Formula One: out of order

Miles Harrison Roar Rookie

By Miles Harrison, Miles Harrison is a Roar Rookie

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    F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel drives in for a pitstop during practice for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

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    “Isn’t it great to see two teammates in Formula One fighting it out? Now that’s what I want to see!”

    So exclaimed Sky Sports commentator David Croft regarding the two McLarens at the recent Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix.

    The issue of team orders in Formula One has moved to the front of the grid once again, and fans find themselves questioning the integrity of race results.

    How does the sport ensure that the best driver wins the race? At the moment, team orders prevent this from happening.

    This is not a new problem. In the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix, race leader Damon Hill suggested to team boss Eddie Jordan he ‘order’ teammate Ralf Schumacher not to challenge him for the lead, despite being three seconds a lap faster.

    After a lengthy silence, Schumacher complied with these ‘team orders’ and the faster car finished a step shy of the podium’s pinnacle.

    When a similar, and now infamous, team order issued in the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix resulted in race leader Rubens Barichello slowing down to allow Michael Schumacher to pass on the finish line, the FIA acted by banning team orders.

    Such farcical endings to world class events are unacceptable. Finishes like this make the sport look corrupt, and shallow.

    The man who drives his car fastest should win the race. Not the most conservative driver whose teammate is in the best position to give him a piggyback.

    Questions about distorted results again raised their heads in 2010 when Ferrari teammates Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were ordered to switch places for the lead.

    Despite Ferrari paying a $100,000 fine for ‘bringing the sport into disrepute’, the ban on team orders was lifted at the season’s end because it was too hard to enforce.

    This creates the present situation, where teams can decide the race result before its conclusion. Racing becomes boring, predictable, anti-climactic, and in the worst case, fraudulent.

    The result is what the teams want, rather than a true reflection of which driver was fastest.

    That is why Formula One needs to re-impose the ban on team orders.

    Although the glamorous world of Formula One provides big-name drivers, multimillion-dollar venues and superstar celebrities, it is the spectators, paying hundreds of dollars, who are being robbed by team orders.

    They are denied a tantalising dash to the finish by the fastest cars in the world. Why? This preserves the cars and a few championship points, but comes at the expense of Formula One’s integrity.

    Fortunately, some drivers are now questioning their team orders in an attempt to re-establish the sport’s integrity.

    Triple world champion Sebastian Vettel is not only a great driver, but challenges Formula One itself.

    Critics say Vettel was acting purely in his own interests when he controversially ignored the ‘Multi 21’ order at this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix to overtake his teammate Mark Webber against team orders.

    But he wasn’t. He was acting in the spectators’ best interests, to preserve the integrity of Formula One.

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • April 24th 2013 @ 8:55am
      Frankie Hughes said | April 24th 2013 @ 8:55am | ! Report

      Best way to remove team orders is to remove the team radio.

      Drivers can look at their pit board once a lap.

      • April 24th 2013 @ 12:14pm
        Joel said | April 24th 2013 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

        Completely agree. A team should work out a race strategy before hand based on all possible variables a race may throw at them. They shouldn’t be able to get in a drivers ear to warn them about oncoming weather or the speed of other drivers and particuarly not for team orders. The pit board is sufficient.

    • Roar Guru

      April 24th 2013 @ 10:06am
      Mat Coch said | April 24th 2013 @ 10:06am | ! Report

      Team orders are and always have been (apart from a few years in the middle there) part of the sport.

      Fangio benefited from them, Alan Jones had them written in to his contract as did Mario Andretti.

      The key factor here, and it’s something Christian Horner said in Malaysia, is that the ambitions of the driver are not always in line with those of the team. The team wants maximum points as it helps them in the constructors championship (which helps their budget two years next). The driver wants to win.

      Seb doesn’t give a damn about the spectators, he wants to win. To dress it up any other way is to draw a long bow.

      Ultimately Formula One is a team sport. Team orders have a place and a very legitimate reason for being employed. So long as it’s not done in the manner of Austria 2002 it’s a non-issue.

    • April 24th 2013 @ 10:24am
      Dan Ced said | April 24th 2013 @ 10:24am | ! Report

      You have to remember that the team engineered the win in part for Vettel.

      They gave him the undercut at the pit stop which ended up evaporating Webber’s 4 second lead as he had older tyres than Vettel and was supposed to pit before him.

      Without the teams help he would not have been near Webber. It’s a farce, and Vettel and certain team personel are dirty cheating scoundrels.

      This is no conspiracy theory it is completely obvious and transparent favouritism.

      • Roar Guru

        April 24th 2013 @ 1:35pm
        Mat Coch said | April 24th 2013 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

        Red Bull had a 1-2 in the bag. From its perspective it was not going to reduce its chances to favour one driver.

        The Webber vs Vettel stuff is absolute garbage. The team puts two equal cars out and is at pains to do it after some internal carrying on in the last couple of years – some of which has been very childish (and did not have a German accent).

        If there is a development part Vettel gets it. That makes sense. Vettel is a 3 times champion of the world so of course the team will looking to maximise its chances of a return.

        To suggest anything untoward at Red Bull would simply be incorrect. There is too much money at stake – tens of millions of dollars – for any team to mess about trying to rig results for one driver over another.

        Formula One is worth about $1.5billion per annum. Of that the teams get around 60%, so about $900million.

        $450million of that is awarded in equal measure to teams which have finished in the top 10 for two years out of three.

        The other $450million is divided by 44 and then paid to the teams based on their finishing order while another $10m is paid to any teams outside the top 10.

        Therefore even dropping a single position in the championship standings can cost millions. Ask yourself; is favouring Vettel over Webber worth say $50million a year?

      • April 24th 2013 @ 3:26pm
        Warren McIntosh said | April 24th 2013 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

        When I hold the Cheque book, I make the rules…… and people who don’t like should make sure the wood in the whole doesn’t hit them in the arse on the way out.

        This is a simple truth, Formula one is a commercial business, run by a guy who sees it a a way to make millions a year in Sponsorships, advertising and tv rights. this is a contrived and cut throat spot…….. exactly how REAL F1 fans like it!!!!!!

        as Mat states, “Team orders are part of the sport”, the results are created by the team, for the team, the drivers form part of that team. if i had been in Horners shoes I would have shown Webber a payslip, taken the time to ensure he understood where his money came from….. and then told him to “pull his head in!”

        To say that team order are dishonest show a real lack of understanding of F1

        if you want “warm and Fuzzy” take up knitting!!


    • April 24th 2013 @ 5:52pm
      nickoldschool said | April 24th 2013 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

      The only thing you can do is ban ‘live’ team orders. If this happens, team managers will set the rules before the race with their pilots: do not overtake X if you are behind him in the last 10 rounds or so etching like that. Sure a pilot can disobey but there are not that many pilots who have the credentials to disobey and be certain they will still be in F 1 the following year.

      There are always been a n1 and n2 pilot in F1, with very few exceptions, and unfortunately I don’t see that changing.

    • April 25th 2013 @ 6:11am
      JtAF said | April 25th 2013 @ 6:11am | ! Report

      Those who dislike team orders misunderstand the sport. Formula 1 is NOT a competition to determine who is the fastest driver, just as football is not a competition to see which player can score the most goals. It is a TEAM sport. F1 is about building the fastest cars, and hiring the best drivers is a consequence of trying to get the cars around the track as quickly as possible. It is, at it’s very heart, a team sport.
      Say a world class footballer takes matters into his own hands (feet?), trying to increase his own goal count, and as a result costs his club a championship. Would there be any backlash? Absolutely! The team comes before the individual. In F1 the drivers championship doesn’t even pay any prize money. It’s only the constructors championship that matters. The driver’s is nice prize to place on a trophy shelf, but it doesn’t matter any more than a “golden boot” award in a football tourney.
      Vettel and Webber have crashed into each other before in very similar circumstances, which is a disaster for the team. Red Bull was trying to prevent that from happening again, and while disobeying Vettel nearly took himself and Webber out AGAIN.
      Personally, I could not have cared less about the drivers for the first ten years or so that I was an F1 fan. The only interest I had in them was who could help my favorite constructor score points. Currently there is only one driver I care about, and when he retires I will likely go back to not caring again. Drivers come and go, but Ferrari is forever!

      Summary: team orders are just as critical to Formula 1 as a coach’s orders are to any other sport. May they never be banned again!

      • April 25th 2013 @ 12:56pm
        Warren McIntosh said | April 25th 2013 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

        Here Here

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