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Whitmarsh careful not to detract from F1 title prestige
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Whitmarsh careful not to detract from F1 title prestige
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Nov 2010   |  8:25 pm GMT  |  195 comments

The tension is showing in the run up to the final pair of races in this year’s world championship as the three team bosses fighting for the titles lead their troops into the great unknown at Interlagos.

And with it has come a suggestion from Red Bull that if Fernando Alonso wins, there will be a stain on the result because of the team orders row back in July. “It would be frustrating (if Alonso won the title) because we’ve obviously worked under the auspices that team orders have been illegal,” Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner told BBC Radio.

Whitmarsh: Taking the high ground

Ferrari were fined by the FIA for using illegal team orders in the German Grand Prix to switch Felipe Massa for Alonso, but not deducted points and the extra seven points he gained that day now put him in a strong position in the drivers’ championship. Anyone who is 25 points or more behind him after Sunday’s race is out of the hunt for the title. Mark Webber is his nearest challenger 11 points behind. Lewis Hamilton is 21 adrift, Vettel 25.

Ferrari responded directly to this today, team boss Stefano Domenicali saying, “When you consider the car Red Bull have had this year, in my eyes it’s a miracle that we are fighting for this title at all,” in an interview with German news agency SID. “If we had that advantage, the championship would be decided already.”

Meanwhile McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has said that nothing should spoil a great title fight, “We shouldn’t detract from what really, probably, is one of the greatest Formula 1 championships in our history, with issues about what teams did or didn’t do during the course of the year,” he said in a Vodafone teleconference today. “You’ve got to give Ferrari credit. Regardless of the team order debate and all those other things, Ferrari were really struggling mid-season, they’ve had a resurgence and they’ve looked very competitive – and Alonso is a formidable competitor.”

Whitmarsh, who gets on far better with his opposite number at Ferrari than predecessor Ron Dennis ever did with his, is thinking of the bigger picture of F1’s image here. But he’s also playing a conciliatory role in a partisan squabble, partly in deference to his position as chairman of the teams’ association FOTA. He and Domenicali sit down together on FOTA business all the time and he has wisely chosen to rise above this.

Horner’s comments can be interpreted in several ways. To some extent they are true, of course. But do they need saying now? They betray anxiety that after all their speed and phenomenal development, Red Bull might actually lose this championship. If they do it won’t just be the seven points Alonso gained “illegally”, but also the 50 Vettel lost from reliability failures in Australia and Korea and plenty of others from the mistakes by the drivers and many other factors.

The comments up the ante ahead of this weekend’s race. There are always some good mind games in the final stages of a tight championship fight, but it’s a shame Horner has gone this route. I know that many fans feel this way about Alonso’s position, including former FIA president Max Mosley, who had a dig at Ferrari on this score last week.

I agree that they broke the rules and that a points reconciliation rather than a fine would have been appropriate. But the situation was dealt with at the time and we have to move on. There have been many situations like this in the past and the integrity of the championship is what counts.

In any case, if you look at this in a fair minded way, Alonso has fallen foul of a couple of very heavy calls by the FIA and lost many places behind safety cars in the European and British Grands Prix. Those cost him at least a couple of podiums, far outweighing the seven points gained in Germany. What goes around in F1, almost always comes around.

Nothing every goes quite the way you expect it to here at Interlagos. Think of the last two year’s title showdowns with the last lap thriller for Lewis Hamilton to finish fifth and clinch and a similar scenario for Jenson Button last year.

This weekend will be no different. No-one can afford a slip up, but equally no one has a clue what the outcome will be on Sunday and you can’t ask for more than that in sport.

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Whitmarsh has been a class act so far, in my opinion.


Agreed. He's made Mclaren way more likeable in my view- they're still clinical in many ways (seriously, rename the motorhome [sorry brand centre] and the "technology centre"!) but their main frontman is personable and intelligent.

I'll keep my patriotism and cheer Mclaren on to the end!


What I really want to know is that should Massa be leading at his home race would he be asked/ordered to cede the position and how would this then be received by the home support?

Most fans seem to have accepted the Hockenheim team orders debacle has been dealt with but Ferrari seem just as guilty as Horner of stoking this particular fire with its frankly embarrassing public calls for Massa to help the team (hasn't he already done that to a huge degree?) and their bizarre and - one would have thought - unnecessary assertions that next year it will be all square again with two totally equal drivers - surely beginning 2011 with one car with a no.1 on it and the other with no.2 (potentially) will actually tell us what no-one is prepared to say?


I tend to think (and I believe that history will back me up) that Ferrari will throw their support behind their fastest driver.


I would be very interested to see what Ferrari do if the following actually happens:

With 5 laps remianing:

Massa is leading,

Alonso is second,

Lewis is third,

Vettel is fourth,

Webber is out.

Will they ask Massa to move over for Alonso to seal the championship or let them finish in the current order, because after this result Alonso would be in a very strong position to win easily in Abu Dhabi?


In that case, I bet that they would not need to say any thing to Felipe, as long as he would yield to Fernando.


How is that bizarre? It's what happened in '08 after he moved over for Kimi in '07. I think he'll get a shot at outperforming Alonso and if he does he'll be number one as far as the team is concerned. Whether Alonso will be a team player if that happens is, of course, another matter...

The public calls for his support really were awkward though. It was about his performance in general, taking points away from competitors and such, not specifically moving over again. But it was still weird.


And 'what if' Horner's man hadn't taken out JB on Spa with 18 points? etc etc.


I quite agree with you Allen but i think Alonso doesn't deserve the championship because he used to much politics to win and when things didn't go his way, he used the spanish press to acuse other people and played the victim card. I just wish Mark Webber can be the champion, he is the only one who truely deserve it. He never ask for number 1 status in the team like Alonso does. Always fights for equality. For me, Mark Webber is the true champion.


"he used the spanish press to acuse other people and played the victim card" Sarah, don't you think this is going a little too far?

I seem to remember Hamilton saying in an article in 2007 "Alonso taught me how not to behave".. They all use the media. I don't have a problem with a driver asking for no.1 status if they are the fastest in the team. If Alonso wins I think he deserves it, his performance in the last 6 races has been staggering..

That said, i think Webber would be a worthy winner as well.


Webber has openly asked to be favoured many times in public.


i ahve to disagree as well i'm afraid: personally i want to my F1DC to have slit a few throats along the way. much like Schumi it's the driver who is prepared to go further than any other who wins.

i know it may not seem nor be fair but that's life.

never liked Horner, smarmy smug get.


Could you prove your claims about Alonso? Many journalists have wrote it since Alonso's Mclaren stint, but when I try to find if it's true or not, the argument collapses because there's not evidence. Fernando has done his talking on the track.


This is not a human rights problem Sarah. There is nothing wrong with a driver asking his team for a number 1 status when the results cleary shows he is much much faster than his team mate.

I don't have anything against Felipe nor I am an Alonso fan (actaully hamilton), but I dont think what you are saying is correct.

I know alonso can get cranky when things dont go his way (only in 07) and all other times he was upset because

Schumi [mod]robbed him in Monaco 06
was give [mod] grid penalty in Monza 06 for impeding felipe in qualifying
and in the heat of the moment he said something against his renault team in 06

[mod] I think all the five drivers deserve it equally but only one will earn it.

Just because mark weber doesn't ask for number 1 status doesn't make him a good person and Mark weber fights for "Equality"??

I dont think so


"and in the heat of the moment he said something against his renault team in 06"

As far as I can remember, he said something against the FIA: "the race was decided off the track on Saturday afternoon" and something like he would never again consider F1 as a sport.

But I can't find any comment against his team.


you are right, he accused FIA of giving the c'ship to Ferrari at Monza 06 after he was given a grid penalty for slowing Massa in qualifying.

I read somewhere (I think in one of James's books Michael Schumacher: The edge of greatness) Alonso's exact words when he met race stewards on that saturday:

"I know you are trying to take the championship away from me, but I will [expletive]ing win it and show you"

Then he kicks the dustbin to the wall and storms out of the room

I dont remember at which race he commented against his team (renault), but he did say that renault is more focussed on constructor c'ship than supporting his bid for drivers title. I think it was a mere frustration that renault could not keep up to Ferrari in the development race in 06 which saw Fearrari resurgent in the second half


Quite disappointed with Horner here. Red Bull seem like a team that tries hard to connect with everybody (the gesture from Vettel and his mechanics after Japan's qualifying washout was particularly admirable) but I think it's a real shame that in the moment where Horner's team looks like there's a real possibility they won't win the titles, he tries to sour it for people.

On a side note, I think it's very interesting how people attack Ferrari and Alonso for breaking the rules and escaping with a light penalty but Hamilton's Valencia penalty goes unnoticed. I understand the Ferrari point, of course, they didn't lose any points or positions after breaking the rules. But neither did Hamilton in Valencia when he overtook the Safety Car. The FIA took ages deciding over his penalty so he was also found guilty, punished and escaped without a point drop or a position change. It seems a bit odd to attack one and let the other go.


I think that Horner's behavior isn't shocking. He's maybe trying to play mind games and that's fair by me. I even relish it and I miss the time when drivers were using that (We miss you Piquet Sr). It makes races build up more colorful.

Whitmarsh seems to me very kind to FERRARI but not quite with RedBull . Why is that ? Domenicali is also being very kind generally, very respectful and that's annoying, I want them to hate each other.

As for Mosley James, I think that he's getting a hard time swallowing FERRARI's betrayal to him after they joined FOTA. Afterall, without Ferrari's support to FOTA he would've kept his FIA presidency.

Every occasion is good to criticize them starting with "Bella Figura" for Di Montezemolo, etc. So it's a shame somebody's even paying attention to his comments.

I hope that we have a race result Vettel / Hamilton / Webber / Alonso. It will make Abu Dhabi very intersting, wouldn't it ? I didn't mention Button for obvious reasons.


Great aritcle James.

Mr Horner should let the Ferrari critism go now like Mr Whitmarsh has. As you say at the end of the day their car is by far the quickest over the season and they should realistically be in a much stronger position than they are at present.

Season has been spectacular so far and can't wait for the final two races.

But on the other hand will be itching for 2011 season to start once 2010 is done.


Anyone heard an interview with Christian Horner recently? It's all any interviewer asks about - "If you lose now will it be a valid championship for Ferrari" and "Are you going to favour one driver now?". And it's done in a way that really puts the pressure on him as team boss - knowing they will get a more animated answer if they really put the boot into Red Bulls approach to the championship.

It's impossible for Christian to avoid the question and I've heard him back away from answering a few times too - maybe on this one occasion he has given an honest answer, but everything he is saying is correct so I'm not sure what the problem is.


Its true that Ron Dennis built McLaren to what it is after Bruce, but I think I've gained more respect for Martin Whitmarsh in the very short time he has been in charge of the team.

Cooler heads prevail.

And while I completely agree with you, James, on Alonso's points margin, Hockenheim is always going to irk as the low point of the season for me that damaged the sport's reputation and global appeal.

True, team orders are un-policeable and they had always been part of F1 until "the Austrian incident", but F1 is competing on a global stage with other sports and with the premiums Ecclestone charges it needs every advantage with spectators it can get.

But, needless to say, this has always been Red Bull's season to lose. And, my, how they've gone about that task with reckless abandon!

The biggest loser after Abu Dhabi, I think, will be Vettel regardless of whether Alonso, Webber or Hamilton win it. The next Schumacher? I don't think so.



Hockenheim is always going to irk as the low point of the season for me that damaged the sport’s reputation and global appeal.


You'd be surprised how little casual watchers of F1 care about the fact that Massa was reminded that he was slower than Alonso and promptly missed a gear...

My gf missed the race, when I called her after it pretty much went:

Me: Alonso won.

Her: Woohoo. Yeehaw. Yippie.

Me: But he cheated eh!

Her: What? How?

Me: Explains it all.

Her: Oh. Doesn't matter, because Alonso won. Woohoo. Yippie. etc.

When Alonso takes the title in two races time, no matter what the points difference it will still be Woohoo Yippie time.


Ok, Baktru, please excuse me for misunderstanding your comment.

Given this explanation, I have to say that I fully agree with your point. The thing that everybody will keep on mind in a couple of months will be the name of the champion, that's it.

Too many times, my Asturian partisanism makes me go too fast in my comments!! I will try to moderate myself a little 😉


Did you explain to your gf the Hockenheim race two years ago? Did you explain her how Heikki yielded to Lewis?

Did you explain her how things happened in Turkey this year? Something about saving fuel, that fuel was critical, do you remember? And that someone asked if his team mate would overtake him in case he backed up, and the answer he got from the pitwall?


I wasn't even attacking Alonso eh... When I saw the race, I must admit I was dismayed at that episode, but other than being very blatant it wasn't that different from some other occasions.

And when Alonso gets the WDC in two weeks I'll happily go celebrating in a Ferrari T-shirt, even if it is by less than 7 points. As someone else said, with the way the RBs are actually faster than anyone else they should have clinched the championship by now anyway.


Galapago555 Spot on, i couldn't agree more. There is alot of attention drawn to Hockenheim by the team principals because it deflects their own shortcomings this season.. Red Bull should really have walked it by now ..


@Zobra: ok, I will, you're right. But IMHO talking now 'bout Germany is like beating a dead horse (is this well said?) I mean, things happened in the way we all know, that's it. Will we be discussing Hockenheim '10 for the rest of Alonso's career? My point is that all the teams have done things on the past, and it is not fair to keep talking just 'bout this one.


Galapago, please. Give the Fernando/Lewis thing a rest for a bit, we know how you feel about it. Thanks Zobra.


Way to completely miss Baktru's point and go on your typical counter-attack to defend Alsono.

Baktru...I completely agree. It's kind of like how no one remembers second place. If Alonso goes on to win the WDC, most people will not even care about Hockenheim. And, over time, the issue will become even more trivial. Sports are full of examples of "what if" or "if only". Well, those "if" really doesn't matter...what's done is done. The only thing that is remembered by the majority of people is the result.


It could be that Red Bull has lost the championships rather than any other driver/team has won!


Quite right.seven points are nothing in the scheme of things. Would you blame Jensens mechanic for leaving the covers in at Monaco for his loss of the championship?

Why pick on one issue. The fact is that Red Bull should have had this sewn up. If I were Newey I would look for a job at a winning team. Oh, wait he thought he had one.


[quote]“It would be frustrating (if Alonso won the title) because we’ve obviously worked under the auspices that team orders have been illegal,” Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner told BBC Radio[/quote]

Was that before or after the British Grand Prix?

Btw, I don't mind people like Mosley saying there should have been a points reclassification, as long as they are consistent and apply it to 2008 in light of the German GP. The subtle team orders are equal to the ones carried out for fist position.


Whoever wins this year will deserve it regardless of how they did it. Its been an epic season and nailbiting to the end. We can dwell on coulda, woulda, shouldas, but at the end of the day there is only ever gonna be one winner.


I really don't know which rule Ferrary broke exactly or did they ?!

As Sir Jacky Stewart said just few days ago ' it has always been and always will be team orders and specially when some very large amount of money is involved .It sounds more like jealousy then anything else saying that Ferrary & Alonso got their current score cheating anybody .

I have a strange feeling about who is cheating when RBR has such an advantage when their engine is producing so much less then both of the others ......


[mod] the fia were put in a bad place by the stupid people in the media. its the biggest noncense i have ever heard in my life. the same people who slammed ferrari in july are now calling for red bull and mclaren to do the same even though the same rule will be broken. it doesnt matter what time of the year it is its the SAME rule. pls can we move past this


FIA were also put in a bad place by the Spanish media resulting in a FIA representative within the McLaren garage at the Brazilian GP in 2007.

johnpierre rivera

so true...


There is a rule outlawing team orders to affect the result of a race


And as the FIA correctly decided, Ferrari did NOT break the rule. Ferrari never issued an order that affected the outcome of race. They may have skirted the edge of legality, but they did not cross it.


I imagine that they didn't challenge the stewards decision and fine because it would cost them more than the fine to challenge it in court.

The FIA issued it's ruling, you can read it if you like. Basically it says, Ferrari didn't appeal the initial fine and that they believe Ferrari did break the rule, but that the rule is ambiguous at best and it's application has been anything but consistent. All things considered, the WMSC decided to let the original fine stand and to review the rule.

Had they more proof that Ferrari issued a team order, then the WMSC would have been forced to alter the race results by adding time or deducting points.

It is a dumb rule that was a knee-jerk reaction to a perceived problem ages ago. The FIA should just tell the world that F1 is a team sport and everyone should get over it.


You are wrong. Ferrari were GUILTY! They never challened the original racing stewrads verdict at Hockenheim. The WMSC vascilated and decided not to INCREASE their fine.


James, do you think Ferrari has been the only team this season breaking "team orders"?


There's nothing in the rule about subtlety. The FIA was letting teams interfere with the results all along, and Ferrari pushed the rule to its logical limits.


No, but they didn't do it subtly


Yeah, but that law has been in place for a while. And teams have still ignored it - Brazil 2007, Hungary 2008 to name but 2.


What goes around in F1, almost always comes around. Right on James, and what doesn't come around naturally sometimes comes around unnaturally.



Interlagos is 800m above sea level. That makes aero less effective due to thin air and drag less penalizing. They'll need extra downforce setup. So this circuit looks clearly RedBull territory.

Due to thin air, engines produce less power which should produce less tress on engine components which might make Alonso's life easier. Is that true ?


I would have thought that because the air is thinner, the engine would have to work harder, therefore putting more strain on it. They produce less power because they don't have the higher quality air to suck in, which has a detrimental effect on the combustion process, therefore producing less BHP.

I could be wrong...I'm no mechanic.


They're all in the same boat.

Less oxygen simply means less ultimate HP - less explosive energy means less HP. Since the fuel mixture is completely controllable, the end result should be less strain on the engine. There is no too lean/too rich situation due to different O2 levels as in the old carbureted days that used to put a different - but equally fatal kind of strain on the engine...

Unlike in road cars where less power causes you to drive more aggressively - more throttle etc. Formula 1 engines are alway on full tilt -they are simply making less power.


I'm not mechanic either. I thought that because of the thin air, there's less fuel feed to the engine with the lesser air which makes explosions within cylinders less powerful which produces less power but makes stress on pistons rods and crankshaft less important.

It looks to me logical that it harms less the engine but I might be wrong. I have no informations on that, I was just supposing.


For this same reason plus the bumpy surface of the track I think that McLaren will suffer enormously. They might even fall in the clutches of Mercedes.

I see the level of performance in race trim this order RedBull / Ferrari / Mclaren = Mercedes. In qualies, RedBull will blow them all.

Unless RedBull finds a new idea to loose the race its theirs.


An interesting point. I actually think Mclaren will do well in Brazil, and believe they will be the closest to challenging Red Bull. Think the Mercedes engine will shine, and their amazing race starts will come into play once again. Alonso might be in the mix and typically making the car look better than it is, but I believe he will be struggling to make it to the podium.


Thin air doesn't make drag less penalizing, because you need more wing to achieve the same downforce level.

As for the engine, thin air actually puts more strain on the engine rather than less.


why is that ?


The RBs seem to be getting better and better at throwing away races though.


excellent summary james! cannot wait to see what twists and turns await us in the final 2 races!


Teams will have no option than to appoint a priority driver right from the start of the season to have the best chance of a WDC. Red Bull would have avoided a few incidents where their cars knocked points out of each other while racing and would probably have clinched the title already. Hind sight is an easy thing.


"Nothing every goes quite the way you expect it to here at Interlagos."

I find it "ever" goes...



james, there has been some information on internet regarding alonso's engine usage, its says the bahrain unit removed after qualy can be used in abu dhabi, giving him a low mileage engine, can u confirm this?


Think that was the engine that blew in china practice


No they used that engine in Shangai practice and it blew.


I'll look into it, but why would they leave an engine all this time without using it?


James you should you and your colleagues find a way to tell us what engines are used in which sessions (FP, Quali Race) and how many kms did they make.

It's really hard to follow this engine story.


I think it was the engine that they replaced after FP in Bahrain fearing reliability. The article says that now they know what caused the reliability, they can fix this engine which has very low mileage on it.

Btw James did you read Mark Hughes comment (on autosport http://www.autosport.com/features/article.php/id/3151) on Felipe Massa slowing down in Korea so that Alonso's pitstop didnt cause him to lose yet another place?

I think that is the same situation as that in Hockenheim but has been missed by most journalists and has not been discussed anywhere else.

I think Horner can see the title slipping away despite having the best car in the grid, he should rather think of Turkey than Hockenheim and Ferrari if Alonso wins the World title


Does Alonso owe anything to Mr Hughes? It's funny how he is always trying to attack Fernando... Wasn't him the one to start using that abusive name for him (Teflonso)? Typical bully, in my opinion.

Dogs bark, the caravan goes on. Puxa Nano.


I saw it and I'm going to ask around about it this weekend


It's the engine they changed after a practice session thus forcing them to use it only in practice until the last race when they are free to use any.


I've heard that FIA changed the rules in the middle of the season, that's why they didn't use the engine before and now they can.


James, I think that Michael is right. I copy-paste from the FIA regulations:

"28.4 a) Each driver may use no more than eight engines during a Championship season. (...)

e) If an engine is changed in accordance with Article 34.1 the engine which was replaced may not be used during any future qualifying session or race with the exception of the last Event of the Championship."

I have also read something about this on Spanish papers. My point is: if they had to change it in Bahrain due to overheating, is it trust worthy to be used for the full weekend in Brazil? Are they allowed to work on the engine just on reliabliity matters related to that overheating issue?


Nice one Galapago555, thanks for posting that. Something I'd not heard of before. I've got my fingers crossed Alonso can take it, ideally by more than 7 points to shut plenty of people up, but I'm not fussy really.


There's that funny rule that says if an engine is changed after quali it can only be used during free practice or at the last race of the season...


Maybe because Korea was added to the schedule late?


That is correct. I'll look into it


Im not sure but i think there is a rule stating that any engine that has been changed during a weekend can only be used at the last race..


I could be wrong James, but I've read somewhere that an engine changed after quali in parc ferme can only be used at the last event of the year, Abu Dhabi.


Im pretty sure I've read elsewhere that the rule is that they can ONLY use that engine in the last race of the season. So, its not that they left it, but the rules prevent them from useing it before abu dabhi


The same sites say that because it was replaced after qualy, they could only use it for free practice until now. However, apparently the regs state any of the 8 engines can be used in the last race of the year. Have not seen the same info from any of the usual reputable sources, so taking it with a huge grain of salt.



Fantastic analysis, James, as always.

It's very difficult to find such an unbiased approach to "The" scandal of the season. But we have to keep in mind that Alonso lost a lot of points in Valencia and especially in Silverstone due to a surreslistic drive thorugh penalty. So, as you say - and as Alonso himself says - by the end of the season things get more or less balanced.

By the way, interesting comments on this subject by Eddie Jordan on the BBC site:

"So while I thought some time ago this championship would be tainted if Alonso clinched the title by less than seven points, I have to believe now it wouldn't be as the judges were in full knowledge of the facts and they made that decision."

No matter some pundits here claim that this year is being so exciting only because of the many mistakes that all the drivers have made, I believe that it's being the most interesting WC for many many years. Maybe because of the mistakes, maybe because of the many cars and drivers that can do anything at any GP, but at the end of the day I can't wait for the next race to come.

And now I will cross everything for a Ferrari 1 - 2 in São Paulo... 😀


Could you clarify how Alonso unfairly lost points in Valencia and Silverstone? In Valencia, Hamilton simply got an advantage (which did not affect just Alonso, but everyone) and Alonso let that get to him, causing him to lose many positions by simply driving bad. Alonso was not punished in any form (though I do agree that the deployment of the SC could've been handled better, but given the circumstances, I understand why it was done the way it was.)

In Silverstone, Alonso made an illegal pass and was punished for that as the rules state. Any other driver would have let Kubica repass him before the next corner in order to avoid a penalty. Alonso did not and for that he deservedly got a penalty. Crying about the fact that Kubica had retired from the race 2 laps later when FIA told Ferrari that Alonso's pass was illegal is ridiculous; you must let the other car pass you -immediately- if you want to avoid a penalty, we have seen this many times before.


Hilarious to read complaints bleating about Alonso's tactical decision NOT to hand back the position to Kubica.

At least in the infamous Spa 2008 Hamilton relinquished his position, (falling behind the tail of Raikonnen) whereas Alonso chose not to do so with Kunica. That has been one of many MISTAKES by Alonso this year so I wish Alonso supporters would stop crying about this FIA penalty!


When I think of Hamilton's recent performances, I am reminded of that Alan Partridge video: Crash, Bang, Wallop. "Crash" = Monza, "Bang" = Singapore, "Wallop" = Suzuka


Alonso lost points in Valencia because the safety car was not deployed properly. The safety car is supposed to pick up the lead driver, which it did not.


In Silverstone Alonso was not punished according to what the rules say. He was not told to give back a position to Kubica - they were still discussing the issue between RC and the Team; when finally the decission was made, Kubica had retired, and therefore it was not possible to give back the position and a drive through penalty was decreed - "unfortunately" at the time a SC was deployed.

At the end of the day, the penalty for the overtaking - and we could also discuss if it was really that bad, as Kubica almost pushed Fernando out of the track - supposed a lot ofpositions on the race.

In Valencia, Hamilton overtook the SC and his penalty meant no positions lost.

IMHO, it's quite different, and maybe Alonso lost points in an unfair manner in Silvestone.


Unfortunately for Alonso, you are incorrect, and there are many instances in the past to prove this. If an illegal pass is made and the driver (in this case Alonso) does not -immediately- forfeit the position, the only thing race control is going to decide is whether to give a drive-through penalty or rule the pass legal. They will -not- say "Give up the position and everything is ok" (well, Charlie Whiting might say that immediately after the incident, but that wouldn't be an official decision, rather an advice that if you do that, no further penalties will be applied.) It is completely up to the driver to make the judgement call after the pass if he should give the position back or not.

If Ferrari/Alonso thought that they can simply ask RC if Alonso should give the position back and wait until they make a ruling, they obviously haven't been following F1. In every previous instance (at least from the past few years) when a driver makes an illegal pass, either of the two things have happened:

A) The position is forfeited immediately, before the next corner, and if that has not happened,

B) The driver gets a drive-through penalty.

It would be stupid of Ferrari to expect anything else in this situation. The penalty Alonso got was fair and in complete agreement with penalties given in the past for such events. He shouldn't have waited for RC to explicitly tell him to forfeit the position, he should have known to do it on his own.


I think many people forget when Alonso was the most unlucky this season (in my opinion). At the end of lap 1 of Spa, he was the only one of the top ten who managed to make the chicane properly - for which he got taken out by the car behind him.


exactly he was unlucky many times this year and fernando said recently they still have some credit left over for more good luck.


I'm losing more and more respect for Horner by the day.


me too. dont like his constant whinging and the fact is its their own fault not ferraris they have not this title wrapped out weeks ago


Thanks, James, for your continuing work and for the balance you provide in your comments above. It is a shame that Horner continues to work at damaging his (and his Team's) credibility -- this time by raising a red herring that has already been dispatched.

johnpierre rivera

i second that emotion. i have posted on many sites about the gifting of the top podium spot to alonso. it is beyond my why this issue is still coming up again and again. for Christian Horner to continue to beat this dead horse is ridiculous, not least of which because most F1 pundits and experts (that i have read) agree that the rule should be done away with and that most of these same pundits agree that it is un-force able. who knows what other team orders were at play this year that were successfully disguised. but more importantly a poll that was posted on this very blog clearly defined what the F1 fans thought of team orders. james maybe you can re-post it, i am unable to find it in the archived section for july 10' or august 10' at any rate i seem to remember that the results clearly showed that the FANS are not as up in arms as the media or the some others are in the F1 blog community would have us believe. consider this since this sporting reg has been in place, it seems to me that there were team orders (ferrari and mclearn come to mind immediately, with hamilton and massa the benificialy, and nobody cried foul then). so why it is such a bid deal now. i do realize the there are two issues here one is, "the use of team orders" the other "should ferrari/alsono been given further punishment." i.e points deductions. arguments can be made for either outcome in regards to the second issue. in the end the FIA decided that the results should stand. and that is that. it is similar to hamilton passing the safety car in valencia and getting the drive-through, but because it was given to him so late, it didn't make a difference, which is what a penalty is suppose to do -punish you to the affect that your results will change- and compel you to not do it again. so should those points say the difference between 2nd and 10th be deducted from hamilton after the fact. the answer is no, he got his penalty and served it. done. so lets just get on with it. as james said this championship will not revolve around just this one incident, it is 19 races, 1000 plus laps over 25 pits stops (for each diver), weather, one new track, several cock-ups and some get racing. i agree with Martin Whitmarsh that this is a compelling and fantastic season. lastly, i just might finish by saying all sports enlist team orders. in baseball a starting pitcher is taken out for a reliever if the coach doesn't think he will get the strike out or the ground out that is needed. in basketball the ball usually goes to Kobe, or Labron in the final seconds to ensure a win for the team. in football, in a key play to get the TD a quarterback, say Drew Brees, is looking only for Reggie Bush in the end zone, this would surely be a team order from the coach on the sideline. F1 is no different. our romantic idea of the driver being the only one that matters at the end of the day is quite frankly a misplaced concept as most people who have watch grand prix racing for 20-30 years knows this.


And Mr. Horner, when you ordered Mark's new front wing off his car onto Vettel's, there was no team orders, right? It was all in the spirit of friendly competition. And I totally believe that when Vettel fell more than 10 car lengths behind Webber on the restart of the Hungarian GP, that was just him not paying attention right? No intention to back the field up to help his teammate.

Sanctimonious hypocrite. What a lovely combination.


Nonsense mate. FIA team orders rulings apply to an ongoing race that cars and drivers are participating in, not garage stuff before the green light. And as for that safety car stupidity by Vettel, he made a mistake. I personally believe Webber, guessing what was happening, got close to the safety-car to open up the gap as much as he could so his team-mate would be penalised, but I have no - and will never have - proof of that!


I concur Joe! Likewise we've seen McLaren make a few odd calls on strategy that are obviously to benefit 'the team' rather than an individual driver, so essentially team orders are all over F1.


James thanks for the analysis.

Horner seems to have a very subjective view of the F1 happenings. This is similar to when he was blaming Weber for the Turkey crash.... I don't think many people agreed with him then. Not many would agree with him now.


I think you would find that Horner was towing the company line and saying what his overlords wanted. IMO, the real problem at RB is not Horner but Marko


"What goes around in F1, almost always comes around."

'Luck' may balance itself out over a long enough time period, like the casino taking an unlucky hit, but it takes 1000s of bets to recover that loss not the 20 or so races of an f1 season.


Sadly, the media seem to have much shorter memories than the fans.

johnpierre rivera

well said...


Very many fans have short memories, whether on the subject of team orders, backmarker teams, engines ("four-cylinder engines aren't powerful enough for F1" is a particular favourite of mine), pay drivers, ridiculous levels of interference by the FIA or anything else.

Reading some forums, you'd think they were populated by goldfish. Of course, when it happens in the media, it's all the more annoying because those people are being paid for their ignorance and they are spreading it to the unsuspecting public as well. Luckily James keeps it real.

Of course, all of that is not to say this whole team-orders mess is controversial because people don't remember Senna and Fangio benefiting from them. There was (is?) a rule in place and Alonso gained an advantage in the WDC by violating it. That is not a question of memory.

What may be a matter of memory is that according to some outlets a rule is a rule, "unless the other guy is mathematically out of it". This argument places the issue in the field of fairness and morality and not legality. According to those very same people of course, Red Bull should definitely favour Webber. So I'm inclined to think memory is not the issue with those people at all. Bias is.



"Of course, all of that is not to say this whole team-orders mess is controversial because people don’t remember Senna and Fangio benefiting from them

In case you forget, it is now 2010. The times have changed! F1 is so different from those days in many ways including driver safety. Your comparison with the past is irrelevant.



three points,

A. I think you misunderstood the spirit of that comment. See the two sentences that followed the part you quoted. I said that many fans had a skewed view of the past, yes. But I also said it was not really important in the discussion about the legality of team orders.

B. Team orders may be wrong for a number of reasons but they are not, by any stretch of the imagination, a safety-hazard.

C. F1 has indeed changed: you see, it used to be LESS safe. In Fangio's day drivers dropped like flies: they almost sat on top of their cars instead of inside them, helmets were not generally worn and the cars had no crash-safety built in at all. Despite appearances Senna's time wasn't that much better and since his death many safety measures have been introduced: the HANS-device, extremely stringent crash tests and monocoque-homologation, to name but a few. So thank you for proving the first point I made in my original reply.


The driver who scores the most points over the season still wins the WDC. Perhaps that rule should be discarded because it is 60 years old. Or perhaps some people "pick and mix" according to what suits their situations at a specific point in time.


Hi James,

Don't mis-interpret British Gp. Fernando cut a corner, did not yield the place back. Considering Spa 2008, the penalty is surely fair. Chapter Close.

In valencia, he was unlucky. Hamilton was punished with a drive thro'.

Coming to Germany, FIA's verdict reads that "Ferrari are guilty of using team orders. also of bringing the sport to disrepute" So the judgement is clear. The punishment???Not even a suspended ban to avoid the incident in the future??Not even a position swap???

I agree with Max completely here.

P.S Have read and re-read the Questions answered by Mr. Whitmarsh. He has diplomatically escaped some of the questions. Really cannot draw any conclusions


Here we go... If I didn't know what really happened, I would assume Ferrari were not "punished". The punishment may not be enough in YOUR view, but you totally left out the fact that they were fined and the governing body decided that was enough - end of story.

Hamilton's infraction directly resulted in an 11 point loss for Alonso to Hamilton (and possibly the other drivers in the championship as well). Hamilton's penalty? He was second, profited from his move on the SC and Alonso (keeping Alonso behind) and was still second. Let's not forget, Alonso didn't break any rules. In the above scenarios, Hamilton, Massa and Ferrari did....


See, we are talking about racing drivers. If a person comes onto to the radio and says "This is Ridiculous. I am much faster than Felipe", it means he has no ability to overtake. What sort of a racer is he man??Whether he breaks the rules by the book or not, he has certainly gone right out of the spirit of racing. I cannot forget that celebration in the podium after getting such a shallow victory.

Morally, I would accuse him of breaking the rules.


Alonso is too smart to try to pass his teammate. He was clearly faster, and was simply letting his team know that he was being held up. Massa had every chance to prove he should be in front. I imagine that at Ferrari there are a few rules about crashing into another Ferrari. They have been doing this way too long to let the Red Bull crash in Turkey happen to them.


"Coming to Germany, FIA’s verdict reads that “Ferrari are guilty of using team orders. also of bringing the sport to disrepute” So the judgement is clear. The punishment???"

A €100.000 fine. Chapter Close.


Thats really the problem. Ok. Lets take Schumacher's overtaking of Alonso in Monaco. He was punished, yet the FIA accepted the rules as confusing and unclear and even clarified on it. My point is that rules are rules. If you don't like them, approach the governing body with suggestions.

There is an apparent anamoly with punishments given to schumacher and that given to ferrari, although in both cases the rules were required to be changed.

And again, how are you going to prevent "Bringing the sport to disrespute", by giving such fines??

McLaren were thrown out of the championship and given a fine of 50 million pounds. The then FIA president said that the resources of mclaren was taken into account when giving it. Now what??Doesn't the FIA know that 100000 euros is nothing for ferrari???

How are they going to uphold rules in the future??


That last sentence is precisely the point. They won't uphold THIS rule. It's not workable and it CAN'T be practically upheld.


Maybe the WMSC found it many differences between Mclaren spying their rivals and Ferrari giving a team order, as all other teams do.

But IMHO there may be a double standard issue here: you say "In valencia, he [Fernando] was unlucky. Hamilton was punished with a drive thro’", but you don't mention that this d.t. penalty meant no actual punishment for Hamilton, as he kept his 2nd place on the race after serving the penalty.

But you don't accept that Ferrari was properly penalised for the Team orders scandal just because the fine was so small... well, I insist that they were actually punished, so that's all.


In Britain Alonso did not yield the place because Kubica immediately started dropping seconds per sector. I'm not saying he shouldn't have played it safe and given back the position but it was absolutely NOT a clear decision (because of Kubica's problems there was no real advantage and yielding the place back to Kubica would, because of his slow pace, be hugely disproportionate).

Valencia was a blunder by race control because the SC ought to have collected Vettel (race control blundered a few times this season. like in Monaco where they lighted the green lights when they shouldn't have).

Max Mosley is just looking for publicity like he always has been. Socialites like Mosley and FIFA's Blatter and former IOC president Samaranch have always used their positions for their own publicity. Todt is showing how a FIA president should act: like a professional not a parasite.


I compare britain with spa 2008. Hamilton gave back the place, and yet was punished. I hope you would have seen James's report in ITV regarding this.

Valencia was NOT a blunder. Vettel went past the SC line even before the SC was deployed. And again, with an accident of that magnitude, Charlie's job is to ensure the safety of the medical car rather than plotting some team's demise as was publicly stated in Ferrari's website.

Now, Alonso won those 7 points in a very questioning way. Whether MAX has any real concern or not is different. But I agree that should he win by lesser than 7 points, then his victory will be questioned.


Your comparison with Spa '08 is not apt. The situation at Silverstone was, at the time of the incident, much less clear. Kubica was immediately losing pace, there was a question of how the regulations worked in the case of the overtaking driver being forced off the track and because of Kubica's loss in pace, yielding the place would be disproportional. All very different than at Spa. The point is that the final outcome can most certainly be called bad luck and disproportionally unfavourable, as James says and which you apparently take so much issue with.

At Valencia there should have been a second safety-car or medical car or whatever to pick up Vettel, there are precedents for this. The way it happened, Vettel (and Hamilton) had a huge advantage from the SC-period and that should have been prevented. At the very least this can also most certainly be called disproportionally bad luck as James says.

The team-orders matter was dealt with by the competent authority (with Todt appropriately distancing himself from proceedings by the way - something Max would never even understand let alone do). There have been far more controversial and (probably) decisive affairs in the past and nobody cares or even remembers anymore.

Furthermore, "number one drivers" have been an issue this whole season. Before Hockenheim Red Bull was under heavy scrutiny and McLaren as well with their rev limiters and fuel-saving orders. Most (regular) people will balance out all those different things (never mind the car-advantage Red Bull has) against those measly seven points in their mind, or at least acknowledge that so much has been going on from all sides that no one thing was decisive.

In the end, the guy with the most points is always the most deserving. No Exceptions. F1 spelled backwards and all that...

CJ the 2cnd, probably...

All hail Martin Whitmarsh, a sophisticated performance. Perhaps he doesn't feel the need to engage in mud-slinging, given the Ferrari engine situation, but in fairness perhaps he wouldn't anyway. As to Christian Horner, there were no team orders at RB were there, no number 2 expected to just get out of the way? What a great climax to the season, shame the final round has to clash with WRC in Wales!


well at least whitmarsh has stopped questioning Red Bulls flexible front wing..


Goood comments!

I totally agree with you on:

you can’t ask for more than that in sport.


There shouldn't be any extra requirement for Button to help Hamilton. He will conveniently help Lewis without consciously doing anything unusual if he simply slots in behind him in the race.

Like in Belgium, Hamilton will ease away and Button, even without trying, will hold the pack up with his lack of speed.

No doubt, Button will then come over the radio saying "my car isn't handling 100% perfectly, it's undrivable!".


In Belgium, he had a broken front end plate. Button has come a close second in three of hamilton's wins. He is a world Champion.


Broken front end plate in qualifying too?

Thankfully not world champion for not much longer. Even someone like Jacques Villeneuve, whilst not the best driver, earned his championship through a tough fight against a great driver.

I'm very critical of Button's performance this year, he's seemingly tried to rely on differing strategy and approach rather than upping his overall game, it looks as though he personally isn't really up for the challenge against the best.


Button thrashed Barrichello? I would have said that they were fairly evenly matched over 4 seasons together. Schumacher thrashed Barrichello over six seasons consistently.

Button has out-driven Hamilton on a couple of occasions. One was highly fortuitous.


I think we can all agree that Lewis is faster than Button, but they each have one more Formula One World Driver's Championship trophies than any of us. Button is a superb driver and seemingly a nice guy. Is he able to work around a poor performing car as well as Hamilton, maybo not. Has he beaten Hamilton this year in identical equipment? Yes. Read that again, he has beaten England's shining F1 star in identical equipment, so to say that he isn't fast is simply false. He drives differently that Hamilton, so does Alonso, so does Schumacher.


Again I disagree. 2 points.

1. This years red-bull has a far superior advantage compared to last years brawn. So can I say Button is much better than Vettel or webber. Again consider that Button thrashed Barrichello fairly unlike Schumacher.

2.With regard to strategies, whats wrong if he goes on a different strategy to lewis. In Monza for example he excelled in 2004 using a unconventional High Downforce setup, did the same this year and easily beat Lewis.

He is a World Champion. McLaren wouldn't sign him just like that. And look at the maturity of the man. He has kept Lewis on his feet and yet has a superb working relationship.

He has not done a single mistake this year!!!


Meant two of hamilton's three wins


... Jenson's engineer will then come over the radio saying "keep driving smoothly Jenson, don't try to attack the corners, don't try to find the limits of the car, just drive smoothy".

And Jenson will reply, "I'm trying that, but I'm getting a small amount of oversteer, why is my car undrivable?!"


“And remember Jenson that you are a cerebral driver – you can think your way to victory.  Just close your eyes and think that you are going to win – it worked in six of the first seven races last year!  And if the treads of your tyres are once again worn there is no need to worry, for you are Mr Silky Smooth, Great Button, the former Boy Wonder of F1!”



True words.

When the dust settles at the end of this season there will not be any single result or action that will have decided this championship on it's own. Every team has had it's problems, every driver has had his mistakes. On the other hand, each driver has shown some quality that has stood out, right from Alonso through to Button.

Whoever wins this championship will have deserved the win, barring any excessively awful events over the next two races. This has been a truly enthralling season from start to finish and I hope that the final two races continue to give us all of the excitement that we crave.

johnpierre rivera

and that is the best summation that i have herd so far...


What about the fuel saving thing that went on in Mclaren? Shouldnt that be mentioned when talking about team orders?


Grasping at straws to make light of blatant Ferrari rule breaking.....?


McLaren dropped the ball in the second half of the season. Some of their more enthusiastic fans have trouble coming to terms with this fact and look for convenient smokescreens.


Fuel saving requests came as soon as lap 30. So where is the question of team orders??And even after you saw them going head to head for half a lap, do you think team orders even exist at mclaren???


When Hamilton asked if Button would try to overtake him, the answer that he was given from his team was "no". Most people have been able to figure out what "save fuel" meant in light of that conversation.


Hi James

I do feel there is some merit to Alonso not being regarded as the true champion if he should win, however is it fair to say that if his total number of points is more than 7 over 2nd then he truly deserved it ?

Secondly, take away the win given to him and he still sits tie first for wins.

Basically I feel it comes down to Alonso and Webber, if they want the championship then go win the last 2 races.


I think Alonso will be a tainted champion if he wins. He refused to downgrade the Singapore GP win which his teammate intentionally crashed out for him to win. He refused to downgrade this Germany win and the fact that both drivers were told to turn the revs down and Alonso secretly turn the revs back on and he had speed advantage. And comments like "This is ridiculous" show his lack of ethic.


I think you might possibly be delusional....this post from James already highlighted several occasions where Alonso had some very unlucky decisions count against him, instances which cost him more than 7 points. He didn't complain much. Now you expect him to police his teams as well? To call out Renault on a fix he was unaware of? He was still the fastest guy in Singapore that year.

And then call out his own team, Ferrari, on their strategy? He's an F1 driver, not a saint. I for one am glad you aren't a fan of his, because he doesn't need a fan like you...he's got many others with some semblance of human reasoning. Let me save you some time and note that there isn't a driver in F1 that is as....morally righteous (incessantly daft) as you demand. If there is one, he certainly won't be a World Champion.


The truth must hurt for Alonso fanboys. And if you could swtich your brain cell on, common sense suggests that just because you are robbed that doesnt give you any right to rob a bank.

Fastest guy in Singapore? Kimi set the fastest lap. Again common sense suggests that just because he was fastest doesn't mean he deserve to win. And Alonso didn't deserve to win Singapore GP because his team cheated for him and he refused to degrade it.

I guess his fans must be like him.



Let me rephrase, fastest guy in Singapore who finished. Kimi was fastest but you don't get any points for crashing out of the race, right? Maybe your issue with Alonso fans stems from them having several hundred million brain cells and you, as you say, waxing lyrical with your lone brain cell. Good luck.


I agree the Singapore thing is weird, but that has nothing to do with this year.

In the Hockenheim post-race interview, what else were the drivers going to say? It wouldn’t have been normal for the drivers to incriminate their team.

And it’s logical to assume that Ferrari thought they had an internal agreement to let a faster driver through. They had already lost points when Alonso had gotten stuck behind Massa in the middle of the pack in previous races – he was faster, but didn’t have the large speed advantage needed to make a safe pass (which seemed to be a bigger problem earlier this season than recently). I think that pre-race agreement is what led to Alonso saying “this is ridiculous,” because it was a big change from his almost deferential behavior in those previous races. The message that Massa got, “You need to stay more than 1 second in front of Alonso” or something like that was another strong clue that the team had a system in place.

Playing with fuel mixes does bother me though (and not just because Red Bull and McLaren did that too). That’s much less acceptable to me than agreeing to let faster drivers through.


James, we're all missing a major trick here. We're motorsport fans and you're a motorsport journalist. A marketing manager would unravel this in an instant-

Ferrari- The brand is king. Drivers, rules, points don't matter. Ferrari have been notorious for flouting rules for decades. Ferrari must be the pinnacle brand to sell its cars. Doesn't matter how or who. Winning builds the brand mystique.

Red Bull- Need a brand Ambassador. Helps if he's a champion and hails from home territory. Energy drinks are bought by teens and twenty+'s. An ambassador like Schumacher or Woods used to be- is worth the cost of running the team. Ironically, Webber the outdoor sportsman and favorite of all female fans, doesn't cut it. He's worked too hard to get there. Red bull is about instant success and an instant Champion is it. The problem they are fighting is to maximise Vettel's market value. A championship is only a factor. Webber being more popular is just as big a problem. Look at the blame in Istanbul and the comment from Berger.

Webber has value as Vettel's whipping boy next year, but it'll be another brand ambassador, probably from an emerging market in 2012.

And poor McLaren are old school chumps building cars and supporting drivers to win races - like its sport?

The scary thing? F1 will soon be about building the unbeatable car and insert any marketing creation into the cockpit. Drivers will be chosen by how they look with their teeth whitened.

So how bad do Ferrari look now?

PS. Please Lord let Webber win.


Now that's a good one!

[mod] The world is full of good looking kids with white teeth, the problem with your "theory" is that they have to drive fast.

As a former driver and instructor, I've come across countless kids with white teeth and pockets full of money. Their only problem is they were either too scared or too slow.

By the way, Kubica doesn't exactly look like Brad Pitt and yet he's one of the hottest properties in the sport.

You're post was good for a chuckle though.


Cheers GP,

Yes its going too far to suggest Justin Bieber will be driving for Red Bull yet, but its my thoughts exactly on Kubica. He wont be driving for Red Bull either- not without a rhinoplasty and a new nationality in a bigger market for drinks.

Webber has said today "I wasn’t supposed to be in the hunt and it’s been inconvenient." He's forcing them to support him by attacking their market perception (where it hurts). RB still isn't taking its best chance to win in order to preserve the standing of its star driver.

Q: What is a team that isn't racing to win?

A: A marketing exercise.


And marketing didn't play a role in McLaren's decision to hire Button?


"F1 will soon be about building the unbeatable car and insert any marketing creation...".

I just want to ask you a question Matt, is it that simple to build the unbeatable car ? If you have a recipe for that, you're officially a billionaire. If not, all what you said is rubbish.



Please see the explanatory rant replying to GP below.

We already have # 2 drivers in minor teams on the track because they bring in money rather than talent.

How do you feel about a leading team parading a #1 "pin up" driver to chase market share ahead of winning?

Its OK now because Vettel has the talent. But what is next if competition is always running second?


Of course, that's it. We've wasted nine months following this thinking it was a sport!!


No truer word ever said!! Clearly not a sport if we can have blatant swaps because one driver does not posses the skill to pass another and be gifted with 7 free points! I

Regrettably, it would seem that some don't care how there favourite driver wins in order to win the WDC. History will show the manner in which it was won.


Yep, just as we saw at 2008 in Hockenheim! History will show that McLaren threw it away after the middle of the season - deal with it!


Ok, tongue was slightly in cheek there. I think Horner's behavior can only be explained because he's stretched too far between running a team and keeping an entirely commercially driven owner appeased. If Webber and Vettel fail it will be because Red Bull racing is a commercial venture more than a sporting one. If Ferrari win, it will be because they are always focussed on winning.


Just a pinch of hypocrisy from Mr. Horner, methinks, since I would say that a lot of the teams have worked under the auspices that flexible body work has been illegal.

In the same way, Mr. Horner, that your car "technically" doesn't have a flexible front wing, so too Ferrari did not "technically" ask Felipe to pull over for Fernando.


I know you have to sit on the fence regarding Ferrari so you can interview them personally in future etc... but reality is they blatantly broke the rules of the sport and were not penalised by a weak willed FIA whose job it is to protect the sport and by extension the industry and all the teams in it including Ferrari. By doing so they demoralized a great driver in Massa and then publicly asked him to lift. Now they are saying he will be on a level playing field next year. He cannot be that silly to believe that. What a joke. One only hopes they win by more than 7 points or all but the most dedicated Ferrari/Alonso fans will consider it a tainted championship. Only the FIA is to blame for soiling their own product. Lets hope by luck the sport is not damaged by this dodgy decision. Red Bull has followed the rules of no team orders (so far) and if they win then it will be a victory for sport over business. If team orders are seen again it will further muddy the waters.


The FIA’s decision was pretty transparent: they DID penalize Ferrari, and they chose to do with a very weak penalty because they acknowledged that the rule was problematic (i.e. there’s little difference between subtle and overt team orders, so it doesn’t make sense to let one go unpunished but punish the other one harshly).


The FIA did penalize Ferrari.


$100,000 fine for Ferrari is like giving you a parking ticket for $2 a day for parking your car in central London outside your office. They will be happy to keep doing it if they can win championships. The only way to enforce the rule is points reverse. If the rule is to stay, it can be enforced by the FIA storing a copy of drivers contracts.


Controversy is as essential to the sport as sportsmanship and fair play. The "mano de dios" (hand of god) of maradona is as famous as his magical goal in that 86 semi-final against England.

If you have such a pure soul impervious to human baseness, then stop watching F1 and any sporting event altogether.


I am not being too pure about it. The problem is that if the sport continues to be tainted by letting Ferrari effectively get away with breaking the stated rules of the game the broad (not hard core) fans may bleed away and then the sponsors may bleed away. Its like hitting the goose that lays the golden egg. For a soccer world cup final , choice is to do a handball to prevent a goal and win world cup- then they get only a fine for the handball of 100K?. Horner has a bit of a point. For the other teams looking ahead for the next two races, they will be thinking "Hmm, if we are in the position to do so, we can fix the race and win the championship and pay a 100K, or follow the rules and lose tens of millions in publicity for our sponsors for not being world champions. Not a hard choice is it.?


Spot on mate. Well said!


Not true about your first line. I'm not sitting on the fence, I've expressed my view


Fair enough,

Just concerned about what the FIA decision will do to influence team orders over the next two races.

Alonso drove a very, very smart race in Korea staying out of trouble.

Looking forward to your report on channel One Australia again and what should be a fascinating weekend.


All the teams should let their drivers do the talking on the track. Shame for Christian that the RB has not been able to turn strong quail performance into championship points. As you point out James, the 7 points gained by Alonso in Germany hardly make up for the 50 points Vettel lost in reliability.

Martin is typically taking more of a back seat in the argument. Most probably they have more tricks up their sleeve for next season. I don’t see the Red Bull carrying over such a large advantage, which will put Horner very much on the back foot if Mark and Sebastian cannot get their cars to the finish.

There could well be more teams fighting it out at the front next year, which will mean points are harder to accumulate. Ferraris strategy to back the stronger driver, earlier in the season will most probably pay off in the long run. Alonso could well drive his way to another 3 titles.


Does seem strange of Horner to bring this up again now. I think all the teams have had their moments (Whitmarsh and the flexible-wing, SD and all of the ferrari team post-Valencia) but the timing of Horner's comments does his integrity and standing no favours at all. Almost seem like they're preparing themselves for having to explain how they let a championship slip despite having the most dominant car in recent memory. I don't know how the year-end evaluation process looks at RBR but I can't imagine it being too comfortable for Horner should one of his boys fail to bring the title home.

James, out of interest, do you think his job might come under pressure should they fail to win one or both championships? F1 seems less like football in that there seem to be fewer candidates around but surely that would represent gross underperformance.



I don't think Vettel agrees with the "what goes around comes around " comment.


No, I don't think he does either.

Without making any comments about any other drivers, I think Vettel ( based on his behaviour in Turkey ) was led to believe that he was the chosen one. Or he believed it all the time without being led. He didn't need to say to his engineer that he needed to pass Webber, he simply moved across on him knowing Webber would get out of his way, no questions asked. This assumption tells a hell of a story.



The issue of Alonso's Bahrain engine being used again in Abu Dhabi is something to do with the sporting regulations wording on engine changes. I've read somewhere that if an engine is replaced under article 34.1 (I think) then it can only be used again during practise sessions for the rest of the season, with the exception of the last race of the championship, where a team is free to use it for qualifying abd the race.

So the real question is whether Ferrari have deliberately kept this engine in their pocket for just this scenario, or whether they've chosen to put the mileage on it during practise sessions throughout the year.

My feeling this week is that Alonso should take the 10 place penalty this weekend, because a blown engine during the race would be the end of his title challenge. Interlagos has always been a track you can overtake on so he could realistically expect to finish in the top 5 or 6 at least, giving himself a fighting chance in the last race. Only the team will know how much life they've got left in their engines however, and it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't have any problems at all in the last 2 races, that car's been bulletprof during the second half of the season.

I'm an Alonso fan, but I also like Hamilton and Button too. Red Bull should have walked off with both championships by now, but the rate at which both Ferrari and McLaren have (almost) caught them has been phenominal! I like Christian Horner, he seems like a decent guy, but I can't help thinking that if a Ron Dennis character was running that team then they wouldn't be in the position they're in. You'll know a lot better than me how accurate that comment is, and I'll admit that he's had some pretty tough PR situations to deal with, along with Helmut Marko saying stuff to the press without engaging his brain first.


Hi James off topic I know, are BBC trialing Brazil GP on H D ? Virgin media are flagging it up on cable network.


There is now a BBC One HD Channel that shows HD content when available and up scaled SD content at other times.

So it will be a up scaled SD feed.



Well I don't think it's being shot in HD, but I'll check.


I have said several times this year, that such tight season brings the best and the worst from teams and drivers. The pressure is immense. My personal opinion is that Alonso is hugely better than Vettel and Webber and will be a far more deserving champion, but he has too made mistakes, as all the others.


Assume Horner will get the 'Bullet' from the Good Doctor Marko should Red Bull fail to win the championship..they could bring in Flav!


i found the alonso engine story in some german website, so many different stories on this, could be an ace up ferrari sleeve?


I think the main destruction for F1 title prestige is the number of errors all five(4 to be realistic) title contenders have made. I would not give a drivers championship title at all this year.

The team order suspicion thing for Alonso is nothing compared to spinning in Australia, making false start in China or going off at Spa. Team orders? Well, we heard really strange things from people of Red Bull too, after Turkey. No real team orders, but preferring Vettel was revealed quite cleraly.

One more thing. Vettel lost more than 50 points with retirements due to technical problems. On both occasions, his rivals gained a race position too, finishing higher than "expected".


Disagree. There have been some mistakes, but it's the same down the years


Me too. You have to take the rough with the smooth. Great championship. Really excellent.

Great blog too. Thanks James.


While I'd rather Webber win the WDC than Alonso, this is simply based on personal bias...I don't like Alonso and will openly admit as much.

BUT, I will also admit that he is one of the best drivers on the F1 grid at the moment and if he wins this championship I suspect it will be by more than 7 points anyway.

I disagree with Christian Horner's decision to bring this up, because it's not as if there haven't been questions over the legality of the RB6 this year - granted they have passed every test thrown at them, but there's no denying their wings DO flex...

Martin Whitmarsh is proving what a class act he is and I think Horner could learn a thing or 2 from his McLaren counterpart.


Mclaren's cars have had flexing wings in the past. And Whitmarsh didn't really keep is mouth shut about Red Bull, did he?


While I largely agree with your views here, I do find it odd that you think Alonso "has fallen foul of some very heavy calls". He certainly was unlucky with the timing of the SC in Valencia, but certainly the call was not meant to disadvantage Alonso in anyway, but rather ensure safety of Mark Webber. In fact, it was Alonso himself who destroyed his race, by letting this incident get to him, losing all focus and consequently losing positions on track due to bad driving.

In Silverstone, he got a fair punishment for an illegal pass that any other driver would have gotten as well, like we've seen over the years. Everyone knows that when you perform an illegal pass, you must forfeit your position back before the next corner in order to avoid punishment. Alonso did not, and hence he was punished as the rules dictate.

I don't see anything that could be regarded as Alonso falling foul of very heavy calls.


Andy, I honestly recommend you to review what you say here with the rules in your hand:

1. SC in Valencia allowed Vettel to pass because of timing. Hamilton braked, let Ferraris after the SC and accelerated to pass SC (no idea of his intentions but that is what he did). SC didn't allow Ferraris to go pass him as it was his must and totally wrecked the race. Then they needed 20 laps to give a penalty to Lewis that meant nothing (I steal 100.000 pounds and get a 100 pounds fine?). I guess you know he received a black flag for the same some years ago...

Alonso lost 18 points there because Hamilton's front wing was damaged and so he would have been passed in the boxes (P2 then)

Not criticising Hamilton but that is what happened in my view.

As for UK race:

- Alonso's overtaking was legal. It was done out of the circuit, being forced out of the circuit by Kubica when Alonso already had the position (yes, the penalty according to the rules is for Kubica)

- In the moment he was forced out he has paired with Kubica and faster than him. Position was his. With one third only of the other car in front of the rear tire you can not move and claim the position if I remember well

- When overtaking was done, Ferrari asked what they should do. There was no answer.

- Reanult also didn't thought giving back the position was necessary.

- After the race Charlie told that he had effectively warned Ferrari. Then Ferrari came with the transcriptions and we could see that when Charlie said it minutes after the overtaking Kubica's car was broken! Charlie, seeing the evidence against him then decided to shut off

- How can you give back the position to a retired car? What's the sense of doing it? It is absurd

- The penalty came during SC period many laps later. This SC was waiting for three laps after the accident. During this period investigation was announced and penalty was at the same time than SC. Incredible

That was a bad joke of a race and James saying they were heavy calls is being very respectful with FIA in my opinion


In Valencia, the only question is was Hamiltons punishment proper, and while I agree with with Alonso that it was not, it does not mean that for some strange reason Alonso fell foul of a heavy call by the race control. I simply do not understand the logic. Alonso was certainly unlucky with the timing of the SC, but at that point, and I hope Alonso's fans could agree with this, it was far more important to ensure Webbers safety than to think how the SC will affect the race. In the end, Alonso himself ruined his race even more by letting this incident get to him, causing him to lose many more places on track simply because he wasn't concentrating and was driving badly.

In Silverstone, it's ridiculous to claim the pass was legal. Kubica and Alonso were fighting for the position, Kubica did not yield (he is racing, after all, you don't just yield a position) and had the race line. Instead of going for the pass from outside the track, which is illegal, Alonso should've backed down at that point and tried a pass later on. Given that he did pass outside the track, he should've realized himself that it was an illegal pass from outside the track and give the position back (claims like "He pushed me there" are just excuses, he simply should've backed down). He did not give the position back voluntarily, and for that he was justly penalized, just like every other driver in the past before him. It would have been a heavy call by the FIA if the had -not- given the penalty.


Please read the rules regarding who is in the race line.

Certainly you can not overtake outside of the track, but you can not push someaone outside of the track! Alonso's move was not voluntary but forced by Kubica. You would have, strictly speaking, 2 illegal movements, one causing the other. Race direction didn't act to clarify the situation and both concerned teams saw clearly that Alonso was not to blame, he didn't took advantage because he already had the position.

Appreciate your arguments but he had the race line, as I said you can not claim the position when a car is paired to you, this is not Ben Hur or something. It is clearly stated in the rules and it is useful to take a look at it because helps to understand many situations, like Webber and Hamilton in Singapore

You can check a good analysis (sorry in Spanish) here:



What Charile said or did not say is irrelevant. That was was a big complaint by McLaren at Spa 2008. At least Hamilton bothered to hand back the advantage to Raikonnen unlike Alonso who did not bother, preferring to make a tactical decision that failed. Alonso has himself or his team to blame. No one else!



There was no disputing that Hamilton went behind the tail of Raikkonen (common practice for fulfilling the requirement of handing back a position at the time) so how much further would he need to fall back in your eyes? An arbitrary amount to enable Raikkonen in a Ferrari to win the race I suspect.

The rules never stipulated what handing back position meant and so we had a situation where FIA invented a rule and retropectively applied this to favour Ferarri! So no excuse for ALonso in a Ferrari not undertanding the rule!


Go take a look at the footage of Spa 2008, he didnt completely give back the place.


Oh dear, here we go again! How much of an advantage did Hamilton gain, and did he hand this advantage back? The only proof that McLaren could offer was that he was travelling 8 km/h slower than Raikkonen when he passes the start/finish line. So much for their super-duper simulation software which enabled them to predict that Hamilton would overtake Glock just before the finish line a few races later.

I will take all of the moaners seriously when they exhibit similar levels of outrage over the treatment of Alonso at Suzuka in 2005.


Great article, James! I really appreciate your unbiased opinion and pragmatic style of writing.

I seriously think Christian Horner needs to get his act together and quit being such a hypocrite. Of course, RBR practiced team orders this year, most notably in Turkey and in the UK.

The only reason he (Horner) is avoiding the issue now and is so keen on "equality", is because it's Mark Webber who's on the verge of becoming champion and not Sebastian Vettel. Remember in Silverstone, CH argued that their reason for giving MW's (new) front wing to SV was because the German was (then) ahead in the drivers standings and therefore "earned" the privilege of being the team's no. 1 priority? Given that Mark is now placed higher bet. the two, why the sudden hesitation in implementing that same policy/logic? Absolute hypocrisy!

In fact, Red Bull's unwillingness to act, in support of Mark Webber, is in itself a team order. The team's refusal to implement that policy they had in Silverstone (to support/prioritize the driver more strongly placed to win the championship) is an act of bias: it impedes Mark and favors Seb. David Coulthard once said that team orders can come in varying forms and Fernando Alonso also once stated that providing 2 equal cars is fine, but offering/providing "support" to a driver (which most of it went to Lewis in '07) is another - more pivotal - subject altogether. That seems to be the reality at Red Bull Racing right now.


Many believe that Alonso could not accept that he was not an automatic No 1 at McLaren in 2007 having been equalled by a rookie driver! Funny that Alonso is happy to accept team orders, suach as at Ferrari when the shoe fits but appears not to like it when the shoe is on the other foot! Hypocracy?


Forget the politics - this is a big boys game and it is only winning that counts, the way you win isn't relevant and neither is the way you lose.

By any means!! - the motto of the really determined.


Well, at least in Brazil we can expect hard punishment - if not from the FIA but from the Brazilian law - for the Team orders.

"Brazilian prosecutor says he'll have Felipe Massa arrested immediately after the race if team orders were given during GP."



Difference is Ferrari did something illegal in the race, which was also confirmed by the stewards, they should have lost those points.

RBR didn't break any rules by the mechanical failures yet lost points.

Anyone who says the championship isn't stained if Ferrari wins, is being as biased as they come.

Because of this weak FIA sentence, I don't know anyone who thinks F1 is a fair 'sport'' anymore. We may not be the vocal, but we are still a majority who feel this season is a joke because of this amongst other reasons.

It seems the only people who still take this championship serious are the die-hard Ferrari, Mclaren and RBR fans who cannot see anything else than the colors of those teams.

None of the contenders deserve the title.

Doing something illegal in the race with 2 cars? All points taken away for both cars (not just the 7 people talk about for some reason) and then suspended for some races too. That would have been the only appropriate and only honest sentence...not just 100k which they laugh at.


I admit it was painful to watch the two Ferraris sandwiched between the pace car in Valencia... but with a little warm milk and honey, I fell asleep and got over it..

You seem to be an objective(?) fan of the sport - what is your take on what Hamilton did in Valencia? He directly pocketed 11 points from Alonso (and possibly cost Alonso 11 points to his other main rivals as well)? In one instance, Hamilton committed the infraction whereas Alonso did nothing wrong. Hamilton could have easily been black flagged, but he wasn't. It's fun to be a fan or a pundit, but we have no say in these things...

Both situations were addressed by the governing body and the books are closed.


was there not a rule that u could take an extra engine without penalty in the last race a few years back. was that done away with or was that moto gp or superbikes im thinking of


James - I think this is Christian Horner's biggest blunder of 2010 - has anyone picked up on this angle yet?

“It would be frustrating (if Alonso won the title) because we’ve obviously worked under the auspices that team orders have been illegal”

So, if they weren't illegal, you would've backed one driver over another?

Obviously the aim of the statement was to have a dig at Ferrari but isn't Christian at the same time undermining everything he has outlined as being integral to the spirit of Red Bull Racing? Has it all been lip service?

I think, with one statement, Christian has managed to blow away the thin veil of equality that he's tried so carefully to wrap around Red Bull in order to protect the team's PR modesty and the delicate driver relationships.

If I were an F1 journo, I'd be giving him a very hard time.

I don't believe he can wriggle out of this either - his choice of words are quite specific: "worked under the auspices", implying they would have "worked" differently.

Maybe it's just a turn of phrase but I'm not so sure.


It also backs him into a corner if he needs to switch drivers here or more likely in Abu Dhabi.


And all of this is why this is a great season.


wow the british press has gone viral it has become hilarious to most african sports lovers like me they sense a nando championship and they dont like it at all and am sure if it was ham in nandos position they would be hailing him as the worlds greatest ohhh i love britsh press comedy.


Haha, Francis, you nailed it. With such a nice style as well.

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