Some thoughts before hitting the road

I am off back to Paris by road today and I thought, given the response to what happened at Hockenheim on Sunday, that it would be a good idea to take a step back from the nitty-gritty paint a view of the event with a rather broader brush. I have no doubt that there will be much analysis elsewhere of the technical issues involved. I could write about the duel of fastest laps between the Ferrari drivers in the final laps of the race, as each apparently tried to prove a point. Prior to the change of position on lap 49 Felipe Massa’s best lap was a 1m17.166s. Fernando Alonso’s was a 1m17.012s. The difference was not big enough to allow Alonso to overtake. He could not do it. After the changeover Alonso took his best lap time down to 1m16.770s on lap 51. Massa was clearly dispirited and dropped back towards Vettel, although it was clear that he had the pace to hold off Sebastian if that was what was required. Then towards the end of the race, Felipe seemed to revive and attack and the two Ferrari drivers traded fastest laps. On lap 65 Massa set a 1m16.182s, just slower than Alonso’s 1m16.103s. Alonso could manage only a 1m16.505s on the same lap. On lap 66 Alonso took his best down to 1m15.880s, Massa recorded a 1m16.097s. Vettel ended up trumping the pair of them on the very last lap, but he was clearly not really trying that hard in the final part of the race and set the fastest lap to amuse himself. Prior to that it seemed that he had accepted that track position meant that there was no point in pushing. If one cannot overtake there is not much point in taking unnecessary risks. He took the points. That was all the car was going to achieve. The numbers prove that Alonso was not really quicker than Massa, although that analysis may be skewed by the fact that the leader does not have to scorch away if it is not essential. The art is to win the race at the slowest possible pace, so as not to stress the car more than is absolutely necessary. The fact that Alonso made a lot of noise on the radio about how quick he was is neither here nor there. If he could overtake Massa, he should have done it. Clearly he could not. And when he was allowed to overtake he did not prove conclusively that he had the quicker car.

Long after the race was done and the penalty announced I sat down with the Ferrari press officer Luca Colajanni and we talked the whole thing through, without any emotion involved. From that it became clear that the problem is simply one of the way one looks at the sport. Sebastian Vettel was not a threat to the Ferrari 1-2. He might have been if the car had suddenly improved, but one should not be making such decisions based on ifs and buts. The evidence was that the Ferraris had Vettel under control and Sebastian’s pace suggests that he knew that.

The rancour between Ferrari and the fans is about a clash of philosophies. For the average fan what is important is not just that they watch a straight fight between two competitors, but that the sport itself is portrayed in a good light. Fans are passionate about the sport, about its traditions and they want to be able to say that they are proud of it when challenged by some ping-pong freak or a follower of synchronised swimming. The media may or may not be the representatives of the fans (the fans have no representation without the media) but what motivated the attacks on Alonso after the race was a mixture of two things: one was that many of the sport’s writers are passionate fans; the second was that for the professional journalists this represented a good story. Alonso’s responses to the questions indicated that he feels that all the F1 press are simply hacks looking for a front page lead. He needs to be educated to fully understand why it is that he is not as popular as perhaps he should be given the talents he has.

No real fan can be proud of a sport that allows things like the Ferrari switch at Hockenheim. It compounded the widely-held belief that F1 is a business rather than a sport.

Ferrari believes in certain sporting ideals, but the view is that F1 is a team sport and that the individual must therefore be subjugated for the good of the cause. The cause is to sell more Ferrari road cars, generate better profits for the company and maintain the F1 marketing “tool” by keeping the sponsors happy. One must therefore ask the question: Did Ferrari achieve these goals in Hockenheim? The team management obviously felt that giving Alonso more points than Massa was the right thing to do. One can see that argument. Massa started the race with 67 points and Alonso had 98. A victory for Massa and a failure to score by Alonso would have put the two very close in the championship. There are still eight of the 19 races remaining and so the World Championship remains wide open. Massa took the lead at the start after Vettel aggressively shoved Alonso towards the pitwall. This was the fault of neither driver. Things happen in races and the drivers have to accept them. That’s racing!

The Ferrari argument is that if the team is to have any chance of winning the title this year it is best not to have the drivers splitting the available points between them. Colajanni argued that Massa will be paid back for what he did when – and if – the circumstances allow it. Ferrari’s attitude is really just an attempt to bring order to the chaos of life and control as many elements as possible. But what happens, say, if Alonso slips on a banana skin and breaks his leg? Massa will be less able to offer a challenge because he has been disadvantaged with the Hockenheim manoeuvre. I think it is fair to say that by asking Massa to do what is best for the team, Ferrari is putting all of its eggs in one basket. It may work out and Fernando may sweep to a third title. The theory goes that people will then buy Ferrari road cars and other paraphernalia as a result of his triumph.


I would argue (and did) that what drives sports fans to spend their money on luxuries such as team memorabilia and very fast cars is not the result, but rather the way results are achieved. They will spend more if they feel an engagement with the team. If it makes them feel good.

There are two ways of winning: one can win in a functional sense and one can win in style. This is why I believe Massa is more popular than Alonso, because while Fernando has had all manner of scrapes and question marks during his F1 career, the drive to win has always been a functional one. Winning was the goal and the route taken to get there was not important to him. Massa, on the other hand, has shown that one can be a champion without actually being the World Champion. He showed that in Brazil in 2008. The hard-bitten F1 folks would argue that losing with grace is still losing, but they miss the point that one can win in defeat and lose in victory. What Massa did on Sunday is going to hurt his image in Brazil a great deal, just as Rubens Barrichello was badly damaged by helping Ferrari (and by extension Michael Schumacher) in the old days. Felipe made a huge sacrifice on Sunday and one wonders whether it really will be repaid.

On the other side of the coin, Ferrari blew a great opportunity on Sunday. It would have been the perfect human interest story to have Massa win a race a year to the day after he was nearly killed in Hungary. It would have been a fairytale, and people like fairytales. They like happy endings. This is why film makers for generations have used them. They sell. They make people feel warm and wonderful.

Ferrari’s choice to go down the pragmatic route rather than indulge in a little romance is a sign that the firm is run by people who do what is best for the company, put who at the same time put Ferrari before the sport as a whole. Jean Todt was like that when he was running things at Maranello, but he now has a new job and he has a different attitude. His job now is to protect the sport and I feel that Ferrari’s punishment is not over yet. If one is given a job, one does the best one possibly can in that role. Alonso said that himself on Sunday. So Ferrari should expect Todt to do his FIA job as it should be done.

I have long believed that several of the other top teams have a better understanding than Ferrari of why it is important to always put the sport first. Pull back a little more and one might conclude that the problem is that sporting values and money are impossible bedmates. There is not much that can be done about that. They need one another and so are stuck in a marriage that is not always plain sailing.

The same problem is being seen everywhere in F1. Some believe that F1 is there in order to generate the maximum profits for them. This works as long as they get away with it, but it does not work for the sport. If ever one needed evidence of this one had only to go to Hockenheim. There are six German drivers in F1 today. Vettel is battling for the World Championship, admittedly Michael Schumacher is a shadow of his former self, but one would expect the grandstands to be full all the time. The official crowd figures were little short of disastrous. Two years ago the three-day crowd figure was 240,000, with 115,000 fans present on race day. This year the three-day total was 165,000, with race day boasting just 65,000. And this with six Germans on the grid. The problem is that the tickets are simply too expensive because the businessmen are squeezing the sport too much…

Business and sport at odds as ever…

220 thoughts on “Some thoughts before hitting the road

  1. very good analysis.
    Spectators tend to forget in the heat of the battle that they are watching a duel between huge corporations, not drivers.

    We the spectators want a Drivers championship, the people that pay for the teams want a Corporation championship.

    Unpalatable but thats the world we live in.

    I do think the WMSC should end the hypocracy of no team orders, it makes no sense and just creates the sort of contorversy we have been watching for the past 3 races

  2. Joe, you have said it all. The lying, devoiusness and all-round mendacity are what upsets fans. The blufff Smedley, lying thru’ gritted teeth, Massa, smiling ‘cos he knows no-one believes his “it was my decision”, the Ferrari press boss spinning and sliding, from denial to arrogant “what are you asking me?”. It is nothing to with sport, and we hate it the expectation that we fans will keep swallowing this excrement.

  3. Unlike most people I think yesterdays move was the correct thing for Ferrari to do. They as a team and company want to win not only the constructors title but also the drivers title. As Schumacher and Coulthard both agreed, this needed to happen for those reasons. Yes I would have preferred to see Massa win, but he drives for an F1 team of two drivers. The only way to cut all this out is to have one driver per team.

    Lets be honest here, Red Bull have in the past helped Vettel out more than Webber (and rightly so given Sebs performances are superior and he’d be leading the championship if his car hadn’t caused issues when he was twice leading and once in third place). McLaren, the new ‘we always do whats fair’ team since Whitmarsh took them on a PR offensive, so are they straight down the line? Of course not, look at Hockenhiem two years ago, Hamilton on a charge at the end of the race his then team mate Kovalinen pulls over at the same hairpin as the Massa/Alonso incident to let him past, why? Because it was obvious that Hamilton got superior results and was their Championship challenger, and IIRC he won it that year by 1 point from a certain Felippe Massa. Both Whitmarsh and Horner have no room to talk.

    So lets stop pretending only Ferrari do this, because it’s obvious that it happens at other teams on a fairly regular basis. The difference is the Ferrari move was obvious, that is what has cost them, if they’d made it look like a little scrap (as Schumacher suggested) they’d have got away with it.

  4. GREAT SUMMATION JOE, RIGHT ON! The only thing I might add is: Dock Alonzo 30 seconds, That would give everyone something to think about!!

  5. I understand the usage of the word “team”, but I don’t believe that F1 is a “team sport”. My reasoning is that only individual results count. A team does not take the field, the individuals take the field. The championship is awarded to an individual.

    I understand that the “XYZ Team” enters the individuals. However, their results are judged individually, and they are in competition with each other.

    The constructors championship is simply a sum of the individual’s scores, and is awarded to the constructor, not the drivers.

    Soccer is a team sport, hockey is a team sport. The athletes on one team do not compete against each other.

    In the Tour De France, a “Team” enters a group of individuals, who will work together to control the race maximise the chances of one athlete winning. The athlete is chosen. He wins, and his name is in the history books – not his team-mates. Not “team sport” but a “Team”.

    If F1 is to go down that path, then the Team should have the B driver testing parts during practice, qualifying and the races, gathering data rather than racing. That would optimise the chances for the A driver.

    I wonder what Ferrari would do if they could enter more cars, as they wish to. Imagine Alonso coming 3rd or 4th, and all the Ferrari cars moving aside.

  6. I used to be a big Alonso fan, thought he was brilliant at Renault in 2005 and 2006, even 2007. But since going back to Renault in 2008 and 2009, hes looked like a shadow of himself in earlier years, he looks unhappy and comes across on TV as extreemly arrogant and rude.
    Its not a good look at all… Where did Alonso the happy chappy go?
    As for Massa being a number 2.. well thats life, deal with it Felipe… if they were closer on the points board im sure Ferrari would have let them sort it out themselves, but Ferrari need to play the team game and back their best chance for the WDC.

  7. Joe, I’m interested in your comment: “I would argue (and did) that what drives sports fans to spend their money on luxuries such as team memorabilia and very fast cars is not the result, but rather the way results are achieved.”

    I would love to believe that you’re right. I think you are, partly, because that’s how I am motivated (in that I’ve been a big fan of Williams and, latterly, Brawn GP because of their more ‘gentlemanly’ conduct).

    But I’m not sure that this holds true around the world. It’s been very interesting to read the transcripts of press conferences in the wake of this and see how much stronger and more vitriolic the feeling was from the UK journalists (especially the red-tops) than the rest of the world. I think we’ve worked ourselves up into such a fever about this, stemming mainly from Schumacher v Hill at Benneton and Williams, through Schumacher’s time at Ferrari and it’s now become an issue of, almost, pride to the UK fans and journalists to take such a strong line.

    My point is not that it wasn’t wrong, or that it shouldn’t have been done differently, just that I think Ferrari might have a bigger market in mind than UK tabloid journalists – a market to whom results ARE the be-all and end-all. The Spanish market, maybe? Italy? The Far East?

    Take a look at the sporting papers in Italy and Spain today. Although my Spanish and Italian skills are about on a par with my Martian, Google Translate does well enough to tell me that the Italians are pleased that Ferrari won a race for the first time in 4 months, and pleased that Alonso was driving it. They feel sorry for Massa, but there’s a sense of ‘that’s his job’. There also seems to be a sense of disbelief at the fine – nothing was done against the letter of the law, so what’s the problem.
    In Spain it’s more interesting. They’re delighted with the Alonso win, but a little disappointed that it came in such a way. But more interesting is the report in Marca on the reaction of the English press, and there’s more than a hint of ‘you wouldn’t be saying this if Lewis had done the same thing’…

    Whether that’s true or not is another story. I just think that there might be another perspective depending on which country you’re writing in.

  8. Hi Joe,

    Why did Massa have to oblige?
    Why couldn’t he behave like Lewis at McLaren in 2007?
    Sure they [McLaren] lost out by 1 point in the end but Hamilton got his own the following year didn’t he?

    Do the Massas, Coulthards and Barrichellos believe in themselves at all, one wonders?

    nice article btw,


  9. Good analysis. The thing that struck me was that the post-Schumacher era Ferrari, in 2007-2009, really won my respect by letting Raikkonen and Massa race each other. In both 2007 and 2008 they *didn’t* put all their eggs in one basket. But yesterday showed a switch in attitutude to the “bad old days” from Ferrari, that’s what got my gander up.

    Your colleague Andrew Benson, in his BBC column, pointed out that Massa let Raikkonen through at Brazil 2007, and claims there was no fuss then. Which is a daft point cause he’s comparing apples with oranges; when that happened, Massa was mathmatically out of the title hunt and he HAD to let Raikkonen through for Raikkonen to win the championship. The context yesterday was very different, and to us F1 fans the subject of team orders is COMPLETELY dependent on the context, as to WHY the team orders happen.

    Put simply, Ferrari telling Massa to let Kimi through at Brazil in 2007 was a sensible, reasonable thing to do, and the fans understood why and accepted it. Which is quite different to what happened yesterday.

    The other thing that really saddens me was that I thought Ferrari had learned to respect Massa as an equal no 1, after Massa proved himself so well against Raikkonen. But yesterday showed that they quite frankly don’t think of him that way any more. Which is a huge shame, Massa deserves better.

    What I won’t do though is attack Alonso here, which other fans might. I think both drivers were victims here, in different ways; the team should be punished by the WMSC – e.g. docking of constructors points (but not drivers points). IMHO.

  10. Some very good thoughts Joe.

    I am unsure what to think about all of this. I suppose I can take the easy route and say that I think all team orders are bad, full stop.

    I have been a fan for just over twenty years and it never ceases to amaze me how many times something like this happens in the sport … yet we all seemingly accept and endorse this behaviour. In my case I feel like a mug because I am paying to go to Spa – just the cost of GA tickets alone is so expensive that I could cover all of my costs for a week at Le Mans instead.

    Yet at the same time we always seem to forgive and forget. It’s an odd relationship between F1 and it’s fans indeed.

  11. Excellent opinion piece Joe. Particularly the potential issue if Alonso pulls out through (banana skin) injury!

    What struck me was how hollow the victory for Alonso was. He looked extremely sheepish getting out of his car at the race end. If I were Alonso I would have much preferred to have won legitimately so that I could get genuine congratulations from my team mates. He appeared to be at a loss to find anyone to share his victory with and that really has to be one main rewards of winning a race a driver looks forward to. I’m sure he will not look back on yesterday with fondness.

    He really is making a rod for his own back with his attitude. EJ seemed to suggest that it was Alonso who forced Farrari’s hand and given his consistent spoilt child behaviour this is not without precedence. He’s become the Dick Dastardly of Formula 1.

  12. “One should not be making such decisions based on ifs and buts”
    “But what happens, say, if Alonso slips on a banana skin and breaks his leg?”

  13. A lovely piece Joe – and you’re the only person I’ve read that has picked up on the point that made me angry in this whole farce…

    I’m angry for the paying public.

    I suppose that for a lot of the people procrastinating on TV about what happened this weekend, the one thing they’re not bothered about is how they wasted their hard earned money watching a synchronised processional race.

    Perhaps if they’d spent a fortune camping in a local farmer’s field, had to get up at six every morning to find the best spot on one of the two mountains of dirt that their ticket states is a ‘viewing area’ whilst having to bring their own chairs as they cannot afford a real seat (don’t even get me started on food prices!!), they just may view the public’s perception of this sport differently.

    Surely it’s no wonder that the numbers are down. The average fan will have paid a fortune, got soaking wet through, seen hardly anything because they can only afford to sit on the floor and have seend an F1 cars in the distance through three layers of safety fencing.

    And then you’re denied a fight between the two people in the best cars whilst the Ferrari team bosses and drivers talk to the media like a parent trying to explain to their child that ‘Fluffy the Bunny’ hasn’t really be ran over as they’d just seen as Dad reversed out of the driveway because ‘Fluffy’ was now in Bunny Heaven with all his friends!

    Maybe they need to have a look at the WWE (Formally the World Wrestling Federation) – a business which exists to purely make money. They’re #1 priority is to make the paying fan happy.

    I truely believe that F1 represents appauling value for money for the paying fan. Maybe Ferrari Team Management should try the ‘fan’ experience one year – paid out of their own pocket, in the public car parks, bringing their own seat, with no access to the paddock or pitwall, stuck miles away from anything behind (thankfully) safety fencing with a PA system that doesn’t work and ‘Big TV screens’ that apparantly the drivers can see but not the public! I won’t even mention the toilets or food that would have Jamie Oliver ranting! Then to add insult to injury, they watch a procession of cars perfectly synchronised to ‘win on paper’.

    I know I’ll never buy an F1 ticket again. I’ll stick to supporting smaller formulae where the racing may not be better, the facilities may not be better, the viewing may not be better and the food will certainly not be better – but at least I’ll have only paid £30 and I’ll come away happy and wanting to come back next year.

    Surely that is the important thing!

  14. Of course Alonso couldn’t get near to Massa, no car with similar performance (~ 1second) can. As soon as Alonso had clear air he was immeadiately half a second faster.

    Massa in the dirty air couldn’t even match ALonso’s pace.

    BUt this is not a debate about pace. It’s a debate about the world championship. Massa has no hope of winning it. ALonso does (and even then it’s a long shot).

    Ferrari did the right thing for the world championship. Any bleeting to the contrary is frankly ridiculous in the context of a team sport. What happened Sunday was no worse than what has happened at other races where drivers are instructed to ‘hold station’.

    Think monaco 2007 for example.

  15. You’re dead right about the cost of attending the German Grand Prix Joe. We looked at it for a trip this year and a decent grandstand seat was far too much money for a day at the races.

  16. Good Analysis.
    How this compare against German GP 2008? MClaren was not fined for doing exactly the same. It sounds to me like double standards!

    The rule between team meats is just unworkable, it happens all the time. We have to get over it, without the money there is no F1. Money is coming first and the sport second.

  17. Nice analysis, calm and collected after the hysterics of last evening.

    I’m glad that Felipe and his engineer made it obvious what they were doing, rather than trying to disguise it with a ‘mistake’, as that would have been worse than the Singapore event. I just don’t like Fernando, just as I never liked Michael. I wonder why? To do with sportsmanship I guess.

  18. How could the WMSC end the hypocrisy, other than by doing what I (and a number of others who seem to be forgotten) believe should be done and advising the removal of the ‘no team orders’ rule? Are people’s memories really that short?

  19. What I find despicable is the fact that because Alonso is not the media-pleasing fresh-faced poster boy that Vettel, Button or everyone’s favourite ‘sportsman’ Lewis Hamilton, then all of the F1 experts (Save Andrew Benson and James Allen) will find any opportunity to lay inot him.

    What I cannot fathom is whether these people and most of the writers on these sites really expect ferrari to throw away the wdc just for a sentimental Massa victory when he’s been nowhere all season and probably would have spun out under the pressure from Alonso if he hadn’t already backed him into Vettel.

    Furthermore, Alonso has had a couple of very unfortunate races previously – if Hamilton had done this and please don’t even try to suggests that he wouldn’t, no one would be writing such nauseous self-righteous comments.

    Alonso is the most gifted and ruthless driver of his generation. Just as Senna was.

  20. Excellent Joe, excellent.

    On the Ferrari brand, I think their brand is one of the few in the world truly magical in the evocations it summons and the kudos and high-regard its held. I remember at her first GP my wife, who is avidly anti-Ferrari (more anti Schumacher really!) saying how seeing the Ferrari come out the pit lane gave her even more goose-bumps than any other team. It brings with history and ambition.

    However, regardless of the position of team orders in the history of the sport, the reaction of yesterday shows that Ferrari only dirty such a golden brand with these actions. It says to those at home, ‘all that glory, all that history, all those goose-bumps – they are bought and paid for with dirty tactics’.

    I’m sure some would argue this point with me, but I think its true for a lot of people.

  21. Man, you are blowing this out of proportion. Granted it looks ugly, but Massa should be blamed for it. As he made it very obvious that he slowed down to make Alonso pass. A true team player (eg: late F1 driver Francois Cevert) would have let his team mate pass with a correct fight knowing that his chances for the championship are next to nil (Hamilton had more than double Massa’s point).
    F1 is a team work, and true fans should expect teammates not only to swap positions but also to delay opponents as in any competition you have someone playing offense and another playing defense, except that such positions should be decided after a drivers chance to win the championship becomes unlikely as in Massa’s situation.
    (Michael Jprdan’s team mates wouldn’t put up the same face as Massa did during the press conference do they?)
    Alonso on the other hand, and despite the harsh penalties the stewards have given him (as opposed to Hamilton), for example is still in contention.
    So enough character bashing as you know everyone in Domenicalli’s position would have made the same call including you Joe.


  22. “Ferrari press officer Luca Colajanni”

    Does anyone from the press take this guy seriously? To me he appears to take the spin far too far, such that when you strip that out you are left with nothing at all.

    Id liken his credibility to that of ‘Comical Ali’ of Iraqi PR fame.

  23. Thanks for the read Joe, you’ve hit the nail on the head again.

    The point that I’d just like to make here, that continues to amaze me about this whole situation, is total contempt for the general public and media by Ferrari since the ‘overtake’.

    Hours later, for them to still think that most people believe their account that Massa made a genuine mistake and Alonso capitalised is total nonsense. We all know what happened, and to suggest otherwise just serves to make a group of highly intelligent, talented people look like a idiots.

    I realise they’re towing the party line, but as Eddie Jordan stated at length on the BBC yesterday, the rules are there for everyone and Ferrari should know this better than most as they were the team that forced the introduction of the team orders rule in 2002 in the first place. We all know team orders occur, but to do it so blatantly is what leaves a nasty taste. Have Massa run wide into turn one or something, at least try to make it look convincing!

    Your point that the ultimate aim of Ferrari is to use F1 is marketing tool to sell road cars and merchandise is very important. As someone who has worked in motorsport, I know how many wealthy guests attend each and every weekend, many with minimal to a passing knowledge of the sport, whom are invited by the teams with the precise aim of encouraging them to invest their money in the sport to maintain it and ultimately Ferrari. These are the precise people Ferrari want to target, whose views may now be coloured by what they saw yesterday.

    Luca Colajanni spoke that they did the best result for the team, which is fair enough as they’re all in it for themselves, I get that. But without the goodwill of the fans, sponsors, guests, and TV audience, there is no F1. Ferrari need to realise that winning is one thing, but if you don’t do it cleanly, that gets remembered forever… Diego Maradona, the Spanish Paralympic basketball team, Tom Williams from Harlequins rugby club, and closer to home, Renault in Singapore 2008.

  24. Joe: How true…And one could also argue that Massa has style and grace, while SOME other drivers are lacking in that department. Personally, I prefer the ones who have it, whether they win or not….
    Don Davis

  25. Two years ago the F1 tickets were just as expensive at Hockenheim (I was even there for that race). So while you’re completely right that the tickets are too expensive, that doesn’t fully explain why the turnout was lower this year despite the increase in German drivers.

  26. Oh, and an interesting point on Planet F1, can you imagine the reaction if the radio transmission ‘Mark, Sebastien is faster than you, can you confirm you understand that message’ had been given to Webber in Turkey?

  27. I feel like you put into words so many of the intangible elements of this result which really bothered me. You hit so many nails right on the head.

    I’d also like to draw a comparison to the point you were making about the lack of attendance at Hockenhiem. I spent my Sunday here in Northern California driving down to Monterey to take in the MotoGP race at Laguna Seca. Prior to today, my only other international motorsporting event I saw was the ’05 Canadian GP.

    Granted, there are vast differences between the circuits I’m talking about, however; the MotoGP ticket for general admission was $60 for the whole weekend whereas a Canadian GP gen admission ticket was around $120. Further compounding that issue was the fact that the GA areas in Montreal are, quite frankly, really poor. We scrounged for a spot and were able to see the cars for a whopping 2 seconds per lap.

    In Laguna Seca I climbed the big hill up by the carousel and from there I could see about 75% of the track. It was an unbelievably vantage point from which to take in a race. I could have got grandstand seats for about the same price as a GA ticket from Canada, whereas the “cheapest” grandstand seat in Canada this year was well over $300.

    I love F1 an easy order of magnitude more than MotoGP. MotoGP is thrilling, but it doesn’t move me like F1 does. But I didn’t go to Canada and I did to Laguna (I lived on the east coast of the US when Canada happened…so I was closer).

    That’s my (longwinded) anecdote. F1 is losing (lost?) its way when it comes to providing a reasonable value to the fans. That just makes Ferrari’s misstep all the more egregious. If I dropped several hundred $ or Euros on tickets for a GP, and I saw a sham, I’d be livid. Hell, I was pretty disappointed today at Laguna when Pedrosa fell and I knew that it was going to be a Lorenzo walk from there on.

  28. That post sums up my thoughts pretty well Joe.

    I’ve been a fan of F1 since the late seventies and it’s only in the last few years that I’ve been able to afford to go to see races live. IF the WMSC doesn’t stomp on the rule breakers hard then they have no choice but to change the rule in question.

    If neither of those things happen I think it will be a long time before I part with money for F1 again. Even now I’m looking at Ferrari’s list of sponsors and have made the decision not to buy their products again. If they want to support this kind of corporate behaviour then they can pay the corporate price. Any of them that drop ferrari in the next week will save their integrity in my eyes.

    And just in case anyone thinks I’m a Ferrari hater, I’m not, I supported Ferrari’s stance in Austria in 2002 because it was within the rules at that time. They have always pushed the limits of the rule book but I never believed them to be cheats until this weekend.

    What sickens me most is the tarnish they have put on the reputation of all their drivers (some of the all time greats) as a result of their actions yesterday. Shame on you Ferrari, what would Enzo think of your actions?

  29. Ferrari snatched pr and promotional defeat from the jaws of a huge possible victory on Sunday ,

    Ferrari have learned nothing from 2002.

    Alonso has diminished himself too. The “crash gate’ lies added to this performance drags Alonsos’ career down below what promise his talent had heralded. Massa is a real champion who has not yet won the world championship due to “Crashgate” in 2008.
    Alonso has proven he is not a “real champion”. Real champions want to be challenged to win. They savoir the excellence in their performance more then the victory itself. They never accept victory from charity.

    Massa gave him a bath at the start, and Alonso could not beat him on the track so asked the team to force Massa to slow down. Spanish fans must be embarrassed for Alonso who it seems cannot win using his own skills on Sunday and at the Singapore Grand Prix in 2008.

    The FIA have to enforce their rules or the ‘sport’ will diminish to a joke, too many dodgy decisions , this may be the straw that breaks the camels back of F1s credibility.

  30. Stepping back from the knee jerk reactions is the only way to see the issues for what they are – Joe you understand this very well…

    The classic clash of sport and the money needed to fund it, the reason all serious sport is now ‘professional’ even track and field athletes are paid ‘appearance fees’…

    So I guess we love the romance of the lone sportsman racing for glory but at least we are not in the old days when guys would hand over their cars if the ‘favored one’ had his break down…

    Lets end the hypocrisy at least, and then we can decide it this is a sport of a business and vote in the only way we can by accepting it or withdrawing our (financial) support…

    Thanks for a great blog…

  31. Wow. Great article Joe.

    Perhaps you might want to put yourself forward for FIA presidency when Mr. T’s term is up…?

  32. Thanks Joe. You’ve captured this fan’s sentiment far more diplomatically than I ever could. After Alonso’s self serving behavior at Mclaren, I’ll never respect him. The class and style Mr. Massa showed after the last race in 2008 when he lost the championship by a point is something I’ll always admire him for. To see his own team take this win away from him is just wrong on every level. Shame, shame on you Ferrari. At best this was a hollow victory for Alonso and a pyrrhic one for Maranello. A victory by Massa could have been remembered with pride for many years, but instead it it will be quickly forgotten as all tainted accomplishments are.

  33. Joe,

    “The problem is that the tickets are simply too expensive because the businessmen are squeezing the sport too much…

    Business and sport at odds as ever…”

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!! PLEASE, get this out to all your journalist comrades, that to go to an F1 race is getting way out of hand, and they should start writing on this subject a lot more! I went to Canada this year and the seat alone cost $500 US. Next year, they are going up by something like 20 percent! This on top of the extortion they do when buying a refreshment and food at the stands!

    Don’t get me wrong, I love F1, but as a long time F1 fan who picked up on the sport back in the mid-80s as a kid….I am seeing racing that is less exciting now, yet more expensive all around for everyone (fans, F1 teams, etc). The drivers are like robots in the car and out with their given PR talking points. It is a rare day when you can get an honest answer or feelings from a driver (perhaps I am just spoiled by the memory of Ayrton Senna?)

    This sport needs a total renovation. You want to see more passing and on track action? Ditch the paddle shifters and bring back real driver skills with a manual gearbox. I can guarantee there would be more passing and action on track.

    On top of that….re-write the F1 rule book for the cars. Get rid of the ridiculous gearbox and engine rules and allow 10 testing days during the season. Put the rules on 1 sheet of paper specifying width, wheelbase, weight, etc, but after that….let the teams come up with a car given a hard budget cap that can be easily enforced by the FiA. I think that would bring out some real innovation to the sport again and more diversity in the cars. As it stands now, it’s almost just an aerodynamic exercise being that practically everything else is spec.

    Otherwise….F1 might as well be full scale Scalextrics, with full control of the grid being operated through a supercomputer by megalomaniacal Bernie Ecclestone’s brainwaves from his super-luxury box seats above pit lane, where only millionaires can sit and have the privilege of watching Bernie Billionaire at work and play…because that is where it’s going. Who needs drivers, eh?! Just pay Bernie and he’ll be sure to make you win! But have deep pockets, ok!

  34. Why doesn’t FOTA suspend Ferrari? They suspended Williams and Force India for simply saying they wanted to race in F1.

    Ferrari on the other hand can break the rules, bring the sport into disrepute, and FOTA are conspicuous by their silence, bias and total ineptitude.

  35. Joe
    As you so rightly point out F1 is a sport that has turned into big busness. Sport first, business second.
    It is not what Ferrari have done, it is the circumstances and the crass disregard for the FIA/fans.
    Maclaren had a similar incident in turkey,why was there no outcry? Whitmarsh let the drivers have a sort out, fans happy, and after this protected the team in a discreet manner. This happened near the end of the race, and the chances of Button repassing….. minimal, Hamilton stamped his mark.
    Would Alonso have got past Massa? No one will know.
    If he had it would have enhanced his repuation greatly and shown Massa why he is 2xWC.
    No matter what Coulthard/Brundle say todays F1 is a different beast, witness the James Allen F1 event in London a few weeks ago.
    As it is, the fans have spoken.

  36. I don’t really see what the big deal is all about. The circumstances of this race are radically different to Austria 2002. The formalisation of team order rules is ridiculous anyway. Having said all that, I wonder if the $100k fine is being taken out of Rob Smedley’s pay packet? It was his fatuous comments on the radio which confirmed suspicions!

  37. So does F1 really need Ferrari – I keep hearing that, but is it true? They bored us to tears with the Schumacher years and would do the same again now if they became dominant. Senna-Prost, Mansell-Piquet, Webber-Vettel, Hamilton-Button were or are fascinating. McClaren, Red Bull, Mercedes, Renault… Ferrari, do we need them really?

  38. It’s probably safe to assume that McLaren regret having lured Fernando away from Renault.

    And that regret would only partly be related to the spying scandal.

    Alonso is a bit like M. Schumacher. They both seem to think that because they’re a good driver they have the right to win at any cost and regardless of its impact on anyone else.

    I find it rather concerning that the current FIA President aided and abetted, if not encouraged, Schumacher’s behaviour.

    It would be interesting to see research into Ferrari’s brand name and reputation before, during and after Schumacher’s time there.

    The alarm bells about Alonso should have gone off at Ferrari when he dedicated a race win to Mr Briatore after the crash incident became public.

    By then his contract may have already been signed.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that Ferrari will come to regret the decision to sign Alonso.

    In any event as Martin Brundle said yesterday, we don’t know what the various contracts say. And we probably never will.

    If the FIA was serious about this incident it would demand to examine the contracts between the parties. If those documents contain requirements to follow team orders, despite what the FIA sporting regulations demand, then perhaps the FIA needs a rule which would invalidate such clauses if it doesn’t currently have this power.

  39. The key thing is, as you say, Ferrari don’t seem to understand what will upset the fans, others in the sport and reporters. But I’m more inclined to think it’s impossible they could be so thin-skinned – my conclusion is that they don’t care, and their deeply ingrained attitude has always seemed to be an overly-macho ‘we’re at the top, we don’t care what you think’, rather than any informed view of what does or doesn’t sell cars. This would also explain why they’re so much quieter, tail-between-the-legs, when they’re not winning.

    All of which explains why Alonso is perfectly suited to the team – the more we see of his behaviour, the more we have to re-evaluate what we thought we were seeing when he was at Renault and McLaren. There’s only one interpretation one can put on his whingeing ‘This is ridiculous’, in response to his teammate daring to stay in front of him. That’s not the reaction of a driver whose team has made any serious attempt to dissuade him of the idea that he’s No 1. Given that he knows that pit-car radio is public, it’s not the reaction of someone who gives a hoot about his or his sponsor’s image either.

  40. Do the fans view Alonso/Shumacher as great champions.
    Do the fans view Mansell/Hill/Hakkinen/Raikkonen/Prost/Stewart/Clark/Rindt (make your own list) as great champions.
    There lies the answer SPORT FIRST BUSINESS SECOND.

  41. Ferrari would have had a popular win with Massa. Instead, they have an unpopular win with Alonso. What a strange thing to wish for, and to arrange. And now they have a howling controversy – again.

    Whoever it is that is so determined to tarnish Ferrari’s brand & reputation is doing an excellent job. But why ?

  42. Great article and analysis. I was a huge Ferrari fan but sadly it ended yesterday. I knew bringing in Alonso would be trouble and we all saw yesterday the ugly side of having a number #1 driver like Alonso on a team.

    It happened at McLaren and Renualt. Have we forgotten Alonso’s words at the 2007 Monaco post race interview where he said about his position swap with Lewis Hamilton…”let me through”.

    I hope Ferrari gets all their Constructor and Driver’s points taken away for the sham that we all saw yesterday. Congratulations Ferrari, McLaren did not want Alonso on their team but you caved to the Santander money and now you have a ruthless driver who throws his toys out of the pram if he doesn’t get his way.

    Too bad Mark Webber wasn’t Alonso’s teammate on Sunday because I could only guess what he would have told Ferrari and his race engineer over the radio if he was asked to move over for Alonso.

  43. Business and sport willl always be at odds.

    Sports should be popular (not free) but ultimately cost efficient to encourage a true turnout at the events.

    the Olympics for instance always have empty seats in the stands because it’s just so expensive to attend. seriously who would want to pay a small fortune to see small people run about the field in an entirely un-choreographed manner (athletics) when you can see them more clearly and much more organized on the TV, for almost free.

    smae goes to F1 tickets are just too damn expensive. happened to be in Turkey in 07, and i had never been closer to a race, although turkey was not my primary choice i decided that i should go. and after a couple of hours of research the best deal i could get for two day access and get a half decent view was 500 euros. not to mention the buss ticket from Marmaris and the hotel stay.

    i would have gone for 300 but without compromising my seating area and quantity of access.

    so there it goes the sport is too expensive, people concerned are milking it, and sponsors these days are too sensitive to performance and image (which they should be). but when it comes to the drivers and the way the race is run, a team sponsor should not car who wins, but when you get the sponsors picking out the drivers (or athletes), there is no way to exclude the business aspect from the sport.

    but that is F1, and almost every other high level high budget sport is becoming like that… the only solution is to dramatically cut costs, and then what would be the difference between F1 and say The Fun Cup if it was run on a standardized cost effective everything…

  44. I wholeheartedly agree. Surely there is a view that a winning driver slowing to let another pass is just another form of throwing the race. I doubt there is the same level or pressures of betting in F1 than there is with horse racing or boxing, but we were all denied the opportunity of a proper race and if I had bet on Massa winning I would be more than a little upset…..

  45. Ferrari’s logic here does not fit well with a sporting attitude.

    Taken to an extreme this approach could result in the second driver being ordered to crash into his team mate’s championship rival to prevent them scoring in a crucial race.

    It was handled badly and the fine imposed (so far) is laughably small for such a flagrant breach of the rules.

  46. Thanks for that excellent analysis Joe. I agree that Felipe winning would have generated more of the ‘right’ kind of press than this story has generated ‘wrong’. I guess it depends whether you view each driver as a unique entity, or purely as part of a team. Ferrari, clearly, have their own view. I think most fans have a contrary view. For me this shows a continuing clumsiness and arrogance about Ferrari that has been visible for many years. The management do tend to fire at their own feet at times. Don’t they learn?

    It would have been great to see Felipe and Alonso go head to head and race for the win, instead of going in for a spot of doping. I think it’s clear to Felipe now that he’ll never be allowed to win a championship at Ferrari, which is a real shame because I think he ‘gets’ Ferrari, really lives for Ferrari, while Alonso thinks only of what Ferrari can give him.

    For me, the difference is that Alonso wants only to win, without understanding his place in the sport. That to me reduces his value as a champion even further than his flouncing out of McLaren a few years ago. I think Schumacher started with this attitude at Ferrari too and, eventually, grew to understand what it means to be a Ferrari driver. Alonso has a lot of growing to do in order to get there.

    Maybe you could do some analysis into Ferrari drivers and how they are regarded by the Tifosi? Schumacher, ultra successful but took a while to be adopted by the Tifosi. Villeneuve, not that successful, but totally loved. I don’t see Alonso ever being regarded in the same league as Villeneuve, even if he brings 5 titles Ferrari’s way.

  47. Team orders are a part of how the game is played, and won’t go away so long as one team can have two drivers. But, there’s a time and a place. I didn’t have a problem with how Ferrari switched their drivers around to optimise their title chances towards the end of ’07 and ’08 (Raikonnen being the beneficiary in ’07 and Massa in ’08), because that happened at the sharp end of the season, where only one driver had any chance of grabbing the title. This time the rationale is not as strong. Sure, Fernando has a much better chance of winning the title from here than Felipe, but even after this race there are still 8 to go and plenty can happen in that time.

    Ferrari also took on some pretty severe downside risks in order to get those extra 7 points for Alonso. The way the situation was handled left nobody in any doubt about what went on, and that means they could potentially lose all their points from this race if the FIA decide to make an example of them.

  48. “…Massa will be paid back for what he did…”
    “Felipe made a huge sacrifice on Sunday and one wonders whether it really will be repaid.”

    One could argue he was paid in advance…his contract extension.

  49. A very good assessment Joe.

    Team orders have always been part of F1 and despite the ruling after the events of 2002, coded messages have ensured that policing the rule is unworkable. I think most fans know that sometimes one driver will be favoured over the other in the cause of the championship but what annoyed everyone was the same thing that annoyed everyone in 2002. It was done in a very cynical way and then they tried to cover it up in a very obvious way. Almost laughing behind their hands in places.

    Their attitude and misunderstanding of their audience is apparent not only in this, but also with the recent issues they’ve had with the Marlboro logo’s. They seem to to be saying “what you think isn’t relevant, we tell you what it is and you accept it”. In other words they take the audience for fools.

    I say audience as opposed to fans, because I think if the sport is to look for growth then, you have to accommodate the casual armchair viewer or the person that only reads about the big events. This was another big event in F1 where the casual viewer will be left with a bad image of the sport – hence the charge of bringing the sport into disrepute.

    Previous occasions such as the tyre problems at Indy, the two Schuey/Rubens swaps, McLaren’s huge fine and crash-gate are still fresh in the minds of many non-fans. As you say we need the good stories, the payback for Massa’s loyalty would have been to let him have the win, but I suspect it’s easier to let Alonso have his way on the basis there will be less trouble in the team if that happens.

    I can see Ferrari’s point of view that they must do what they have to win and provide the value to their sponsors but they mustn’t forget that the sponsors get their money from somewhere. The fans buy Shell Fuel, Acer computers, bank at Santander and so on. The audience are the viewing figures that the sponsors rely on too. So when they assume we’re all fools, they are hurting the roots of their funding.

    You’re right, people like a good story. That’s why more people watch films than documentaries.

  50. Joe, i am a fanatic, havent missed a race in 15 years and will continue to do so. My worry however is what implications this could have for attracting new fans to the sport. I dragged 6 of my friends out to lunch yesterday to watch a race. They are casual watch the odd race viewers who loved montreal and whom i have been trying to convert to the sport. They were fascinated by the battle between the 2 latin drivers. That was until ferrari decided they are bigger than the sport. I was greeted with “f1 is a joke” “didnt they do the same thing a few years ago” “didnt alonso team mate crash before to let him win. It saddens me that this is what people see when they watch the sport i love so much.

  51. I would like to preface my response by saying that I completely agree with the sentiments that Joe expressed. I do believe that to win without honor is no win at all. Likewise to lose as Massa did in 2008 is as much a victory as Hamilton’s was.

    However, Joe said:

    I would argue (and did) that what drives sports fans to spend their money on luxuries such as team memorabilia and very fast cars is not the result, but rather the way results are achieved. They will spend more if they feel an engagement with the team. If it makes them feel good.

    I wish that were true, but Schumachers religion-like popularity suggests that this is not really true. Michael Schumacher must be the most popular driver, if not ever, then surely since Senna and much of his career is viewed in a similar way to Ferrari’s actions yesterday. However, most of Schumacher’s fans actively ignore this and simply point to his enormously impressive record as the only thing that matters.

    To many, many fans there is only winning. By any means and at all costs. I disagree with that concept and that’s why I have never been either a Schumacher fan or a Ferrari fan, despite their respective success. I feel that I am in a minority, however.

  52. Crikey, you really hit all the nails bang on here.

    If only you could get *behind* the story, into the heads & private lives of how this is all working out, you’ve just laid out the framework for a actual Pulitzer.

    But the shocker all throughout this unpleasantness is how absolutely in everyone’s face it is. So amazingly transparent. Such electrifying triteness.

    I think it’s much worse than Austria 2002, because it’s A BLOODY REPEAT OFFENSE, not counting the awfulness of messing with a potential challenger’s title run. (meaning FM’s points)

    FIA, Todt, please please just reverse the results and zero all SF’s constructor points. That would send a true message you mean this game to be fair.

    I’d amazingly not considered how out of touch SF might actually be, until i read your most recent articles. (Yup, articles, not posts, in my complimentary view). That’s bloody awful for the team. If you think about it it’s kinda like having an errant lover, forgiving her once or twice or even a few times in the past, and then finding out she’s got some actual mental condition underlying it all you’ve no chance of ever controlling. What then does the Ferrari fan do? D. I. V. . . . .

    If 2002 elicited the most expletives i ever heard, ever, all in one phone call, from a dear friend, this time around i think the scenario begets awe.

    Thank you for putting it straight Joe.

    (and GET SYNDICATED!!)

    – J

  53. Don’t know if it is possible bearing the rules & regulations in mind but could the points for the win be taken away as a punishment? And I agree that the blew a great opportunity, clearly the powers that be with Ferrari suffer for too much self-importance and have the tendency to stuble over their dick(s).

  54. Very very biased blogs the whole day yesterday by Mr. Saward. I respected you a lot but yesterday I lost whole lot of it. You talk about educating Alonso, don’t you think that’s very silly. Your comments are very one sided. There are tons of british fans out there who understand the logic and reasoning behind Ferrari’s decision. If you really think you are right, then pls view this first, hear the radio message and then get back to us fans who visit your website and let us know the main differences, don’t worry it’s same race, Hockenheim 08, Briton Lewis getting past his then teammate Heikki when he was told Lewis is faster than you and also try to run through French GP 08′ when Heikko moved over to let lewis past.
    Try to ever visit James Allen’s site, he has more blogs than you but he doesn’t post anything silly like yours except his headline ‘Hill punishes Schumacher’ after Monaco GP.

  55. Joe, this is one of the best articles you’ve written in quite some time. Your observations are absolutely spot on. The race was a fairtale in the making, but now it’s been turned into a accoutancy spreadsheet.

    The “business” of F1 is slowly eating away at the “sport” itself.

    In any case, I’m very interested to see what Todt does from here, as it could define his premiership so far.

  56. No real fan can be proud of a sport that allows things like the Ferrari switch at Hockenheim. It compounded the widely-held belief that F1 is a business rather than a sport…

    Along the same lines cycling is also a business!!!

  57. Sorry Joe, I have been a fan of Formula 1 since I saw my first race at Aintree in 1957. I am not only proud of my sport but incredibly proud that a part of that sport is a man like Felipe Massa. I admired his behaviour in Brazil in 2008 and now he has my admiration yet again. His sportsman like behaviour comes closest to my real idol, Sir Stirling Moss. Nor did I lose that pride either when Ferrari handed Schumacher the 2002 win. In that case it was just a stupid power thing, yesterday was sensible if a Ferrari driver is to win the championship. Now you may be closer to the “real” goings on and maybe Alonso is a glory-seeking ego-maniac (I don’t think so) but, for me, an ordinary fan of a sport not a business what sickened me was the blatant attempt by Vettel both here and in Silverstone to push his front row rival into the pit wall. That is when I don’t feel proud of my sport just like I didn’t in Adelaide in 1994, Jerez 1997 or Monaco 2006 or Turkey this year when some people tried to deny what I saw with my own eyes.
    Remove the stupid team orders rule, act like adults, ignore the tabloid press who understand nothing but write about everything and let’s go back to enjoying the greatest sport on earth.

  58. Are you really the best if your team mate is forced to assist you to win? Please let us go back to having proper races so that at the end of the season the one who deserves the accolade has won the title.

  59. What does the modern Ferrari brand stand for? My own personal view in the Jean Todt era was “win at nearly all costs”. As an avid armchair viewer of F1 I considered the Ferrari team management to be cold and calculating, which was always at odds with the history, flair and passion that is the foundation of the Ferrari racing team.

    Post Jean Todt the team management seemed to me to be making an effort to appear more approachable and somewhat warmer – although this opinion is based on what I see of the participants on the TV and read about in the press. This has softened the brand a little for me and brought in some of the passion and humanity which reflects the personalities of the Ferrari management that I see on my TV screen.

    I mention the brand because this is a big part of what supporters buy in to. I do not believe this weekends events have tarnished the Ferrari brand at all, in fact I believe it may have strengthened it for the die hard Ferrari faithful. They appreciate that the team sometimes needs to make tough choices, and more than that they expect them to do so and not to hold back when it is necessary. And I believe it was necessary if Fernando Alonso is to seriously challenge for the title this year given his likely engine issues later this season. This is all part of the die-hard fans support of Ferrari.

    Fernando Alonso supporters will also be turning a blind eye. Accepting the Ferrari position without asking difficult questions.

    That leaves Felipe Massa supporters and the neutral fans. The Massa fans that put him before the Ferrari brand will not be at all happy, but are we talking about a legion of angry people? Maybe in Brazil, but I would suggest that the average Brazilian race fan is as pragmatic as you are going to get in racing and will get on with life without too much drama.

    So, I would suggest that it’s the neutral fan that takes the brunt of the disappointment, and do Ferrari really care about that? Ok, you could argue that if the couch race fan disappears then marketing revenues and the business side of things will be in trouble, but is that likely to happen? I suspect not.

    Finally, this whole episode has generated huge amounts of PR for the sport and for Ferrari in particular. Maybe not in a positive light as far as the sport in general is concerned, but for Ferrari I think that there is a positive aspect and will reinforce the winning ethos of the Ferrari brand, and the of team. People like winners after all.

  60. I think everyone here knows that team order occur in every team and always will. However, usually it is done in a far less obvious way. Yet Rob Smedley’s sotto voce radio message was as clear as any direct instruction could ever be. This led me to wonder why he said what he said in the way that he said it.

    My conclusion is thus: I believe that Smedley’s intention was to deliberately sabotage the possibility of such an order being used in other races in the future and the furore this has created has undoubtedly achieved that aim. Massa is henceforward protected as even the merest hint of such shenanigans in the future would create uproar and possibly cost Ferrari very dear indeed.

    So I don’t think Rob Smedley is the villain he is being painted in some parts of the press. I think he took a brave decision to protect his man.

  61. On the other hand, things were handled much the same for Schumi with much success, so why buck a winning formula?

  62. “one should not be making such decisions based on ifs and buts”

    “But what happens, say, if Alonso slips on a banana skin and breaks his leg? Massa will be less able to offer a challenge because he has been disadvantaged with the Hockenheim manoeuvre.”

    Surely this is a contradiction.

    The hypocrisy of this whole thing is that many in the media labelled Ferrari whingers when they expressed their concern that the punishment meted out to Hamilton and several other drivers at Valencia failed to offer any real deterrent for their offenses (which were reasonably serious). Now those same people are intensely critical of Ferrari for breaking the rules in Germany, but then Ferrari have been punished for this offense. What is the purpose of this apparent duplicity from many sections of the media; this seems as reasonable question as the current debate over Ferraris actions.

    1. I think the punishments in Valencia were fair. They were unfortunate for some and not for others. That does not make it a conspiracy against Alonso and anyone who believes that tosh is, frankly, an idiot. Just as anyone who believes Alonso did not know about Singapore 2008 is simply deluded.

  63. First off, I am a Fernando Alonso fan.

    My take on this situation is thus: this was not a clean win. Ferrari handled this in a heavy-handed way. Massa, by saying he was the one who took the decision, stays true to his character, but Ferrari botched this situation.

    I like Massa too, I like the fact that he has steadily improved every year up to his accident and how he displayed himself in Brazil 2008 and how he took the lead today.

    Nobody cried (except maybe Kimi) in China 2008, when Kimi blatantly slowed down to let Massa through. Joe wrote about it in GP+ in 2008 and I would say this situation is pretty much the same except for Ferrari not having better code words. It all proves that the rule either has to be rigorously enforced (it hasn’t ever) or it has to change because it is silly. If the rule is to exist, it has to be written in such a way to prevent situations like Austria 2002 where Michael Schumacher didn’t need the 4 extra points a victory gave at the time. He was way ahead in the championship and 6 points would have been great.

  64. Joe,

    As Roger has already said, a great analysis.

    I am split on this one: as a *racing* fan, I want to see a clean fight between racing drivers (and I think we all want to see that!). As a pragmatist, two thoughts come to mind: the drivers are ‘merely’ employees of the team (isn’t that Frank Williams’ attitude, and was there ever anyone that gave his drivers more freedom to race?) and the team is quite entitled to put its interests above the interests of its drivers; and while Ferrari were not very subtle about the team orders yesterday, Article 39.1 is virtually impossible to police.

    I agree with much of what you wrote, and was left with a bad taste in the mouth after the race, but this type of team order has been in place since the year dot, hasn’t it? It is patently obvious that the spirit of Article 39.1 was breached, and Rob Smedley’s comments after the ‘overtake’ and at the end of the race re-inforced that, but was Massa explicitly asked to allow Alonso through (and without listening all of the transmissions between the pits and the drivers we cannot know)? One other factor, does Article 39.1 become redundant when one driver in a team has no mathematical opportunity to win the WDC (think Brazil 2007)?

  65. The FIA have made their own bed in this. They have ignored situations in the recent past of team orders and because of that need to be realistic with the punishiment, while making it clear that this is the end of team orders and future cases will be dealt with harshly. Ferrari certainly blew the feel good marketing story of 2010. The value of sticking by their injured driver and the whole “when your with Ferrari, your with family” could have been a real marketing campaign for them. Alonso could have really helped his reputation by covering Massa’s back, to ensure his victory. If Massa had won, all of racing would have celebrated the miracle story. Formula One may have some of the greatest minds in racing, but there are many examples of management in the big teams having no clue when it comes to endearing their own fan base. If you could blend Alonso’s speed with Massa’s class you would have a hell of a driver wouldn’t you.

  66. how is ‘team orders’ any different than ‘saving fuel mode’ or ‘reving down’ an engine or ‘switching wings’ for the same purpose?
    i know it’s illegal according to the regulations.., but is it really different?

  67. Your best article for a long time there Joe. I’m glad your back on form here.

    I lost faith you in a little after the smoking debacle and being a bit sensitive to readers comments (only human are we all!).

    But I’m proud of ya! 🙂 Probably the smartest article I’ve read on the subject so far. (I’ve read a good 20 from around the world)

  68. Excellent article. Nothing there to disagree with.

    I think Massa will regret forever that he did not ignore the team order, as I suspect Button, for one, would have done in similar circumstances.

  69. Roger, I agree with you in a way : if the FIA don’t want to enforce one of their own rules, especially against the team that caused them to draw it up, then they should stop the bullshit and get rid of it.

    Or they could modify it to take account of the real world : No team orders until one driver cannot mathematically be champion. But would they even enforce that ?

    Otherwise, a good article, which sume things up well.

    Ferrari should note in passing that the teams which allow their drivers to race occupy the top two places in both championships. Coincidence ?

  70. Great article, thanks. It’s reassuring to see someone who I know always talks sense is on the same page as me in this.

    I’ve been Felipe Massa’s biggest fan for years, and have supported him through the good times and bad. I think what happened was heartbreaking.

    Your take on how different people perceive the meaning of the word ‘sport’ differently is spot on in my book. Thanks again.

  71. A very fine analysis, Joe, although I question just how pragmatic was the route chosen. Harm done is a negative in the profit and loss statements of even Ferrari.

    “Business and sport at odds as ever…”

    Certainly BCE has made this less a sport then a business and removed both from any romance or passion which once existed.

  72. Hi,

    I agree with many of your thoughts, but why the big fuzz about it. I agree it is wrong, but why the many stories now.

    Ferrari also did a few years back when Kimi was ordered to let Massa pass, at that time without the big fuzz.

  73. Dear Joe
    As always a proper sense of perspective in your article.
    However I think the problem really lies with the existence of Article 39.1. I cannot see how banning ‘team orders’ can ever be workable. Moreover any racing enthusiast will know that teams have been giving instructions to their drivers since motor racing began and sometimes these will have a bearing on their respective team mates.
    The honourable thing to do is, for a team that has the resources to do so, to give both drivers the opportunity to win, with equal equipment and allow them race against each other until one no longer has a chance of beating the other on points. Then ‘team orders’ are perfectly acceptable and, moreover, anyone following the sport would understand the situation. If a team is unable to do this for financial reasons it should say so and indicate from the start that it employs its drivers on a preferential basis. Again anyone following the sport would understand the situation when ‘team orders’ appeared.
    The current problem is caused by the lack of prior information on driver status. At least we now know the set up at Ferrari…
    Another point – drivers will always seek to cut themselves the best deal possible. Whilst we all may hope that a driver would not attempt to negotiate a contract that subjugates his team mate this would seem to be quite common. Teams have obviously been happy to allow this in order to ‘get their man’. In this respect yesterday may tell us more about Fernando than it does Ferrari.

  74. Fairy tales take longer than one race – at least a season. One race would only count for a part of a fairy tale? And fairy tales tell about a lot of suffering and injustice before one arrives to a happy ending. You want fairy tales?

    FM: “Tell Fernando to stick close to me on the last lap. I’ll let him by in the hairpin.”
    RS: “Felipe, do you really want to give your win away? Please confirm.”
    FM: “Yes. Sure. Fernando and the team need this for the championship.”
    RS: “Felipe, you know you don’t need to do that. It still a long way till the end of season. Stefano also said that.”
    FM: “Just do it and remember it for the next time around.”

    SD: “Fernando, on final lap Felipe will let you pass in the hairpin. Stay close to him.”
    FA: “Why? It’s his victory. I don’t need that.”
    SD: “Fernando, it’s not our decision but Felipe’s. He insists.”
    FA: “I don’t know. It is a big sacrifice. How will we ever be able to pay him pack? (sigh) OK, tell him thousand thanks from me.”

    RS: “Felipe, are you still sure?
    FM: (shouts) “Yes! Just do it for heaven’s sake.”
    RS: “OK. Fernando did not want to accept but if you insist he’ll do it. So, many thanks from him.”

    So they do it. They do the parade lap together and immediately upon arrival to parc ferme both men jump of their cars and hug each other with tears in their eyes.

    FA: “Thank you Felipe. I hope I can pay you back soon.”
    FM: (with a grin) “No you don’t. You hope to be better than me next year again and then again… But should it not happen, you’ll pay me back.”
    FA: “You’re always so logical and straightforward. You’re not a typical fairytale character, but you acted like one.”
    FM: “Nonsense. I just analysed the situation and thought this was best for all. For me it will be better if you can win the championship rather than a Red Bullor McLaren. But you owe me one, right?”

    Then they stepped into the TV studio for the unilaterals and in front of the international press corps which already scetched out the fat titles about Massa’s sportsmanship and his team spirit. Heroic books were being started in the thoughts of some more entrepreneurial journos who felt they have witnessed a reality-fairy-tale no narrow minded team management or no dull PR manager could think of.

  75. Do you remember Kovalainen letting pass Hamilton in GP Hockenheim 2008? Yes, it was a ‘gentleman maneuver’ according to british press, but now it’s a fraud. xD
    Do what i tell you, but not that i do (unless you’re british). HYPOCRACY!

    1. v7f7a7

      Try to be a little constructive in your thinking, rather than going back to the same old nationalistic abuse that people trot out when they do not have a big enough horizon.

  76. Why all the fuss? The drivers are there to do the team bosses’ bidding, and no one else’s. It’s always been that way.

    Somewhere along the line the misunderstanding has crept in that drivers exist to please the audience. They don’t. They are but servants of the Powers That Be.

    A lot has changed already. We started paying them extremely well. We largely eliminated the element of danger. Let’s not eliminate the traditional balance of power, or nothing will be left of the Great F1 Tradition.

  77. Nice thoughts. I have always known that F1 is a team sport. I often tell my friends that if they want to watch some of the quickest and most technically advanced cars in the world, watch F1. If you want to watch some good racing, watch another formula…..

    I don’t really like it and wish there was a bit more ‘racing’ but that is the nature of the beast.

    The problem is that, as you so accurately describe, fans want to see racing, the rules (39.1) allegedly want too see racing, but these are mutually incompatible with how the sport is run.

    The bit that sticks in your throat is that the powers that be say one thing, and do another. So when a team give their team orders (and lets be honest, that is exactly what it was), fans etc get very upset because they have been led to believe that is what they will see. Wonder what the bookies made of it all, and then fans who made their bets on the basis that it would be a FAIR race ?

    Either F1 has to support individuals racing and drum out team orders end of story, which will be difficult to manage and police, or they have to start being more honest about the way the sport runs.

    Why not MAKE it a team sport ? More points if you get both drivers in the top 5 – a bit like cycling pursuit acting where you have 4 riders but the time only counts for the first three. Forget the individual driver championship. Make it just a team championship. Then everyone knows exactly where they stand.

    Personally, I felt gutted for Massa. Alonso may have been quick all weekend, but not when it mattered. He just wasn’t quick enough, or good enough, to pass. When you are at this level, you often only get one chance. Mass got one at the start, and took it. He was good enough, and quick enough to be able to control Alonso, and its a crying shame he won’t get the credit he really deserves. Or the victory.

    I hope that Alonso DOESN’T win the championship, as for me it will now be a very hollow victory.

    I for one shall be eating a lot of bananas in the coming weeks and encourage fans at every circuit to do likewise 😉

  78. Joe,
    I don’t agree with you when you say Fernando should have tried to overtake Felipe. You know how hard it is to overtake nowadays and you can’t expect Fernando, with the same car !, to be 1 or even half a second quicker than Felipe. He tried once but if he continued, chances are high they would have collided (see Red Bull) and can you imagine what that would have done to Ferrari’s image ?? After all the errors of the past months (driver, management, etc …), this would really have labelled them incompetent, which would be worse than what they would have done now. Finally someone within Ferrari stepped up with a strong hand and gave a “clear” order, an order that teamwise (or businesswise maybe) was the right thing to do.

    1. Dear me. If you do agree that racing properly is the right thing then I fear you need to watch a different sport.

  79. Well, as per my previous comments in ‘Ferr Guilty’ I have to agree with most of the above. F1 is impure. Will always be so. Its not an absolute fight between individual gladiators. Its Team. Two Drivers, drive for a Team. It is physically impossible for a team to drive both for the championship. Something has always to give – and always does. This stupid rule requires the Teams to keep telling the world that that is not the case and they are driving both drivers to the championship with no team orders Please.A Team that cannot even function at all btw – without financial input from outside commercial partners whose ultimate interests and goals lie beyond the Team and its sport and whose needs must also be met. I say again; please stop this madness 🙂

    I still think the problem is – the Sport of F1 has never been clearly defined for everyone. Its a team Sport. So we always end up with this dichotomy between the ‘Team’ reality and the gladiator reality we dream about.
    I facetiously suggested the only way forward to run a team of drivers towards a single championship – was to run one car driven by two drivers…
    We actually we had the best way once. Teams actually had No1 and 2 drivers. New to F1 or whatever? – sign a no2 driver contract. Then everyone knew where they were. Teams, drivers, media fans alike. But it drifted away.

    My final thoughts are for Mr Smedley – and the Team. They got themselves in this silly spot only by rather poor executive execution and then an unnecessarily clear choice of words over the radio…..?

  80. One of your best articles Joe. Fantastic. People (including me) love Felipe even if they had no idea what he is really like as most of us are never going to to meet any of these people.

    In many ways he was the moral champion in 2008 and he took the last minute disappointment so much better than Lewis would have done.

    What happened yesterday was very sad for the sport but was sadly not surprising. We should all probably stop kidding ourselves that it is a sport.

    I have been a F1 fan for 30 years and will doubtless remain so – but the whole spectacle does try your patience and I for one was not sorry to miss yesterday’s race and only to see it in retrospect – something that I am inclined to do more and more of late despite still loving the pageantry. Sadly the run-up and postrace coverage (on BBC) is often now a lot more interesting than the race!

    As to the cost of tickets I couldn’t agree with you more

  81. Great commentary Joe. My husband and I were watching the race and were amazed at how blatantly the Ferrari strategy was carried out. No doubt Ferrari would have had a good haul of points, whoever won but to ensure the one two in this way DID cheat the fans. Massa deserved to win , he was absolutely right when he said this later. He made the better start and when Alonso did have the opportunity earlier in the race to overtake, he couldn’t manage it.
    I am furious about it . I love this sport because most of the time it is about brave and daring sportsmen driving to the very limit of their abilities, but yesterday I was ashamed of it. It feels like the fans are being treated like mugs. Most of us know that at some point in the season one driver will be favoured over the other and that tactics are used to enable this, but I would say to Ferrari when you attempt to whitewash the fans do remember that it is us that you are trying to sell your sports cars to.

  82. This is brilliant, and I’m going to make everyone I know read it, whether they know anything about Formula 1 or not! Because I think the underlying issues you address are really common to every sport — and to a lot of other things, as well.

  83. Is it possible that Rob Smedley’s obvious radio messages were designed to force the issue of team orders with the FIA? As Schumacher pointed out after the race yesterday, all teams use orders at some point in the season; some decide to implement them in the last race to secure a title while others start the season with Alonso contracted as Nº1 😉

    It just seems strange that Ferrari decided to drop the cloak of “saving fuel” or tactical tyre management; preferring to spell out their instructions to Massa over the radio, with the subtlety of a pantomime villain.

    Afterall, $100,000 is a drop in Santander’s marketing budget but was all it took to have Alonso all over the Spanish news networks this morning spraying champagne around and bathing in the glory of being part of the latest Spanish “sporting” victory alongside real competitors like Contador & Lorenzo.

  84. If this blatant dismissal of FIA rules is accepted then I beg the question “why after 50 years of watching and supporting the sport as it has grown up do I feel totally cheated”? No matter who you support, team and driver, surely the rules should be adhered to. Ferrari seem to get away with so much. I listened to Schumacher’s response with disbelief. He may have won by cheating but surely the sport has come on since then. Any other team would have been disqualified on the spot. Let’s hope that Ferrari lose their 1/2 position. Sad for Massa but not for Alonso who appears to be better at lying than winning. If this comes down to one point between the winner of the WDC and the second place it will be a sad and bad day for F1. Listen to the public, listen to BBC Radio 2 Chris Evan’s Show, read what the press have to say and most of all listen to the FANS. What goes round comes round. Surely Alonso cannot feel great wining by cheating. If this continues there will be no more F1.

  85. Joe,

    This is a great piece. You have expressed the conundrum that is team orders.

    I have thought it through since yesterday and I am not sure if I feel right slagging Alonso.

    What bothered me was hearing the complaining on the radio, followed by Smedly’s “message” and then the swap. Just seemed rather unfair as Massa had earned that place and deserved the win.

    Interesting that Michael Schumacher has come out in defense of Ferrari. His position is that the championship is the goal and ultimately you have to favour one driver. I see the logic, but it suddenly hit me: I am feeling less and less like setting the time aside to watch these races. I actually didn’t watch two races this year already, which is unheard of for me. I feel right now that I may not bother watching Hungary. The sport has really lost its lustre for me over the past decade. And it can’t be all blamed on Ferrari or Schumacher or whatever, it is a bunch of things, but when I look at my screen desktop of Jim Clark sitting in his Lotus, I can’t help but wonder how did we get here?

  86. “F1 is a business rather than a sport.”

    Every professional sport is also a business, but this need not detract from the sporting aspect. There are different ways of approaching business, and there are different ways of approaching sport. The Ferrari way, exemplified in his day by Michael Schumacher, is to win at all costs. An alternative approach is to say, as Ron Dennis did, “We exist to win, but more important is how we win”.

  87. “I think it is fair to say that by asking Massa to do what is best for the team, Ferrari is putting all of its eggs in one basket. It may work out and Fernando may sweep to a third title. The theory goes that people will then buy Ferrari road cars and other paraphernalia as a result of his triumph.”

    Yes, but what if Ferrari is disqualified from competing in F1 for the rest of this season? How is that good for sales?

  88. I agree with your views Joe.

    This issue of team orders is one that crops up almost every season. Is it right? Is it wrong? Is it immoral? Is it against the spirit of the sport? Maybe.

    The fact is that it is undeniable that all teams give their drivers orders, maybe they call them “guidelines”, before and during the race. We had countless examples of this in the past.

    It doesn’t matter how hard FIA tries to stomp on this behaviour, it’s a battle it can’t win. It doesn’t take much for a team to agree on codewords to be used in certains situations and therefore go around the rule (although one would expect Ferrari to find a more elegant way).

    Why not scrap the rule altogether?

  89. The price of tickets is simply ridiculous now plus many spectators will have travelled to Sunday’s race from further afield so factor in travel and accommodation and a trip to a GP is very expensive.

    What did spectators’ money buy them on Sunday? The dubious privilege of witnessing a “race” for which the result had apparently been decided by third parties long before the cars had taken to the track.

    People pay to see titanic on-track struggles between drivers right to the chequered flag such as those served up by Mansell and Piquet (also team-mates) not some contrived wrestling-type spectacle or a glorified fuel economy run with no overtaking (even both McLarens were apparently driving defensively from lap 37…in a 67 lap race!).

    If a driver is truly a champion then he should not need or want season-long handouts from his team mate. The ban on team orders exists to stop a repeat of Austria 2002, from the evidence of Hockenheim then it isn’t working. But does that mean we just give up on the law and have more of the same – I am just not convinced that is what most fans want…even if it is what the paddock seems to want

  90. Avidly reading until I got to the part about why people (fans) buy the product…..

    I can’t imagine that there are too many people out there who can afford to buy Ferraris who won’t have stepped on a few people to aquire that wealth.

    Infact, I can imagine a row of pin-striped banker yobs actively applauding Alonso for his lack of sportsmanship as they hand over their deposit cheques.

  91. “That’s the world we live in”!!??

    Seems a lame response and the kind of message the corporations will be delighted with. Roll over or what!

    No way should team orders be allowed and if the WMSC wish to protect their integrity they should, at the very least, disqualify Alonso and, sadly, Massa who by following Team Orders cheated.

    Clearly the other two contending teams have been racing by the rules and produced amazingly exciting racing. To allow the result to stand will make a mockery of the sport.

    As for the winging Alonso – What an incredible talent and personality but what a weak/pathetic character. As for Ferrari – I am cancelling my order for the 559XX. I refuse to deal with CHEATS.

  92. IMHO, if what matters is the team and the corporations then there should not be a driver’s championship. BTW, is for posts like this I keep coming here, and was very sad when you said you’d drop your blog a while ago.

  93. Excellent article Joe.

    Ferrari’s actions were wrong on so many different levels. I hope that Massa’s confidence isn’t too badly impacted by this, and he can fight back. If he had won the race, who knows what he could have done with the extra confidence of beating Fernando fair and square.

  94. That’s a generally fair, if incomplete, analysis. There IS a lot of money in the sport, and that’s always a major factor, but I prefer to shield my eyes enough to not let that cynicism ruin the sport for me. To that end, allow me to make a sporting case, rather than a commercial one:

    You may be aware that the 2010 Tour de France wrapped up on Sunday, with a similar share of controversy. However, there is no controversy about one point, cycling in the TDF is a team sport, and as such, every decision is made with respect to the concerns of the team first. The riders may ignore those decisions, as could have Massa, but that’s a whole other topic…

    My point is that perhaps F1 needs to decide whether or not it is in fact a team sport. If it is a team sport, then Ferrari’s decision makes sense an several levels, not the least of which was preventing the potentially disastrous possibility of a wreckless Vettel literally driving into and disrupting a certain one-two finish.

    If it is not a team sport, so be it… but perhaps in this context we should all sit back and contemplate the irrefutable existence of – teams.

  95. Excellent review. I wonder what the repercussions will be for the circuit? As stated people paid a lot of money to go to a ‘race’. I for one would have been disappointed just as I would had I been at Austria or Indy. I would expect there are a lot of people calling the ticket office this morning asking for refunds.

    I can appreciate the position of the teams who do orchestrate a finish but ultimately I want to watch a fair contest between man and machine.

    This leaves the same distaste that I had after Floyd Landis won the Tour De France only to be found guilty and I haven’t really watched with any great interest since. Similarly I was enjoying the World Cup until the blatant hand ball that resulted in a team going forward that shouldn’t had there not been the hand ball. Part of the game they say but if it is then I’m not interested in watching that either.

    I’m not sure where I go from here as a regular viewer. But what I can say is I used to buy Autosport and F1 Racing on a regular basis despite the cost in Canada. I don’t buy the magazines anymore. Perhaps a bit of an economic decision on my part or maybe it’s a growing lack of interest in part due F1 airing of laundry in public.

    Perhaps I’m just moving on to other things in my life but therein lies the problem: F1 no longer has me hooked.

  96. Joe, I think you are right on target. While making coffee this morning, I was thinking that F1 is no longer (maybe hasn’t been for many years) about racing and sport, but is only a marketing tool.

  97. Hi Joe, always good to read your insights!

    I am not a big fan of Massa. I like Alonso, I love Kimi; I always felt that Massa with his strong bond with Ferrari etc sat in the way for Ferrari giving Kimi the right attention, setup and car development. With Alonso I feel that he (Massa) always “drives” in the way. Alonso is clearly the faster one.

    Yesterday when Massa led, I thought: “ok, enough, get out of the way!!”

    Then the getting-out-of-the-way unfolded: Smedley on the radio, Massa moving forward, the sorry….

    Honestly, it felt hollow! I felt zero joy or satisfaction. I felt something I felt during Schumarcher-Brawn-Todt-Ferrari era.. I felt exactly the same as if Rubens led the race, was brought in for an extra stopper.. being put on a different strategy… that feeling of dejection…

    Then the parc ferme scene yesterday… Alonso’s behaviour… very very much like Schumacher… you know that he’s happy with the result but doesn’t want to step on people’s feelings (including Massa) of whom he knew he and Ferrari (whom he subjected against his will) had already stepped on.

    The podium.. appalling! I wish the crowd was booing louder.
    The press conference… what an embarassing display!

    Red Bull and Mclaren may not be perfect… yes favoritism will always exist from a boss towards employees… Marko/Horner may love Seb more.. and Whitmarsh may be loving Jenson a bit more.. but at least these two teams have not meddled in the on track actions of their drivers.

    Therefore respect to Red Bull and McLaren for letting their drivers fight it out, and adopting the new, more loved, competition based face of F1. Yes business it will always be, and garage politics will always exist… but on-track racing is what fans, the world loves to see. I do not see the loss in marketing value of having your drivers duking it out.

    Ask any auto-racing fan.. what does the name Honda mean to them.. most might answer the legendary battles between Senna and Prost.

    Ferrari seems to live with a completely different mind-set… one of wanting to look good, proper, bella..

  98. One other important point: If the result is allowed to stand then the rule becomes – ‘Team Orders are allowed and will charged at £60,000 a go’.

  99. Ferrari the company has just p*ssed in the faces of Ferrari fans all over the world. Ing. Enzo ferrari was ruthless to a degree, but that did not include effing the results by nobbling one of his drivers.

    I have owned three Ferraris over a period of over thirty years, but I sold my last after the Schumacher-Barichello fiasco.

    The appropriate penalty would be to park Alonso for TWO races, thereby allowing Ferrari to race with Massa + a second driver.

    And, I agree, the rule should be changed.

    Forza Massa.

  100. If the teams really all want the Constructors’ championship, and find the Drivers’ championship an inconvenient irrelevance, then each team should only run one car.

  101. after watching the Sunday’s race, one thing looks pretty sure, Redbull wants Sebastian Vettal to win and Ferrari wants alonsa…………….

    my question is what might have happened if in Massa’s place button was driving and in Alonsa’s place Hamilton, would the Mclarens would team management would have done the same thing?…………..

    world championship should be decided on the track not off the track……………

    if trend Continous F1 will lose its charm………….

  102. what i especially could not stomach was the way alonso celebrated his victory…as if he deserved it. and to see him lie through his teeth at the conference…

  103. It would seem that Ferrari is in need of some good consumer market insight.

    I watch F1 to see the best drivers and best teams race against each other. It has been a team and driver championship for as long as I can remember but in a sport where the quality of the equipment (in this case the car) can play such a critical role, often the only true means of measuring driver quality is derived by comparing drivers within teams.

    If as on Sunday it is no longer possible to watch two drivers from the same team race against each other then in effect I am simply watching a constructor’s championship. That might be fine for some but it makes it a little duller for me with the inevitable conclusion that I will start to search out single make racing.

  104. Joe–

    You mentioned in each of the last two posts that the media are the representatives of the fans. Present company excluded, Lord help us if that’s true. I don’t believe it is.

    It’s been shown time and time again that, in this day and age, reporters aren’t representatives of the fans. Perhaps they once were, but they are now, for the most part, representatives of the humongous-, large-, medium- and small-sized communications organizations for which the work.

    Just like Ferrari drivers.

    Part of the fun of Formula One is its Byzantine-slash-Machiavellian aspect. Telling Massa to let Alonzo slide by is just a part of the circus. I took no offense whatsoever. And I laughed out loud at the manner by which Felipe did so.

    I bet he was saying to himself as he gave the clampers a love tap, “This is gonna be some press conference!”

  105. “I would argue (and did) that what drives sports fans to spend their money on luxuries such as team memorabilia and very fast cars is not the result, but rather the way results are achieved. They will spend more if they feel an engagement with the team. If it makes them feel good.”

    Haven’t seen too many Minardi flags and crowds on the grandstands.

  106. I am an Alonso fan, I believe he is the best “racer” out there today. But I am a fan of several of the other drivers as well – including Massa.
    I would have prefered to see Alonso pass Massa in a battle, but I also prefered to see Webber hold off Vettle (although I like them both) in a battle, but I can understand why team owners do not want to see that and might even give the order to be extremely careful with each other (which by the way is a team order).
    And as far as team orders are concerned, I believe that McLaren has been just as guilty, both in the past as well as in the present. The past being Mika over David Coultard, and in the present, my personal belief is that when Button jumped Hamilton after the Red Bulls took each other off course, he was told to let Hamilton back by. I also believe at that point they were told to knock it off.
    So Team Orders are here to stay, and the only way to get around them is to limit teams to 1 car. Thats not going to happen.
    But the real problem today is the media, as you say Joe “its a good story” and they will blow up anything that they can make a profit on – Ferrari is guilty of trying to make a profit in front of the sport, but the press isn’t?
    And finally, from an Americans point of view, if it had been Lewis doing it, the British Press would be all for it and would be defending him – if it even got reported.

  107. Alonso is a great racer but an awful loser. He was frustrated at his need to race his team mate and indicated so via the radio. He spends far too much time complaining in order to achieve results than actually racing as the past few years evidence has shown. In particular his scandoulous behaviour at McLaren and this year he seems to have spent more time on the radio than off. It is a hard pill to swallow for any driver to gift his team mate a win but with the exceptional circumstances that Massa has endured, nearly losing his life a year ago, it would have been fitting for the man to have carried onto the chequered flag and win for his team. But it isn’t his team is it? Its Alonso’s. I have no respect for the tantrum prone fool at all and Ferrari’s legend has taken yet another battering. Absolutely hopeless. Financial business that masquerades as a sport so that us fans will finance it for them!

  108. Ferrari’s choice to go down the pragmatic route rather than indulge in a little romance is a sign that the firm is run by people who do what is best for the company, put who at the same time put Ferrari before the sport as a whole.

    I disagree.

    If Felipe and Alonso had been allowed to compete and Alonso had won then Ferrari would have got what they wanted.

    If Felipe and Alonso had been allowed to compete and Felipe had won they would have had a the public interest story you mentioned but a wonderful foil for a nice, true, “bad times, good times” PR story and probably a promo video. All of which would be superb marketing. They’d still have the 1-2 and they’d have a superb PR story rather than this disaster.

    Ferrari are meant to be about passion, romance, speed and so on.

    But that isn’t what Ferrari are about anymore. There is zero romance in what happened on Sunday, just a ruthless desire to win. That is passion, but its not the type of passion that goes hand in hand with romance.

    If Ferrari think that people buy their cars because they win the Constructors championship they are deluded. Sure fans may follow a particular team, but in my experience its the drivers championship that generates the real interest.

    Far too early to be using team orders. If Alonso really is as good as he thinks he is he does not need assistance from his team mate. If he put half the effort into passing Massa as he puts into complaining maybe he’d get somewhere.

    When/if I ever have enough cash to buy a car like a Ferrari, it won’t be a Ferrari. Its not a good image, driving a car by a team that isn’t sporting.

  109. Remember Joe:

    “The only thing we advise drivers is the respective pace of the other driver and they ultimately call it,” the team principal said. “Lewis was nearly a second quicker than Heikki through the race and when he was told Lewis was quicker he just let him past.”

    “He knew that was the only way because the longer he would have held up Lewis the more difficult it would have been for him to have regained the lead. It was a tremendous sporting gesture and it’s what being in a racing team is about. True team-mates do these things because that’s the way they are.”

    Ron Dennis, German GP 2008.

    And now say me that british press are not against Alonso since 2007.

    1. v7f7a7,

      It may be true, but you are not asking why? You are assuming it is because the British are racists, which they are not. Alonso did bad stuff in 2007. Why canyou not understand that?

  110. >>The rancour between Ferrari and the fans is about a clash of philosophies.<<

    No it's not. It's about Ferrari treating fans with utter contempt.

    Nikki Lauda put it best when describing Alonso's post race interview:
    "I've never heard a driver talk so much bullsh*t in my life"…

    Which, considering Lauda's experience, is saying something.

    1. Nigel,

      I agree. Niki is best bullshit-cutter through that I know. He went straight to the heart of the matter.

  111. There were three key radio transmissions from Rob Smedley upon which this whole controversy is based:

    The first is the alleged instruction to Massa to pull over.

    The second is the thanks for doing it and the apology that it had to be done.

    The third is during the slowing down lap when he is congratulated for a fine drive and for being “magnanimous”.

    What interests me is who authorised the broadcast of these three transmissions?

    Ferrari? The FIA? Formula One Management (Bernie)?

    Without the radio transmissions there is still a story here, but the evidence for tampering with the result is an awful lot stronger with the radio transmissions than it would have been without them………….

  112. Sound analysis, however I am VERY strongly behind DC’s summary of the situation, F1 is a business and not a sport, but so is Football, and no-one really seems to complain about that.

    It’s IS all about perception, and team orders have always existed and always will, just like money has been the biggest factor in F1 for a long time and it’s far too late to ever change that, but is this actually a problem? If you have the perception that F1 is about individual drivers, that I can only see the fault lies with you, F1 is about teams, and just like any other sport those teams will go to great lengths to win and not necessarily in ways the public approve of.

    Personally I have no issue with this at all. If you want it to be about the drivers then all cars would need to be identical, you can’t have it both ways. I hope EJ mounts a major crusade against the ‘team orders’ regulation, then at least F1 can go back to being honest about what it is: a business, and a business we all love to watch!

  113. “Alonso’s responses to the questions indicated that he feels that all the F1 press are simply hacks looking for a front page lead. ”

    I can certainly understand why he might think that, based on the things the press did to him earlier in his career (2005 to the first third of 2007 – after that the criticism has often been legitimate).

    1. Carlos,

      The press did nothing bad to him that I am aware. His problems started when he was at McLaren. There are some folk who believe that what he did at that point was unethical, but we are not going to argue that one.

  114. Has anyone here any idea how Felipe could have saved his image and credibility AND the job at Ferrari at the same time?

    1. Carsten,

      No. The only way he can deliver for Brazilians is to win… He was stuck between a rock and hard place. He chose the rock.

  115. >>The Ferrari argument is that if the team is to have any chance of winning the title this year it is best not to have the drivers splitting the available points between them.<<

    It's funny that they would want to make this argument while simultaneously assuring the world that they are outraged by the suggestion that team orders were involved in settling the outcome of yesterday's race.

  116. Joe – are you suggesting that Alonso lied to the FIA investigators about his involvement in Singapore? That’s a pretty serious accusation – and given what happened after Melbourne ’09, such a course of action would be a very high-stakes game for someone sitting on a Ferrari deal, don’t you think?

    Do you really think Alonso would have risked all of that?

    Or are you suggesting that there were motivations within the FIA not to probe Alonso too deeply?

    Renault conducted their own investigation – their whistleblower (whose account you give credit to as a reason to have Briatore banned from the sport) made absolutely no mention whatsoever of Alonso. Was the whsitleblower therefore being economical with the truth?

    I’m genuinely interested in your thoughts on these matters.

    1. john,

      Ok. Two questions. Do you think Alonso is intelligent? Answer: Yes. Would an intelligent driver agree to stop of lap 13 of a race, knowing that this would drop him to the back, except in the event of an incident? No. Thus, did he know? No-one can prove it, can they? But find me someone in F1 who believes him and I will give you a peanut…

  117. I was not that put off by the move as many appear to be. I understand the reasoning and I think this is getting blown way out of proportion.

    This was definitely obvious being up front and all but how many times did Kovi give the soft pass to Hamilton when they were together. I didn’t have a problem then and I don’t have a problem now.

  118. This was pure and simple race fixing and not what spectators or the public pay for. We all know or should know that it is big business and not a sport. When a driver can win a race from the back of the grid and take the honours on the podium after their team has ordered their team mate to deliberately crash his car to help a result its not a sport but cut throat business and when a driver tries to blackmail his team into giving him top driver status even although some of his comments may have been true does not make him a good sportsman.
    It would serve Ferrari right if they experienced a few more problems and Alonso dropped down the order behind Massa and they lost any chance of the championship for failing to allow massa to win yesterday as he had come back from a bad crash and was cruelly denied a win that was surely his, come on FIA lets make it a great racing spectacle again, you made the right call after the 2002 schumacker debacle. Hit Ferrari hard with at least a 3 race ban and the others will sit up and take notice

  119. Joe,

    I take issue with this: “the fans have no representation without the media”.

    Not true. There are blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter access directly to drivers, and numerous fan-based websites. As we have see in the “mass” media, the walls are being broken down every day. The powers that be at F1 may listen to the larger media organizations, but I no longer think it correct to state that the fans require “mass” media to share their views.

    1. Scott,

      Do you really think that F1 teams pay any attention to fan blogs. Sorry, I have some bad news for you…

  120. A few more thoughts on the subject. First, a lot of commentors seem to be taking the position that the no team orders rule is bad one, so it’s ok to break it. Well, F1 is chocked full of questionable rules, but teams are not allowed to pick and choose which ones they will follow. The bottom line is that Alonso won the race by breaking a rule.

    What bothers me is the position Ferrari put Mr. Massa in. He has always struck me as a driver with honesty and integrity. Ferrari put him in a position where he had to support his team by flat out lying to the fans. To me that says Ferrarri as a team does not respect the individual reputations of it’s personnel.

    I’m curious though as to the ins and outs of the punishment. The maximum punishment is $100,000?

    In Australia, 2009, when Lewis Hamilton passed Trulli, and then lied about it (at the team’s behest)

    “The stewards, having considered the new elements presented to them from the 2009 Australian formula one grand prix, consider that driver number one Lewis Hamilton and the competitor Vodafone McLaren Mercedes acted in a manner prejudicial to the conduct of the event by providing evidence deliberately misleading to the stewards at the hearing on Sunday March 29th 2009, a breach of article 151c of the International Sporting Code.

    “Under article 158 of the International Sporting Code the driver number one Lewis Hamilton and the competitor Vodafone McLaren Mercedes are excluded from the race classification for the 2009 Australian grand prix and the classification is amended accordingly.”

    Not to heap more woe on Fellipe, but once the stewards determined that team orders had been issued, why aren’t Fellipe’s statements to the contrary considered deliberately misleading as well? And why isn’t Ferrari facing the same punishment Hamiton/Mclaren did for being misleading?

  121. For much of Sunday’s race I was thinking how great it would be for Massa to win on the anniversary of his accident and thught how reminiscent it was of Tambay’s win at Imola in 1983 a year after Gilles should have won.

    Then Ferrari proved that they had learned absolutely nothing in Austria in 2002 when their winning driver was booed on the podium and the team got a load of negative publicity.

    One interesting difference between the two is the change on the internet since then. Ferrari’s official twitter account @InsideFerrari has yet to mention the stewards’ meeting let alone the penalty. For many hours after the race last night it was getting thousands of critical messages sent to it and maybe one positive message per thousand negative one.

    It will be interesting to see how Ferrari respond but I expect now they have reverted to type they will do what they have always done and the Ferrari fans will buy it as they always have and go on about the passion of the most passionless team in the sport.

    I wonder how many of those who were interviewed by the stewards yesterday will receive the same criticism for lying to the stewards as Lewis Hamilton did.

  122. “No real fan can be proud of a sport that allows things like the Ferrari switch at Hockenheim. It compounded the widely-held belief that F1 is a business rather than a sport.” – Spot on!

    And I would suggest this is “the Bernie effect”. He certainly has little interest in the sport.

    Two observations:

    1. I note we’re having a GP in Korea very soon. Track not yet finished of course and no qualifying International event has taken place. Sorry. I forgot. Bernie probably got that incovenience removed.

    2. Gotta go. A real sporting event is on the telly in 10 minutes. The review of the 2010 Tour de France. True atheletes. Not perfect sportmanship all the time and the ever-present suspicion of dodgy fuels, but it’s still a sport I can now relate to it much better than F1.

  123. Joe:

    You ask:

    “Ferrari’s attitude is really just an attempt to bring order to the chaos of life and control as many elements as possible. But what happens, say, if Alonso slips on a banana skin and breaks his leg?

    You answered you own question earlier:

    “From that it became clear that the problem is simply one of the way one looks at the sport. Sebastian Vettel was not a threat to the Ferrari 1-2. He might have been if the car had suddenly improved, [***]but one should not be making such decisions based on ifs and buts. [***]

    But overall, I like your analysis a lot.

  124. How very silly. Lap time analysis is pointless: once Alonso was in front, all he needed to do was stay a comfortable marging ahead of Massa. You can argue all you want if, when in second place, Alonso was faster than Massa, but saying his pace after the swap is evidence that he wasn’t faster overall is disingenuous in the extreme.

    All great champions are arrogant and demanding. Team orders and driver swaps on the track happen all the time, it’s just that, this time, an engineer wanted the world to know about it. That’s the only difference. I remember a coded message Heikki received last year (maybe 08?) while in front of Lewis which was largely ignored by the F1 press. This silly analysis from possibly the best F1 writer in the world acting like this is something exceptional suggests to me there’s a bit of prejudice in the air (I don’t mean racial/national, but of personal preference).

  125. Joe,

    An excellent article which sums it all up perfectly, I have to take issue with your last point, the sport really is squeezing its fans. Id love to go to more races but just cant afford it, whilst CVC and Bernie are still involved do you think ticket prices will ever decrease?

  126. On the “lap 13” issue – Hamilton used precisely the same strategy at Melbourne in 2009 and it netted him a net 3rd (forgetting the whole “liegate” thing). I think it is perfectly reasonable to suggest that Alonso agreed to a strategy that would put him out of synch on the grounds of having nothing to lose.

    I don’t doubt that he must have been very suspicious after the fact, but “involvement” in Singapore would mean active knowledge before the fact, i.e. participation in a conspiracy.

    And if that had been the case I think it would have been uncovered. The investigation was very thorough. We know that Alonso was interviewed by the investigators first, and that they swooped unannounced on the team, so they had no time to prepare a “straight” story. Alonso’s engineers were similarly interviewed in solitude, and if Alonso was involved then they would have had to be in on it too. Not even the complainant (Piquet Jr.) has suggested that Alonso was involved in any aspect of it, and he certainly has no reason to protect him.

    My own view is that Alonso most likely agreed to an early stop in a very brief debrief session, and had probably lost interest in the event at that stage having qualified 15th, and that whateverplan was hatched emerged after that.

    So I’d suggest that the balance of probabilities suggests that he was not involved. Unless there has been an active cover-up in order to protect a Star Asset of the sport, but I don’t believe that either. We saw at Melbourne in ’09 that the FIA will hang drivers out to dry if they see a reason to do so.

    I appreciate you have strong views on this, but I very much think that, were I able to access the paddock, then I would be chasing you for that peanut.

  127. 138 comments! I’m not going to read them all, but one did catch my eye, and that’s Ian Bennett’s about there being different ways to conduct a business. That’s absolutely right: the bottom line is always the ultimate arbiter of success in a business, but sometimes softly, softly catchee monkey. This present win-(the championship)-at-all-costs attitude at Ferrar will hurt its image, not enhance it.

    After all, why do people like Ferarri? It’s the “aura”, the “mystique”, not the outright success. Ferrari didn’t win a drivers’ title for 21 years, and it still attracted new fans; people still bought its cars. Some of the greatest and best-loved Ferrari myths and legends were forged during that fallow period: Villeneuve, Mansell, the F40…

  128. Had a put a sizable punt on Massa to win, at what I assume would be decent odds given his recent form, and Ferraris shenangians made me lose my money, would I be able to sue them?

    Any lawyers want to comment? (for free ;))

    The only way to truly stop team orders is to allow only one car per team. They’re just going to be more subtle about it in the future.

  129. I only accuse British reporters of being hypocrites. When Hamilton made it is well done,but when it does Alonso the spaniard is a demon. British press has too much power in F1.

    And please, do not feel alluded. You’re one of the few that listens and responds to the fans.

  130. Re Carsten’s comment,

    It wouldn’t have satisfied the fans in Brazil, but Massa presumably could have made it look moderately legit if he had wanted to — start pushing too hard, locking up in the corners a bit, then step wide at the last corner, across the runoff, and all of a sudden Alonso’s through due to a racing mistake by Massa.

    Of course, that wouldn’t have looked terribly convincing with Rob Smedley on the radio sounding as though he’d just been told to slip some arsenic in Massa’s tea.

    The reactions of some of the other team principals are quite interesting though — C. Horner making a belated stab at regaining some moral high ground, R. Brawn remaining sensibly silent (given his history in these matters), and F. Williams not needing to say anything, his sporting bona fides in fine repair as ever.

    It’s interesting to see Martin Whitmarsh in his incarnation as the avatar of sportsmanship and fair play, though. I don’t think I would have been able to keep a straight face if it had been Ron Dennis coming over all preachy about teammate equality, but for some reason Whitmarsh is believable. Or perhaps I’m just easily duped?

  131. Here is a list of known team ordersL

    Austria 2002: Ferrari order Rubens Barrichello to let Michael Schumacher past to win

    Monaco 2007: McLaren order Lewis Hamilton not to challenge Fernando Alonso for the race win

    Brazil 2007: Ferrari manipulate Felipe Massa’s pit stop to put Kimi Raikkonen into the lead so he can win the world title

    Germany 2008: Heikki Kovalainen lets McLaren team-mate Hamilton through so he can win the race following an error in team tactics

    Singapore 2008: Renault order Nelson Piquet to crash to cause a safety car period that helps Alonso win

    China 2008: Raikkonen hands Massa second place behind Hamilton so he is in a better championship position heading into the final race

    What Ferrari did was not a nice way to race but it not something out of the ordinary in F1. If Heikki had not let Lewis through in Germany 2008, he would not be world champion…

    Dont throw rocks from a glass house

  132. Thanks Joe, quality thoughts. (And thks for editing out more of those who know don’t appreciate what you’re offering here.)

  133. Great piece Joe. I don’t want to add too much, as I’ve posted more on this topic today than I’ve ever posted before. Besides, your column covers my thoughts. It’s great to have as respected a voice as your’s echoing the majority of F1/Ferrari/Felipe’s fans. You are totally right about Alonso, he doesn’t seem to understand how popularity works, and about Ferrari, a credible loss is far more appealing to fans than a “manipulated” win. I understand team orders, I know that their used in every team up and down the paddock, but there has to be some common sense in their application.

  134. Beautiful analysis. I’m always irritated by the “team sport” remark, because the Drivers’ Championship is about who can be determined to be the best driver. If this has always been subverted by drivers receiving favours from their team-mates, because their teams wanted to up their chances of winning the title, it would so far always have been going the wrong way.

    I really think nothing should be considered more natural in motor racing than two drivers, whether they work for the same team or not, having to use the best of their abilities to outperform each other on a circuit. It’s much more artificial to effectively hand a position to a driver in favour, regardless of whether it happens by pre-empting an actual fight for positions, whether it happens by encouraging one driver to somehow make way for the other, or whether it happens by conveniently timing pit stops so the running order may be reversed.

    Also, I would disagree a bit on the concept that business and sport are always at odds with each other. One could argue that audiences may not come to at least certain Grand Prixs as much as they did in the past because they did not want to pay hard-earned money to watch the sport because of how regularly it seems to be connected with controversy. In pretty much the same vein, it might be true that intermittent scandals sweeping past motor racing publications into mainstream newspapers widen the exposure of people to Formula 1, but one could say that this only happens at the expense of average non-fans wondering whatever crazy thing happened surrounding that championship again. In both of that, I would see enough room to speculate that Formula 1 might be more successful commercially if it could be seen as a more attractive and integer sporting event. I personally would consider it bad company management to disregard those kinds of concerns, because it is not necessarily a healthy business decision to think people will like your product or service no matter what you do.

  135. Excellent story, lots of valid points. My only beef with this situation is, if Massa is going to let Alonso pass. let him do it in style (Schumacher mentioned this) and both will look good. But slowing a la Barrichelo to show the world that he is obeying orders is really, really stupid for both drivers and the team he wants to “help”. For starters he cost the team $100k in fines, maybe a sanction by FIA, Ferrari credibility and not to mention that now for the rest of his life he has to explain why he did it (professional, team player, etc) but, nobody is going to believe it. He should have fought for his position, period. That is why I respect Hamilton, he never gives anything away.
    Now I see Massa as a sour number 2 driver as Barrichelo became while driving at Ferrari.
    I have to say that maybe this is also the result of Massa not fighting or crashing into Alonso when entering the pits way back. At that moment Alonso along many fans (me included) lost respect for Massa when we saw that.
    No doubt he is a nice guy but, maybe he is not aggressive or smart enough to become a World Champion.

  136. Right now I can only think about this:
    1.- “This is ridiculous.”
    2.- “Fernando is faster than you, confirm you understand that message.”
    3.- “Good lad, … sorry.”
    4.- “I’ll talk with you later.”

    Of course this is not a ‘sport’ anymore but THIS is ridiculous! We urgently need more Webbers and Mansells and Laudas kind of guys. Gentlemen, in a word.

  137. Hi Joe

    Great piece as ever.

    I believe Massa should have ignored the team order right away. Maybe it’s not in his character and that makes him a very valuable person, and I know these things are very difficult to discern in normal life, so imagine how it could be inside the cockpit, alone, and going very fast.

    But this is F1, sadly a winner takes all environment, and your teammate is “Controversy” Alonso, he will never repay you the favour…


  138. I think there is a difference between handing the victory on a plate when your are leading from the start and letting a teammate through in the middle of the race and the move does not guarantee victory.

    Hamilton still had to pass other cars and Heikki was not forced to give up a victory like Massa (or Rubinho) had to. Heikki did not lose a first place, and Hamilton “deserved” victory by passing other cars. Did Heikki even finish second?

    Also, team orders are in a way accepted when the cars are on a different strategy, as they have been up to last year, even though these strategies can/have been be a convenient way to swap positions.

    Most people seem to accept team orders in case one driver has no chance of winning the title, i.e. at the end of the year, even the FIA seems to agree that this does not bring the sport in disrepute.

    Teams order telling drivers not race each other at the end of are are also understandable, at least the driver in front will have done something to reach and therefore deserve that position.

    When Alonso said on the radio “This is ridiculous”, I immediately thought “No, this is racing”.

    This remark, and the way he and Ferrari handled the matter during and after the race made matters fare worse.

    They digged themselves a hole and jumped in it head first.

    It almost seems that in the heat of the moment they forgot that all radio communication could be made public….

    Anyway, is it important if the team order messages are coded or not? Team orders were allowed before Austria, still Ferrari was punished in 2002 because their behavior had been detrimental to the sport. I think the same applies here, even if cannot be proved that there were direct team orders, even the Ferrari supporter do not pretend they weren’t, they only say they were ok!

  139. A very thoughtful

    analysis, Mr. Saward, greatly appreciated. My sentiments echo exactly with your humanism as to what we would consider in hypothetically purchasing a luxury performance car such as Ferrari has carved their niche in but – with respect – therein I perceive a fault in your logic.

    While dedicated automotive enthusiasts recognize Ferrari for their passion and technological prowess in catering a unique driving experience (I believe you have recently had a taste as well, an opportunity well worth taking), I suspect that such connoiseurs only play a supporting role in validating the quality of the vehicles for what is the majority customer. The predominant profile here is likely that of a manager, board member or a managing level consultant in a multinational corporation, sovereign fund, or some equivalent (perhaps even an extralegal entity, something that many corporations de facto are), one whose earnings are made of lucrative bonuses, options, and such. What and how these people communicate differs rather drastically from the norm most people are accustomed to.

    The dominant credo in their circles still prominently echoes that of Gordon Gekko (to say the least), laid bare year after year by the Enrons, Lehman Brothers, Halliburtons and BPs of this World. It is that there need be no redeeming value whatsoever in making a killing, in fact collateral suffering is generally (almost ubiquitously) regarded as a trophy which is doubly rewarded in the marketplace. It is adherence to no limits winning where the interest of the whole is by definition, by requirement subject to no consideration. Despite being thinly veiled in the ideological arena by one or another stated principle (as is currently prominently exuded by corporate funded “tea parties” in the US, Italian and Russian ruling classes, and various theocracies here and there) this reductionism of and to “winning” invariably renders the central tenet (a) void. That is the very point; the singular focus on personal satisfaction i.e. “winning” extrapolated as equal to producing a greater good is in fact supposed to constitute a reductio ad absurdum. It is to be accepted with no reservations while it is not to be believed – a paradox of allegiance without logic, without structure. The principle, in other words, is only required as an interface to the rest of the society who by a more diffuse financial existence define “winning” and its exclusive and personal nature by negation.

    Investing great deals of resources for personal enjoyment in a non-productive manner – such as in luxury performance cars priced above the lifetime income of a large percentage of World population – is one social token indicating firm allegiance to this particular (sub-) culture. Most of civilization, indeed of nature itself, drives change by empathy as much as competition (as the likes of Frans de Waal and Jeremy Rifkin can attest to, or exemplified in co-evolutionary masking of genes in symbiotic species); for those who tilt the scales towards competition only (often fondly – and falsely – described as “Darwinian economics”, especially if “Machiavellian” would offend prevailing senses), I believe, greatly identify with the kinds of actions we’ve seen from Ferrari’s F1 team in 2002 and last weekend. Schumacher and Alonso, with their sponsors providing the suitably opulent backround, will – either by chance or design – find acute resonance by their actions in this core audience, especially in situations involving a “win” of some sort.

    If this sounds like a moral tale, or a political statement of some sort it is (from my viewpoint, at least) less so than you might think. I’m not a critic of a free market (per se, in fact I find it hard to recognize where contemporary freedoms exist or prevail). Throughout history one finds entities and individuals seemingly incapable of empathy in their actions, but while at least some of these actors would unabashedly postulate that the World is of their making (and they do) – and theirs alone – it is unavoidably an amalgam of views and intentions of all. Ferrari would not be Ferrari without the Fords, Volkswagens and Hyundais of this World. As a vehicle, in terms of motive purpose being embodied by engineering and design, it barely differs in its information content from any other on the roads.

    So I put it to you that Ferrari – either instinctively or consciously – know what they’re doing when faced with these defining moments. The venn diagram between their fan base and clientele readily connects with a Michael or a Fernando, whereas the more or less equitable meritocracy of pairing Kimi and Felipe was viewed as out of place, ultimately pretty much by everybody. It was not to be believed in. Societies tend to put up monuments and I recognize Ferrari as a living and breathing one; sometimes monuments take on new significances, new connotations. I do not dislike Ferrari for who they are, but ultimately for them – and everybody – I wish a better way. It begins with believing that there are “better ways”; Ferrari’s financial patrons, I presume, may find it no mean task to accept that.



  140. I’m bilingual and follow the English and Spanish press. Go back to 2005 and the Spanish press generally felt that Alonso wasn’t respected outside of Spain; F1 Racing magazine’s “Fastest Man, Fastest Machine – Why didn’t Kimi Win?” front page basically sums up what was going on the whole season. Throw in Spain’s big inferiority complex in F1 (and to an extent outside of F1) and you’ve got a bad start.

    Then in 2006 it was Alonso against everyone’s darling, with an extra dose of “FIArrari” decisions making it look like one man against the world.

    After Hungary 2007 I understand the anti-Alonso press even if I don’t believe we’ve heard both sides (nor will we, as part of Alonso’s severance deal). But it was early in the season, in Bahrain, where things got the ugliest. Alonso was being interviewed by Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, and the radio guys were trying to find excuses for Alonso not winning (they’re very motherly). They asked him if that falling lamp might’ve damaged the car. Alonso was like, “Nah, we checked the car, it was fine,” but they insisted, explaining to the audience how “precise and millimetric” these cars are, and they asked Alonso in a pleading voice if there wasn’t just a tiny little chance that the lamp could’ve thrown something off balance. Alonso couldn’t really say no to a question phrased like that. He answered something like, “Well, yeah, sure…”

    The next day the English language forums were exploding in response to press reports that Alonso was blaming the fallen lamp on his poor performance.

    That soured me to no end. Then, obviously, things fell apart and got a million times worse. They were getting better until the last two races (with penalties that I think were fair and by-the-book, but with very disproportionate consequences due to good/bad luck, and not consistent with the lenient stewarding in the first third of the season, which happened to benefit Hamilton quite often).


    I’m not saying the Spanish press is good. Like I said, I describe them as “motherly” in that they can see no wrong in Alonso. Their reaction to this weekend is much more positive than I want it to be. I’m surprised, because in soccer the Spanish press goes too far in valuing beautiful play over ugly wins (they love talking about “moral victors” and of course there’s Capello getting fired by Real Madrid for winning the league). Spain’s always upset that Italy’s ugly style works. But it’s different when it comes to Formula 1, probably because there were few diehard fans so they’ve been able to teach the new F1 fandom their perspective on the sport, rather than letting new fans develop their own ideas based on the other sports they’re familiar with.


    The only times I’ve been very disappointed with Alonso were when he held on to Singapore ’08 as a win, and when said “This is ridiculous” yesterday.

    But no, I don’t think it’s logical to assume Alonso knew about Singapore ’08 beforehand. He’s spoken out in favor of risky strategies before, when starting from a position in which a safe strategy is barely going to get you into the points. He seemed to especially trust Pat Symonds with those strategies in the past. And what was Renault’s motivation? — to convince Alonso that they knew how to develop a car, because he was about to leave the team on account of their poor performance. Symonds and Briatore needed to make the car look fast. They had much more to gain from not telling him. Besides, Alonso’s not a good enough liar to have feigned surprised there.

  141. Can someone explain to me why Briatore was banned again? Is it that he fixed a race result or the manner in which he fixed it? Are some Fixing methodes acceptable and others not? Briatore should have been fined $100,000 (the going rate) and told to Carry on regardless. What do you think Joe? F1 is certainly the Poorer without the Flamboyant Italian. F1’s mortley crew of Crooks and hedonists need him surely..

  142. very nice to hear such a detailed, balanced view of the situation, thank you. I cannot agree more with the analysis, sporting values and money will always be at odds, however as you say, had massa won with a fairy tale ending, it would have served both purposes. ferrari missed a great opportunity and instead made a huge error on sunday. Personally I think the whole thing a disgrace, the kind of fiasco that makes me less eager to tell my friends how brilliant F1 is and how much I love it. Because the whole image is tarnished. what a wasted opportunity.

  143. Maybe people should stop being ignorant, and look at the 60yr history of this sport. This is a TEAM sport and teams should be able to manage their cars and drivers as THEY see fit, not the FIA!

    A team should do everything in their power to win both the constructors and drivers world titles, and if that means sacrificing another driver then so be it.

    The rules should not be changed due to the impact of betting on sport, if people want to bet then they bet knowing and accepting the rules of the sport.

    Formula 1 is a team sport, different teams manage this in different ways, and I support team orders!! You think Fangio would have won 5 titles without them?

  144. I read as much as I could before I needed to say something about Ferrari’s great racing history and their sporting ways. As far back as the 60’s Ferrari was known for putting winning before anything else including their drivers safety.

    Before we wax nostalgic about Ferrari’s sportsmanship we need to zero in on the companies laser like focus on winning above all else:

    Someone mentioned what would Enzo think of yesterdays goings on. He wouldn’t have cared one bit as long as Ferrari won. Enzo started a race team to win on Sunday and sell on Monday. That is was why he raced.

    As far as anything else is concerned. The teams have shown us time and time again that they have team orders. Everyone knows it, the FIA knows it FOTA knows it the journalists and the fans know it. Why do we have a rule against it if every team is going to break it. I am not a Ferrari fan I am not an Alonso fan, but making an example of them this season is a mockery. Remove the rule or begin enforcing it at the start of the season and not half way through the season.

    Great piece Joe thanks for getting us all thinking. And lets all hope that Ferrari’s pace yesterday was a fluke or my boys are gonna have to really start developing their blown diffuser FAST!

  145. I noticed that some posters are saying that a rule is a rule even if it’s a bad one and it should be enforced. I completely agree. The problem is that it hasn’t been consistently. We’ve seen teammates giving position repeatedly the past couple years. To single this one incident out as the worst thing ever to happen to the “sport” is ludicrous.

    Listen to Coulthard, “Every team in this pit lane gives team orders and anyone who says they don’t is lying.”

    I’ve always been a fan of Massa because he appears to be a class act and I feel bad for him but these things happen. Wipe the tears away, pick up your helmet, and bring it the next race. His lack of aggressiveness in the first half led to him being relegated to a supporting driver. I really hope this brings him back. Next year it could be him in the lead needing the extra points.

  146. “v7f7a7,

    It may be true, but you are not asking why? You are assuming it is because the British are racists, which they are not. Alonso did bad stuff in 2007. Why can you not understand that?”


    I can definitely understand that. I think one of the problems some fans have is that the Hamilton has many of the same traits that Michael and Alonso have been crucified over by their critics and he is generally portrayed as just shy of perfection. You rarely hear people drag on and on about his whining about the team on his radio and there is no denying that doesn’t happen from the little that’s been released.

    This is not an attack on anyone credibility but just an outsider’s observation on why some may question the attacks on Alonso’s character by some of the british press.

  147. I don’t agree with some points of this analysis. I think there is too much hype, blaming and tabloid-type of coverage of what happened on Sunday.

    One only needs to look at the points situation in the championship. Before the German GP, after 10 races, the championship leader had collected 145 points, or 14.5 points per race. At this rate at the end of the championship, after 19 races, the leading driver would have 275 points. Meanwhile F. Massa had only collected 67 points before the Hockenheim race. This means that he probably would have needed to collect 275-67=208 points over the next 9 races to contend for the title. Under current points system that would mean 7 victories and one 2nd & 3rd places each.

    Now, does anyone believe it is realistically possible? I doubt it as even M. Schumacher in his dominant old days could have hardly produced such a winning streak. Therefore, it is very logical that Ferrari chose F. Alonso to win the race as he is their only realistic contender for the title. Yes, F. Alonso may have perceived or real blemishes on his CV (McLaren, Singapore), but it is ludicrous to blame him for what happened on Sunday. Ferrari as a team took the right decision and if anyone looked petulent, that person was non other than F. Massa.

    The point that I can agree with is that Ferrari did what it did in such an unscrupulous way. But to blame F. Alonso for that is a sheer nonsense. It was the right team decision which should have been executed in a more proper manner.

  148. Businesmen? Businessmen?

    How bout we just cut to the chase and say ‘Bernie’? Who else is there? Who is CVC partners if not majority Bernie?

    He’s the a$$ who forked it up. He should be named and shamed. ba$tard.

  149. roger coleman
    very good analysis.
    Spectators tend to forget in the heat of the battle that they are watching a duel between huge corporations, not drivers.

    Whats the point of brodcasting it then, if the spectators view is no good!

    Bullshit man!

    If u cheat all of us F1 fans we just give F1 the finger and stick to Nascar and Indycar. Already drifting towards those series since its much more straight and more action 🙂

    German F1 was a disaster for F1 … and noone has the guts to tell Ferrari to just drop it or stick to the rules.

    Its a SHAME to steal the victory from Massa … But the Ferrari leaders don’t know the meaning of that word 😦

  150. Thankyou for your analysis Joe.

    Id only like to add one thought.
    Some of the comments coming out of the paddock have read effectively “grow-up fans this thing is always going to happen, always has and is fundamentally F1”. This perspective seems to forget that a large percentage of fans have been watching f1 for more than a decade, maybe 2, maybe 3, maybe more. We buy the cars, the shirts, the watches, the energy drinks and pay the taxes(most races are government subsidised) that fund all of your over-inflated salaries have we not the right to say – “WE HAVE SEEN THIS BEFORE, WE KNOW WHY IT HAPPENS, WE DONT LIKE IT, A GRAND PRIX SHOULD BE SACRED”. Thankyou Mr. Whitmarsh and Mr. Horner for standing up for the sport, even if the poncing pony beats you to the World title the true fans will remember how they did it.

  151. “The only thing we advise drivers is the respective pace of the other driver and they ultimately call it,” the team principal said. “Lewis was nearly a second quicker than Heikki through the race and when he was told Lewis was quicker he just let him past.

    “He knew that was the only way because the longer he would have held up Lewis the more difficult it would have been for him to have regained the lead. It was a tremendous sporting gesture and it’s what being in a racing team is about. True team-mates do these things because that’s the way they are.”

    Ron Dennis, German Gp, 2008.

  152. real fans already know that team orders are a part of formula 1. fans that don’t know about team orders shouldn’t be considered real fans

  153. I remember reading that early in 2002, Michael Schumacher thought that the young Fernando Alonso would be his greatest challenger. One wonders if Michael could see even back then that Fernado had Michael’s winning at any cost attitude. It seems F1 like the World Cup has lost the “beautiful game” and people’s champions like Massa, Raikkonen and even JPM maybe better off not in F1……

    I would prefer to see Kubica in the red overalls than Alonso.

  154. It seems to me that the rights and wrongs of allowing team orders can be endlessly debated. Currently, though, they are forbidden by the rules. Ferrari have pretty blatantly broken the rules and the result of the race must be reviewed. The fact that subtle ‘team orders’ may be been given by other teams over past months and not picked up is not a defense. In football, a forward may get away with a subtle dive in the penalty area and win a penalty. It does not make it acceptable. A blatant dive will mean a yellow card – maybe even a red. Ferrari have been blatant; there was no subtlety at all, as Christian Horner pointed out afterwards.

    Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo says “Enough of the hypocrisy. This has always happened.” An unbelievable statement, tantamount to defending Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal all those years ago.

    The result should not stand or the rules are all up for grabs.

  155. Thanks for writing about this Joe.

    Fans who care about sporting values are justifiably angry about this, but too many world-weary ex-drivers and pundits are trying to downplay it.

    I’m hearing over and over again that, because “every team does it” and “it’s always been part of F1”, the rule must be at fault. This is appalling logic.

    What we saw on Sunday was disgusting behaviour. If other teams would have done the same in similar circumstances, all that shows is that this so-called sport is rotten to the core – and the rules need enforcing with a zero-tolerance sledgehammer from now on.

  156. I really do wonder if some of the people leaving replies on this article are actually F1 fans….. They are missing the point, F1 is a sport we watch to see which one of the drivers has the skill and fortitude to push the limits and win the race, manipulating the race for ANY reason robs everyone of that and turns the sport into a high profile 2 hour product placement advert.

    Without fans there wouldn’t be any television coverage and zero advertising revenue therefore the F1 teams, drivers and journalists wouldn’t have a job, so I really get annoyed when people such as David Coulthard and yourself say that team orders are part of the structure of F1. People watch F1 because they want to see the best drivers in the world racing the best engineered cars in the world against each other, they don’t want to see the best drivers in the world race to the first corner and turn it into a procession, it turns off fans and ultimately kills the sport.

    So what if Massa and Alonso touch while fighting for the lead this is what makes F1 such a fascinating enthralling sport, fans want to see racing from the start to the finish and especially when its two team mates who have the same machinery its the drivers skill that wins him the race not the teams best interest.

    F1 teams and its following circus really should wise up to the fact that they don’t own the sport and believe they can do what they want whenever they feel like it, the fans determine whether f1 is a success or not and taking the racing element out of the sport will turn them off, just look at Moto GP Lorenzo fighting tooth and nail against Rossi both on Yamaha’s, racing to the line its why people tune in to watch no other reason which is why Moto GP audiences and track attendances are increasing unlike F1, I think it was a very sad day for all true fans of the sport.

  157. …If u cheat all of us F1 fans we just give F1 the finger and stick to Nascar and Indycar. Already drifting towards those series since its much more straight and more action 🙂


    Judging by the recent goings on in both NASCAR and Indycar, I doubt you’ll find much solace from F1 there…

  158. A very thorough and seemingly accurate analysis, thank you Joe! The more I muse on this matter, (as a lifelong fan, nothing more) the more it seems that if Ferrari leave it wouldn’t be the end of F1 as has previously been imagined, rather the savior. Private teams, with little corporate shenanigans to worry about, may produce slower cars, but fairer more engaging competition. If the teams can act in such a cynical manner as Ferrari and so openly then it is not surprising that people are not interested in F1. I have watched (nearly) every race since I was nine, but i cannot say that I will watch the next 20yrs worth. Indy racing has been quite good this year!

  159. Can someone clarify exactly who made it an issue to get past Massa in the first place? Was it Domenicali or was it Alonso?

    This to me is an important aspect of the whole thing. Did Ferrari buckle under Alonso’s demands? It seemed to me that he was the one that started it with the “This is ridiculous…” TX. Would they have made the same decision if Alonso had kept quiet?

    I like Stefano and respect the guy but he seemed quite unhappy with the whole thing too. Did you witness him pacing backwards and forwards whilst on the phone prior to EJ accosting him? I’d love to have heard that phone conversation (in English though). Was he explaining the reasons to Montezemolo?

    The bottom line for me is the only people Sunday’s outcome affected was us, the fans. We’re treated as a mere afterthought yet without us there would be no spectacle.

    When my girlfriend and I went to Silverstone for the weekend the total cost would have paid for a two week beach holiday. That kind of committment needs to be appreciated and Sunday left me feeling that it’s not.

    For all of FOTA’s moves to listen to the fans it’s just that, listening.

  160. I have always thought that F1 is “dummies go round”, especially the Schumi/Ferrari period. I didn’t even watch a single race. I thought the golden era of the sport is never coming back after Ayrton Senna… but after last year 2 years, I thought the sport has got more interesting and that the golden era might return — where you can see drivers go all out to race, even against his teammate.

    I’m not that convinced now…

    “this is ridiculous” is what Alonso said immediately after just 2 attempts to overtake his teammate (some drivers would try for dozens of laps). What did he mean? “Ridiculous, I’m just not driving fast enough!” or is it “Ridiculous, he should have let me pass!!” Judge it for yourself. He’s my least favourite F1 driver ever, a spoilt child, not a sportsman.

  161. Joe,
    Your excellent piece and the thrashing out of the arguments in the comments section almost made the disastrous events of Sunday’s GP worthwhile.

    This kind of interaction between journalist and reader is what makes blogging a unique form of communication, and your blog is becoming ever more entertaining…. and less predictable than Ferrari tactics! I texted my sister at the end of lap one to tell her to keep an eye on the Ferrari pit stops – I really didn’t think they’d be so unabashed in their actions, but I had no doubt that Alonso would be the lead Ferrari at the end of the race: the combination of Felipe’s new contract and Fernando’s aggressive statements that he would still win the championship left me in no doubt that Felipe had signed a #2 contract.

    FWIW I think that both the blatant team orders and the ridiculous ticket prices are huge risks to the health of F1 as a sport. FOTA needs to work as a group and avoid being split by events on track. That’s why I was glad to see Martin Whitmarsh saving his comments for a private meeting with Ferrari – hopefully FOTA will put forward some sensible proposal for allowing legitimate team orders without the kind of anti-sporting tactics that left such a bitter taste in the mouths of all F1 fans on Sunday afternoon.

  162. Great article Joe, at last someone is placing the fan at the front of the queue.

    Teams and their sponsors want commercial success and the best way to achieve that is to satisfy the fans, if not, as you rightly pointed out from the attendance figures at Hockenheim, they will walk away.

    Ferrari’s arrogance is testimony to the fact that they clearly choose to put their commercial interests first and sod the fans.

    I hope the WMSC look at the F1 blogs and forums out there, the fans absolute abhorence for what Ferrari did and the manner in which they did it, is plain to see.

    If a team introduces a technical development that breaches the FIA rules there is a direct punishment, so why is that teams think that breaching F1’s code of race conduct is perfectly acceptable.

    F1’s mantra appears to be “lets see what we can get away with” rather than “let’s race”.

    We want open, clean, decent racing, no team orders and may the best driver win. For the sake of the sport’s integrity Bernie and Jean, listen to the fans.

  163. Massa beat Alonso off the line, he was able to maintain the lead at the pit stop, he was at worst the odd click slower than Alonso, was driving a very mature race from the front and deserved to win…or second place if Alonso had managed to overtake him FAIR AND SQUARE. Alonso clearly can’t face an equal fight with a team mate, having lost to a rookie in 2007 at McLaren. The sad thing is that Alonso is one of the sport’s most talented drivers and shouldn’t have to resort to calling in his now apparent number 1 status with Ferrari. Wonder if it has anything to do with Santander, a major Spanish bank, who sponsor Ferrari…………
    I feel gutted for Massa who strikes me as a very decent bloke, without the petulance and preening of Alonso.
    As ever, Joe, you summed things up nicely.

  164. so it is all ok if you pass safety car on track and gain unfair points from some other team’s drivers but it is end of the word if you pass your team mate by team orders (which all other teams are doing as well).

    hypocrisy at the highest level

  165. Rule 39.1 is clearly not unenforceable: it was enforced, albeit belatedly and half heartedly, on Sunday.

    It would be more accurate to say that it is enforceable only in the most blatant of cases – and after all, that is why it was introduced in the first place, after Ferrari’s show of utter contempt for the F1 audience in 2002. Does the sport really want a return to that kind of behaviour ?

    And far from being based on a misunderstanding, the public furore this weekend resulted from the public understanding only too well when a team had gone beyond what even their most ardent supporter would consider sporting behaviour.

    F1 is indeed a business. But first it is a sport, or it is nothing. The public are not quite the naive fools some in the sport seem to believe they are. They understand requirements of sponsors – but without the interest of the public there would be no sponsors. And the public are not particularly interested in manufactured champions.

    Three of the leading teams – McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes (Nick Fry at least, if not Ross Brawn) – have this weekend declared that they are against team orders. Some may wish to label this hypocrisy. I would rather describe it as a recognition of the overwhelming weight of public opinion (which Red Bull also experienced at Sliverstone). And I would argue that allowing their drivers to race is doing the best for the team, the employees, the owners and indeed for the sponsors.

    Martin Brundle put it well in his BBC article today:
    “…I’ve seen a lot of this team strategy business and my strong advice to any established driver is to simply ignore the request, win the race, and handle the nuclear fallout afterwards. Otherwise you self-esteem and public credibility are finished. Mark Webber has a good handle on this, I would say.”

    He, like David Coulthard, admits that he failed to stand up to the team when put in this situation, and Martin for one is honest enough to recognise that he regrets that.

    What he failed to grasp, however, is that the existence of Rule 39.1 gives a far greater chance for that established driver to ignore a team ‘request’ such as Ferrari made on Sunday.

  166. All this talk of what the fans want and the stark point that you made joe about the drop in attendance at this years deustch gp despite the massively more competitive racing this year made me think.

    So apparently a 2011 bugatti ROAD car can do 430kmh+, peoples expectations of excitement have moved on..
    3 points-
    (1) Massively increase track side saftey, higher stronger safety fences and impact absorption.
    (2) Massively increase driver monocoque protection and crash test tolerances.
    (3) open engine rules and chassis rules to the point where the cars look and sound and feel @#$%ing crazy again, somewhere in the region of 10% faster lap times.

    I guarantee people will turn up to see that..whether there is overtaking/rain or shine/ team orders or not, the money will roll right in, who honestly cares how much money it costs to go fast, if the whole world is watching mouths open so someone will be willing to pay. Remember the 80’s? well the market for entertainment is alot bigger and more immediate now.
    But we might have to just race go karts in cote d’azur.

    Definitely a fantasy i know.. but imagine it.

  167. I doubt anyone (other than Joe!) will read this as it’ll be about 10 metres down, but anyway…

    Firstly, D: I completely agree. He’s called Comical Colajanni in our household for exactly this reason. His denial of the blatantly obvious is just hilarious. I wonder when he’ll start referring to McLaren as ‘infidels’?

    Secondly, to those who complain this is like Hockenheim 08. This is nothing like Hockenheim 08. In that instance, Lewis and Heikki were out of sync in the pit stop strategies. Lewis had completed his last, and Heikki still had another to go. They were in essence in different races. Telling (if he needed it) one driver to let the other driver through just makes sense. If Heikki had held up Lewis for a few laps, it would have damaged his race as well. Which clearly doesn’t make sense even if both drivers are being utterly selfish. So please, can we stop trying to compare these?

    Thirdly, telling drivers to ‘hold station’ is also not nearly the same. You are not depriving one driver of a better result than they would otherwise have got. In this instance, the driver in front is their on merit (even if that ‘merit’ is the result of misfortune, say a sticky wheel nut). This is not a blatant manipulation of the results, as was the case with Ferrari. So please, can we stop trying to compare these?

    Finally, this is not the same as Brazil 07. As Ron Dennis once said, there is a big difference between team orders and team strategy. At the start of the race, Massa had no mathematical chance of winning the WDC. Kimi did. Before the race started, both drivers would have been made aware of the permutations that would grant Kimi the WDC. No one team orders had to be given during the race, it was the strategy before the race. The GP viewing public is smart enough to realise the subtle difference. So please, can we stop trying to compare these?

    Ferrari’s team orders where cynically and poorly managed. They took the audience for fools. They then compounded the situation by trying to lie about it. Frankly it was unedifying.

  168. I cannot believe Ferrari got this so wrong. This should have been the “feel good ” sports story of the year. On the ANNIVERSARY of a near death experience, F1 racing driver comes back for all the way win in German GP. It would have been front page news in popular press. Fantastic PR for Ferrari, Massa and F1 in general.
    ……and what have we got instead….

  169. A very well written piece Joe. If F1 repeatedly upsets its engaged audience then how can any of the teams expect them to part with their cash?

    I’m still surprised there wasn’t more booing coming from the crowds when they took their places on the podium…

  170. Joe, I fully understand Ferrari’s approach and I think it is the right one. Even Steve Warson had to move away for Michel Vaillant in (admittedly) the last GP of the season to make Michel world champion. My point is that it is part of the sport.

    The ticket bit is interesting. It could also be that the sport is just becoming a little bit less special. I enjoyed the first part of the season also because it was a long time since the last GP of 2009. Now we have GP’s every week/ two weeks, and to see the results of another GP is sometimes fine by me. Some fans need a break too.

    NB: I have the plan to go to the last GP of the season.

  171. Joe, how about allowing teams to designate a number 1 driver before the start of each event? That way its all out in the open… It would also give the media an additional talking point rather than all these rumours and backroom scandals errupting…

  172. Following up on Nigel’s support of Martin’s advice, Massa would have protected his options by responding to Smedley’s query about “understanding” with a sincere request for clarification. Something like, “Faster? Why do you think that? He’s just a dot in my mirrors. But thanks for the warning. I’ll pick up the pace. Was there something else?”

  173. Fernando was insulted face by face by the Daily Mirror english journalist “dirty champion” after labelling fernando’s victory as “dirty victory”. at the most strained and aggressive press conference of the last years, fernando was executed by a peloton of british correspondents who since 2007 bear him eternal resentment. with disdain, lack of education, arrogance and insultant superiority, classic in the paddock, judged and sentenced him alive before the FIA, always aware of this lobby of british pressure, would investigate the race and sanction ferrari economically.

    old polemics were revived, twisted declarations from fernando in very different circumstances of those which undertook in germany and tried to force alonso to apologise for overtaking massa. fernando stood up counting until 3 before replying some of the questions, where barely questions were set out beyond personal reproachs. they exchanged the microphone among them under threatening looks and even booed a spanish colleague “carlos miquel” for straying from the lapidation line the press conference had marked. really embarrassing.

    the same critics, leaders of a suppossed fair play, who being fernando in mclaren didn’t doubt to blame on him for collaborating with FIA during the spygate. they demanded then to hide the trap to protect the imperium team. round trip hypocrisy in this f1 transformed in magazine, always with newer and more remarkable episodes to represent.

    alonso just limited himself in signing a competitive weekend from friday to sunday on a car which has woken up. his teammate overtook him at the start after an illegal maneuvre by vettel. later, after trying to overtake felipe and find out the defense of the brazilian, opted for avoiding risks and an likely accident with his teammate. ferrari, from the wall, was who handled the race, they reacted badly and late and confused massa by telling him the victory was possible and one lap later that fernando was faster…felipe might have overacted when he slowed down exaggerately and barely could hide his dislike on the podium and in front of the cameras, but we have to understand it mustn’t be easy for a driver to resign of his chances of victory.

    team orders? of course, team orders can be seen in every single gp, as when mclaren ask button to save fuel or in red bull, when opt to exchange front wings. scuderia, team, common success, that’s it. good sense when one of the drivers is 30 points ahead. who bet on? no doubts, now alonso has been the benefited, but if we were seeing it all the way round, fernando would have been the sacrified.

    we’re going to witness actions like we’ve seen this weekend in the upcoming races with the wdc in game, above all this year without refuelling. other years, this kind of situation could be handle better with more pit stops, but now, with just one pit and in the earlies stages of the race, the exchange of positions are very likely. we’ll see if they are then labelled as “dirty winners” and are knife-interrogated.

    Jaime Rodríguez,

    1. v7f747

      I think you are getting seriously carried way with your remarks. Vettel’s manoeuvre was not illegal just because you think it was illegal. If it was illegal there would have been action against Vettel. No-one bears Alonso “eternal resentment” for 2007. He did what he did that year and he now has to live with the consequences of his actions. Why would anyone think him sporting after what he did to McLaren boss Ron Dennis in Hungary that year? These things are not old polemics, they are simply an attempt to explain why it is that Alonso is not treated like a God outside his own country. If the Spanish contingent want to see everything as a conspiracy against Fernando then they are going to do so whatever happens, but it is simply not like that. The questioning was hostile because what was done was not sporting. It got worse because of Alonso’s replies to the questions. Fernando remains a relative new boy in F1 compared to people in the Media Centre, many of whom (from many different nations) have been reporting motor races since he was in nappies – and even before then. So attacking the media for being ignorant was really not an intelligent thing to do. I put this down to the fact that he felt threatened and some people go on to the attack in such circumstances. As to who is insulting who, the only insult I heard was a cry from the back of the room of “bollocks” when Fernando insulted the intelligence of everyone in the room by trying to make out that he should have been given the win because he was quicker on Friday and Saturday. Motor racing is about being quick on Sunday. No-one said “dirty champion” within my hearing and, in any case, that does not sound like an English expression.

      All I can suggest is that you read through all of the remarks that have been made on this blog and try to understand them without allowing nationalistic views to get in the way. It is not about nationality, it is not about one team or another. It is about what is sporting and what is not sporting. Whether you like it or not, whether he deserves it or not, Fernando Alonso has an image problem when it comes to being sporting. You may not wish to hear that, but that is a reality.

  174. I’ve just posted my thoughts on this race elsewhere, only to read them here again (more elequently perhaps) in your article Joe!

    My thoughts exactly and the reason why my favorite red italian cars are made in Milan, not Maranello!!

  175. Dear Joe and pretty much everyone else commenting here – i refer you to McLaren’s tactics at Hockenheim 2008 –

    But of course – Hamilton is a saint and an all-round good chap, so would never resort to that sort of tactics.

    Martin Whitmasrh’s self-righteousness is almost too much to bear..

    1. M Fry,

      It is not the same thing at all. That was a ace that had been disrupted with a Safety Car and a pit strategy mistake by McLaren. It is entirely logical (and quite acceptable) in the circumstances to allow the team to have a driver move out of the way. The FIA did not have a problem with it. They are the rule makers.

  176. Just to start off. I am a fan of F1 and I have no idea why everyone thinks this is the end of the sport due to the giant corporations.

    Why won’t anybody address that Ham was basically waved by Kovi several times in 2008 and that had a direct affect on him winning the Championship by one point in a very exciting race. If this is such an atrocity that slaps the true fans of F1 in the face and steals their money, were was this outcry then?

    Kimi won the Championship the year before by being waved by. This is not new and your outrage is makes little sense in when you look at how obvious this same tactic has been in just the past three years.

    Please someone explain to me why this is different????

  177. Nigel writes:

    — Nikki Lauda put it best when describing Alonso’s post race interview:
    “I’ve never heard a driver talk so much bullsh*t in my life”… —

    The reason everyone is spouting BS is that the rules in play here are nonsense–classic examples of regulations that are constantly broken and functionally unenforceable, except when the fit arbitrarily seizes someone.

    What do you expect Alonso to say in a situation like this?

  178. Quick thought…… no team to driver radio transmissions. The only radio transmissions would be official race information from race control “Mr. Alanso, please take a dirve through”. Or only one way driver to team..”I need new tires, I am coming in”.

    I recently started watching MotoGP and the riders have NO radio communication so they run their own race.

  179. Ok I am sold, we should punish Ferrari for this.

    What kind punishment are we talking about?
    – monetary
    – team points
    – driver points
    – a combination of the above.

    Now, think very careful because we should apply the same punishment for McLaren for exactly the same thing in Germany 2008, you have not forgotten, have you?

    … or maybe we should apply “double standards”, we hit Ferrari hard, we set an example, and we allow Hamilton to keep the WDC he won by a miserable point against Massa, anyone there for double standards?

    What should we do? what should we do? the clock is ticking….

  180. I am stunned to find that there are people who believe that Alonso did not know Piquet was going to crash in Singapore. Presuably these people also believe thatPiquet was thetactical genius who devised the plan. How can Alonso be considered to be the most complete driver by so many and not know about this? How can anyone believe that as he said he leaves strategy to his engineers? Is it remotely feasible that the team decided to use this strategy and not tell the guy it was going to benefit?

    People also need to understand that one of the reasons there is so much anger at team orders in this case is the rule change made for this season. In previous season we had fuel stops so if one driver had just stopped and his team mate was running lighter behind him the team would tell him to let his team mate through because he was faster at that point. That is not dictating finishing position that is simply letting the strategies play out and the guy who was passed can still win. Most teams to save fuel and wear on the cars allowed their drivers to race till the last pit stop and then told them to hold station. The drivers and fans knew that before the race so there were no real complaints.

    Fortunately this year we have finally gone back to a situation where most of the racing happens on the track and not in the pits. On Sunday we had two drivers who were ‘racing’ to the finish with no pit stops or anything else to interfere and the team decided that it wanted them to switch positions. That is why there is anger. Massa struggled when he switched to hard tyres and had the team at that stage told him to move over because he WAS actually costing Alonso time then there would be a lot less anger but he got his tyres up to temperature and won the race. There was no chance whatever that Alonso could overtake him and that is why team orders were issued. Massa won the race but Alonso finished first and that is always going to get a negative reaction from the fans.

  181. So what would the WMSC do?
    I agree with the current rule is a nonsense in one sense but it was put there to stop this sort of thing happening.
    The ‘sport’ suffers and is brought into disrepute if it will not uphold its own rules.
    A 10 second penalty added to Alonso’s time would cost him the win, ferrari a few constructors points and if made the basic penalty (along with the fine) send a message to every manager to be very careful future.

  182. Looking back over the Hockenheim race, the thing that concerns me far more than the Ferrari team orders controversy is the distinct lack of real on track action.

    The circuit is supposedly one of the better ones for overtaking opportunities (especially the Turn 6 hairpin), but there were very few overtaking attempts even from the long train of cars from 7th position back.

    Whilst I acknowledge that there are a multitude of reasons for the lack of genuine battles in modern F1, I am more and more convinced that by far the biggest contributing factor is aerodynamics.

    It is not the amount of downforce produced per se that is causing this problem, but it is the amount lost when running in the wake of another car. I have lost count of the times I have heard drivers make a comment along the lines of “Every time I got close to him I lost so much downforce that I could even make an attempt to overtake”.

    Although we have had some very interesting races this year, the sport cannot afford to continue to rely of factors such as weather changes and fragile tyres.

    I just fail to understand why the interested parties (FIA, FOTA, FOM) will not even acknowledge the extent of the aerodynamic influence on the ability to overtake (or not), let alone actually take some positive action to address it. It should be their number one priority.

  183. Lee Grant (26 July) – You have hit the nail so well on the head, it’s broken off ! You and I (and my father and godfather who have been watching F1 since 1967) are clearly of exactly the same view.

    F1 is very bad value for money – British gp, friday morning, first practice, 20 minutes in, i’m sat at luffield wondering what’s happening ! The first cars appear then nothing, the main action doesn’t start until almost 40 mins in. Now imagine if i’m only there for the day and that is my only opportunity to see an F1 car that season and i’ve paid, what £50 entry ? (I’m assuming here) the cost per minute of F1 action (from behind three layers of ‘safety’ fencing) is huge and very poor value for money.

    I was slightly daft and my girlfriend and I paid £750 for three days of F1 at silverstone (Seats in Arena B stand) and that was only camping opposite the circuit, that didn’t include a proper bed – just an airbed in a tent. Imagine if you only went on the sunday – (£130 ??) for barely ninety mnutes of largely processional racing.
    Bernie needs to wake up and realise how damn lucky he is to have a full silverstone, sadly he is blinded by $$’s in his eyes.

    The fact that Hockenheim was barely half full in a country that is supposedly bouncing back from the global debt crisis better than anyone else, is rather worrying !

  184. VL (27th July) – I thought the same ! “This is ridiculous” Boohoo Fernando, cry me a river ! If your so much ‘better’ and faster, then overtake him, but you cannot because Felipe had the measure of you, at least in lap times. Stop being an arrogant, petulant child and drive.

    In my opinion, it’s the same situation that he had at Mclaren in 2007 – Fernando thinks he is so much better than his team mate and expects to be let through.

  185. Aaaargh, after reading all these comments i’m now angry with Ferrari again after i’d started to calm down mid week ! :-/

  186. To anyone who cant understand anyones indignance at this farce.

    Watch three sessions of free practice.

    Watch 2 hours of Qualifying

    Watch most of a 3 hour race broadcast.

    Then watch as the result is cynically manipulated.

  187. Massa is more popular than Alonso? If it were true, he has nothing to show for it! Came close, but no cigar!
    Alonso’s an animal and will have more championships as a result! You can put money on it Joe.

  188. Massa is more popular than Alonso? If it were true, he has nothing to show for it! Came close, but no cigar!
    Alonso’s an animal and will have more championships as a result! You can put money on it Joe.

    What makes you think popularity has anything to do with the number of championships anyone has won? Gilles Villeneuve and Stirling Moss are two of the most pospular drivers in history and not a championship between them.

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