Nico Rosberg
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What the FIA should do about team orders in Formula 1
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What the FIA should do about team orders in Formula 1
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Jul 2010   |  1:17 pm GMT  |  1,135 comments

A day on from the furore over the Ferrari team orders row in the German Grand Prix, it seems to me that there has been a bit of an overreaction, with some sections of the media calling them ‘cheats’ and others calling for them to be banned by the disciplinary arm of the World Motor Sport council.

This is nonsense. Yes, it is a serious situation because they violated a rule which says that team orders are banned. And we should be in no doubt, despite the denials of Alonso that team orders were invoked here. But you have to look at the wider picture and acknowledge that it is a question of degree and that some common sense needs to be applied when sorting this matter out.

No-one was left in any doubt about what was happening by the tone and language of the message to Felipe Massa, nor by his subsequent yielding of the lead to Alonso. It is clear that Ferrari have a case to answer in terms of breaking a rule. They have been fined $100,000 by the stewards in Hockenheim, but further sanctions may follow from the WMSC.

People will of course point to the irony of FIA president Jean Todt presiding over this, given that it was his team order to Rubens Barrichello in 2002 which led to the introduction of the rule. But Todt has separated his position from the disciplinary procedure of the FIA, part of his distinction from the previous regime of Max Mosley. So he will not be sitting in judgement on this one. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be a force for change once the case has been heard. Because change is needed here.

The outcry back in 2002 was against the cynicism of the decision to give the win to Schumacher when he had been outclassed by Barrichello all weekend. It was very early in the season and Schumacher was already well clear in the points in an unbeatable car.

This situation is different on many counts. leaving aside the rule specifically banning team orders for a second, the championship is well advanced and it is closely fought. Ferrari feel aggrieved that they are at least 30 points worse off with Alonso than they should have been, largely due to some stewards decisions which have gone against them, rightly or wrongly. Massa too has lost points, but hasn’t been on the kind of form Alonso’s been on, so the Spaniard is clearly the one to go for the title, if Ferrari can only get him in the game.

He was faster than Massa all weekend and qualified in front of him, but then lost the start to the Brazilian and then couldn’t get ahead of him in the pit stops. If Ferrari had wanted to do a subtle switch, a slightly delayed pit stop for Massa would have done the trick. A second or two is all that it would have needed.

A big part of the problem here is the way it was handled, with Rob Smedley being given the task of giving his driver the bad news. It should have been Stefano Domenicali, the team boss, or Chris Dyer, the senior engineer. Smedley’s close relationship with Massa meant that he would inevitably struggle to deliver the message impartially and when he felt obliged afterwards to apologise – “Good lad, keep it going, sorry” – it sealed the conviction in our minds that this was a team order.

Eddie Irvine, who has been on the receiving end of a few “move over” orders in his time, said last night that he felt Smedley and Massa had overblown it to make a point and in doing so had let the team down. It has certainly landed them in hot water.

But the wider question is, should F1 have this rule banning team orders, should teams be able to act in the interests of the championship and are moves like this acceptable in some situations?

Think back to 2007, when Massa moved over in Brazil to let Raikkonen win the championship or the following year when the roles were reversed – did anyone object then? No, so that means that fans can understand there are occasions when teams do need some mechanism for shuffling the order, it’s just a question of the circumstances.

Given this, much of the hype in the media today is just that. It’s not race fixing and it’s not even in the same league as the Renault fix in Singapore with Nelson Piquet (which was ironically also to benefit Alonso).

There is a case to answer before the WMSC, but I would like to see the FIA take this opportunity to review the team orders rule and I would like to see FOTA stand behind Ferrari and come up with some proposals as to how this rule can best be adapted to work in the best interests of teams and of fans in modern F1.

It’s all very well for Christian Horner to say that he lets his drivers race, but come Brazil or Abu Dhabi when, for example, Hamilton is leading the championship and Vettel has a chance of beating him, if only his team mate, who’s well behind on points lets him through, are you telling me that he won’t make the switch? Of course he will and Webber will know before the start of the race what the score is.

People would expect it and understand it. The problem comes when it’s considered too early in the season. Perhaps the rule should be that there can be no team orders until the final third of the championship? That would be a simple solution.

But to reinforce the rule that team orders are banned full stop, would be a terrible mistake. It would create yet another artificiality, which would be more damaging to the sport in the long run.

Please send in your suggestions for how the FIA should handle the hearing and what changes if any should be brought in to the team orders rule. As always I will forward any that I feel have some merit on to the teams and to the FIA.

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It should be completely up to the drivers.

A driver knows what they need to do for the team.

This wasnt a situation that Massa needed to move over for Alonso, but I'm sure if he was out of the title hunt, and Alonso needed to pass Massa,

Massa would know what to do.


Agree, it seems that the "big picture" corporate style has overtaken the real sport now.

Massa beat Fernando thats it. If they wanted Fernando to win they simply should have delayed Massas pit stop and no one was the wiser!

I can understand Smedley being upset and reluctant. poor guy, I hope thay dont sack him now!!

Smedley and Dyer are OK its the top brass that need talking to !!!!

Lets hope this does not happen again, it spoils everything.


obviously Massa didnt know what to do!! Or he would have done it more discreetly maybe and not caused all this problem for the team!! This is like Hamilton at Monaco 07 standing on the podium with a face like a slapped ar5e and his little old man running up and down near the stewards mumbling "team orders" every 10 seconds!!!! Magnanimous my ar5e,,,I dont think that Smedley knows what the word means himself, so i cant see how he will translate it for Messa!!!! Massa, Smedley and Dyer are the weak link at Ferrari, and need to be replaces as soon as possible!!!!


900 comments... Wow!

Why not ban the pit radio?


I believe there should be no team orders till minimum of 2 thirds of season. Then only if say 1 driver has at least 50 points advantage over team mate. 50 points is only 2 race wins. Probably diminishing race by race.


I think it's time to make more point scoring opportunities to reflect the drivers performance over the weekend and not just the race result.

Perhaps a point for topping each Q session on Saturday inc pole and a point for fastest lap and leading a lap or most laps lead, would make it harder for teams to make a calculation on points tally and therefore make the call to move over?

Bujang Tembawai

I believed any team that is the situation where one of the drivers has a better chance in the championship will issued team orders in favour of him.

In the case of Ferrari last weekend, they shot their own foot because of the blatant clearity of the instruction to FM. A more discreet method should have been employed. AND there should be clear understanding of both drivers on team priority which dictates team orders.

As FM mentioned in the PC on Sunday, both him and FA worked for Ferrari and are paid by Ferrari, so they are obliged to fulfill the teams requirements.

I'm not against team orders, but do it disreetly please, then you won't annoy us supporters of the sport so much.

As for the FIA and FOTA, I proposed that punishment is only meted out to 'I saw that one coming' team orders. The ones done discreetly should be left by its own.

Formula 1 is a team sport, investment on each team is for the team to succeed, which is then supported BY THE DRIVERS who has the talent to fulfill the teams potential.


It was fairly discreet in the sense that they won't have said "Felipe please move over" but instead said "Fernando is faster," although a pitstop switch would have been better.

Rules-wise the one thing I can think of is to allow team orders only when it is mathematically impossible for one driver to win the title. This was the case in Brazil 2007 and China 2008 but not the case on Sunday (even though Alonso was clearly further ahead). A related subsidiary is if one driver is a certain number of points ahead of another or has accumulated a certain percentage of the points for their team/constructor.

One thing that has been largely overlooked, from what I've read, in this furore is the new points system. Alongside rewarding teams down to 8th place, the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system was introduced to help stop team-orders on the basis that teams would be less inclined to do it for only 2 extra points. This year we instead have a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 system (I think) to give drivers a greater incentive to win than under 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1. This may well have worked at races like Turkey and Canada, but at the same time it also encourages team orders - particularly when running 1st and 2nd. Could a difference of, for example, 5 points (with only 15 or 20 for the win) have helped avoid this? Or is Hockenheim's drama simply a price to pay for a system that strongly rewards victory? I would inline towards to the former but there is definitely an argument either way.


CORRECTIONS: Meant to say 'a related possibility is to allow team orders if one driver is a certain number clear than team-mate/has scored a certain percentage of team points.' This could be a subsidiary to a 'mathematically impossible' rule, but would probably work better as an alternative to it.

Should also say that I inclined towards a 15/20 points for win system even when the new system was introduced so in bringing up the above point I am not, in American parlance, being a Monday morning quarter-back.


I believe that, between them, Parthi and Damian Johnson [2.] have said it all.

I agree with Parthi entirely:

"It should be up to the drivers. A driver knows what they need to do for the team" -- indeed, drivers understand (or certainly ought to) before any given race begins what, if any, move might be appropriate under what conditions and at what point.

The fact that Massa needed to be told indicates the move was inappropriate in this case. The move was in response to what amounted to an order, it was not a purely voluntary move based on an agreement with the practicalites of any championship situation.

I agree with most of Damian's points, especially:

"I would advocate driver points reversal and Ferrari team points removed" -- by judicious use of a 5 second penalty (or otherwise) in the case of the drivers, but make it clear to all competitors that outright exclusion will result from any further instance of orders communicated mid-race. "If Ferrari continue to deny team orders then a large fine should be considered along the lines of what McLaren received based on Ferrari’s ability to pay" -- pretty much agree again, let them realise they really aren't kidding anyone.

Again from Damian:

"All driver contracts to be vetted by FIA for evidence of inconsistency with FIA rules on team orders." Is it not the case that either party can lodge their contracts with the FIA voluntarily, already? Whether I have that right or not, making it compulsory would indeed seem sensible in light of the current issue.

All said, just enforce what is already in the rules. Very little needs to be changed ... beyond Ferrari's and Alonso's attitudes.


Fully agree... Regardless of what we think, massa obviously considers (considered) himself to still be in the title hunt and his team obviously hadn't told him otherwise before the race. We talk about what happened in 07 and 08 so it's clear massa knows the score and knows what to do when the time comes.... It just seems he, like most fans it seems, wasn't aware that, at halfway through the season, that time was upon us.

This argument about alonso being quick irks me. The race weekend and points won, isn't just about being quick - it's about finding the best set up for the car, qualifying well, starting well, overtaking and defending as required, and looking after the car. To say alonso was quicker and as been all season is easily countered by arguments that he has consistently started poorly and has not been able to overtake as well as other leading condensers. Massa, in contrast, has consistently gotten off to hood starts... That's also a strength and one that has served to counter alonso's superior qualifying performance.

What is worst in all of this is stefano d's insistence that there was, and still is no number 1 and number 2 driver... At least if he came clean about this, massa - whether he would have liked it or not - would have known exactly what he had to do and it all might have happened without leaving such a foul taste in everybody's mouth.


"To say Alonso was quicker and has been all season is easily countered by arguments....."

I'm sorry but if you look at it that way: Alonso had a clear advantage in the championship standings over Massa before this race started. In the end that is what counts.

A lot of people did not give FA much of a chance of winning the WDC anymore, so lets not discuss the chances of FM.

This teamorder brought FA halfway back to business.

I think in the situation Ferrari was in, allowing teamorders only in the final third of the championship would have been far to late.

I dont want to discuss about that particular situation with Ferrari now but it is to point out that accepting teamorders at a certain moment of the season is no good either.

For one team it could be halfway the season the right moment is there as for the other team it could be only at the last race.

This way teamorders will still lead to discussions.

Accepting teamorders right from the start of the season is the only sensible solution to it. Teams and drivers should decide for themselves if, how and when they want to use it.


I agree it should be up to the drivers just as it was up to Massa yesterday. He was the one controlling the car after all. He could have raced on and risked a crash with Alonso who would surely have attacked him for race position. He chose not to.

However, if you were the team principal of Ferrari would you not be inclined to conclude that the only realistic chance you have of winning the WDC is with Alonso? Massa has not shown good enough form so far this season compared to Alonso. It becomes easy to make a decision when a driver has no mathematical chance of winning the WDC but we are not at that stage yet. However, given the competitiveness of the top 3 teams (and often the 4th and 5th teams as well) Ferrari need to make a choice now, and they have.


I agree and this is what the the Governing body and the fans need to look at. The teams are not here so 2 guys can go out and have a fun weekend in a car, they get signed because the team think they can get the results and Alonso has been so far and has the best chance of claiming the title for Ferrari.

I feel sorry for Massa but with a stronger performance up to now this might not of happened.

You could also argue that what happened to Mark and the wing situation was also team orders and could of affected the outcome of the race.

Anyway i think this rule needs to be changed and yes i feel sorry for Felipe but we all now that championships are won and lost by the in situations like this.


Spot on point. Drivers are well aware of the circumstances. If this was the last race of the year, and an Alonso victory would have given him WDC, then I'm sure Massa would have obliged for the good of the team. But with 8 or 9 races to go, I think that's what fans are against. It's too early.

The worst part is the theft of a victory from Massa on the 1-year anniversary of his accident.


FERRARI would have to do the same if Massa was just behind Alonso, and was 10 points from leading the championship and Alonso was about double behind the leaders, we say 8 or 9 races left, but this can only be significant if FERRARI win every race 1 and 2!!


Massa has NO chance of winning this season. It is hard for him, but this is the truth.

So, from the point of view of a TEAM, why should Ferrary share their points between their two drivers, when only one can reach the WDC??

I am sorry for Masa, as it would be fantastic for him to win a race one year after, but the WCD is more important than that.

He behaved as a child and quite unprofessional.

Crid [CridComment at gmail]

> A driver knows what they need to do

> for the team.

No, it's not an individual character failure, or even a team character failure.

And people shouldn't worry that this sullies the "sport": People always want to race cars.

Good for James for keeping his eye on the real problem: The financial incentives in F1 are perverted. I don't think Ferrari loves Fernando more than Felipe... But there were millions in compensation at stake, so what were they supposed to do?

Baricello's a pretty cheerul guy, as is Coulthard. But I've always had the sense that both had their spirits wounded by these shenanigans, and now it's sad to see it happen to Massa.

This sports league should be configured such that when the grandchildren ask these guys about the olden days when they were doing something special, they'll be able to say they always did their best.

This is an FIA/CVC problem, not a racing problem.


right. they will be able to tell their grand children. I was second fiddle to schumacher, so you could have the best schooling and this beautifull weekend hacienda. I swallowed everything that was thrown at me, just for you and your sisters to have the best oportunities live can offer.

Alonso at least didn't want to be second driver to hamilton in 08 at mclaren, and left. He ate some dirt at renault for two years, and now is going for it. Making mistakes and all.


Parthi, reverse that situation and assure me that Fernando would 'know what to do' - I suspect that Fernando would do what great champions always do, you've heard the expression 'Nice guys finish second'?

The fact remains that, since commercial sponsors and big budgets have come into F1, the team has an absolute obligation to deliver the best possible result, not only for the sponsors and the fans, but also the workers back in the factory with families to support. Consequently, while any rule remains on the books, there will always be covert manipulation, either by an unnecessary pitstop or a 'you have to save fuel' instruction. The problem at the moment is that Ferrari bungled it and also chose to do it too early in the season, when so much can still happen to either car before the end.

As fans, we have to accept the realities of F1. As DC said rather too often in his book,'It is what it is' We wouldn't have the super-streamlined F1 we see today without the commercial interests which underpin it.

One consolation for this loss of innocence from the big money budgets, etc is that the great strides in safety which we've seen since 1994 have largely been made possible by these budgets (and Max, to be fair) and I am thankful that I can watch my races on a Sunday afternoon with the reasonable expectation that no-one will be hurt for my entertainment.


Massa is, for all intents and purposes, out of the WDC hunt. Alsonso still has an admittedly long shot and winning the WDC. Ferrari are still viable candidates in the Constructor's championship. This order was needed, was timely and should not have been made into such an ordeal by Massa and Smedley.

Zobra Wambleska

Shane , in your later post you say if Germany results are reversed Alonso would still win the WDC by virtue of more wins. I think Alonso would only have one win to Massa's German win in that case and under the rest of your conjecture Masa would be at Alonso's level.


Good point! I did not take that into consideration! So, if Germany is reversed and Massa secures 3rd with Alonso 4th in all of the remaining races, Massa will have the same points as Alonso, but will be ahead in wins. Not a likely scenario, but you are right, I stand corrected.


Shane: "was needed, was timely but badly handled". You forgot illegal. If the FIA strips the points, it might remind people what illegal is, and what it means. Partisan illegality is usually argued as "it's a bad rule, we're justified because everyone else flaunts it, so therefore we should suffer no penalty, and everyone should go away and pretend that rule doesn't exist, or failing that, pretend we didn't break it". Is there more to your argument than "Ferrari needed to"?


Illegal? What rule was broken? Certainly the spirit of the rule, but all that Ferrari said (as far as I know) is "Alonso is faster, do you understand?"

Had they said "Let Alonso through, he is faster", then clearly a rule was broken.

It was my understanding that this is allowed, giving your driver information on his teammate. My contention is, it wasn't illegal but very poorly handled by Massa and Smedley.

I know this is ticky-tack at best, but I think once the lawyers get involved at the WMSC level this will be Ferrari's argument. I imagine they will prevail, but only time will tell.


and it is not like mclosers have not issued team orders in the last 5 seasons and they live in a glass house!!

German gran prix 2008:- kovalienen lets shamilton passed, no one bats an eyelid,

1998 Australian grand prix:- david coulthard moves over mika cry baby,

and even 2 faced eddie jordan issued a team order to Ralf Schumacher not to pass damon hill in spa for the teams first win.

F1 is a team sport more than a driver sport, lets ask this question, Where would the drivers be without the team? or Where would the team be without the drivers?

I remember Frank Williams being quoted once in saying that a driver is just an expensive employee!


Whose intents and purposes? Certainly not anyone who performs basic math with competency.

The only strange thing is that Massa knows Ferrari. What the hell did he think would happen?


Whose? well, anyones I should think. Taking the pace of RBR, Maclaren and Massa into consideration from the first half of the season I think it is fairly obvious that Ferrari only have one driver that is capable of making a true WDC bid in 2010. I can certainly perform basic math, with competency even, but I can also see what is happening in the real world.

There were 225 points remaining prior to the German Grand Prix. Assuming Massa won in Germany (or the WMSC reverses their points), Massa would have to best Alonso in 5 of the next 8 races. Maybe Ferrari's ploy will light a fire in Massa, but I doubt it would be enough, especially taking into consideration that he has fallen to Alonso in 6 of 10 races thus far (excluding Germany). This of course assumes that Ferrari take 1-2 in all remaining races. Once you start mixing up the results a bit, it becomes more obvious that Alonso is the clear leader at Ferrari in 2010.

Another scenario that proves my point, again reversing fortunes of the German Grand Prix. If Ferrari were to secure 3-4 from here on out, with Massa besting Alonso in all of the upcoming races, they would end up tied in points, but Alonso leads due to wins.

Basically every realistic scenario that you can play out, Alonso ends up beating Massa in WDC points.

Is Massa mathematically able to win the WDC? Yes. Realistically, No.

So, after performing basic mathematics, with a touch of proficiency even you SeanG should be able to see that Massa is all but out of the WDC.


agree. But it is undestandable that both were upset when they had the chance to set the record straight.


If Massa had been given the win his slim' odds at winning the championship would be fairly close to what Alonso's are having been gifted the win.

Regardless the regs quite clearly state that the team is not to manipulate the race result, and Ferrari quite clearly breached those regs. If Alonso wants to be crowned World Champion then he should beat his team mate on the track not because Ferrari threatened to kill Massa's puppies or whatever the implied threat was.


Spot on!


Well, Alonso allways has been better than his team mate on race, except with hamilton, so if once he was helped by his team I don't think it means that he doesn't deserve a title.

Remembering 2007 and Hamilton I have to ask here where team orders finish. I mean that between make one driver let pass the other and just decide who has one lap more of fuel or who stops before or later, there's a big lap, but it's a team order in any case.


"It should be completely up to the drivers."

If that were the case then any driver who had the

competitive fire in his belly would never allow his team mate past.

Clearly you lack an understanding of how this game is played in the REAL WORLD of huge amounts of money and the need to please those sponsors who bring that money.


How are Ferrari's sponsors being helped at the moment then?


I am brazilian and my bank is Santander. Actually, Santander bought the bank I had my acount, so it was not my choice.

After last week, I decided to move my account to another bank.

I am not doing that cause I am a fan trying to "defend the poor Massa". I more disapointed at him than at Ferrari or Santander. But I am moving the account anyway.

But it is interesting to see some advertising by the bank here using Massa in the car, something like: "Invest in you passion for racing".


Ask Renault how well their Singapore adventure went down with their sponsors...

I can't see them being that happy about having their brands dragged through the mud and the team they are sponsoring being dragged before the WMSC.

Zobra Wambleska

My guess is that the sponsors didn't fare well in Brazil with this decision, and that's a non-English speaking country.


Apparently there is no such thing as bad press. At least they are getting a lot of coverage.

Although in this case I am not sure it is all that desirable.


Completely agree, leaving these decisions upto the driver is ridiculous because no driver wants to give up a place to his team mate... its pressure from the team mate/team that is the driving force behind these decisions, and the idea that any team would willingly hire a driver who doesn't want to win races for himself is just ludicrous...

Yes Massa may have towed the team line, but to try and make it out was his decision to let his team mate past and that Ferrari weren't holding a metaphorical knife to his throat is just ludicrous!

Personally I would allow team orders, but make it so they have to be open and above board, that conditions are written into contracts that state when and under what circumstances the team will ask a driver to make such a move. I would also ask that any team orders should be explicitly given as TEAM ORDERS and should not be given by race engineers but by the team boss or a designated other. These conditions should also be published at the start of the season...

For example:

Team Apple might have a team stance that team orders will not come into play until one driver it is impossible for a driver to win the championship and will therefore race in support of his team mate.

Team Banana, takes the view that driver Violin is occupying the second seat and will let team mate Trumpet past when ever Trumpet is behind him.

Team Strawberry accepts that its drivers Knife and Fork will be left to race the entire season and no team orders or instructions will ever be given.

That way we fans will know what the score is and can judge the different teams by their policies. If you happen to be a major player in the sports car market then you might find it fits your brand to have a win at all costs image, or you might decide that you want to tie your brand to 'good sportsman image'.


+1! Great idea! Team orders should be allowed, but both drivers should know their place in the team before the season.


+1 for sure.

I truley think that transparency is a must for the fan/team relationship.

Also there should be tough actions if a team doesn't abide by the contracted rules for the driver, like if they over-use this rule change!



James, please PLEASE forward this idea to whoever can make things happen.

Letting the fans know what the official stance of the team is before the first race is crucial.


Transparency is a must in my book, but beyond that I wouldn't want to put too many preconditions on as they would only confuse the issue. Let the teams decide and ask them to make them public.

If team banana choose to run a no1 and a no2 driver, where the no2 driver has to give full support to his team mate for the full season thats fine, as long as its done above board and in the open. The fact that this might mean they struggle to get a top flight driver in their 2nd seat is something that they will have to deal with... but I am sure that there are plenty of up and coming drivers who would 'happily' sign a deal for the no2 car for a couple of years for the opportunity of driving a race winning car, knowing that they will have a chance to get better offers further down the road.



Team orders have always existed in multi-car teams, even at racing levels well below F1, and the current rule just is an abomination--does not reflect reality.

Having said that, some constraints or conditions would be good--transparency being one Transparency alone may be enough for me. Or maybe some additional limits--last part of season, behind certain number of points, etc.


Excellent comment.


+1 on this one, i just came here to post it, and find out you already did!


Those sponsors who bring that money?? Isn't it us the paying fans that go to watch races and view it on TV that attract sponsors after all if F1 had a global audience of a couple of hundred fans I don't think anyone would sponsor F1. Its the fans that are moaning saying something has to be done after all If i had paid good money to go to hockenheim and witnessed that I'd be after a refund.

By the way I am a Ferrari Fan.


yes, and in this case we would talk of target audience: Ferrari and santander have no need for english speaking audience as a whole: they do not have english speaking drivers and the team is italian, and moreover, that section of the market is well taken by McLaren, so what´s the point in trying to pursue that segment of the market? Ferrari is a private company who in the face of a hard decision which addresses the basic paradox of F1 -that two team mates should compete against each other- took a rational if horribly staged choice: tell the weaker link to move over and make itself useful in a subsidiary role. You see, Ferrari basically has no need to please every single one of F1 fans: just their fan base and potential consumers, and these are only concerned with one thing: winning.


Well, Massa has half the points of Hamilton in the lead and we are more than halfway through the season so Massa is/was more or less out of the title hunt.

Massa would need to win 3-4 or even more of the 8 races we have left to be able to take the WDC. Looking back at the previous races in this season, I don't see that happening. Alonso has a better chance at the WDC and have outperformed Massa this season, but duo to bad luck etc has lost a lot of points.


I sort of agree with this. But Massa was only 30 points behind Alonso - and a race win is 25 points in of itself. Point being that Massa wasn't THAT far off Alonso.

Massa proved that he IS STILL IN FORM! He just needs a good car. Is Alonso faster? Maybe - but he is also unreliable. False starts, crashes, etc. Massa consistently seems to have better starts than him and I think it is unfair for Massa to continually have to move over.

With that said, I think James' suggestion about only allowing them in the last third of the season makes sense.


Paul ask your doctor to change your medicines


I think a lot of the reaction relates to the personalities here.

Remember how McLaren always had a special bond with Mika Hakkinen after his crash at Adelaide. Perhaps we are all disappointed that Ferrari don't seem to have the same supportive approach to Massa.

Conversely, Alonso was guilty at McLaren of working on the stolen Ferrari data with De La Rosa (then threatening the team as a result); it seems impossible to most that he was not involved in the Singapore cheating incident; and now he seems to have a contractual right to insist on a free pass to help him in a season littered with his own mistakes. A charitable popular view might be to call him "unsporting". There are other words.

Perhaps with this background the reaction is unsurprising


Lets just flip last season on its head.... Jenson (a poorly rated driver by many) won 6 of the 7 last races after making a poor start to the season.

Or maybe we should go back to the last time Ferrari won the drivers championship.... at this point of the season Kimi was in a similar position to what Massa was up until he let Alonso past.

Regardless the regs....


Read it again IDR - Andy is saying it is feasible for a driver to go on a run and claim 6 victories in 7 races towards the end of the season i.e. flipping last season on its head.

I happen to disagree with the specific point that Massa could win 6 races from the remainder of the season and believe it will not happen this year, but the wider point of the potential for Massa to come into contention WAS there until he let Alonso through.


Lets just flip last season on its head.... *DOH*


"won 6 of the 7 last races after making a poor start to the season..."

Jenson won 6 of the 7 FIRST races of the season, last year.

If that is a poor start to the season...

Christos Pallis

I don't like to say weather Massa needed to do this at this point of the season. This year Ferrari have had a bit of a Hamilton vs Kovalinen situation. One driver on it consistantly and one who is not. Did Kovy have a chance at the title, no. Does Massa on season performance to date have a chance of winning the title, no. Has Alonso on season performance so far shown enough pace to have a chance at the title, yes.

I don't like Ferrari, or Massa Or even more so Alonso but can i understand their reason and perspective, Absolutly.

They broke the rules, yes. They need to be punished for that, yes. Is the rule wrong? yes, when we consider teams up and down the grid have orders weather delivered over the radio or in a private meeting 5 min before the race.

The article points out how in recent years there have been examples of team orders but just in a more palitable way than Ferrari managed it............


Why do you think Alonso had such an edge over Massa? He had only one victory before Germany, so Massa would be tied by now. Massa was also very unlucky, but the points difference in the championship is not due to a huge difference in pace/performance.

Both were on the title fight until the last race, but I feel now Massa have given up.


Not to mention that he was "only" 30 points behind and a race win is 25.

If you stop and think about it for a second or two, Massa was really not that far behind Alonso.

This was extremely unfair.


I completely agree with this.

If it is obvious to the driver, as hyper-competitive as they are, that there is no possible benefit to anyone of them finishing in front of their team mate, common sense should prevail.

If it is not that obvious, and the team feels the need to intervene, then it is manipulation.

It's very hard to draw a solid line in the sand on this one; you could have a rule about the mathematical possibility of winning the championship but realistically the point where it makes sense to move over is well before the point of mathematical impossibility.

The fact is that in this case Massa and Smedley clearly felt that his championship cause is not lost enough to justify the switch, and the same seems to be true for a lot of fans.

And the big problem for Massa is that having done it this weekend, the extra 14 points that Alonso is now ahead of him (38 points vs. 24) makes it all the more likely that the same thing will happen next time.


I don't like this maths idea either but I don't care about the team, I barrack for a driver and every time I watch I want to go into it believing he has a chance of winning the race. I like the idea teams can be punish if they put their own selfish interests before the fans. How would you like it if you were about to win Monaco and your team told you bad luck. How would you like it if you loved that driver and were devastated at what he would be FORCED to do. What if it's his home grand prix and everyone has invested millions and people have saved up their hard earned money to watch their driver win their home grand prix. Then on the last turn just as he is about to win it, he pulls over to let an unworthy winner through. It really takes the sport out of motorsport.


Formula1 is one of the very few sports where team members compete against each other. Because of this, fans support individual drivers rather than teams. As a result, the WDC has more marketing value than WCC even for the manufacturer. That is why switching team mates is actually fixing a race as it goes against the intuitive fundamentals of the sport i.e. people racing against each other. Look at how much competition there is between Lewis and Jenson or Webber and Vettel - its the people factor that attracts the fan. If it were not the driver factor that is attractive, we'd all be glued to our TVs watching radio-controlled F1 cars from different teams - now what fun would that be? To manage the team orders issue and retain the sporting aspects of F1, FIA either introduces the one-car team concept or continues to ban team orders.

Interestingly in 2010, FIA has subsequently amended all controversial rules that have involved Ferrari towards Ferrari's logic and all that involved McLaren away from McLaren's logic. If this holds, we should see the WMSC re-introducing team orders.


I agree totally, and disagree with the premise that the rule is unworkable as it will create an artificiality. Alonso and Massa should have their points docked, and if the FIA enforces the rule that it created properly, then teams will have to get much sneakier if they are going to 'cheat' the fans of their drivers in this way. If they get caught, dock their points, simple as. Its up to the stewards to determine if they implemented team orders or not. If the teams knew that if they got caught they would lose their points, then they would think much much more carefully before attempting this kind of unsportsmanlike behaviour again. Unsportsmanlike being the operative word here.

Damian Johnson

Much depends on whether Ferrari continue to deny that they operated team orders. Ferrari also broke a rule and for that they need to be properly punished.

You might say that other teams have used team orders. But Ferrari did it so blatantly that they were found out unlike the other teams. In that respect, one could say the situation is like spygate where all teams do it but it was McLaren that were found to have a case to answer.

I would advocate driver points reversal and Ferrari team points removed. If Ferrari continue to deny team orders then a large fine should be considered along the lines of what McLaren received based on Ferrari's ability to pay.

In future, all team orders should be banned for the first half of the season to stop any team having a deliberate policy of a favoured driver from the start of the season and team orders can only come into play once the mathematical chance of one of the drivers winning the WDC is finished. That way, the supporting driver can have no compalints about equal treatment.

All driver contracts to be vetted by FIA for evidence of inconsistency with FIA rules on team orders.


Damian suggests

>All driver contracts to be vetted by FIA for evidence of inconsistency with FIA rules on team orders.

I see where you are coming from, but this is a little naive. Contracts are often woven with nuance which are known internally to mean one thing, but externally to mean another. I really dont think this suggestion will hold water. And anyway just think of the cost of administering it compared to the amount of control and confidence it is likely to return.

The only certainly for me out of all this uncertainty on this topic is that the first thing the FIA need to do is lift the ban on team orders because it is toothless and makes a mockery of any other regulations which are non-negotiables.

Zobra Wambleska

This is a well reasoned response and I agree with it. The one exception would be to make the cut off at the 2/3rd mark, as opposed to the half way point in the season.

Brent McMaster

I found Kovalainen moving out of the road at Hockenheim in '08 almost identical. Kovalainen was no more subtle then Massa, yet nothing was said. The FIA has just as much fault as Ferrari for not enforcing their own rules. I have know problem with having a #1,2 system at a team, as long as it is stated in the contract the driver signs. I don't understand why it was not clear to Massa before the race that Alonso was finishing ahead of him. Alonso was beside him at one point, Massa just had to come onto the gas slightly slower and it would be done.


"In future, all team orders should be banned for the first half of the season to stop any team having a deliberate policy of a favoured driver from the start of the season and team orders can only come into play once the mathematical chance of one of the drivers winning the WDC is finished."

You do realize that it IS the latter half of the season, right? Hockenheim was the 11th of 19 Grands Prix.


I think the point was, Massa is still in the title hunt, especially with the increase of points for the podiums. A few Alonso retirements (or stewards penalties) and the situation is turned about.


Brent, Raikkonen came from a similar distance back (in the old points system). Anything can happen in Formula 1 - and it usually does. (M. Walker).

Brent McMaster

Massa needed 80 points to tie what Hamilton had. How was he still in the hunt?


Rubbish. Ferrari should not be fined at all. They have done nothing more than what they themselves and other teams have done in recent times, even this year. Recall how Kovaleinen moved over for Hamilton. That went by with hardly a whimper because the team in question was a British one. There was certainly no grilling from the media or from fans that have now weighed in with their opinions. The there were the "Vettel is faster than you" to Webber and Button being told that his "fuel situation is CRITICAL!" so that he should not attack Hamilton.


Totally agree with you A.K.

Team orders are in every team like it or not. Some people either can't uncode them or just refuse to accept that other teams use them as well in different shapes and forms.

I really want to see how next weekend result pan out. I am certain that Alonso will win and this whole issue will subdue.

Just A Bloke (Martin)

I think its the disrepute issue which is causing Ferrari a problem. If they were more open and honest about the situation then what ever the rules, fair play. Personally I wanted to see if Alonso could pass Massa, Could Massa take the pressure? I think if Massa was under SERIOUS pressure from Alonso and VEttel was closing then he would perhaps have let him by anyway.......


That's the problem Ferrari were worried about, look at how aggressively Massa was defending a few laps prior and nearly touched with alonso and also remember...they touched in Valencia. Fernando had the pace to attack but Ferrari were having none of it which is why they took the route they did. Clearly they couldn't keep Alonso behind Massa yet again, Alonso would not have obeyed that order and would most definitely have attacked Massa at the end. The rest would have been history..


Finally some one on here can see sence. The mclaren and British fans on here want Ferrari banned but won't admit to the heikki lewis incident two years ago with the exact same thing happening. The British just can't admit it and if they want Ferrari kicked out you have to take away lewis's points from that race in 08. And Im not biased like the Brits so Ferrari should lose the points from china that year also. It has to be one rule for all. Since 2002 yesterday was the 200th time Id guess where team orders where involved yet Ferrari are first team pulled by media. Why bcos there not British


How about Brazilian fans and media? I'm sure they're a bit upset.


Well said Damian! I think the record was set when McLaren had their wrist slapped for the spygate and for sure it does send out a message for all those willing to take the risk of bending the rules.

So Ferrari should be fined accordingly for bringing the sport into disrepute, remove them from the contractors and annul their result in Germany for both drivers.

Unless each team has one driver then I see no progress with team orders getting completely banned or being done without. Should the underdog dare to perform again, then Alonso and Massa should fall out very quickly just as he did with Hamilton.

But then again this could be Alsonso’s dark cloud following him from team to team. Somehow he ends up in a team that will be fined heavily. Renault, McLaren and who knows what Ferrari will eventually get. Something that is not anticipated in good strategy...Karma!


To me Spygate wasn´t anywere near ´bending the rules´.


I agree with your recommendations for the punishment for Ferrari from the WMSC. If the TEAM looses their points it will send a clear message to all teams. Also, on the day, Alonso did not have the race craft to win, that honour was due to Massa, reversing the positions would be the fair thing to do.


Personally, I haven't a problem with team orders, you can hardley expect a team and their sponsors, after spending millions and planning and working towards a goal, to not wish to have control over their results!!! I mean F1 is a business, not a game! Then there is the question of how much the drivers get paid, if one gets 20,000,000, and the other gets 5,000,000 it's obvious where the team's first priorities are, and should be!! I don't believe Ferrari should be penalized!! I do believe the rule banning orders should be banned!! If I was a team boss/owner and I wasn't alowed to boss my team, then why would I bother haveing it? I may as well sit in front of the tv and watch a bouncy ball game! (And there's NO chance of that happening!) Many posters seem to be getting bitter and twisted about Ferrari and their orders, but for the life of me I can't understand why!!!



In other words its fine to break any rule you don't agree with!


Cont... And while they're busy banning the rule banning team orders, the FIA should also bann KERs in F1 for ever!!! PK.


I love so many say that Alonso was faster over the weekend. To that I would say "Massa was faster when it mattered."


No, he wasn't. He was lapping 0.5 sec slower that Alonso. Should he not have acted as a child, and yielding on a corner - like Heikki did in Hockenheim'08 - and nothing of this would happen. But he needed to say loudly to the World that he was yielding... childish behaviour. If I were Team Manager, Massa would have been fired inmediately after the race.


Sport is all about delivering when it matters. Many people are not smart.


That's ridiculous, you can't 'ban' team orders, they will ALWAYS exist, no matter what a team manager or driver says.

Just lift the rule and leave it up to the drivers. Tbh i'd be more happy with them banning team radio and seeing what happens from there.


Excellent points and i would agree with all your points but if Ferrari are found to have lied to the stewards they have already set a presedent in Australia with Hamilton.It is clear Ferarri would have got a 1/2 at the race so it would be harsh to not allow them to keep the points albeit reversed but Ferrari got themselves into this mess so it is their own fault.


I agree with the part about alowing team orders only when one of the drivers is mathematicaly out of the WDC race. Also, I think the FIA should review the contracts, so that there's no team orders before the fact, as that is breaking the rules as well.


Team A has one driver (A1) who has a strong chance of winning the WDC and another (A2) who can not.

Team B has one driver who has a strong chance of winning the WDC (B1) and another driver who has a very slight chance of winning the WDC (B2).

Team A is allowed to implement team orders to assist A1, but Team B is not permitted to assist B1 in a similar manner.

Would such a system be fair?

A team could deliberately hold one of its drivers back to ensure that that driver no longer had a mathematical chance of winning the championship.

Either permit team orders, or ban them. If they are going to be banned, then the FIA should start doing something about these teams that instruct their drivers to "save fuel".


I fully agree with you! The mathematical-solution is no good since it will/could give an unfair advantage to some teams.

There is no way to get rid of team orders since this is a team sport so I say permit them but let us see/hear what's happening and why.


"team orders can only come into play once the mathematical chance of one of the drivers winning the WDC is finished"

Completely agree - excellent idea. It's based upon facts, so should be easily understandable and measureable.

I'm sure we can all understand driver switches for the championship in the last 2 or 3 races, and I can understand (and even encourage) the team dynamic of letting a faster team mate through to challenge further up the field (Massa and Alonso in Australia this year, Hamilton and Kovy at Germany last year), but I think it went too far yesterday.

From a Ferrari perspective, they got the same number of points either way, so no team benefit. And Massa is still in with a chance of the championship - he was only just more than a single race win back. I'm hoping for a run of bad reliability for Alonso now, and Massa missing the championship by up to 7 points.

Perhaps we need to see a rule about swapping the LEAD of the race, with the swapper being mathematically out of the championship to make it legal.

Or do we acknowledge that it will always happen, and enforce it like engines - saying that each team is allowed to swap driver positions up to a maximum of 3 times (or some other number) a season into any position and for any reason. Any undeclared or additional stops (i.e. bad pit stop, an overtake), should be investigated by the stewards to ensure everyone was trying their hardest.

What do you think?


Just for clarification re my examples of allowing a faster team mate through:

Massa and Alonso - didn't happen, probably should have.

Kovy and Hamilton - did happen, probably a team order as Hamilton was much faster and went on to win the race.


Rafael.....have you asked Alonso? You just seem so sure.

I think there is a misconception about Alonso place within Ferrari. Please remember that Alonso is an employee, he does not own nor run think that would be silly :-). This order came from the team and there is no radio transmission notifying Alonso of the decision (we would have heard it fof sure)so how would he have known?


Mikael...Alonso new very well what was going on. To deny that would be silly.


I don't think the drivers listens to the other drivers radio during the race... which means Alonso probably did not hear what Smedley said to Massa. Seems to me that there is a lot of Alonso bashing around when clearly it was the team that made the decision.


And another thing ...

After the race was won, on the team radio was Alonso prattling on about the pass, saying something like 'what happened to Felipe, did he miss a gear?' or some such nonsense?

Or did I imagine that? I don't much like Alonso, and don't want to put words in his mouth, but if he did say that, he must think all F1 fans are mugs to be so easily conned.

Anyone else here that, or should I be making an appointment at the physciatrist's?


Germany was race 11 so half the season was already over! 🙂


I agree with the approach that team orders to be banned until one of the drivers mathematically cannot win WDC any more. That is, if I am not mistaken, how Kimi and Masa arranged it and publicly spoke about it. That way everybody knew that, when the time comes, Massa would move over to Kimi and vice-versa, and nobody objected to it.


The mathematical approach won't work, though it sounds simple enough. Who's to say a team won't engineer it's way into making sure one driver is mathematically out of the picture? Look at Renault in Singapore, and you quickly see that the teams can be very clever about manipulating a race result. What staggers me about this incident is the bush-league way Ferrari went about it, and the backlash it's generated. The problem stems from the teams wanting to win both championships. This left Ferrari until after the pitstops to have to make the clumsy switch. In prior years with re-fuelling, a little slip of the wheel gun, or delay in removing the fuel hose was all that was necessary...


The complete denial by Ferrari is what grates with me the most. If Rob Smedley (although it shouldn't have fallen to Rob to do) had come on the radio and said, "Look baby, you know what Fernando is like when he doesn't get his own way so you'd better let him pass, in all fairness he is looking more likely to win the championship then you." then I wouldn't have been that bothered.

What is a problem is when everyone at Ferrari claims that Massa wasn't told to move over and that he had some mysterious problem coming out of the hairpin.

More transparency is what is needed.

Just A Bloke (Martin)

Spot on totally agree, I don't like being taken for a muppet.


Neither do I, but let's be real here. Ferrari would be dumb to admit team orders when they are illegal...


Your comments reveal that you wish for idealism which has never existed and will never exist, in the real world of F1.

In any case, all this is nothing but "bread and circuses", and it's pathetic to see people get so upset over it, as though it was a life and death struggle or something of that sort.


I'd go for the mathematical part of the solution. If your team has one driver fighting for the WDC and another that can't win it, you won't even need any orders.

On the other hand, there's a lot of chatter on the spanish media about concealed team orders being already used by other teams (namely McLaren) disguised as "We need to save fuel". When this happens, maybe, in the best interest of sport, the FIA should check the team's telemetry and see if that particular driver really needed to save fuel.


The weight of the car at the end of a race can give the FIA that sort of information. Too light would get a penalty.


They told Hamilton to save fuel again this race, presumably a codeword for let Jenson by? Or, and I might be way off base here, maybe McLaren - like every other team - factor in fuel saving periods when deciding the fuel loads: excess fuel costs time and wears tyres. Or we could just believe the Spanish media...

...but it's strange that neither Hamilton nor Button appeared to understand the "save fuel" message - Hamilton and his engineer seemed to think it meant the race was off, whereas Button thought differently. Isn't it strange that McLaren dreamt up these codewords but then forgot to tell the drivers and their race engineers? Or we could just believe the Spanish media...


And what about Hockenheim '08, and Heikkii yielding to Hamilton? This was a clear case of team orders... or we could believe English media.

By the way, you can check what Ron Dennis said, asumming that Heikki did actually yield to Lewis in the best team's interest:

Is this cheating or not? Yes, it is, but we know that Lewis is to get no real penalty from his friends in FIA... or we could just believe English media.


yes, ferrari are certainly lying, and as such, should be strongly punished for such - spygate was as much about lying as anything else, according to herr mosley, so this should be too.


Such a rule would permit teams to instruct drivers to swap position in the second half of the season when neither driver has a chance of winning the championship - just like what McLaren did at Jerez in 1997!

Hussein Lokhandwala

Ferrari have to adopt the denial position, because of the rule in place. To not do so would be openly admitting that they 'cheated' and consider themselves above the law.

Its flawed logic to say they deserve punishment for the 'blatancy' of their rule infringement. The equivalent is punishing a team who attaches a visible illegal turbo to the engine but not one who races with illegal and subtle aerodynamic upgrades. It's agreed by anyone who calls them-self a Formula 1 fan that all teams operate team orders, they should be allowed to take decisions that are in their own best interests, considering how much money they invest, and they should be able to act as they deem necessary from any point in the season.

In terms of vetting the contracts, whats agreed between two parties i.e. team and driver is a matter for them. Assuming Massa does have a 2nd driver clause, nobody put a gun to his head to make him sign it.

To start handing down judgement based on the subjective perceived cynicism to me seems very silly, for a sport that prides itself on its intelligence and pragmatism.


Team orders should be reintroduced and all radio transmissions from pit to car concerning them should be broadcast so that the viewers know exactly what's happening on track.

It was a great move by the host broadcaster to relay Rob Smedley's message to Massa. Remember it wasn't that long ago that we weren't privy to ANY Ferrari radio transmissions...


That's because the F60 is a box with 4 wheels?

Back to the topic, I'm all for legalising team orders, cause that will bring in more intense competition.

Sidenote: James, for this year's Singapore GP is there any fan session organised?


That broadcaster would be FOM as it is at all races. I agree its good that the radio has been opened up. I wonder if the lack of the read button is what caught ferrari out this time


That wasn't the host broadcaster - that was FOM. Bernie's boys (and girls) knew exactly what they were doing when they broadcast that


uhmmm... didn't Bernei say something like "if there are no fires I set them"? This fire certainly has gone viral and will keep F1 interested over the summer break until the hearing... this will force the teams to reword the rule, not eliminating team orders completely, but clearing them up as to when they are allowed... enough to "spice up the show" but keep it a sport with the concept of fair play... isn't Mac principal having a quiet chat with Ferrari? I wonder about what? Bernei is a freaking genius!!!!


Brilliant point, mate!!


I fully agree with this one. Make teamorders legal again and make things transparent to the viewer.

Let's face it, if Ferrari would have done a 2s longer pitsstop with Massa due to a "wheel nut problem" one would have known Ferrari played it but no one could do anything against it.

To me it is the way Ferrari handled it. Yesterday everybody knew what happened because it was played this indifferent way. I think this is causing all these boiled reactions.

But because there is so much at stake, teamorders will always be there, like it or not. There are just to many examples of this in recent years.

So either choose to accept it and make things transparent or know that you have been cheated but can not do anything about it.

In the end, the race result will be just the same.


wasn't down to a local host broadcaster, every race bar monaco and suzuka is handled by fom.

was also quietly agreed just prior to hockenheim that fom now have access to all team radio so teams are no longer to block access to certain broadcasts.


What about the viewers at the track ? how are they supposed to know what is going on ?


Well you could say that about F1 generally!


I've found that spending the extra money on a Kangaroo TV greatly enhances the ability to follow the subtler developments on track. The radio broadcasts can be heard on them, and in fact, they often broadcast more than what is being sent out to the main feed.


...or any McLaren communications for that matter!

Christos Pallis

Totally agree, it was brilliant to get those messages aired as it happened!


I think what ade suggests is a suitable compromise, let teams do what they want, but try and make them be honest about their actions and the reasoning behind it too.


Ironically, this was the first race where ALL team radio was open to FOM, the broadcaster of most F1 races. Before Germany, teams had the option as to whether radio could be made public or not, by pushing a button that seperated the radio feed from public channels to a private one. That button was unable to be used at Hockenheim


I wish the radio transmission could be downloaded 🙁


That was our luck as since Hockenheim all radio transmissions from all the cars are being made available to the broadcaster. Perhaps Ferrari weren't aware of this. Or, which sounds more convincing, certain members of the team were very aware of this. It would have been interesting, though, to have Massa's reaction relayed. Too funny if his first words had been "this is ridiculous".


Team orders should not be allowed whilst a driver is in contention for the championship by winning 50% of the remaining points.

E.G Driver has 200 points in championship, there are 100 points left to win this means if he wins 50% of the points left his maximum is 250 points

A.If the leader of the championship has more than 250 points then the team may use orders in respect of this driver.

B. If the leader of the championship has less than 250 points then the team may not use orders in respect of this driver.


The FIA should recognise that their Rule is unworkable and needs changing. 'No team orders' is unrealistic in a team sport. It is fairer all round not to 'coerce' a driver into 'consenting' to favour his team mate, 'for the good of the team'. Let the driver do it under openly given team orders.

They are racing drivers. They know the score. If a driver wants to avoid team orders let him dominate his team mate. It is part of the job. It is hard on the dominated party but they didn't enter F1 for an easy ride.

That may make some drivers opt for weaker teams and number on status. What is wrong with that? It is their choice.

It does not detract from the spectacle if the rules are known to the public and the teams are honest about it.

Teams want to maximise points for the constructor's championship. That in itself limits the damage to the weaker driver.

Can a driver really claim to fight for the world championship if he cannot dominate the driver in the same car? Would that be a worthy world champion?


I agree with the general idea of team orders... the team wants *both* the WDC (for sponsor & marketing $$$) and the WCC for engineering prestige and $$ from FIA. The logic behind the ferrari team order makes sense from a business case in order to strengthen the WDC chase. Having said that...

FA's obvious 1-2 swap did not annoy me too much (my sense of fair play and an honest win at odds with the team's objective to win both championships), just surprised it was so obvious as it is supposed to be against the sporting regulations.

What made me sick to my stomach, and obviously the media present at the press conference, was once I saw FM's reaction after the race... he was not happy. It seemed to me he allowed the swap under duress, he was forced to hand over his win to the slightly faster (at race pace) team mate.

Driver's know the score, they know their chances of winning the WDC, they know they work for a team, and I think that unless they hate their team mate, they are likely to help him win races... in which case I would expect the team drivers to be jubilant for the team for a 1-2.

That was not the case with FM and FA because it was a 1-2 swap FM didn't want to do... how to fix this for the future? Maybe not allowing 1-2 swaps until leading driver is mathematically out of the WDC would an option. This way no one can say the driver was coerced, he has no chance of of the WDC, so he should concede the win for the good of the team.

Letting a faster teammate through should be acceptable if not for a 1-2 swap, this way the faster driver can challenge the race leaders for more points, like Hamilton & Heikki in 2008.

In any event, I expect changes to this rule for next year, changes that give teams flexibility to maximize points, and make it fair for the drivers so a driver is not forced to do a 1-2 swap under duress like Masa and Baricello.


Great post James,

In my mind, anything limiting team orders is very hard to police. The only truly effective thing would be one car per team! Even in that case engine supplier issues and other interdependencies may very well play a role in the outcome. I am content that a sport that competitiive as Formula 1 will always create ground for such issues.

Moreover, the phenomena is twofold: (1) sometimes teammates are obliged to give away track position as was the case with Massa here, on the other hand (2) teammates sometimes will just tend to risk more when confronted with each other (Turkey RBR, or Alonso pitlane overtake in China, also I am inclined to say that Hamilton repass on Button in Turkey are allo good examples). I doubt that any of these moves would have also been done in a non teammate scenario.

In my mind the negative effects of (1) are more or less balanced by the extra spectacle and unpredictability of (2). I also see a pattern in terms of the team orders issue (1) where in certain cases the public condemns the case (Austria 2002 or Germany 2010) while as James pointed it out validly other quite apparent team orders are not followed by such negative feelings from the fans. At this point, however, I depart from James and take the view that the general public problem always arises where the recipient of the team order (BAR/MAS) does not want to obey and wants to use the negative media as a means against its own team.

So in a sense I would say that somehow punishing "martyr" behaviour would improve things....I am sure economics have already looked into this matter (which basically revolves around game theory) and smart policing is achievable at least to counterbalance these kind of public martyrdoms if not team orders.


In any other sport telling a competitor to act so they don't win is called fixing and lands people in court.

It's almost impossible to prevent a lengthened pitstop, a call to change fuel mixture etc can all acheive the same effect.

There are two different questions: first what to do if one car is clearly faster than the other, but behind - do you (1) Tell the faster following driver he can't attempt to overtake or (2) Tell the leading driver that his teammate will attack, and not to defend as stoutly as he would against a car from another team, or do you (3) tell him to pull over and wave the other guy through, or do you (4) say "Well if Fernando thinks he's going to be world champion he might have to pass his own team mate on the track on merrit once or twice in a season."

My heart says (4) but post Turkey Red-Bull would not agree. What we got, in effect was option (3) which looks dreadful. Ferrari maintained that they told Massa to expect an attack, not what he should do if it came, and he lamely moved out of the way.

That's different from saying before the race "Even if driver a is faster, he must let driver B win". When winning a championship can depend on a driver doing that we all know, and a team will usually come out and say so beforehand. 8 races left is too early for a team to back one driver - it could still be Massa who finishes higher up in the championship, and wouldn't be an Irony if he lost it by fewer than five points.

The best quote on the subject appeared in the Telegraph

*Fernando, where will this victory rank in your career? Is it up there with Singapore 2008?


F1 is a team sport. It would only be race fixing if a team did something on purpose to cause itself or another team to win a race illegitimately (like Renault did). Switching two drivers on the same team is not race fixing as the victory goes to the team either way and no other competing team is affected.


In F1 the competitors are the drivers not the teams (who are entrants).

It isn't like football where the result is the result whichever team member scores the goals.

If it were a horse race and the trainer told two Jockeys from his stable which order they should finish he'd end up in court. But there is a team of people getting the horses ready ...

Alonso has form when it comes to unsportsmanlike behaviour: his time at McLaren and Hungary in particular. Did he really know nothing about Piquet's action in Singapore ? Passing Massa in the pitlane, and now this.


I would still argue that Ferrari didn't fix the race based on my previous comment. The teams are the competitors and the individuals drive for the team. The driver switch did not affect any other team. I do agree with you regarding Alonso's behavior, he should have just manned up and thanked Massa rather than make up a lame story about how he was able to pass him.


Arri, I have an issue with Alonso's unsporting behavior, but I have a bigger problem with Ferrari fixing races (Barrichello moving over for Schumacher), even the Mclaren incident where Coulthard moved over for Hakkinen felt wrong (and that wasn't a team order)

Given that (as the only team still getting Tobacco money) Ferrari have deep pockets they'd probably think paying $20,000 per point to move points from their #2 driver to their #1 is quite a bargain. We'll have to see what the council says when they go over it, because the precedent is you CAN issue team orders and write a cheque. I hope the council says the penalty should be disqualification even if that is suspended in this case.


Another James: To me it looks like your issue is with Alonso rather than with what FERRARI...yes you read it correctly ....Ferrari as a TEAM decided. I think this is also the major issue here cause if the exact same thing happened and it was lets say...Fisi moving for Massa there wouldn't be half the furor there is now....don't you think?


Drivers should only be ordered to move over for their team mate when they are mathematically incapable of winning the drivers championship. Until then all drivers should be racing.


Agree. This is the most simple but logical solution as it put things into perspective like the Massa / Kimi switch in 2007


Some interesting points James.

However I think the big difference between the historic events and yesterday is down to Bernie Ecclestone. That might sound a bit bizarre until we think about it.

There are two significant changes - both technological.

The first is down to the gearboxes and the sheer amount of data created by a car. Nobody was certain that a fluffed gear change was hiding a team's orders to allow a team mate pass. It happened so easily and frequently (especially when under pressure) that these events were not questioned.

The second is down to Bernie's efforts to enhance the show. Certainly in schumacher's early days we did not hear the team radio conversations and on board camera footage was rare.

ferrari's biggest crime yesterday was bringing the sport into disrepute - for which it should be punished harshly - preferably by the very least removing Alonso's undeserved 25 points.

The rules ban team orders and, therefore, unless the FIA are planning to abandon this rule they need to make an example of ferrari's cynical abuse of the current rule.

Without hearing the team radio this would not have been anything like as bad. ferrari are obviously guilty of a lack of thought - far too many are guilty of disregarding the way the media has given such wide access to all sports. This furore is no different to tennis players who get fined for inappropriate outbursts.

I feel that nobody really complains about a driver helping his team mate seal a championship - once his own chances are effectively finished. Most drivers would feel honoured to have made sure a team mate won a title and, as such would more than likely choose to move over without any need for public encouragement.

It would not hurt if the team orders rule was abandoned... as long as all team radio transmissions were adequately monitored and any orders (tacit or otherwise) for a driver to move over resulted in the automatic loss of all points as they are damaging to the "sport".


How about a simple rule which says that no contract between a driver and team may contain a clause which could be interpreted as giving him a right to track position relative to his team mate?

This leaves the door open to consensual orders which are in the interests of a team's championship pursuit in that final third of the season, but stops a driver being legally subordinated in an entirely artificial manner.


Has any of the "experts" frequenting comment boards ever seen an F1 contract: FA or MSC for example. There is no proof that anyone ever has had a contract forcing him/her to to be number two or allowing someone to be number 1. That said, I suppose many will believe what they want regardless of proof (eg. Loch Ness monster and alien abductions).


I don't think this is the case with Massa anyhow, as he wouldn't/shouldn't have taken it so badly if it were.


James, as a brief aside to the Massa/Alonso incident, there was also the moment where Petrov was told by his engineer to adjust his shift pattern to avoid engine damage or to conserve fuel. I thought I heard the engineer say something along the lines of: "...If you don't do this we will have to adjust the mapping/settings" (sorry but I am paraphrasing as I cannot remember exactly what he said). Did you hear that order and, if so, what did you make of it? Does this mean that the team could dynamically upload a new throttle mapping to the car without the driver's consent/knowledge as I thought this was forbidden under the rules? Wouldn't this be yet another way the teams could affect the race result (in addition to subtle - or not so subtle - 'fuel save' codes, 'accidental' pitstop finger trouble etc..)?


The engineer was telling him to change up early into top gear, and saying that if he couldn't manage it then they'd have to go to a different engine map.

Martin Brundle interpreted this as a requirement to save fuel, with a threat to go to a very conservative fuel-saving mode if Petrov couldn't manage it manually by changing into top early.


Thanks Tim for stating what was said more clearly than I recalled. What I was wondering, with respect to the team orders controversy, was whether it is possible (and legal) for a team to remotely force a switch to a new engine mapping onto the car without the driver's consent or even knowledge. I do remember a rule from a few years back stating that telemetry can only be downloaded from the car and not uploaded to it. Do you, or does anyone else, know if this is still the case?


A few months ago on a late evening train out of London Liverpool Street I had a couple of ex-F1 engineers (one Renault, one Cosworth) talking too loudly on the table opposite about some of special projects they had worked on whilst in F1.

One of the things the Renault guy mentioned was that they could remotely change car settings by locating a team member out on the back of track, with a box that could establish an infra-red link to the car (downside being that it would need line-of-sight to the car to work, much like a TV remote control)

Presumably by operating in the infra-red frequency range, and basing an employee outside of the pits, it could get around the detection of two-way telementry, which is banned (and hence why I was so intrigued to eavesdrop on their conversation!)

Not sure how accurate what they were saying was, but it certainly sounded convincing at the time.


I honestly can't get past the idea that a driver who wins only because another driver lets him past simply is not the rightful winner. No matter what the circumstances or what part of the season it is. Clearly, I have a lot to learn.

(I'm not saying that sarcastically, by the way. I know I do have a lot to learn!)


So long as there are multiple cars per team you'll have plenty of chances to learn the lesson.


If a driver has NO mathematical chance of the title, then and only then, are team orders acceptable.


If Alonso was so much faster, then surely he would, could and should have past Massa. Then it would be up the pair of them to drive sensibly and avoid taking each other out. For such a large and influential organisation, Ferrari appears to lack a degree of intelligence when it comes to handling PR...

And Alonso - yes he is a great driver but he's also got a massive ego which is increasingly showing him in an extremely negative and unpopular light. I wish he'd just stop whining and throwing his toys out of the pram, every time something goes wrong. Maybe he has been on the end of some dubious stewards' decisions, but get over it dude. Act like a man, not like a spoilt brat. Let your driving do the talking.


the rule should say "team orders on switching positions between team mates is banned until the moment one of them has no mathematical chances of winning the championship" thanx


as for driver not fighting for the championship the rule should say " team orders on switching positions between team mates are banned until the moment one of them has no mathematical chance of beating the other one in final championship standings"


A few years ago Lewis had his race result annulled when he was caught telling porkies to the stewards. As Alonso and Massa have clearly been caught doing the same then at the very least they should both be retrospectively thrown out of the race. And if Ferrari don't have the balls to admit they fixed the positions then they should follow a similar fate.

As a fan you have no idea how pissed off I get when I see results being so blatantly fixed. I suspect I am not alone.


You are not alone. And I have no strong allegiance to any particular team, I just love the sport.

What I dont get is, if Alonso was really that much faster then why didnt he have a crack at overtaking (Red Bull/MacLaren style). The guy is unmistakably a fast driver, but his antics of his time at McLaren in 2008, his "convenient" win at Singapore last year and the last race, means he hardly comes up smelling of roses. Alonso is has quite a bit of baggage.

Astonishingly though, he does not seem to care how gifted a win was. If I was able to compete at a high level in any sport, I would only want to win if I was best. What does it mean for competitors when the guy who is second best is gifted the gold medal. What on earth do the people in control of the regulation think that it means to the viewers when the whole outcome of a race is a sham.

Formula 1, 2010. Possibly at its lowest ebb for decades.


Yes, F1 2010 - at its lowest ebb since Peter Collins gave Juan Manuel Fangio his car at Monza so that Fangio could have half of the car's points and win the title by 2 points over...Collins.

Or perhaps its lowes ebb since Fangio very clearly drove slowly to allow Stirling Moss to win at Aintree.

Or perhaps its lowest ebb since Gilles Villeneuve was informed prior to the 1979 season that the intention of the team was for Jody Scheckter to be its championship contender from the very outset of the season.

Doe this hysterical clap-trap about how awful team orders are have no end?


You are not


but what constitutes a "team order"

Telling your drivers they can race?

Giving your lead race driver information for him to make up his mind?

Telling your lead race driver to back off to save fuel whilst his team mate is right behind him and is not told same instruction?


Very well written James and I totally share your view.

Everyone understands team orders will always exist in one form or another, it's impossible to take it of out the sport, as Massa could have easily 'run wide' at a corner and gave Alonso the place that way, or there are really an infinite amount of possibilities.

I really hope the result stands as Alonso was the better driver over the weekend anyway.

But what this has also shown is the difference in class and experience between Christian Horner and Martin Whitmarsh.

Horner is pushing this hoping for Ferrari to be disqualified for RBRs own gain, whilst Whitmarsh is showing a bit of class and style to his management even though McLaren can benefit from the disqualification of Ferrari. I feel MW stands much more for the FOTA unity whereas Horner just wants to win the Championships and doesn't care so much about the bigger picture.

Formula 1 has always been dubbed a team sport so whatever is best for the team should be allowed, this type of thing happens in many sports where some 'takes one for the team.' If the drivers are not happy with the situation they can leave or should sign a contract that says they will not be subject to any team orders. Either way it should be down to the driver and the team rather than the FiA to decide.

Chris Partridge

I feel that the teams are caught in a contradictory situation within F1. On the one hand, the team has to win but inevitably that can only mean one driver winning the WDC. On the other, it cannot do everything it wants to win because it is not allowed to operate team strategies to engineer that win in a particularly tight points scenario for that one driver. That risks handing the WDC to another team. What on earth do people expect them to do?

Damian Johnson

Answer: Do what the other teams do and let their drivers race without team orders.

Chris Partridge

What would you do if you were a Team Principal in the following situation: last race of the season, one driver is leading but is 40 points behind his team-mate who is just 24 points away from the WDC and second in the race. If that driver does not win, the WDC goes to a rival team. Would any team seriously allow free driver racing?


Chris Partrige said :

"On the one hand, the team has to win but inevitably that can only mean one driver winning the WDC."


Do you really think that that the points that Ferrari received in the constructors championship at the last grand prix were different because they swapped drivers ?

Are you watching a different sport to the rest of us?

Chris Partridge

True -- if you feel the CC has the same prestige as the WDC for the team. And that was my point.


I couldn't really comment, as I turned off the TV after the switch. Many other people did too and that's what F1 should be worried about.

I was looking forward to a good battle; indeed Alonso had already been all over Massa earlier in the race. Ferrari should have pitted them differently, and put Massa on "fuel saving" to enable ALO to put in some hot laps. Switching the way they did just ruined the race. Waste of my afternoon.


I couldn't agree more. Allowing team orders = making fans turn off the telly. Banning team orders = teams risk losing lots of points if caught breaking rules. Strict enforcement will lead to less unsporting behaviour.

Its like saying diving is just part of football and should be tolerated. If they gave cards for diving based on tv evidence after a game, you'd see a lot less diving. Would it eliminate diving altogther? No, it wouldn't. But it would vastly improve the spectacle which is what matters most of all to fans, who ultimately are the ones who pay the team's bills.


If Massa has won the race, and Alonso 2nd, the gap would now be 24 points between the two drivers, or 10 points in old money. For me that does not mean team orders should be used as this article suggests.

Matthew Hopson

I don't understand how you can come to the conclusion that banning team orders would be artificial. Any instance where a driver pulls aside for his team mate is an artificial move, artificially altering the championship. It is a race and every car regardless of colour should be overtaken fairly. If a driver decides to do so of his own accord, when he feels he is completely out of the championship, then fair enough. But the team should have no say.

I've watched a lot of the Aussie V8 Supercars recently and have been impressed with the amount of overtaking going on between team mates, regardless of championship chances. Some have ended in disaster, but they just shrug their shoulders and get on with it. That is sport. What we saw on Sunday wasn't.


It's the blatant lying about the situation and the cynical way Ferrari carried out the move. An easier way to clarify the rule could be to say it's allowed when only one driver is mathematically out of the running for the Championship.

I think there is a huge difference between making a switch on the track as we saw yesterday and favouring one driver through upgrades, strategy or whatever.

Banning Ferrari would be an over reaction, disqualifying the team from constructor points and possibly driver points from the German Grand Prix wouldn't be.


I was dissapointed with the fine of 100K only instead of at least 1MM.

That team order damaged the show should Vettel caught Alonso behind slow Massa.

The team order was in interest of Alonso only because they seemed to make up their mind to Massa being past over by Vettel.


Team orders that will change the result of a race should only be invoked when one driver does not have a mathmatical chance of winning the championship.

Asking drivers to hold station will not necessarily change the result of a race, but asking a driver to let another pass will. If the driver in front is in no position mathmatically to challenge for the title, then the team can ask for him to help.

As for this race, Ferrari should lose the points they gained - however the drivers should keep their points. This was a team order, not a driver order.


I don't think it's team orders that are the real problem - i think it's the way in which Rob Smedley and Ferrari handled it which let the media make such a big deal of it. Like you said James, if it had been a subtle switch nobody would have minded.

That said, they did break the rules - so should be punished, and $100k doesn't seem big enough to fit the crime. I would like to see both drivers keep their points, but, Ferrari to lose the 43 constructors points. Some have suggested switching the position of the two Ferrari's, but, this would be rewarding Massa for agreeing to the team orders and breaking the rules while punishing Alonso (who while not innocent) was put in a position where he had to over take Massa. Was he to stop behind him and insist Massa stayed in front? Massa was put in a position no driver wants to be in and i understand why he did what he had to do.

How to stop it happening in future ? Either scrap the rule, or, enforce it heavily so no team will be prepared to take the risk of repeating what happened.


$100k is the maximum amount of money the stewards at a Grand Prix meeting can fine anyone. Any higher fines must be handed down by the WMSC


Overblown? Now you are insulting our in itelligence too James, like Ferrari?

It wasn't the fact they did it, it was the WAY they did it that makes this a farce and a shame to F1.

When Ferrari did it in 2002, they got a 1 million dollar fine and it wasn't even against the rules back then (!).

Now it is against the rules and just a 100K fine? And they will just get a stern talking from the WMSC, that's it.

They should be stripped off the points, period.

Nobody pretends there are no team orders in other teams over the years and present day. There are obviously.

But this was way too blatant, obvious and insulting to the viewer. And they did it a few races too soon. The fact Alonso was whining like a little baby how 'ridiculous' it was and demanding everyone to just let him pass also doesn't help.

He comes across as a very nasty backstabbing kind of person.

Ferrari did it the wrong way. It is not overblown, they broke the rules, insulted the intelligence of the viewers and then lied about it in the press conferences and interviews. Like we are all stupid.

Disqualification is the only way...if F1 wants to be seen as a

Also, next time Webber is told to let Vettel pass because he is 'faster', or he gets an update that Webber won't, I except none of the people who defend Ferrari now to whine then, including Coulthard, Brundle and you James 😉

Because RBR would say 'we think Vettel has a better chance of winning the championship', which is what Ferrari and the defenders of Ferrari are now uing as excuse to break the rules. So why all the drama 2 weeks ago by the same lot who now defend Ferrari?

Bias is the answer.


Bias? So the fact that other drivers this year have received reprimands or penalties that resulted in nothing other than a nod to the pit crew are perfectly ok? Hamilton was penalized for overtaking the safety car - yet the penalty meant nothing. He could've easily been black flagged - but was defended in that he was "punished" and can't be held responsible for the punishment not costing him. Fine. Ferrari was punished - "fined" and what Ferrari did, did not affect the result of other cars/teams in the race...


James there is a wider issue that you haven't touched on here. It was an obvious team order, clear for all to see. For ferrari to come out and bare faced lie about it, repeatedly contradicting reality and each other is taking us all for fools. We didn't like it.


Ferrari have no choice really. I'm sure they didn't expect Rob and Massa to behave that way which, lets be frank, is what caused this whole issue. If Ferrari admit to it they can and probably will face serious penalties. Besides, it's been happening all the time and all other teams deny it yet we know they are lying....why all the fuss now? No one was calling for RB to be banned over the front wing issue or Mclaren's "save fuel" orders when we all know the underlying meaning to all of those "orders" As Sam said....bias and the fact that Alonso is involved...nothing more nothing less


Like with the Hamilton weaving incident and then his issue with the safety car - it would be more appropriate to just clarify and maybe tweak some rules to clear up what is and what is not acceptable, so that this doesn't happen again.

It was the cynical nature of the team order that riled people the most. It ruined the race - because after Massa allowed Alonso through, was Massa then banned from trying to re-take the place? I would imagine he would have just given up and concentrated on staying ahead of Vettel. This is anti-competitive and spoils the fun for paying spectators and for the people watching at home. If I'd paid to watch the race, I'd have felt robbed.

I do think it was made worse by the fact it was a pretty dull race anyway, and there are lots of people overreacting also. But something needs to be done to stop the races being manipulated like this so early in the season.

If it's, as James said, the last race of the season and the championship is at stake, fair enough. If it had been like that, Massa would gladly have moved aside and no one would have a problem with it. It's different if he's ORDERED to do it though. It should be his choice. He earned the right to stand on top of the podium and it was taken away from him which is not right - the record books will forever record this race as an Alonso win which isn't right.

Maybe a gentleman's agreement within FOTA or something like that is needed?

Or maybe you could allow team orders, but strip a team of constructors points in any race it uses team orders?

I don't think there's any way to stop it other than for the teams to agree amongst themselves to have more respect for the fans and only make these cynical moves when there is more at stake.


Team orders should be allowed, this is a TEAM sport, i agree with Ade, all radio transmissions concerning this are should be broadcast so we the fans can see what is happening and understand why it is happening.


My problem with the arguments made by the pro-team orders people in the last 24 hours is that pretty much all occasions can be covered by one driver conceding that the other has the best chance to win the championship and doing the gentlemanly thing and letting him through. The same occurs when two drivers for the same team are on different strategies and it does not benefit either for one to hold the other up.

In such circumstances it would be absolutely fine for one driver to choose to give advantage to the other and I would support them in doing so. Where problems occur is where the team dictates to their driver that they will no longer be allowed to compete for the championship.

What Ferrari did in Germany was to effectively tell Massa to give up on this year because he won't be able (or allowed) to beat Alonso, despite the fact that it appeared he was finally getting back to form, was beating Alonso fair and square (especially after Alonso messed up his shot at overtaking), and was within one DNF or Alonso in the points.

If Alonso is as good as he thinks he is then he should have been able to get past on track, instead the win had to be gift wrapped and handed to him.


They should in my view be allowed to some extend. The idea in such isn't bad at all but it's not fair to deny a driver the chance of fighting for the championship.


Maybe a rule forbidding a driver with a mathematical chance of winning the championship from pulling over could be introduced.

That would allow team orders in crucial stages of the championship and everyone would know it would happen if they're running together on the track. And it would be fair on the Massa in that situation as he would only have to concede position because he was slower in the rest of the year.


well, its a matter of real not understanding the sport for favouring any farther sanctions on the scuderia Ferrary.

If you do (or if you are a Ferrary fan) than u know that 4 Ferrary , it's rather "now or not this seasson".

Albeit ,like u'v very clearly written, they could have done that in a diff. way 4 the nonunderstanding peoples w'ont have to "cry" so much. ( like did both of the Israelie's commentators....).


teams should possibly be allowed to "switch" their drivers points but not their positions. so yesterday for example, massa wins but only gets the points for second and alonso comes second but gets points for win. this only to be allowed if two cars are not split by another. [McClaren, Ferrari, Ferrari: yes / Ferrari, McClaren, Ferrari: no]. Alternatively points could be added together and then split between both drivers. Admit it is messy, but at least the real 'winner' finishes the line first.


I certainly wouldn’t take the ham-fisted approach that Ferrari did, with a very obvious switching of positions and then an inconsistent message being delivered by the drivers and team management. That Fernando’s approach came across as so arrogant as to impress that his win had nothing to do with Massa’s moving aside irked the press and the fans even more.

Indeed, it is Ferrari’s arrogance and sheer bloody-mindedness in spite of the wealth of evidence that it continues to deny it pulled the switch.

Has Ferrari broken the rules? More than likely. Does their alleged disregard of the rules show them to be thumbing their noses at the governing body? Almost certainly.

How the FIA and the World Motor Sports Council responds to this is going to set the precedent for years to come. If they penalise Ferrari heavily, they will look foolish for their years of inaction where team orders blatantly occurred post-2002, but where the authorities (and the fans, as you pointed out, James) turned a blind eye. Let Ferrari off scot-free, and it then sends the message to all teams that it can disregard the letter and spirit of the rules and get slapped with a feather for doing so.

A $100,000 fine is a drop in the ocean for the Scuderia. You can’t even buy an entry-level new Ferrari for that money.

But at the end of the day, I understand and accept that Formula 1 is a team sport, and there will be times when allowing your drivers free reign to race each other can backfire just as badly as when you try to manage the situation too closely. Just ask Red Bull after the Turkish Grand Prix, Williams in 1986 and McLaren in 2007.

What I’d simply ask is that the teams not treat the average fan like a complete moron when they’re going about it.


As for your question, a way forward would be Team Orders (TO) are permitted in the last 3 races if the 2nd drviers is more than 25 points behind the no.1 driver in the team.

As for Ferrari, well, i would take away there WCC for the German GP, that would hurt them as the WCC is very important to Ferrari.

It dosent matter if you think TO should be allowed or if Alonso was quicker..overtake, your a 2x WDC, its pathetic and if Alonso was my fav driver i would be ashamed he has two illegal wins.

Finally, as for Rob and Felipe making it clear was was happening, if they had not have done this, then we would all be bashing Massa for being slow and getting overtaken by Alonso again. He was going to loose out what ever he did, but I a glad we know.


I like team orders. They are a great marketing scheme. I think maybe the FIA can introduce a subscription service whereby fans can pay a fee and get to know in advance which races will be fixed and on what lap. The remaining poor idiots like me can maybe place a bet with skybet on the lap on which the race will be manipulated.

Odds for Hungaroring

Laps - 1-20 - 10/1

Laps - 20-43 - 6/1

Laps - 43-70 - Evens


Poor are those that bet in any case. I don't have much sympathy for the gamblers and bookies in the crowd. Team orders has been part of F1 since the sport began. You should be factoring it in when you make that bet!!


I believe team orders should be allowed, but only when one driver is mathematically out of the title race and Charlie Whiting can confirm with the teams when this is the case. Ok, there would be complications, but this seems to be the unofficial rule anyway. It then also lets the drivers know officially when they can expect assistance and when not.

Although then drivers with a clear Heikki will be at an advantage.


I could fully understand if this is done near the end of the season and massa was not able to win the wdc, then he is just helping his teammate.

We are only just over half way through this season, a couple of wins for massa and he could have been back in the championship.

This just highlights to me that this is what alonso demands, to be the number 1 driver. This is why he left mclaren because he was told to race. I mean what is wrong with alonso if he was quicker use your ability to overtake your teammate.


the other thing that really annoys me is that they seem to think the fans are really stupid.

This must have been discussed before the race so they could have made it more convincing if they wanted to do this. RS could have made the radio message less obvious and massa could have switched engine mixture so alonso got closer and maybe go deep into a corner, lock up.

By coming out of the hairpin at half throttle just looks a joke. Then he could have simply said oh a made a mistake and alonso got past


Also, here is a definition of cheating:

"Cheating is an act of lying, deception, fraud, trickery, imposture, or imposition. Cheating characteristically is employed to create an unfair advantage, usually in one's own interest, and often at the expense of others. Cheating implies the breaking of rules."

I think this a fair description of what happened yesterday.

Will Woodhouse

Ferrari have broken a rule, they have lied to the press and will no doubt lie to the FIA. This is ok is it James? Cheating and lying is ok in certain circumstances, as long as you hide it well and don't get caught. What a brilliant philosophy! I think you should be made an honoury Italian with that attitude.


No It's not okay. Read the article with a balanced view, not a Ferrari hating view


I'm one of the most Ferrari-vicious F1 fans alive, but even I could see where JA is coming from.


Team orders should definitely be allowed.

The current ruling can easily be sidetracked by private discussion between the team and drivers beforehand.

Team orders have always existed in some form or another and will continue to do so.

I appreciate that for 'fans' its annoying (especially if you put a bet on Massa to win) to see drivers make way for a team mate in these circumstances, but thats MOTOR RACING.


Some people are calling for the ‘no team orders’ rule to be dropped. This is a bad idea. It was in introduced in 2002 for a very good reason and that reason has not changed.

If it’s dropped all teams could be forced to adopt 'team order' strategies to be competitive, which could mean that half the field — all the No2 cars and drivers — will become ‘blockers’ with the remit just to defend their No1 drivers, get in the way of opposing teams cars. It will all so spoil the race for the spectators. Might we also see a new breed of driver — drivers with no chance of winning but with highly developed defensive skills?

Motor racing is not a team sport; it’s a sport where every driver who starts should be trying to win — and the rules should aim to ensure that each driver has a chance of winning if he can.

Zdravko Topolnjak

id say that team orders should be allowed within a team only when one of its drivers is out of WDC battle.

I mean, that is what made Massa moving for Kimi and Kimi moving for Massa OK, they werent in championship battle and they helped a teammate when they couldnt win the title by them selves.

Massa was just a bit more than a win away from Alonso yesterday, thats like 12 points in last years system, and that isnt much considering that we have alot races to go.


It is a knee-jerk rule that was badly implemented originally and which (unless you are living in some weird fantasy land) has been completely ignored by all the teams ever since.

The outcry against Ferrari is ridiculous. Losing a championship because a team-mate takes away vital points would make a mockery of F1 having teams at all.

Ferrari were (deliberately?) clumsy, but good on them for doing what they did: (1) because it was the right thing to do, and (2) because this has focussed attention on how weak this rule is.

All the teams have orders or find subtle ways to manage their drivers. JB held station behind Lewis on Sunday . . . where was the racing there? There are countless times when teams have told their drivers to hold station after the final pit-stops. Getting in a huff with Ferrari is just immature.

Essentially, people are just annoyed with Ferrari for not being subtle. What they are saying is that they applaud subtle flouting of the rules, but not obvious flouting of the rules. That's an unsustainable, illogical and ignorant position for people to take. Do people want a championship to be won by the most ingenious deceit, or would they prefer to have everything open and above board?

I would suggest this change: if a team's drivers finish in consecutive places, then both drivers should be awarded the points of the leading car. On Sunday, this would have meant Massa winning the race, but both he and Alonso getting 25 points for a race win. Similarly, both Lewis and JB would have got 10 points for finishing 4th.

This would stop the need for teams to switch drivers' places and would even lead to racing where team-mates would try to nurse each other into the best possible position.

Yes, team-mates would not need to race each other for a single position, but it may even spur them on to overtake other drivers. For example, if Lewis needed to finish 3rd on Sunday to win the WDC and to stop JB (who, for the sake of the argument, is on identical points to him) then Lewis would know that he would have had to catch and overtake Vettel without JB also passing Vettel.

This is the only open and honest way of acting in the teams' best interests without having to switch drivers on the track/pitlane to manufacture a result.

It is open, honest and transparent.

The FIA should act now to scrap this rule before any more GPs place.


James - any thoughts on this idea? It is already proven in speedway where a team with a 1-2 finish means the second rider gets a "paid" first.

Instead of paying first, we award the points of the leading driver (so long as the team's drivers finish consecutively) to both drivers: an incentive for drivers to race as a team (could lead to very interesting tactics with drivers backing each other up to help a team mate) and saves the need for team orders to put drivers into set positions.

It does everything the sport needs and puts an emphasis on team tactics.


No one like this idea?


It's makes sense to me




F1 is a team sport, why not combine the two drivers of the same team to achieve the championship as a pair. Or what about breaking the race distance to half by switching drivers for each race. I know it may sound absurd but you need to evolve the sport. Look at cricket for example. The evolution from test match to t-20 cricket has changed the game and t-20 cricket is generating a lot of revenue and breaking new grounds.


Cricket...That is no comparison, its boring and slow to start with. What BPM do you think the team get to on average >120BPM. At the end of the day, a driver has spent his life to win the WDC and will not want to share that one.


No further punishment for Ferrari on this one - because as you say, every other team would do the same.

Here is a radical suggestion that I suspect will be laughed away by everyone, but here goes. Why not give the teams something to really think about: allow team orders, but if you use them in a race you sacrifice the constructors' championship points you would otherwise receive. So you might enhance your chances of winning the drivers' title, but you seriously compromise your constructors' title chances. At this point they would, I think, really stop to consider whether the extra points for their favoured driver are really worth it, it would give the teams a stick with which to beat drivers who think the team is just about them (driver: "think about the championship" team: "we have two championships to consider"), and fans will know that a meaningful punishment has been applied. Query whether it demeans the constructors' championship to do that, though.


I believe Team Orders (in any form) are a great blemish on the sport as a whole. People within F1 forget that they are there to entertain the fans who watch the sport and as a result, a "switch" like this only serves to make fans like myself feel cheated and leave the GP with a hollow feeling.

If Alonso wanted the win, he should have fought for it and won it properly. We have seen all season that "faster" cars have difficulty passing slower ones, and that's one of the things that makes for great television and separates the men from the boys. Those drivers capable of making the moves get the wins - isn't that all part of the spectacle of F1? Isn't that why we're all watching in the first place?

I honestly, hand on heart, would have bowed down and admitted what a superlative driver Alonso was should he have passed Massa with skill alone - and how fantastic would that have been for the sport? You only have to look back a few races to Turkey to find out how races should be fought between team mates (admittedly with varying degrees of success). One party rolling over and admitting defeat cheapens the whole sport.

You can begin to understand why Ferrari want to run three cars per season now...


I agree with Irvine (never thought I would say that) Massa made a real pig's ear of things. All this stuff should be kept within the team. It's true that the last few laps could have been exciting, with a defending Massa trying to keep in front of a faster Alonso. But this scenario would have sucked in Vettel onto the back of them and then anything could have happened. It was a no-brainer for Team Ferrari and one they could easily justify. Pity the 'pass' was executed in such a gormless way.


Dear James,

instead of the 2/3 of the Championship rule you propose, it might make more sense to allow team orders when one driver is no longer mathematically in the title fight.



James, if the FIA decide to reintroduce the legality of team orders, I will have no problem with that. After watching the coverage yesterday and listening to the views of those involved in F1, it would certainly be the consensus that that would be the way to go.

I have two main (yes, I have other minor ones!) problems with what Ferrari did yesterday:

1. It's Alonso's job to get past the competition and win races. He had one chance in the race and couldn't make it stick, and the fact that he was being Massa for so long actually shows me that no, he wasn't the better or the faster driver. If he was either of those, he shouldn't have needed to be gifted a win. If he can't win a race on his own, he's clearly not the standard of a world champion.

2. I am not a stupid person. Neither is anyone involved with F1, and neither are the millions of viewers worldwide, and I object to the way in which Ferrari treated us all like idiots. Like you said, they could have bungled a pit stop, and noone would be any wiser. But to blatently go on the radio and give that message just shows that Ferrari truly believe that they are above the sport and above the rules. Even more so when you look at the way that they lied through their teeth afterwards. And that to me is the definition of bringing the sport into disrepute. I was ashamed to be a F1 fan yesterday.

I personally believe most of the problem here lies with Alonso acting like a petty, spoilt child, and unfortunately, scared of his temprement, Ferrari caved to him. If Button had been asked to move for Hamiton, or vice versa, or any of the other teams, he would be the loudest voice out there shouting for them to be punished.


Remove the ban on team orders, it's virtually impossible to police and all the teams break it.

As you mention the 2007 title decider, there is also the 2008 German GP incident at the same corner as the Massa thing involving Lewis and Heikki, both moves were team orders yet nothing was done.

To call it cheating or match fixing doesn't really show an understanding of the sport. I see it like cycling at this point, we've completed about half the stages and it's now time to push ypur best rider to the front of the pack when possible. That's what Ferrari did, and that's what I believe every team manager (including Eddie Jordan) would do in the same situation, Ferrari have a chance to win both titles this year, they have to try and take that chance.


Team orders are going to happen irrespective of any rule. Banning them in the first two thirds of the season, the first half or any of those ideas will have little effect. Just as we've seen the limited effect of the outright ban. If a team feels the need to order its drivers to change the result of the race it will do so, whether it's the final corner of the championship deciding grand prix, or to satisfy the petulance of a stroppy superstar.

In my opinion, to try to legislate team strategy out of a team sport is both silly and unworkable. F1 is a team sport, without the team the drivers are (to steal DC's phrase) sitting on track in just their underpants. The FIA should reinforce this, remove the silly team orders ban and make public any radio transmissions around this.

I disagree, however, that calling Ferrari cheats is too strong. They deliberately broke a rule to gain an advantage. What is that if it's not cheating? It may be an ill-conceived rule, but still...


F1 is for the drivers championship. Sports cars are for team championships.

What the FIA should do: ban all pit to car radio communication. Yes, it is radical and so will never be adopted but it would solve the problem of team orders and make the strategy a lot more interesting.


For me there's a few of things to not lose sight of in this.

1 If Ferrari wish to put there eggs in FA's basket that's up to them but do not be so arrogant about it and do it on fuel save or whatever. Don't take the P**s and be so blatant! That way we all smell a rat but accept that if that’s the way they go racing then fair enough.

2 Ferrari were relying on their own interpretation of the rules. They thought by not actually saying "move over" would be good enough! But the intent is clear. The evidence is damning and legal terms, this would be an open and shut case.

3 The Massa Brazil 07 and Kimi 08 moveovers have been banded about and "who cared then"! And James you yourself mention Christian Horner making the same call if he needed to etc, but both Massa and Kimi were not in with a shot of the DC on these occasions and these races were Championship deciders, and in that instance the team game comes in. Yesterdays events are quite frankly not in the same ball park as these.

I think that Ferrari has put the WMSC in a real position here and there will be many off the record phone calls going on between the team and the FIA. I could well see Ferrari making a sacrificial offering to the FIA! Maybe Stefano Dominicalli will be relieved of duties in order to show that the team have put there own house in order and avoid any further punishment!


No team orders until last third of the championship is a good idea.take all Alonso's points away because he seems to think we are all stupid by saying he knew nothing and because i dont like him.Give Massa the win and an extra 50 points for having to drive for Ferrari and have alonso as his team mate.Finaly make the Ferrari management dress as clowns at the next race.


Whatever the arguments are in favour of having team orders, the fact is they are banned under current rules. Ferrari clearly broke that rule and, by doing so, brought the sport into disrepute and they should be severely punished. Ferrari clearly deserved a one-two finish, but by switching the positions of their drivrts they have put that result at risk. I have every sympathy with Massa, who deserved to win, but there's no getting away from the fact that he was a party to this rule-breaking and will therefore have to take his punishment along with Alonso and Ferrari. As for the future, I still like to think of F1 as a sport and not just entertainment and therefore team orders should not be allowed. That is not to say that a driver should not allow his team-mate past when the championship is at stake.


A couple of thoughts that occurred to me were that a better coded instruction could have been given. "Mix 10" or something like that where available settings only go up to 8 for example, means "let your team mate past when you can safely do so". Each team to have their own version of this. Alternatively Ferrari could have asked Massa to drive through the pits because they wanted to check something visually at slow speed. In this case he would have lost a place as well but may well have caught Vettel up again and had a chance at overtaking him. Ferrari could have done either and us spectators would be none the wiser.

Solidus Octothorp

"Eddie Irvine, who has been on the receiving end of a few “move over” orders in his time, said last night that he felt Smedley and Massa had overblown it to make a point and in doing so had let the team down. It has certainly landed them in hot water."

I think Eddie has it spot on. The call left me in no doubt that Smedley wanted to hurt the team for putting him and his driver in that position.


Exactly!! yet everyone is blaming Ferrari for making it so obvious and Alonso for denying it. Rob and Massa caused this, they made it obvious. Ferrari certainly would not have wanted it done so blatantly and Alonso had just finished his race and was bombarded with questions, what did everyone expect him to say...."Yes it was an order"?? Besides, as I've mentioned already, I doubt Alonso even knew that it was going to happen he was forced into a corner by the way Massa and Rob handled the situation.


There must be equal rules for all the teams and drivers. It is as easy (and as difficult) as this.

Obviously, this case is not having the same treatment by the media as if the team and drivers involved were others. I have been reviewing the press conference yesterday at Hockenheimring and the behaviour of English journalists against Alonso was simply incredible. Don't remember what they said in this same scenario, two years ago, when Heikkii "blatantly" accepted team orders and let Lewis overtake him. Even the fans were laughing (you can check in youtube). In some races this year we all have seen team orders given, just to avoid sitations like that with the two Redbulls hitting each other ("no, Lewis, Jenson is not going to overtake you"). Could anybody tell me why is this different from yesterday race?

It is clear that there is a strong anti - non English speaking drivers bias in the media covering the F1 WC (being James Allen an exception, as he gives a fair treatment to all drivers as long as I am following this blog).

In my opinion, team orders will always be there, so the best thing is to accept the possibility that the teams use them. If they keep banned, systems will be more sophisticated: imagine that Massa's engineer just told him "you should reduce your fuel consumption", and two laps after Fernando overtakes him in a "more normal" way... it will be impossible to tell if they were team orders or normal racing.

As Eddy Irvine said last night at "Talksport", the point is that both the engineer and Massa wanted to said loudly to the world that Felipe was yielding to Fernando.


Otherwise, it seems very very hard to define and control what a "team order" is.

Why was yesterday "team orders" and not Turkey when McLaren told its driver to "hold station"?

Simply because they did not swap positions? They were still prohibited from racing each other!

Why was not "save fuel" by Red Bull "team orders"? It had the same purpose as the message yesterday, to slow MW down so that Seb passes.

All in all, as Schumacher said:




Great analysis over a very common issue in modern F1.

To add to mix, Germany 2008, Heiki did exactly the same that Massa to allow LH win that race.

Think about this, was McLaren or any of its drivers penalised for that action? NO

Should they be penalised? YES

Is it fair? In my view, NO

I did not hear any fan calling McLaren cheaters. That season LH ended up in front of FM for a miserable point. McLaren with team orders affected the win of that race and WDC.

Let's be pragmatic, if Ferrari receives any penalty, McLaren should have it as well for 2008, otherwise we apply "double standards" for the same situation.

In a nutshell, the FIA should not take further action against Ferrari, however it should amend this very stupid and unworkable rule. Team orders should be allowed on the open.


But Massa didn't let Kimi past at Brazil 2007... Kimi passed Massa in the pit stop phase. It was a completely different situation to yesterday. It was more like Hamilton-Kovalainen Hockenheim 2008, Schumacher-Massa 2006 Suzuka and Kimi-Massa 2008 China.


Allow team orders when there is no chance of one of the drivers winning the Championship, but not when there is a chance for both or when there is no chance for either.



What should the FIA do in the hearing?

(1) Exonerate Ferrari

(2) Rescind the fine

(3) Remove the offending rule

(4) Apologise to the fans for having such a stupid rule in the first place.


To me, this is easy. Absolutely no team orders until one of the team's drivers is mathematically eliminated from the championship. What Ferrari did yesterday disgusted me, as it did in Austria 2002. Fans do not want to see manipulated races, no matter "the tradition". I sense that a lot of Formula One insiders, including journalists, still don't get this point.


My points in this shameful episode:

1) Ferrari and its drivers have lied to the stewards after the race when they said "there were no team orders" - that is a serious offence (remember Hamilton in Australia last year), therefore if the WMS Council establishes that they did issue team orders (and anyone following F1 knows that is exactly what happened here, no doubt about it) all parties will/should be punished further for this.

2) This is the same Felipe Massa who lambasted Piquet Jr for the Singapore race fixing incident, right? The one that claimed he was whiter than white and that he would never do such things? Yet Piquet Jr was a rookie under pressure from his team to do this or get the sack - pressure that I do not think Massa has at Ferrari. Yet he bowed to the pressure and when it was his turn to stand firm, do the right thing and say "no" to a fix he just couldn't. And Massa wasnt even big enough to admit what went on, he lied to cover for his team and for himself. No wonder in Brazil people have lost respect for him after what went on yesterday.


From Hockenheim remove the Ferrari's points but don't move the others up. So Vettel still gets points for 3rd etc etc. It is too blatant to allow it to go with just a $100k fine. And Alonso needs taking down a peg or three....

Then no team orders until last 3 races of the season and then make it open season with the teams allowed to do what they want and play games with other cars to make the championship more interesting like the Nascar chase.

OR No team orders at all until it is Mathmatically impossible for the other driver to win.

What happens at the last race if a Toro Roso is stopping a Red Bull from winning the Championship.....


I think to get rid of team orders, team radio's should be banned from F1 I also think this could improve racing also. Its my view that the engineers should keep their work in the garage and the debreif room and the driver should be on his own in the car and rely on his own feel to conserve tyres, brakes, fuel etc rather than being talked through the race by his race engineer over the radio. This should stop these ridiculous coded orders and leave it to the disgression of driver if he decides to help his mate in the championship.


Ban radio communications! Go back to the boards, it works in Moto GP. Problem solved.

Otherwise all teams has its own coded message not just Ferrari. McLaren play with their fuel mix and include that into their message etc.


All the while that F1 is a team sport i.e entrants can enter more than one car, then team orders have to be accepted as part of the sport. I can think of no other team sport where such orders are 'banned'. The essence of a team sport is that the team does its best to win as a team and when this requires a team member to defer to another team member rather than doing what is best for them as an individual, this will be done quite naturally and openly. Think cycling for example or any team ball game.

So I don't think any version of restriction on team orders in F1 will ever work and therefore there should be complete acceptance. If the rules were to try and specify something like 'only if a driver is within 2 seconds of his team mate can the team mate be asked to give way' then all that will happen is that the leading driver will be asked to slow a bit until the gaps comes down to 2 seconds. So lets see team orders openly accepted and enjoy the extra tactical dimension that this will give to racing - one that has always been there but now we can see it happening openly and we will all know what is going on.


The evidence was very clear and the rules have been broken. Even if we disagree with the rules they still have to be obeyed. So the only action available to the FIA is a punishment which prevents any gain being made by the team and sends a signal to others not to do the same.


Ferrari should be stripped of all constructors points for the event.

Alonso should be excluded from the classification (losing the win from his record) and lose the 25 points gained.

Massa was in some ways the injured party, so possibly leave his 2nd place as is. Otherwise his points should also be removed to send a clear message to other No 2 drivers that they will be punished if they do not comply with the FIA rules.

Finally, all remaining places to remain as recorded, so no uplifting of places.

The key thing here is that Alonso and Ferrari must not gain by the deliberate action of breaking the rules.


By the definition of the word, they are cheats, the broke the rules of the game to take advantage. Red bull played by the rules on a similar situation in Turkey and threw away a bunch of points.

However, trying to ban team orders is a pointless task as you can't enforce it, there are too many ways around it. Irvine was right, Smedley appeared to be making it blatent, he must of known the likely effect of this action.

Given that you can't ban it, you have only one option left, which is too sell it to the public as part of the tactical battle of a race. Sell it more as a team sport than an individual sport, and you might just crack it.


Why not allow team orders to exist, drivers are team mates, both working for the same team.

Allowing team orders would cut out any 'cheating' accusations. The WDC is won over a season not just one race.

If one man has a chance of winning the WDC and the other man is too far behind to win (not mathematically,but obviously too far), then team orders should be allowed, and followed more graciouly than Massa showed.


if team orders can't be policed (apparently) how can we ban them for part of a season let alone a whole season?


"Eddie Irvine, who has been on the receiving end of a few “move over” orders in his time, said last night that he felt Smedley and Massa had overblown it to make a point and in doing so had let the team down. It has certainly landed them in hot water."

I do not like these comments at all. God forbid a driver/engineer partnership should express their passion towards racing without thinking of media image and negative publicity first.

Smedley had every right to sound disheartened and apoligise over the radio, it was a badly handled situation on a massive scale by Ferrari.


If Team Orders is to remain, it should be in the last third of the year.

But in this instance Alonso could not overtake Massa, period.

It all started with Alonso's radio transmission "This is ridiculous......" and then Tim Smedley Radio transmission sealed it as a Team Order "MOVE OVER FOR YOUR TEAM MATE".

I don't think ALonso can function with a team mate that performs better than him.

Conspiracy Theory: What secrets does Ferrari have to hide that they made Massa move over, if he didn't Alonso would have spilled the beans a la MacLaren.

Controversey follows him around, What secrets did Renault have that they had to tell the driver to crash so Alonso could win?

This time around Ferrari needs to punished ecause other teams will start doing it.

F1 just started coming back online and then this happens, it is not good for the sport, it needs to be curbed.

My 1p


The FIA (or anyone else) should not have a hand in this, it's up to the team and its drivers.

I'm disappointed in Massa being such a lap dog. Ferrari's antics and Alonso's cynism (sp?) are well known to everyone.


Hi James,

I think Formula 1 either allows team orders or it doesn't. So that means it's either open-slather, or you adopt a far more meaningful strategy to see it doesn't happen.

I don't agree with the line of argument that it could've been handled better. Whether Massa comes to a complete standstill, and rolls out the red carpet, or a switch is made at high speed, and everyone has a cuddle at the end of the race, the fact remains the team ordered them to swap positions.

The FIA has effectively said you can pay $100K and institute team orders. That is pocket change for a team like Ferrari. The punishment has to mean something if it's going to be effective. Teams will hardly have the fear of God put in them as a result of Ferrari's punishment.

I personally don't like the idea of team orders. The purist in me would like to see all the drivers racing each other to the end, and team-mate battles generally serve to spice up the racing. The in-house dramas at Red Bull have been one of the biggest talking points of the season.

It is hard though, to stop team orders. The point about Red Bull (or any other team) instituting team orders if the championship is on the line is absolutely correct. Given that, why persist with the charade that is the outlawing (and I use that in the loosest possible sense of the word) of team orders? We know it happens, we really can't stop it, so let's have it all out in the open and allow teams to do what they do anyway.


Ferrari have once again underlined everything I hate in F1. I am not a Ferrari fan, but when Massa was winning the race, I was actually cheering him on.

Alonso could not overtake him as once again, the FIA insist on tracks like Hockenheim and Hungary, that offer little or no overtaking opportunity. This is the way it has been though for years and Alonso needs to get a grip of himself and realise there are some you can win and some you can't.

The team orders situation should completely be looked at from a viewer's point of view. Here we had Massa about to win the race and return to Hungary, the scene of his near fatal crash, with bags of confidence knowing he had a car and a team behind him to face a track which no doubt holds a certain degree of fear for him. Now he has to return there knowing his team don't back him at all and with his confidence blown to pieces. I'd be surprised if he finishes in the top 10.

Ferrari moan when the rules don't suit them, and moan when the rules suit other teams (McLaren, Valencia). I totally agree with Eddie Jordan, that it is cheating in its highest form. Alonso would not have won that race if Massa did not pull over. Ferrari even endangered their 1-2 finish, as Vettel at one point was reeling Massa in!

In 2002 they managed to destroy the USA public's interest in F1 and it's taken over 8 years to re-build that interest. Imagine if they pulled this stunt off in Austin in 2012??

Shame on Ferrari and shame on the FIA if they don't change the rules to penalise teams harder who breach such an important rule as team orders.


Also, there is no way Alonso would have done the same thing for Massa and the fact they are not appealing the decision speaks volumes.


There's nothing ironic about it being Alonso who benefited from two events of 'team orders' in the last few years. The fact that he not only cheated at McLaren but then sold the team out because a rookie showed him up, I think, proves that he's not above the shadiest of behaviour, so it makes perfect sense that he'd win races based on these kinds of incidents.


I think the FIA should give up on the pretense of banning team orders and remove the ban - with the proviso that teams have to publish whatever orders are in place before the start of each race. punishment would follow if the team then instituted an order change that contradicted the pre-race statement.

team orders have been a part of F1 fora long time, and the ban has been totally ineffective - so let's bring things out into the open so teams can be judged on what happens and the attitude they take.


At last, a sensible report on yesterday's events. Another reason why this is the best and most balanced F1 site on the web.

I think team orders should be allowed, although, if we really must pander to the tabloids and their readers, perhaps only once one driver has no mathematical chance to win the championship.

I don't think the FIA should remove Ferrari from the results. Its clear what happened, they broke the spirit of the rules, but they didn't say "move over". They just did what every other team does when they want to switch their drivers around, but with zero subtlety.

Erik ( Brazil )

Since this is a rule that is impossible to enforce the FIA should get rid of it. Like you said the teams can influence the outcome of a race in many ways so it might as well be done openly and legally.


Mentioned this in the original race thread but I have a suggestion regarding the team order situation.

First though I think the F1 world should acknowledge that team orders are used by every team on the grid, just some teams are more blatant than others.

I'd like to see team orders re-legalised, with the added element that a team must declare after qualifying whether a driver is free to race his team mate from start to finish or if the driver is assuming a supporting role dependent in track position.

Should a team declare a free race and then switch tactic afterwards then they can have the usual array of sanctions brought against them. At least that way the audience should know where they stand regarding each driver and we wouldn't have the absurd protestations that we witnessed yesterday and on previous occasions.


"Think back to 2007, when Massa moved over in Brazil to let Raikkonen win the championship or the following year when the roles were reversed – did anyone object then? No, so that means that fans can understand there are occasions when teams do need some mechanism for shuffling the order, it’s just a question of the circumstances."

Of course people can understand it's a question of the circumstances. There's a world of difference between doing it in the final race or two, as opposed to just over the halfway mark.

The question is, do Ferrari understand.

But I agree that the rule is unenforceable and ultimately detrimental. There are plenty of circumstances where people would not have a problem with that sort of switch and trying to write into the rules what is essentially an instinctive feel for when it's right and when it isn't is impossible. Thus, they may as well just scrap it and hope the PR backlash stops the most blatant and cynical examples of it.

People are annoyed though because we want to feel we're watching a proper sporting contest, not some scripted WWE equivalent of a race. Up until the first radio message I thought we were having a great, brutal, uncompromising battle for the lead between the two, the highlight of a reasonably uneventful race. It turns out I was wrong.


No, both actions are equal, both change the outcome of the race and the outcome of the championship. If we agree that a driver has to overtake his team mate on track properly, then he should have to do it everytime. How are viewers and fans robbed in one case and not in the other? You don't feel cheated if it's the last race of the championship, and do if it's the eleventh race? why? I think here it depends more on who the driver is, if it had been Alonso moving over for Felipe, people would be wetting his pants over it.

People know and acknowledge team orders happen any time in any race of the championship and in any team, so I don't see where this sudden sense of being robbed of the spectacle arises.


At the end of the day the problem boils down to the fact that whether or not team orders are a 'given', it doesn't make for a level playing field when some teams are being seem to work to the spirit of the rules, and others flaut them.

This is unfair as you cannot plan your strategies and identify your closest rivals accurately, thereby rendering the relevance of the position and points system useless.

Quite simply I have two suggestions, one pragmatic, one rather extreme.

1) Allow the teams to nominate and officially declare a No 1 driver. This will allow the fans' and teams' expectations to be set accordingly and will be more in keeping with the team-led ethos of the sport whilst making it clear who the actual contenders for the title are.

2) Allow the teams to interchange the points allocations for their drivers at the end of the race. Following this model, the drivers are merely a two pronged attack on the constructors championship as a priority with the drivers' championship being offered as a carrot to the best drivers.

Either way, what really gets our back up is the arrogant manner in which Ferrari knowingly flaunt the rules after kicking and screaming at the FIA and the stewards all season long to detract attention from their lack of competitiveness.

Expose the opportunity in order to make it official (via an official submission of who is the number one driver) and embrace what is, after all, a given in Formula 1.


Funny how the people who defend Ferrari now for favouring a driver by breaking the rules are the ones who attacked Red Bull last race for favouring a driver without breaking the rules.

Especially commentators and pundits are showing their true faces.

Of all the commentators and pundits, Eddie Jordan is the only truly neutral one. He rightfully attacked RBR last race and grilling Ferrari now.

All the others are or fans of certain drivers and let that cloud their judgement or just good buddies with them (waves to Webber).

I.e. if RBR does it to Webber without breaking the rules all hell breaks loose, if Ferrari does it to Massa by breaking the rules then it is fine and reaction is overblown.

Will this get passed the censoring on this site? We will see 😛


I think you're right that ferrari could have just botched Massa's pitstop but that would mean they're running the risk of someone jumping him while he's stopped. My suggestion is that the consistently faster driver amongst the teammates should be given way - most especially if it'll bring that driver closer to the WDC. It's pointless to block your faster teammate and risk doing a 'Vettel-on-Webber' crash. If the drivers AND the team already agree on this principle before the race itself then it shouldn't be considered 'team orders'.


If a team states it has distinct No 1 and No 2 drivers then I have no issue with "team orders" - it's obvious they are favouring one driver over another with development parts etc, so why not on the track too?

I would implement a "ruling", that no team orders should exist (unless a team has a blatant\clearly defined No 1 and No 2) until one of the drivers is mathematically out of the equation to win the Drivers Championship... then it becomes fair to swap positions, in whatever way you wish - which seems to have been the unwritten "rule" for a time now eg, Massa letting Kimi by in Brazil '07 (I think) and vice versa in China '08.

Where the waters become mirkier is where a team continually says we have equal drivers (where fans believe this, people lay bets on this etc, etc)... yet all evidence points towards that not being true.

On Sunday, Massa was given a chance to win... Smedley sent a radio transmission to Massa, before the "move over darling" message, saying (in essence) "keep pushing, you can win this", which confused me, as Massa was already in the lead, had completed his stops and thus had track position; so was a scenario already in place? Did Massa and Smedley know that if they couldn't build up a big enough lead or prove Massa was faster, positions were to be reversed? What does Massa have written into his "new" contract?

Ferrari left Alonso behind Massa in some of the early races - Australia springs to mind - and Brundle in commentary was suggesting Ferrari\Massa should let Alonso through as he's faster... yet they didn't.

If Ferrari had come out with a "we're now favouring Alonso" statement, I wouldn't have an issue with this... as it stands, Massa should have just let Alonso through early-doors in the race and then held back Vettel, giving Alonso a massive lead; instead they let them race... and then let Massa down, in a massive way, leaving him in an uncomfortable position with the press and media.


Here is a drastic one worth considering. One car per team


A good one JohnN. I suggested banning pit to car radio transmissions. I think we are the only two people with ideas that will solve the problem and not just put vague, fuzzy, rules in place. Let's all be creative.


And another insane idea: get rid of the driver's championship. Then there's no reason for a team to need or want to orchestrate a driver swap on track!


I think that if a team end up in a situation where only one of it´s drivers has the possibility, even theoretical, to get the title and the other on does no have, then it would be most logical and understandable that the team mate can assist you (like in Brazil 2007). However, it is crucial that even in these cases they can only swap places and not for example block other competitors.


James, I totally agree with your analysis.

I am, and always have been, in favour of team orders being legal. Coulthard was right when he said that team orders are in F1's history, and I fear that yesterday's outrage stems in large part from this incessant drive to appeal to new fans - people who don't really understand F1, especially the point that it is, and always has been, a team sport.

My point is highlighted by Nick Fry, again (as FOTA and Ecclestone frequently do) banging on about the 'show' being the most important thing.

F1 used to be a (team) sport, not a 'show'. I wholeheartedly welcome new fans and understand that to begin with they will not understand all its ins and outs. I also understand that some only want to be casual viewers, and this is fine too. But this constant drive for new fans really really is now increasingly at the expense of the knowledgeable, passionate, loyal, long-term fans.

I've said before and will do so again. I don't like football, and I don't expect FIFA to change the rules every year to try to get me into it. To do so would be grossly unfair to existing and loyal fans.

Should Ferrari be punished? Perhaps; because as the rules stand what they did was illegal. However why was this worse than what other teams do? The simple reason is (and it sums up my whole argument): it was deemed worse because they made it so obvious that people who don't understand the sport could tell what had happened. The same, by the way, would go for Austria 2002.


There are two different questions:

1) Given that the rule is in place, it needs to be enforced. The obvious way to correct the issue is to remove 7 or 8 points from Alonso and the team, sending the message to the teams that there is no benefit in risking swapping positions.

2) Should the rule be in place? The answer to me seems to be an uncertain yes, in that the issue of team members racing each other is often the only way on an individual race that we will see drivers in balanced cars competing. A driver knows when the championship is over for them, so at the end of season phase, no orders need be given, and the audience understand it - even appreciate it as good teamwork.

The trouble is that whatever rule you put in place, team orders can still be pre-programmed, even if you ban communications entirely. There was no real need for team orders in Schumacher's Ferrari days, it was clearly understood that they were a one driver team.

Surely Massa must have been briefed before the race - or did Ferrari believe their own propaganda (well Alonso's) and simply fail to conceive that Massa could be the faster driver?


I think the FIA should look into the driver's contracts. FIA wants a sport where it's about the driver competition in the first place and team competition in the second place. They're doing everything to bring teams closer together so drivers have a better chance to race each other.

When a driver demands a number one status in a team (by contract) then the competition has become unfair. It stikes me as no coincidence that Alonso has so much events surrounding his number one status (Renault, McLaren, Ferrari).

If FIA were to have the power to eliminate number one status by contract the rules on team orders have a chance to solidify.

I think it's important for the sport to have a field of drivers that know that, if they perform well, they can win (championships or intra-team competition). In this case it wouldn't have mattered for the team if Alonso came second and Massa got the win so if Alonso gets the #1 status this early in the season the Driver's Championship is no longer about the best driver but ALSO about the faster car, eg. a Team Championship. Therefor banning team orders is essential.


Nice to see a balanced article from someone in the media James. I agree with everything you have wrote.

The problem is not the team orders as such, its the way they were applied. Obviously Felipe was upset and made a point by moving over in such an obvious way that has landed the team in some big trouble. However why should the teams have to code their team orders, anyone who has been watching F1 for a while knows that they occur alot. Telling two drivers to race to the final pitstops(in the refuelling era) and then saying 'hold station' is a team order and McLaren were very open about doing this and no one complained one bit as its a logical decision.

In this case we have a different team order of 'switch' but that doesn't change the fact that they are both team orders and both are acceptable. One is much more subtle and most wouldn't notice and the other is very noticeable, especially whens its for the win. If Felipe had of artificially raced Fernando for a few corners then yielded it would have been fine as most wouldn't have seen it as a team order. The way it happened is the reason for the overreaction.

As for the rule, well currently it doesn't allow ANY team orders which is ridiculous. As you point out James many championships have been decided by a team order. Brazil 2007 is the most recent example but it was very subtle as it was an intentionally slow pitstop for Felipe to allow Kimi past, i'm guessing quite a few fans didn't even notice it. Therefore the rule needs to encourage the teams to be less blatant about it.

Ferrari's way yesterday was the simplest way for them to switch the position but putting it in perspective with Brazil 07 you can see there are more elegant ways they could have done it. Maybe the rule could involve only allowing switches through a pit stop phase, therefore if the teams want to switch their cars they have to do it early(under the no refuelling rules anyway) and they do it in a subtle way.

Either that or scrap the rule all together and let the teams decide when it is appropriate to give team orders. Another idea would be to make the teams prove that the switch is necessary ie. after the race they have to provide evidence that the car they let through was indeed faster(telemetry should cover that). Finally they could allow teams to switch drivers only if there is a certain points gap between them(say 50pts under the current points system), obviously only in favour of the driver who is 50pts or more clear.

Hope that the rule changes in some way as its not right at the moment for either the fans or the teams.


In an ideal world there would be no team orders at all and every driver must race for the win or to defend their position unless it actually costs themselves time in which case it may be more prudent to let a faster driver through. However that just can't work in F1.

You also can't leave it until one driver is mathematically out of the title race as we all know being 'realistically' out of the race happens much sooner.

Perhaps a solution where team orders are permissable if both drivers approve and there is a 150% of race win points gap between the 2?

There's no 'clean' solution. The only way is to allow them providing the lower placed driver is faster. A sub section of the rule could then kick in when a trigger point is reached (ie a set percentage points gap between the 2 or as you say, in the last 3rd of the season).


I agree with the first post, let the drivers sort it out between themselves.

It would be facinating to hear the drivers speak to each other over the radio transmission.

The important thing to me is being honest and open and this wasn't the case yesterday. We are not fools.


If team orders are to be allowed, what is stopping a team from using one of their drivers consistently to be used as a tool to manipulate races, back up the pack, etc.?

Further, if teams are allowed to chop and change positions of their drivers - regardless that it is a 'team' sport - what becomes the meaning of the word 'race' in F1? Why not just allow 1 car per team?

I do get all the arguments *for* team orders... but that turns F1 into a very boring sport that I don't think I want to be a part of as a fan who has paid hundreds of pounds and made great efforts to attend live race events.

I've got better things to do with my Sundays than crank up excitement and expectation for 2 weeks, only to have them extinguished by the likes of Ferrari.

If you want to win a constructors championship... you damn well go out there on the track and earn it.


"team orders… turns F1 into a very boring sport"

But team orders were legally used in the World Championship from 1950 - 2002. Surely you can't be suggesting that 2002 to present has been the most exciting era of F1 can you?

Of course everybody would prefer to have seen Massa and Alonso fighting it out. But this is a team sport and that is deep in its history, it's nothing new. Most of the cyclists in the the tour de france are only there to help a few individuals in their team.


You make a very valid point Chris Remove team orders and also tell the FIA to tell Webber and Button to look for another drive next year as both red bull and mclaren need a wing man each.

Makes you wonder why Ferrari are so keen on a third car they already have one wing man in Massa if they had another they could virtually garuntee Alonso the WDC


But team orders are here and with us right now: the teams just have to clumsily make stuff up about why one driver let another past / stayed behind.

So to answer your main point about what becomes of F1 with team orders, well, it's exactly as it is now, except without the embarassing excuses.



Although it it clear in this situation that Ferrari broke the rules, I'm glad to hear someone suggesting that team orders do have a place in Formula 1.

I've always maintained that F1 is a team sport and the drivers are part of the team effort. If moving aside is good for the team then I can easily understand why a team would want to do that.

It's sad for a driver if he's the number two and has to move over for his team leader but signing a contract and agreeing to be a number two is voluntary and comes with a healthy financial reward.

Finally, as we saw yesterday, banning something won't stop it happening...


How did the switch made between Alonso and Massa benefit the team. The team points are still the same whichever driver leads a 1-2 or a 2-3 or a 3-4 etc finish?

The switch solely benefits the driver taking the lead position.


As I said, those that have been around understand the situation, buy it still leaves a bad taste.

The rule should be as follows.
Switch to occur on last lap to give the other driver's fans no doubt over the victor. Plus it eliminates the on-air bashing.

That's it.

There is no way to police anything else realistically. Infact, I'm not sure why they even use the radio to do it. It should arranged pre race. The evidence even from this Ferrari example would not stand up in court. They are guilty in the court of public opinion, but not according to rules. No one said move over, and that's the smoking gun needed to make this beyond doubt. Massa is my driver, but his puss face did nothing for team as he claims. If you're going to be knoble and agree to move over, don't sulk about it later.


Interesting theory - but coincidentally that's exactly what got us into this situation in the first place - Austria 2002.






I think a system along the lines of this might work.

No team orders at all during the first half of the season.

In the second half it would be accepted that a driver can let his team mate through, i.e. a team ordered switch, if he is mathematically unable to win the championship.

This leaves the driver moving over losing nothing as he already has lost the championship whereas the drivers who still can win it are given the advantage. This should also go a way towards improving the show towards the final race(s) of the season.

A more percentage based system might be better if the championships are going to be as close as this year going forward but I think the idea has potential.


I think if you are going to go down have team orders when it's not mathematically possible for one to win it, you'd have to write in an additional rule allowing team orders for all in the last race. As you could end up with a situation where the team with 2 drivers in with a chance at the last race need to make a team call to ensure one of their guys wins the drivers championship over the team where only one driver is in it. This would be fair if team orders are allowed to shape the outcome of the drivers championship.


I don't see why that would be necessary.

If at the last race both drivers could win the championship then they race - No team orders.

The point of the system would be that racing is ensured between those who can win the championship yet the teams are able to use the other driver, if available, to assist the teams position/result.

It gives fans the racing they deserve and the teams a legal way of using team orders. It provides justification of those orders to both parties.


But what Stuey means is:

Let's say for example, at the final event, Webber Alonso and Vettel can all mathematically win the championship.

2 laps from the end, Massa is second, Alonso third, Webber 9th, Vettel 10th.

In this configuration Vettel will win the title. Webber has no chance because he needed to finish 2nd or higher, but Alonso will be just short so under your rule, Ferrari are allowed to instruct Massa to let Alonso by to win the championship by 1 point. But if Alonso gets 2nd in the race, if Vettel gets 9th he wins the title (as he won more races).

So under your rule, even though Webber has no chance of winning the title with 2 laps to go, Red Bull are still not allowed to let Vettel by, even though Alonso will only win because Ferrari are allowed to let Alonso by.

Wouldn't this be slightly unfair?


If the call comes for one driver to pass another so that he can go chase down another team's car, that's fine - it's better for the team. In this case, what does it benefit the team to swap drivers? They probably have to pay ALO more money for a contract and receive the same amount of points/no improvement in constructors position/no more money from FOM. VET was clearly not pressuring ALO at the end of the race. Check the lap chart

James, I think you hit the nail on the head that the fans think in the last few races - say 5, they don't think it's a problem. I never really had a problem until I saw Massa on the podium...


I believe that the team should be able to tell the drivers to do anything it feels it needs to do for the betterment of the team. Except crash of course 🙂

The drivers are jockeys and need to remember that without the car/team etc would be in the stands with the rest of us. Of course it is heart breaking to see a decent fellow like Massa (and Rubens for that matter) get the short straw but as we all know they happily take the gift it it comes their way.

F1 already suffers form far far too much rule making of a picayune nature which was drafted in response to some very specific situation but applied widely.


Bravo Gordon I completely agree.

While I felt a bit sorry for Massa because of the anniversary of his accident, nobody forced either him or Barrichello to sign those Ferrari contracts. Clearly the downside to not being there is that they probably wouldn't be in a top car, but it's their choice to weigh up whether being a number 2 driver in a top car is better than being an equal in a lesser car.

Far to many rule changes as you say.


James, I like reading this website, I come here everyday, but this one just 100% reflects my thoughts!

My interpretation of the situation was that Felipe was told not to do anything crazy in case Alonso will try to overtake again as he was clearly faster and he is the only driver to pick up the fight against Hamilton or Vettel this year. What else could they do?

This is the team sport and this move is not different from British GP in 2008 with Hamilton and Kovalainen involved, no different with Massa and Kimi, Kimi and Massa, no different from "save fuel". I was made to look that bad, but people are overreacting.

Most of the Ferrari fans are upset with the team, but come last race of the season and Alonso is going to win the WDC by several points, would they understand then? Will they love the team again?

It was a tough call, but Alonso was consistently faster, not just this weekend, but all year.


I agree this is a TEAM sport they should be able to make the calls when needed and when you look at the facts it was the right decision.

1. Alonso is further ahead in the points than Massa (considering how far we are through the season that mathematical garbage only works if the Red Bulls & Mclearns finish well down the points which is unlikely.

2. Massa has been much more inconsistent this season than Alonso there's no guarantee that he will carry this form for the rest of the season.

James great site and glad to see some commonsense, I also noted that your mate Martin Brundle had similar thoughts on the day.


Everyone lost at the German GP.

Massa supposedly did the "right thing" for the team and now Ferrari have laid the blame at his feet for the ensuing furore. He is now the official Ferrari whipping post.

Ferrari have been dishonest about what happened and are now widely seen as cheats. I'm sure the Ferrari sponsors are not impressed and it would be understandable if they walked away.

Alonso's already battered reputation has taken another dive. I'm convinced that Alonso would not have moved over for Massa. Even if Alonso wins the championship it will be seen as a hollow victory.

Once again the fans have been let down by the shenanigans in F1. My friends who are not F1 fans say to me "how can you follow a sport which is crooked."

The rules are meant to be followed. If your child had watched the race then consider this. The message is - nice guys finish last - cheats win - rules are for other people - if you get caught cheating then lie your way out of it or blame someone else - winning is everything.

Historically the better season's have been when team orders weren't prominent. When Williams and Mclaren were dominant they let their drivers race. During the Schui Ferrari years people turned off their tv's in large numbers because they knew that even if Schui's teamate did a better job they weren't allowed to win.

The message for the FIA is this - People expect a sporting spectacle.


A timely piece of objective journalism James, thanks.

After the hysteria of yesterday, I hope there a few embarrassed journalists in the English press pack.

Indeed your replacement in the PR press conference half started it off.


The rule needs to be rescinded, to the point that some teams have explicit 1st drivers. Why didn't I mention 2nd drivers? Because the model I'm looking (ignorantly) at is TdF. Alonso needs his peleton. You know, in case Ferrari runs three drivers, or Red Bull absorbs Toro Rosso..


Let the drivers race. If they are good enough to be in F1 (or any racing championship) they should be able to challenge the team mate for the position and not take each other out recklessly. A team mate is a challenger and should be seen no differently to another driver in another team when racing. Yes, a team mate will always be more difficult to overtake because of the inside knowledge that team mates have. Here in lies the challenge.

A win when you have earned it is more worthy than being gifted it. It shows the driver has talent, skills and knows how to use their judgement and experiance to their advantage. It will also spice up the drivers market and really show the men from the mice.

To say that at the last race 'XX' driver could of won the championship if their team mate allowed them to overtake them at 'YY' race is wrong.

Can a team prevent a car from breaking down or get caught up in an accident through being in the wrong place at the wrong time..? NO. They field the car with the best chance that they can to win points to take the ultimate prize. The rest is down to Murphys law and ensuring that the car is as good as it can be.


James thank you for some common sense in what has been an overblown incident.

Seriously, looking at the circumstances Ferrari find themselves, why wouldn't you make the switch? I would have done it in an instant, though I would have been smarter about it and used the pit stops or told Massa to conserve fuel like Mclaren does. They made the best decision for the team and the championship, they know that, Massa knows that and Alonso knows that. Alonso is their only chance for WDC, even then it's going to have to be a hell of a second half of the season for him and the WCC honestly looks out of reach as it is.

Sometimes I think, when did Formula 1 stop becoming a team sport? they might as well only have one driver per team if they don't expect the drivers to work together!

I hope the FIA look into this to try and make the best policy and make it better.


The rule against team orders is completely unenforceable at any point in the season, and always has been, from the very first day it existed -- which is why I've decried it from the start, and continue to do so today. There are any number of ways that team orders can be applied, and many of them don't even require a message on the team radio for their implementation. They can be agreed ahead of time, behind closed doors. Literally the only possible way to prevent team orders would be to require each driver to be accompanied by an FIA representative at all times, 24/7.

Given that the rule is unenforceable, it never should've been created in the first place, and should be dropped from the rulebook immediately.

That said, we don't get to pick and choose the rules we like, and Ferrari clearly and very publicly broke the rules in this instance. For that, they deserve a punishment that would deter them from repeating their crime -- especially given that they are the team that decried another driver being allowed to profit from a rules infraction of similar severity in very recent memory.

The intention of the rule, given that it is unenforceable, was clearly to push team orders below the surface and out of sight, where only knowledgeable fans would recognize their continued existence. Ferrari chose to bring them back to the surface, and have only themselves to blame if they're to be punished.

$100,000 might sound a lot to the casual fan, but it's a laughably small fine to an outfit like Ferrari, and wouldn't deter them from repeating their actions today (though the public outcry almost certainly would -- I've seen this rated as the worst race of the year, and I've seen polls showing 80%+ of fans believe a penalty is called for.) By way of comparison, Ferrari's fine for letting their drivers stand on the wrong step of the podium in 2002 was $1.2 million, when adjusted for inflation, so today's fine is well under ten percent of the size, a mere drop in the bucket for an outfit like Ferrari. (Incidentally, this huge difference in fines suggests that the FIA actually considers appearances to be vastly more important than the rule book itself.)

To prevent a repeat, it seems to me that the only punishment that fits the crime is to remove points from the team, since it is the team that made the decision. Ferrari should hence be stripped of their constructors' points at the race, and the episode put behind us. Any lesser punishment would not have deterred the team from applying team orders, and any greater punishment would be disproportionate given that we know other teams -- McLaren, for example -- have unquestionably applied team orders already this season, with the sole difference being that they were applied just slightly more subtly.

To repeat, though, the rules as they stand are unforceable, and we shouldn't allow any unenforceable rule to remain in the books. This is a team sport, and team orders will always be a part of the sport. It is simply unreasonable to expect a team not to favor one driver over another at any point in the season, and if we accept it in the last race, there's absolutely no reason not to accept it in the first, even if we personally find it distasteful of a team to consider doing so early in a championship. Better that the teams apply their orders visibly, where the public will shame them into allowing a fair fight for the start of the championship, than that we sweep everything under the carpet while teams apply their orders contractually from the first race of the season.

If this rule still stands as we enter the next round of the championship, Formula One will be doing itself a disservice.


There is no good solution - banning TO will be artificial as you said. If they are fully reintroduced - it will be a slap in the face to fans (gambling fans especially). The teams should be forced to use team orders in white gloves only when necessary. The whole media crying is not about TO in generall but about the manner Ferrari and Massa did it. (If Nando have passed Felipe in pits no one would have said anything).

Maybe limited number of "free team orders" would do the trick ? (two times per driver a season for example)


I do take issue with the statement that Domenicali or Dyer should have given the order.

With things as they are, Smedley has the defence that it was a routine communication with his driver, even if his tone and subsequent actions made it very clear that it was not (and arguably it was not smart on his part to make it so clear).

If Domenicali or Dyer had come on the radio and said something then plausible deniability goes straight out of the window - they do not routinely tell drivers who is faster or not during a race.

So basically Smedley having to pass on the order is a consequence of the "no team orders" rule - if it were legal to have team orders I'm sure it would have been Domenicali giving the order; I don't think it would have left much less of a sour taste in the mouths of fans though.


There's no arguably about it. Smedley was very silly to make the call the way he did. Massa too for the way he let Alonso through. I know emotions are involved here, but they are both highly paid professionals and should have known better.


All the FIA can do is allow team orders, if they don't, they will still happen and people will be more annoyed than if they were allowed.

I agree James that this has been one big overreaction. Team orders have happened up and down the pitlane for years even with this "new" rule.

What is the difference between a team order now and one in the last round, nothing. They both have the same affect, but people seem to allow it because "the championship is at stake". The championship is always at stake so I don't think a time when team orders are allowed is fair. It might not even work, if Ferrari (or any other team) is willing to break one rule then they would be willing to break another.

Team orders will always be in F1, a bit like diving in football, it's a shame it happens but we have to live with it.


I was so dissappointed Felipe was deprived the opportunity to take a win.

It is a PR disaster for Ferrari, and everyone knows a $100,000 fine is a tiny amount in this sport. When you contrast that with a $100m fine for breaking the rules (and lying about them) for Mclaren, you gain an appreciation of what constitutes a 'large' fine. Obviously completely different scenarios, but a fine that is a 1/1000 times smaller for a rule break that is very open, blatent, has upset the fans, and then been lied about Vs an offence the casual observer couldnt give two hoots about seems crazy.

My point is, if no further sanctions are given, no team will even bother trying to cover up team orders. $100,000 will just be the de facto rate for issueing one.

As Damian suggested, swapping the drivers points, and excluding the contstructors points from Ferrari would dissuade anyone from doing it again.

Going forward, no team orders until the final 3rd of the season, unless it is mathematically impossible for the 2nd placed driver to win the title.