tell my children not to think of “sport” when we watch races, but to think of “competition” and “entertainment”.

        I think it was Bernie the one who said “if there is not a fire, I will light it!”

  78. Glen says:

    The internal politics at McLaren are going to be fascinating to watch.

    As well as a superb driver, I believe Jenson to be a true sportsman, a gentleman even, a very honourable racer. A man who treats others as he would wish to be treated himself.

    Should Lewis begin to pull away from him in the standings, and if his own chances begin to look realistically very slim, I think Button would accept helping Hamilton out for the last few races before returning to equal status for 2011.

    Because if the roles happen to be reversed, and Jenson is the one in the driving seat, that’s the kind of attitude he would like to see from his team-mate in the circumstances.

    Whether Hamilton would so gladly reciprocate in such an instance though, I don’t know. Lewis says all of the right things, presents himself in interviews as the consumate team-player. But there is no doubting that he has a ruthless streak and that he races to win – full stop.

    Two brilliant drivers with very different personalities. Of course my hope is that they will finish 1st and 2nd in the championship, but I’m not sure in which order…

  79. JF says:

    Noble or Foolish? I would say that Mclaren has the advantage of more than enough money in the bank to be Noble. Winning or losing the WC will not make or break them. With Mclarens WC pedigree, as long as they stay contenders, sponsors will pay, especially those that like the race to bitter end attitude (as I do). For a smaller younger team, like Red Bull, still looking to gain the credibility that comes with a WC, this approach could be considered foolish. Its all depends on perspective.

  80. Top says:

    “there is a pact at Ferrari, whereby Massa will help Alonso for the rest of the season, but on the basis that he is free to challenge for wins and the title in 2011″
    Yeah we all saw the “help” Massa provided challenging Alonso in the first lap at Monza.

    1. Ed says:

      James,

      Surely there is no way Santander be happy with Alonso playing 2nd fiddle to Massa next year if the Situation arose?

      Santander are on Ferrari because Alonso represents very good marketing (as would Rafael Nadal) in Spain. They will not want him letting Massa through even if Massa is ahead in the championship.

      My question is do you believe the 2nd Ferrari seat to be a poisoned chalice(Sp?)?

      I think Felipe could do worse than to cut free and head for Renault/Mercedes.

      Another thing, such is the relationship between Rob Smedley and Felipe, do you think Rob would follow Felipe if he left?!

      Regards
      Ed

      1. James Allen says:

        No-one’s saying Alonso would be number 2 next year, merely that his chances are better at this stage

      2. Ed says:

        I don’t disagree with you, what I meant was that if the situation arose, for example like 2008, then surely Santander would not be happy with Alonso letting Massa through even if Alonso was mathematically out of the running.

        All of this is very hypothetical of course!

  81. Vivek Shetty says:

    James,

    After reading all, I have a sincere request.

    Sooner or later could you kindly do an article on Lewis Hamilton & Fernando Alonso at McLaren in 2007.

    A lot of us will get a clearer picture.

    Thanks

    1. James Allen says:

      You must be joking! That would bring a world of pain from polarised fans.
      I saw that situation very close up. I may do it one day

      1. Nando says:

        Could you ever see them driving for the same team again? Hamilton appeared, in public, to be a young pup for most of that season and didn’t really see him show animosity to Alonso.

      2. Galapago555 says:

        Fernando has said more than once – at least in Spanish media – that he does not feel like being team mates with Lewis again.

      3. Galapago555 says:

        Oh, James, PLEASE!! I bet if you write this article it will be for sure the most-commented-ever of your posts!!

        Speaking seriously, I would like to know your unbiased and deeply informed point of view on the things that happend during 2007.

        Probably, on the one hand, the Alonso supporters would find it clearly pro-Hamilton; and on the other hand, Hamilton fans would say that it was undoubtedly pro-Fernando ;-)

        I do insist, James, you should consider writing it some day…

      4. James Allen says:

        Beating the 1,100 comments we had for the team orders post after Germany, you mean?

      5. Richard Mee says:

        I don’t think an article would quite cut it… more like a 1,000 page book.
        The most interesting part for me would be the actions and allegances behind the scenes – Lewis and Fernando’s roles and behaviour are relatively well known, but there is a fascinating hidden story there that is not yet public knowledge.

  82. Frankie says:

    If you are going to have team orders, which the FIA have virtually sanctioned, then the #2 driver should move over for any #1 driver as in any blue flag situation. Otherwise you can manipulate a race and make everything a sham as if it were a WWF tag team event. It was very clear from Ferrari’s failure to pit Massa earlier at Monza, never mind a Ferrari win. The possibility of pushing Alonso down the points had to be avoided at any cost. Any other of the top / middle teams would have split their strategy to maximise their chances of a win. This was just as obvious as Massa pulling over for Alonso previously.

    Why I don’t like team orders, is that teams such as McLaren and RBR will be forced to take similar stands under various circumstances to compete for the WDC. So the possible 5 way split we have at the present comes down to a 3 way split, with the fans just following a team or a couple of drivers. So you will now get a succession of Irvines, Rubens, Massas etc and just be left with a shell of a sport that we have become accustom to over recent years.

    I understand you cannot eliminate preferential treatment, but just look at the sham you are left with once you open up Pandora’s box. The FIA were rightfully fearful when the fans expressed the disillusion with Schumacher and why the rules were firmed up, equally with Alonso. For the good of the sport, keep the no team orders and introduce draconian rules to minimise the chances of team orders. Central FIA contracts for drivers, severe penalties for any team just even asking a potential driver to apply team orders.

  83. Ed says:

    James, how is the relationship between Felipe and Fernando going, surely it must be forever damaged.

  84. Grey says:

    If you are really a faster/better driver than your team mate, why are you behind them on the track in the first place?

    “Fernando..is faster…than you”

    “Oh yeah? Then let’s see him get past me!”

    1. Galapago555 says:

      Yep, you’re right. So, Fernando was faster that Vettel in Hungary, I suppose…

  85. Crumb says:

    McLaren did not lose the 2007 titles by allowing their drivers to race.
    In fact, a certain Ron Dennis was quoted at the Chinese GP saying ‘we are not racing Kimi’ – meaning that he and his team were racing Alonso.
    McLaren lost the titles when Alonso crashed in Japan, and then Hamilton had his famous moments in China and Brasil. Then they became more focused on beating Alonso than Ferrari and that was always a self destructive course. Not withstanding the fact that Kimi had some excellent races at the end of the season.
    For McLaren to try and take the moral high ground on Team Orders is typical of them and their supporters who have such short memories. The FIRST race of 1998 springs to mind…

    1. Nando says:

      The team orders rule wasn’t part of the regulation in 1998? The rest is just supposition, Mclaren could very easily caused a gremlin if they wanted to stop Alonso from winning the 2007 WDC or Hamilton could of blocked Alonso in qualifying. After he blackmailed the team he may not of been the preferred driver, but considering the situation Alonso’s side of the garage acted impeccably.

      1. Crumb says:

        You misunderstand me. I am not a McLaren fanboy and I don’t know what happened behind the scenes in 2007. I know that Alonso is no saint and he could have behaved better, but the real criminals were McLaren who eventually came forward with the evidence – but only because Alonso threatened to blow the whistle first.

        The acticle claimed that McLaren only lost out in 2007 because they allowed their drivers to compete. This is the usual kind of thing you hear about the saints of fairplay at McLaren, but unfortunately actual events does not bear out the statement. Add into that the spying scandal, the blatant Hamilton favouritism clearly demonstrated at Hungary which enraged Alonso to the point of blocking Hamilton in the pits. It was Hamilton Snr who then went and complained to the stewards which resulted in a 5 place drop for Alonso and then a disqualification of WCC points for that weekend due to the stewards basically not believing anything that McLaren had to say in their defense.

        My point about ’98 is where were the people then who are now complaining about being robbed of a spectacle, bets being lost etc etc. It may have been legal, but surely team orders in the FIRST race of the season is even lower than what Ferrari are usually accused of?

      2. Nando says:

        I agree that Mclaren are in no position to play the saint card on team orders, this is just the political media manoeuvring that all F1 teams do unfortunately.
        Was pleasantly surprised Mclaren/Red Bull didn’t send their lawyers to the hearing as has been the case many times before with other teams.

  86. Peter Abatan says:

    I think Red Bull will be wise to back Webber because Vettel is very erratic; he is not what I call “dependable” to deliver Red Bull their first championship. Recognizing that the priorities of the team supersede that of anyone driver Red Bull would have to make this hard, but wise decision.

    For McLaren, I will back Whitmarsh’s decision here because you have 2 very good drivers who have respect for each other. At this stage I can absolutely guarantee that none of them will do anything foolish to jeopardize the team’s chances of winning the championship.

    Red Bull on the other hand is a different case because Vettel is a time bomb, you never know what to expect and this uncertainty about this talented driver should be a great cause for concern for Red Bull at this time. I can guarantee that he does not win the championship this year.

    As much as I hated the “Alonso is Faster Than You” scandal, Ferrari has only one potential contender for the championship and Massa without being told is very mature, though he may hate it to back Alonso.

  87. ernst says:

    did anyone ask how Kovalainen feel about his time in McLaren?
    may be Mr. Witmarsh can tell us more stories about equal treatment in mclaren team after that.

    the cold truth is, team orders are very related with performance of two drivers of a team, if there is a driver clearly better than the other one, than team orders come in to play in every team fighting for title. the rest is just empty stories.

  88. Hami_claren says:

    If what they ‘say’ they’re doing, is what they’re ‘actually’ doing, then I agree with MM and RBR for they’re perspective on the way the Championship should be handled. One driver CANNOT win a WCC! At least not as long as the other teams have 2 drivers. For me, with 2 talented drivers at hand, my only orders for them, up to 3/4 way in the Championship, is not to take out your teammate. And as long as there’s a clear ‘leader’ after that, my next instruction to the ‘not-so-fast-one’ is cover ‘US’. By demoting and likewise demotivating one driver over another, you can NEVER get 100% from that guy(unless he’s a tool and just cares about getting paid)

  89. Stephen F says:

    If Red Bull let Vettel and Webber race it’s a recipe for disaster in my opinion, they WILL lose everything, Vettel hasn’t enough composure yet and he’s prone to doing something stupid.

    McLaren on the other hand have Hamilton who likes to take a risk sometimes and is an aggresive driver but ultimately more talented than Vettel, and Button who I think is one of the smartest drivers in F1, I’d be happy to let these two race each other unless it was mathematically impossible for one of them to win the drivers championship.

    Ferrari, well we all know the situation there. Alonso is their priority and Massa is their second driver. No doubt about that.

    So if I were team boss of the 3 teams I would:

    Red Bull = Pray that in the next two races one of my drivers would open up a sizeable gap on the other to justify giving priority to the championship leader in the team and tell the second placed driver to pick up as much constructors points as possible.

    McLaren = Let my drivers race and be fairly confident that neither would take an unnessessary risk up until it’s mathematically impossible for one of them to win the drivers championship.

    Ferrari = Tell Massa to get out of Alonso’s way.

  90. Jeffrey Gutierrez says:

    James,

    There is a lot of betting involved in all sorts of sports could this be considered as “fixing the result”. I wouldn’t be a happy chap if i had money on Masssa to win then see him move over for Alonso.

  91. al says:

    To answer the question: “If it comes to it, McLaren will let their drivers go into Abu Dhabi free to race each other. And if someone else wins the title so be it. Is that noble or foolish?”

    No, that’s hypocritical. [mod] They’ll favor a driver if it comes to that and play dirty if it comes to that. So please don’t be cynical…

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