Vettel wins in Brazil – the air is thin in Austria

Red Bull made a very clear statement in Brazil. It is either run by someone who is stark raving bonkers, or is only willing to apply team orders at the last minute, if it is necessary to do so to save the Drivers’ World Championship from going to Ferrari. It seems that until there is absolutely no chance at all left for Sebastian Vettel to win the title, the team is not going to help Mark Webber. Small wonder that Webber feels aggrieved. The one thing he can do to strengthen his situation is to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but thanks to the decisions that have been made he still has to hope that Vettel will be there behind him to keep Alonso out of second place. If Vettel screws up, crashes or blows an engine, Red Bull Racing will likely lose the title because Alonso will be there to snap up second place. The only thing that the team could then hope for is some help from McLaren…

Red Bull has the best car and should, logically, finish 1-2 in Abu Dhabi, but if that is the case and Vettel leads Webber and Alonso to the finish line, then Alonso will win the title. Vettel’s only hope is that things will go badly wrong for Alonso and he will finish fourth, but that has happened only once in the last eight races. If the order is Vettel-Webber-Alonso as they go into the final lap on Yas Island it will be necessary to tell Vettel to allow Webber to pass, but if the team is really going to carry through this much-vaunted sporting attitude that it has spouted forth all year, it will have to give the biggest prize away.

No-one is that stupid in the modern day and age.

Worst still, if Alonso crashes or blows up and Vettel and Webber are running one-two in the final laps of the Abu Dhabi race, both will end up with 256 points and then it will be down to counting back the points. That would likely trigger utter mayhem between the two team mates… as we saw in Turkey, because Vettel would win the countback. If both collided and Vettel retired Webber would be champion… In such a scenario Webber has nothing to lose but to try to pass the German.

All of this could have been avoided by switching Vettel and Webber in Brazil. That would have meant the same Constructors’ points but would have meant that Alonso would have needed to beat at least one Red Bull to win the title. Switching Vettel and Webber would not have been a case of applying team orders to the detriment of the sport. It would have been logical and the FIA has never worried about such things in the closing stages of a championship. In any case, it can hardly punish Red Bull with more than a fine, having let Ferrari off earlier in the year, without making itself look bad.

Hey-ho… Roll on Abu Dhabi.

161 thoughts on “Vettel wins in Brazil – the air is thin in Austria

  1. Its insane how many of you F1 pundits take on one team a year and bash them no matter what they do, either bad or good. Vettel drove well and so won the race period..

    1. Arun

      It is not about the sport. Do you really think on the last lap of the race in Abu Dhabi with Vettel leading Webber and Alonso, they will really let Vettel win the race and give Alonso the title?

  2. If Alonso finishes fourth he will win the title with 258 points.

    In fairness to RBR, Brundle pointed out that had Vettel let Webber through here, if Webber then has a problem in Abu Dhabi the eight points Vettel conceded in Brazil could cost him the title. Unlikely of course, but worth bearing in mind.

  3. ” If both collided and retired Webber would be champion… In such a scenario Webber has nothing to lose but to try to pass the German.”

    If both collided and retired, Alonso would be champion.

  4. Worst still, if Alonso crashes or blows up and Vettel and Webber are running one-two in the final laps of the Abu Dhabi race, both will end up with 256 points and then it will be down to counting back the points. That would likely trigger utter mayhem between the two team mates… as we saw in Turkey, because Vettel would win the countback. If both collided and retired Webber would be champion… In such a scenario Webber has nothing to lose but to try to pass the German.

    Oh dear … what an explosive scenario we have going into the final race!

    Of course if all of that happened and Hamilton was third, he could end up winning the race and the championship…

  5. Yeah, couldn’t agree more. I simply don’t understand the decision making process at Redbull, it’s entirely self deafeating and stupid. On this day of supposed victory they’ve as good as handed Ferrari the more prestigious title. AND WHY?

    They’ll have only themselves to blame if Fernando snatches it now.

  6. There might be one other thing for Webber to avoid any such situation: He could produce a quicker qualifying lap in Abu Dhabi than his team mate. The last time he did so was in Monza.
    Also, from a marketing point of view – something which Mr Mateschitz obviously is very good at – losing the driver’s title in one of the scenarios you propose might be a wiser option concerning many markets of the world (except for Australia, of course). Often the noble loser wins a lot more sympathies in the long term than the winner who bends or even breaks the rules and that might in this case lead to better sales of some sweet and supposedly energizing liquid. Aren’t team orders prohibited after all? Even if it comes at just 100,000 bucks each, it is still an offence after all.
    Then again this might be the way to go for Vettel. Hand the title to your team mate and win over the sympathies and wait patiently for the things to come during the next years. This then would leave Webber as the World Champion who only earned the title due to his team mate’s generosity. Ah, the delicate psychological dodginess of it all.

  7. their claims of not backing any one driver is garbage.
    they’re backing Webber to crash, because that’s the only way Vettel can take it. as much as I want Mark to win it part of me would like to see Alonso take the championship. just so that those fools behind the scenes who are all hopped up on Red Bull have to suffer the anguish of handing the title away as a result of their own stupidity.

    the mind boggles.

  8. Come on Joe, how can you say that RBR moving Vettel over for Webber is any more or less detrimental to the sport than Ferrari doing it? Looking back, Ferrari’s decision was brilliant, so by all logic, there is no difference between what they did at Germany and what you are now criticizing RBR for NOT doing today.

    1. Bigwagon,

      Timing is everything… as has been discussed here endlessly. At the end of a title race things are different.

  9. if alonso goes out in the final race , we may see another senna/prost moment

    I , for one, would applaud him

  10. Leave it to the people closest to the action to criticize a contender for not futzing with the result of the competition.

    For the rest of the world, this exciting GP had the fastest driver in the fastest car taking home the biggest prize. And that may just be enough to have them turn in again next Sunday, to see the conclusion of this veritable telenovela.

    I applaud Red Bull Racing for their stance, and congratulations for winning their first constructors title!

  11. I woudn’t expect any team to ask a driver to sacrifice a chance of winning the title to help their team mate when they are still firmly in the championship fight themselves. If Vettel had been asked to let Webber through, do you really think he would have?

  12. Some of the Red Bull decisions have been utterly retarded. The whole fact that they found themselves in this position in the first place is a testament to non-racing people trying to have the last say in a F1 team.

    It is terrible how Webber has been treated and made to feel and I truly hope that karma means he wins the championship

  13. At this stage neither Red Bull driver deserves to win the title, both have made too many mistakes, and quite frankly the team gives the impression of being run by idiots. Clearly it isnt, but rather is stuck in the middle of a political mess of their own making. Until they can sort things out behind the scenes and present a more sensible plan publically they dont deserve to win anything. Losing the drivers title seems like the kick up the rear they require since so far the public humiliations this year havent worked.

    Alonso on the other hand (and Ive NEVER been a fan) had the sense before the German GP to come out and publically state Ferrari had to back him that weekend or his title hopes were over – to pretty much every journalist/microphone that he could find. It worked, they did, and hes now in contention.

    Given those options Alonso is the best of a bad bunch.

  14. another way to look at this is that red bull has some degree of integrity and refused to cheat like ferrari did. if this is the case then i applaud the team. alonso’s potential WDC is incredibly tainted by his team’s obvious cheating. team orders are illegal despite the cowardly refusal to enforce said rules.

  15. i think today alonso proved again Ferrari team made the right choice back in Germany. Where was massa today, he really couldnt do anything. Actually massa was useless this year. neither vettel(webber) nor hamilton were that much better than their team mates during the season and this is the only reason why they couldnt used team orders.

    congratulations to alonso and ferrari team, today they did best possible again. the critical movement of the race for alonso was his pass over hamilton and nico.

  16. Red Bull and McLaren show the world the meaning of fair sport. It’s better to lose championship than to win it how Alonso could.

  17. There is another VERY important difference between today and Germany. Webber was never close enough, nor faster than Vettel at any point during the weekend…. in Valencia, Alonso was faster all weekend – had been hounding Massa and Vettel was catching them both… until the faster Alonso was let past.

    That said, RBR MUST switch positions if possible in Abu Dhabi and it’s up to Alonso to earn his Championship by eliminating that scenario.

  18. As much as I was shocked with team orders in Germany, I must now realize, as has been commented already, how brillant it was.

    I sense Alonso will clinch his third WDC next sunday…

  19. Mark Webber is the moral victor this year, no question. But first he has to win it… He’s in a team that’s destroyed the opposition this year, so let’s just celebrate that. Adrian Newey has raised the bar on what a race car can or can’t do and it’s awesome to watch both these guys drive it as they do. As for the drivers championship, the best man will take the kudos whatever happens (…though after Hockenheim I just hope it’s not Alonso!)

  20. It was just few races ago we had everybody lambasting Maranello team for preferring one driver (faster through out year) over other, as their best bet for winning a championship, rather than losing both Ch’ships.

    And isn’t it ironic that same group of people lambasting Redbull for not executing team orders to favor English Speaking Journeyman over young fast German Team mate.

    I wonder if British Press would be forcing Redbull/Horner to execute team-order in favor of Webber (since it may be his last chance for hoorah) if his young team mate was say Lewis Hamilton/ Paul Di Resta and apply the logic ( He has life ahead of him for Championship) that they offer for Vettel…

    Press and its love to play Judge Jury and Executioners huh…

  21. The rules are the same for every race. They aren’t conditional upon whether one breaks them subtly, or at the end of the season.

  22. As much as I agree that Red Bull using team orders makes the most sense to give them the best shot at the drivers championship, as a Webber fan I’m kind of glad that Red Bull won’t use team orders. If Webber is to win than he’s going to have to do it fair and square. To be honest he has made some mistakes, i.e. Korea, Valencia, Belgium, that would have other wise seen him in a better position. Having said that Red Bull should have never let the Turkey situation happen, and maybe you could argue that Vettel owes Webber a win? However at the end of the day, something won fair and square is much more valuable than something won handed on a platter.

  23. why is a team playing with a straight bat greeted so negatively? Red Bull have maintained from day one that while both drivers have a chance of the title, they will not support one or the other. Why is this “crazy”? Ultimately, I’m sure the bosses of Red Bull (the company as opposed to the team) would like to win the World Championship, but does it really make much difference to them? They don’t need the money, nor do they necessarily need the publicity. Maybe they consider their principles more important than winning the Driver’s Championship?

  24. Getting someone to pull over under order of the team is illegal isn’t it Joe? You know, that thing you’ve harped on about since Germany when Ferrari already knew they realistically had one driver who’d win anything!

    Vettel yet again outpaced his team mate in all the sessions that mattered. Why the hell should he let his team mate past? It’s not the final race and Seb can still win the WDC. I find the suggestion that RBR should pull a Ferrari disgusting given that Seb is generally quicker than Mark.

    Quite simply if Webber is good enough he’ll put his class of the field Red Bull on pole and take the win. If he’s not then does he really deserve the title given he’s had the best car, and it’s proven a damn sight more reliable than his team mates? No is the answer to that one.

    I look foward to the final race, I’ve backed Alonso for the title for a long time, so I guess I’ll stick with that, and I think his performances probably warrant it.

  25. Why are you so all aghast and astonished at red bulls decisions. What is wrong with letting their drivers get on with it. So what if Alonso wins the title ahead of the red bulls. The two guys at red bull have a had a fair crack at it and i think their integrity is in intact, not something that can be said of ferrari. Its not crazy from a racing point of view only from a commercial and image point of view. If all you care about is commerce dont bother going to the lengths you do to report or comment on it. I think it will be great to go to the last race with the red bulls both with a chance of winning. I do a lot of racing myself and no way would i want the help of a team mate, and i do have team mates, if they win thats fine i just do my best and those guys are no different. Would i move over for my team mate. No! because in the car its me and you are going to have to overtake, if you cant tough if you can well done. Once its all done we can look forward to next year as well

    1. Dan

      Nothing. But you are missing the point. They are dressing it up as being sporting when in fact they are leaving it open for Vettel. If they are really sporting they will let Alonso win the title with thrid place in Abu Dhabi. Don’t hold your breath…

  26. Resolved:
    Corrected for Real F1 World Champions 2003-2010:
    2003 Kimi
    2005 Kimi
    2006 MS
    2007 Lew
    2008 Felipe
    2010 Seb

  27. I wonder if Webber is considering leaving the team and so F1 if the titlerace doesn’t go his way or eaven to Vettel.

    To me it makes a lot of sense although i certainly don’t want to imply he was a quitter of any sorts.

    Anybody else thinking he would leave?

    RBR have really fu**ed up earlier this year when they didn’t clear the way for team preference of the leading driver in the last 3 races.

  28. Holy cow. I can’t believe I’m actually reading these words. You who derided Ferrari so much at Hockenheim, now advocating the use of team orders?

    There is absolutely no difference here. All that is different is that Ferrari had the foresight to implement them earlier. You might argue that bothFerraris drivers were still in the Championship, but so are Red Bull’s!

    Really astonishing.

    1. Mef,

      You need to read the blog to understand. It is all about timing. No-one complains about team orders when the championship is in the final stages. It is when it is done early in the year that there are problems. It is not a hard concept to grasp.

  29. Bloody right.

    If Webber takes Vettel on a win, he’ll have beaten not Vettel, but a whole system. He’s my man, now. But boy he’d better watch out if he does. Weren’t there suggestive rumors he’d “do a Raikkonen” last week? Nudge nudge, wink wink. That get to Webber? Opposite. If not for traffic, i think he’d have nailed Sebby-boy with a handful of laps spare. That was mean driving, easily missed in the rolling restart global feed coverage.

  30. The one word I’ve yet to see in all the correspondence is “honorable.” Is it not better to lose with dignity then to start manipulating? Is F1 so corrupt-driven only by PR and marketing considerations that victory is Uber Alles? I personally regard Horner as a descent guy who should not be castigated for not playing games. On or off the track.

  31. D,

    “Given those options Alonso is the best of a bad bunch.”

    Nah, i want a proper winner, and i think the only one is Webber. Numerically he sits fairly pretty. But he got some hill to climb. That’d change the game. Let no-one be gifted this WDC.

  32. Red Bull’s strategy today on the points was proper and fair IMO. If Vettel is able to win the final race next week, he will be world champion if Alonso finishes fifth or lower. So far this year, Alonso has finished fifth or lower 33% of the time (6 of the 18 races). It is too much to ask Vettel to hand that opportunity away in this race IMO. And doing so could possibly backfire if Webber has trouble next week.

    Next week, if vettel is leading, Webber is second, and Alonso is placed third or fourth, then Vettel will surely be asked to give way.

  33. “In fairness to RBR, Brundle pointed out that had Vettel let Webber through here, if Webber then has a problem in Abu Dhabi the eight points Vettel conceded in Brazil could cost him the title.” That’s nonsense. If Webber has a problem in Abu Dhabi then Mark’s titel hopes are over. But with Alonso finishing 2nd. behind Vettel even Seb’s hopes are over. Now they handed the WDC chances completely over to Alonso, everything depends on his finishing position. That is a bad strategy.

  34. I would love to see either of the Red Bull drivers win the Driver’s Championship and I give credit to Red Bull for not implementing team orders, but sadly, their “purity” is probably going to cost them.

    If Alonso does win the championship by less than the 7 points he got from Massa in Germany, an otherwise exciting and entertaining season will be ruined by controversy.

  35. andrew frankl,

    honorable is doing your best whilst playing all your cards straight.

    by default, a team cannot do that, expect with enormous expenditure of virtue. Because a team is a separate and not self sacrificing entity. You’d like to think who just won for themselves would say “que sera”, but we are all covetous, and what we covet we don’t tell about.

    sometimes i feel the need to do PR talk leads them all into weasel words, but there’s been a drift here.

    No, honorable goes to a driver, and with things stacked against half of every team’s drivers, honorable is the uphill struggle. Had enough hints, heck they are blatant. You know what i mean?

    – john

  36. What Red Bull’s position says to me is that the Driver’s Championship doesn’t matter, only the Constructor’s does. While other teams have said this, they usually said this after they had won both championships.

    So, next year instead of the money being decided up by Constructor’s points, how about $5 million to the driver’s champion with an additional $5 million to his team? That should be some motivation to care about both championships.

  37. @Maxime Labelle and others.

    How can you say Ferrari’s ‘decision’ in Germany was brilliant.

    Turning up with a 3 litre V10 is also cheating and would also help me win races. Is that brilliant too?

    No, it’s just cheating. Just like Ferrari and Alonso.

    If Alonso comes out of this championship with more points, then it makes a mockery (yet again) of F1.

    After the mockery the England football team made of football in South Africa, I have spent zero time watching or worrying about the ‘sport’. I’m happy to take the same stance with F1.

  38. AND THIS….



    Nothing. But you are missing the point. They are dressing it up as being sporting when in fact they are leaving it open for Vettel. If they are really sporting they will let Alonso win the title with third place in Abu Dhabi. Don’t hold your breath…


  39. Mef, Joe,

    is it not we all want to to level things a little, by nature? If they can, we can? If my man is dissed, i’ll square that? That’s how so much is read in conversation anyhow, we’re all sensitive to it, whether meant or not.

    Hence my complaint about the PR spew. They have to gush a thousand words to try to drown the few which are actually plain as day indicative of their feelings. “Oh, we feel, yes of course we feel. But that means nothing.” So why bloody “feel”?. Geez, this is teenage dating gone wrong!

    I’m not reading the blog about timing of team orders, i’m reading the looks, the self satisfied juvenilism, the stolid square jaw and avoidance of eyes to team below, the “Mark had some engine trouble on lap 60ish, bummer, but it was all fair play” [sic]. Time after time. Yes, Joes’s down right, there’s precedent.

    But Mef, that shouldn’t be why you care one way or the other. This is the first year i can remember i got enthused about a driver, and i’m tellin’ yer it’s all because someone has more steel, is taking more flak, and is doing as good or better. And has grace under it all.

    – john

  40. i dont think i am missing the point
    both driver can win the title why favour one over the other ?
    i care not for the internal politics of the team. I think it is sporting. if it wasnt then i doubt webber’s wheels would have gone on so quick today his stop was marginally quicker than vettel’s. If they lose the drivers to champ to alonso then so be it alonso deserves to be champion and good luck to him. I think there is a lot of moaning coming from webber and he seems to have the emotion of everyone else behind him cos he is nearing the end of his career. I like webber in the fact he is a straight talker but he has consistently moaned all through his career, moaning about second place when at williams etc and i think its an insight that he feels threatened by vettel. Vettel on the other hand seems likeable and philosophical and good fun. He knows next year he will be right up there because of his self belief he is a very good driver, webber on the other hand has talked himself out of a drive in one of the best cars on the grid.

    1. Dan,

      It has got nothing to do with being sporting. You cannot seriously believe that Red Bull Racing will allow Vettel to win in Abu Dhabi if Webber is second and Alonso third. If they do that Alonso wins the title and Horner, Marko and anyone else involved should be fired. If it is not sporting then it can only be about helping Vettel, which is – and always has been – stupid.

  41. So are you saying Joe, in your reply to Dan earlier, that had the positions of the Red Bull drivers in the championship been reversed heading into the race today, and if Webber was leading Vettel in the race, you think Red Bull may have swapped the positions?

    I tend to agree that if the Red Bull situation were reversed, Webber would have been under pressure to be Vettel’s rear gunner a long time ago.

    As much as I hated (still do) Ferrari’s use of team orders at Hockenheim, if Alonso wins, it may have been a masterstroke.

    Back in Germany, I thought that if Alonso won the title by any less than the margin he was gifted then his title would have been tainted, but given his performances over the course of the last few races, I think he has proven himself to be a deserving champion if he does win, though personally I’d love to see Webber do it.

  42. I am amazed to read (and not only here!) that it makes sense for SV to give way to MW in the last GP in order for MW to win FOR SURE the championship, but it was unsane for Ferrari to ask FM to give way to FA in the 11th GP with absolutely unpredictable results as to the championship’s end result.

    If one is against team orders for the sake of sport, then having them in the last race with obvious consequences for the championship (stealing a title from one of the competitors who was obviously going to win it) is the worst kind of Team Orders.

    … And don’t get me wrong I will understand and approve RBR if such instruction is going to be given. It’s only that sometimes I like to step back and watch the situation with my eyes WIDE OPEN….

  43. I have to agree with Mef. I see no differerence whatsoever with Hockenheim.

    Both were team orders, both are against the law. At the time, Massa was still in with a mathematical chance, as was Vettel today. I don’t consider Hockenheim to be ‘early’ in the season. It was past the halfway mark and it jumpstarted Alonso’s faltering title challenge. It came not a moment too late for it to have a large psychological effect on the resolve which later gave him three wins out of four races.

    Also, Horner was amongst Ferrari’s staunchest critics after Hockenheim. Switching the drivers today would have been even more hypocritical than it supposedly is when they hadn’t.

    I personally have nothing against team orders but you can’t have it both ways. If Red Bull say that team orders are not their style – which they have said all along – then why should they backtrack on that?

    I can see even the wisdom of it in practical terms. Red Bull are hedging their bets. If they had put all their eggs in Mark’s basket and he had a problem in Abu Dhabi, it would have been near to impossible for Sebastian to catch up. Now both are still in with a good chance since Yas Marina is a Red Bull circuit and 8 and 15 points are nothing in today’s points. It’s only 3 and 6 points under the old points scheme. Also, both Mark and Fernando have had very reliable cars this year, so statistically speaking the odds are in favour of them running into trouble for once.

    Anyway, Horner’s done the clever talk already, saying that it’s “up to the drivers” to help each other out in Abu Dhabi. So if they do switch places in Abu Dhabi, it’s one driver being sporting to another…

    The moment they choose to do so will be all-important. Seb will be kicking himself if he gives Mark the win five laps from the end and Fernando – his engine situation already critical – blows his engine two laps later. Those final laps will be nail-biting!

    A final thought: isn’t it strange that all this criticism is based on the premise that Seb will beat Mark again in Abu Dhabi? Mark should be fully capable of beating his team-mate next time around. It only adds to the excitement that he needs to win in order to become World Champion. If he does, that’s the stuff champions are made of.

    1. md,

      Well try again. It is not rocket science… Team orders are only a problem when they bring the sport into disrepute, which is when they are applied too early in the year. The rules need to be clarified but the FIA is working on that. I hope that they will come up with something sensible like team orders being allowed only in the last four races, or being allowed if the team announces it in advance. The reason that there are public outcries are when people feel that they have been cheated…

  44. It seems almost everyone is puzzled by Red Bull’s failure to execute team orders. But I wonder if when strategy was discussed with the drivers behind closed doors on Saturday or earlier, if Vettel simply refused to comply with any order to cede his position. What could Red Bull do to him if he did? Nothing. Their future is tied to him, so we may simply have seen RBR making the best of a known situation and waiting until Abu Dhabi to see if team orders are necessary.

    If Red Bull do wind up conceding the championship to Alonso by simply refusing to order Vettel to let Webber past, I wonder how many will believe the Red Bull team have truly honorable principles rather than a desire to support Vettel completely at the exclusion of everything else, a WDC included.

    One thing is for sure, if the Red Bull drivers start Abu Dhabi knowing that no team orders will be executed, look for the sparks to fly. Shades of Senna-Prost come to mind.

  45. Stunning piece on Hamilton’s trip to his own school. Great story, great reporting. re Sao Paulo I disagree with all the mamby-pambies, surely Bernie could arrange for all the teams to go in two or three convoys guarded-preferably by the ex Foreign Legion guys who currently look after Paddock Club guests. Plus some local cops. I am sure they are not all corrupt. To leave Senna’s, Felipe’s and Rubens’s track for a Tilke production in China -now there is a safe place!-forget it.

  46. Think of this. Vettel first, Webber second and Alonso Fifth on the last lap. Webber pulls to the side of the circuit, gets out of his car. Alonso moves to fourth Webber applauds Alonso as he goes through and walks away from Formula 1.

    It could happen Mr Horner!!

  47. What a completely biased junk. It is perfectly clear that you are permanently picking on Sebastian. He drove a fantastic qualifying and race. All you have to do is complain that Red Bull did not take that race win away from him to gift it to his slower team mate.

    This is the fourth race in row that Vettel beats Webber to pole in qualifying and betters him in the race. It is very reasonable on past performance to doubt Webber’s pace and his ability to beat Alonso in Abu Dhabi. If they end up Vettel, Alonso, Webber – which is not unlikely at all – Red Bull would have screwed their future star over for nothing.

    One should also consider that Vettel will have the freshest engine for the desert race. This is always an issue in the dusty environment for reliability. Alonso has the oldest race engine in Abu Dhabi and he can easily blow that engine.

    Red Bull have already said that the “No Team Order” policy will also apply in Abu Dhabi. So if the Vettel, Webber, Alonso scenario applies at the last corner it will be Seb Vettel’s decision whom he will give the crown.

    I’m not going to bet huge sums of money that it will be Webber unless he changes his attitude and asks very nicely.

    1. Werner Berger,

      Are you any relation to Gerhard because your arguments here make about as much sense as that foolish rubbish that he came out with last week about Webber trying to crash into Alonso. I think Sebastian is a very fine driver and a great character. I like him. Maybe I am one of the few Engish guys that do. I feel very strongly that he does not need people helping him, which is what they are trying to do, in my opinion. The fact remains, whether you like it or not, that they have left themselves open to being beaten by Fernando Alonso in Abu Dhabi. The sporting explanation is junk. If we go into the final lap in Abu Dhabi with Vettel leading Webber and Alonso, do you really think they will continue with this sporting charade? No, because it would be idiotic. And if they do then decide to help Mark Webber, it will prove that the whole sporting argument was always a complete fallacy. If they had been smarter they would have accepted that Vettel made too many mistakes early in the year and they would have allowed Mark to be in a stronger position. Vettel is good enough to win titles in the future, he doesn’t need these people helping him out.

      Yes, I am biased as hell, aren’t I? Picking on poor Vettel…

  48. Fastest car, great designer and drivers, the majority of the poles, and this is the situation they find themselves in.

    Impressive how RBR have found new and unique ways to send mixed messages, confuse and disappoint fans, and make Ferrari happy. And I always thought McLaren were the preeminent masters at shooting themselves in the foot . . .

  49. Agreed. RBR have shot themselves in the foot by not allowing Webber past.
    If Webber had of won with Alonso third then Webber would only be 1 point behind Alonso, meaning he only had to finish in front of Alonso to take the title. Now with an 8 point deficit Webber has to win, and hope Alonso is 3rd or worse…
    Not clever Chrisitan/Marko, not clever at all…

  50. Hate to show my ignorance here but what happens if Vettel, Webber & Alonso all finish with 256 points? If Vettel beats Webber due to counting back points does this mean he also beats Alonso?

  51. Joe, All,
    Where do you stand, one week from the Abu Dhabi finale?

    1) Red Bull will not order Vettel to let Webber past even if it means giving the WDC to Alonso/Ferrari
    a) Not surprised
    b) Surprised but not shocked
    c) Simply unthinkable

    2) Vettel will not let Webber past him, irregardless of what the team order him to do.
    a) Not surprised
    b) Surprised but not shocked
    c) Simply unthinkable

    3) Senna-Prost history repeats itself in Abu Dhabi. Webber-Vettel, the latest iteration.
    a) Not surprised
    b) RBR = Right Bozo’s Racing
    c) Simply unthinkable

    4) Lewis Hamilton seizes the championship by 1 point as the top 3 contenders all fail to finish.
    a) stranger things have happened
    b) not gonna happen
    c) poetic justice

    5) Alonso/Ferrari 2010 World Driving Champions. RBR falls on its sword in order to uphold the purist of sporting priciples.
    a) All honor RBR, the ultimate sportsmen
    b) yeah, right
    c) True sportsmen, honorable principles… maybe… maybe not.

    6) Webber benefits from team orders to beat Ferrari at its game and claim 2010 WDC
    a) Nothing wrong with that, championship well deserved.
    b) Alonso, Webber, its all the same. A championship won by team orders is a championship tainted.
    c) It’s nether here nor there. It’s simply F1 reality since forever.

  52. Funny, I seem to recall a lot of “that’s quite borderline” eyebrow raises in 2007 when the Ferrari drivers traded positions on the pit stops. So “no-one complains about late team orders” isn’t exactly true.

    And we’ve seen a big fine mid-season for an obvious team orders penalty. It’s against the rules. The stewards at Hungary decided a $100K penalty was sufficient; the FIA did not overrule them. What’s to say that the stewards at Abu Dhabi wouldn’t decide to issue some other penalty? Goodness knows F1 stewarding has a storied history over the last few years of being wildly inconsistent from race to race.

    The biggest disappointment: there’s clearly no sportsmanship in Formula 1, and the F1 media is not only OK with this, but is OK criticizing teams for refusing to be poor sports. The underlying assumption in this entire argument is “Ferrari didn’t receive an outcome altering penalty for breaking the rules; so Red Bull shouldn’t expect one; break the rules.”

  53. You’re right Joe; it’s not a very hard concept to understand. But I’ve seen you struggle with much simper concepts on this blog. Maybe very simple is the highest rung you can climb to. It’s not any more sporting to wait to the end of a season to switch drivers, so you’re overreaction about Red Bull reveals how lost you are. If there’ s a clear difference between drivers earlier in the season, it would be just as stupid to throw points away on a number 2 then, as it would be four, or two, races from the end. Your mere assertions and the verbal clubbing of your readers only make you appear histrionic, and a less than steady guide through the F1 forest. Ignore the riff-raff, hold the sarcasm, and respond maturely.

  54. I think every1 is way over-reacting when it comes to the whole team-orders issue.
    What it comes down to is this: the championship is VERY VERY close with Alonso/Webber/Vettel all poised to win it all if somebody slips up badly (it’s likely!).
    The RB guys have taken points off of one another all year, that’s what you get when there are 2 guys capable of winning in the same team. The same is not really true of McLaren or Ferrari (OK Button lucked into a few wins..).

    What it comes down to is, whoever wins this World Championship will FULLY deserve it. These guys have been fighting tooth and nail. Alonso has been relentless, Vettel has the kind of speed Webber slightly lacks, but not the maturity to hold it together race after race.

    I’ll be happy to see any of these guys win, I just want it to be a nail biter until the end!!!!

  55. Certainly a controversial and thought provoking article. I totally agree that there is no inconsistency in asking for no team orders earlier in the season, and them being acceptable here, and also accept that they are not interested in upholding the “equality between drivers” if the title is at stake. I also don’t doubt that the long term future of RBR is tilted towards Vettel, and thus they want him to do well.

    However, I would argue that RBR are trying not to put too many eggs in one basket. Webber has crumbled under pressure too often with driver errors. Had Webber been gifted the win today, then Vettel would have almost no chance in Abu Dhabi. However, results as they are, Mark still has a very decent chance of winning the drivers title, given RBR should finish 1-2, but should he screw up or reliability issues, Vettel is still in with a shout of salvaging the title from the jaws of defeat.

    I don’t think playing the game like this must make them “stark raving bonkers”, just playing the calculating game. RBR do not want to lose this, but backing a driver who has made several costly mistakes during the season, is out and out slower than his team mate, in a car with poor reliability and with a team mate still very much in contention; I think they probably did the right thing. No offense to Mark intended, I personally would like him to win, but RBR were not wrong to do what they did.

  56. Significant difference between what happened in Germany and what may have to happen in Abu Dabi.

    In Germany, there was no indication that having Massa pull over for Alonso would mean the difference between winning the championship and losing it. There were many races remaining, literally countless variables and scenarios that had yet to affect a championship. Having Massa pull over cheated Massa – Ferrari made a statement that Felipe was not going to be permitted to compete for the WDC, and that Fernando would.

    Here’s the scenario: Last lap of Abu Dabi, Vettel first, Webber second, Alonso third. If the race ended in that order, Alonso would win the WDC. Sebastien could not win the WDC, even if he won the race.

    This is the situation Joe has depicted. In this situation, it would be absolutely correct for RBR to order Vettel move over to let Webber win the race, and the WDC.

    The difference is very, very clear. In Germany, Ferrari harmed Felipe’s chances at a WDC. In The scenario mentioned above, Vettel would not be able to win the WDC. Letting his teammate past for the win would be complete common sense, and contrary to what Ferrari did in Germany.

  57. I think that anyone who believes Red Bull are sporting or “straight-shooters” must either be naive or breathing the same air as Mateschitz.

    Red Bull have so obviously been favouring one driver over another all year it borders on the ridiculous that they even bother claiming driver parity. From their reaction to the incident in Turkey, including the order to turn Webber’s engine down that brought the whole debacle about, to the wing change at Silverstone, the team has now proved beyond doubt that Vettel is the favoured son by not easing Webber past in Brazil.

    As Joe said, “They are dressing it up as being sporting when in fact they are leaving it open for Vettel”. Correct and concise.

    Joe, it must be hard when running a blog to resist the urge after a few drinks to jump on and spray a few of the ill-informed. I commend you for your restraint. I certainly couldn’t do it….

  58. @ 21.40 carsten, yes I have been of the opinion he will go , with or without WDC. I think Williams. If he went as WDC – which I very much doubt will happen now,- SFW and Patrick could find a bag of cash from sponsors if they had #1 on a Williams car. But then again, with Alonso as WDC I could, just, see Mark driving a red car for a year with #2 on it.
    Irrespective of any opinions on Nando’s worthiness as WDC, I thought his performance in the post race interview were worthy of an Acadamy Award. He just sat there stone faced, not even a hint of a smirk when MW and SV were talking of their chances for WDC. Not even a drop of blood coming from the side of his mouth as he bit on his toungue so hard as he controlled the inner urge to scream out ‘ you idiots RBR, you have just handed me my third WDC, Horner, Marko and my mate Shitz, I love you, I LOVE YOU !’.

  59. Have to say I heartily disagree on you with this one Joe (sorry!)

    The fact that Vettel remains a legitimate contender for the World Championship does, in my view, make Red Bull’s stance proper.

    I know a lot of people say if the situation was reversed it be different. That may be, or it may not. However, “what-ifs” don’t justify or deny what is right.

  60. Oh, this is good. All of it. Missed the passion. It’s back, though.

    Why do so many people think Joe is biased?

    Sure he is, he’s a Webber fan. Why not?

    But there’s no BS here.

    What you read elsewhere, lads, is paid for by advertising.

    Tell me bout it. It’s a funny place where you are the lemming, but not alone.

    Tell me more, why don’t you, about how a BRAND not so much a team, thinks it’s entitled without buying a red cent of ad impressions from any “normal” magazine, but feels entitled to the same self – censorship, and is desperate to keep ownership of it’s protege / PR ticket / boy on a string.

    Tell me, even more, how i can get away with saying that?!

    They walked in for free, and grumble someone has real personal hunger.

    Or no-one remembers Eddie Irvine.

    I love y’all, yer splitting hairs which were pulled long time.

  61. “Worst still, if Alonso crashes or blows up and Vettel and Webber are running one-two in the final laps..If both collided and retired Webber would be champion… In such a scenario Webber has nothing to lose but to try to pass the German.”

    — If both collide, then Alonso will be champ.

  62. Reading this blog half the season intently, i know not to say, e.g. i rate MSC on the grid, which i do, by the way.

    But this has come down to parochialism, or the imagination of that.

    So, Joe Saward is an Aussie – lover.*


    That assumption of everyone above – forgive my inclusiveness – must really prove something.

    You know, from the guy who wrote and edited much of the best database out there.

    I call bull to the invectives.

    And i say Mark Webber has had a real tough time, and he’d make an awesome WDC, the more brilliant because he has to actually take it from so many people. Not just on the grid.

    Does that make bias?


    It ought to make any man proud.

    Even second hand.

    I’m given to spouting too, but when i do i try real hard to keep it spouting the way i first thought it would.

    *if i’m wrong, you get first swipe, i’ll buy the beers, and call it a day then. Eurostar drive-in cabins if you like 🙂

  63. Joe in your reply above you say red bulls should have assisted webber earlier. So how much earlier is ok in your opinion???? You seem to be contradicting yourself… I want webber to win as I’m an aussie but I also have no problems with what ferrari did. End of the day ALL races coint in the championship so doesn’t matter what race they do it in

    Interested in your response as o what race you deem it ok!!

    1. rc,

      the question that is key in arguments about team orders is when they should be allowed, not that they should be allowed. I think four races before the end of the Season. Others may think differently. The problems come when things are done under the table or disguised, so the problem would also be solved if teams were told to declare their intention to use team orders.

  64. And RBR have the gall to ask what Webber’s issues are?

    You’ve got to be kidding me. How about “we’ll chop our noses off to spite ourselves” rather than tell Vettel to toe the company line and actually work for the team rather than for himself.

    Utterly unbelievable that guys who are smart enough to design engineering marvels like an F1 car cannot see that the best way to maximise their chances of both titles was to swap Webber and Vettel around.

    Their fate now rests in the hands of Ferrari and Alonso rather than their own. Ridiculous.

  65. And Joe it’s great reading a blog from an F1 reporter who’s willing to call a spade a spade instead of swallowing team’s PR and reguritating it dressed up as “journalism”.

  66. It is a very complex issue and I can see most sides on this one. but , I agree with you Joe, even ‘Sporting Red Bull” will pull team orders in the last race if it means winning world title. There is no doubt if Mark Webber had nor driven so well, up until Korea he would have been put firmly into a no 2 role much earlier by the “sporting” Red Bull team.

    I also agree that the Ferrari incident halfway through the year and a possible switch approaching the end of the very last race is different for 2 reasons.

    1. Ferrari was not really punished sporting wise for the incident , just a tut tut, slap on the wrist so it seems the FIA are not serious about their own rules this year anyway, which is a shame. By being more serious about enforcing its own rules (by offending teams losing points gained) teams would know what they can and cannot do. So why would Red Bull follow the rules (in the dying stages of the last race), the FIA does not even believe in them. Just so they can lose the biggest prize, the team and Adrian Newey deserves it. By swapping Vettel and Webber once they are only reversing the points Alonso were given , the job the FIA should have done in the hearing in the first place , had they been looking after the sport – their only real job in F1.

    2. Ferrari did bring the sport into disrepute as they (a) have done it before with terrible publicity for the sport (b) Massa was seen to have been hard done by after coming back from life threatening injury etc….this made the disrepute worse.

    Basically its a mess,
    the season was so close and so exciting its a shame there is this distraction.

    Lets all hope Alonso wins by more than 7 points or Webber wins. Then it will not matter. If Webber wins it will be good for the sport as he would have over come the FIA, Ferrari, Alonso who is a two time champ, and Vettel who is very fast over a lap and will win a title one day anyway, even some of his own team management !

    And lets hope the FIA clears this up properly before next year.

    1. cobbs,

      I think you have a very solid assessment of the arguments and I recommend that people think along these lines.

  67. Whew!

    Not the most exciting race but what a finale we are in for!

    I quite like the way the season is finishing (though I would have liked it better if Lewis had more points), Red Bull have given themselves two chances of winning the WDC provided they can finish 1-2 or Alonso finally comes a cropper with his engine. If this is the case I have no doubt Vettel will allow Mark past, and it will not be the result of a direction from Horner, Marko or anyone with a feed to Vettel’s helmet.

    If Alonso wins, then it is well deserved (I have never been bothered by Germany), and in any case to date he has won most races and arguably made the least errors.

    The most disappointing thing for me is that this time next week we will have no F1 for 4 months…

  68. When does “late in the season” start, though? My experience of F1 bulletin boards and the like has tended to be that there is no objection to team orders if the second driver is out of mathematical contention for the title, but otherwise it is wrong to actively prevent a driver from sustaining a title campaign, no matter how remote the prospects.

    Wheras what you’re arguing is a bit different, given that Vettel is still in with a reasonable shout of the title, especially if Alonso retires at Abu Dhabi, as Prost did at Kyalami, and if Webber goes all Reutemann.

  69. Joe – a predictable response. I’m afraid that’s rather inconclusive.

    John – I’m afraid I barely deciphered a word of your argument. No idea what you’re talking about.

  70. As experienced and very successful (if highly time strapped) gamblers in F1 we’re stunned that Red Bull did not order Vettel to move over. They genuinely don’t want Webber to win for them.

    We’ve put money on it happening before with Ferrari and McLaren because it made absolute sense – one driver ‘takes one for the team’. So putting it into very simple words – Red Bull are now gambling that something happens to Alonso in Abu Dhabi.

    Despite his recent form and his pace in Abu Dhabi last year we calculate Vettel to be unlikely to win. Hence they’re gambling even more – not only on Alonso not finishing higher than 5th but also Vettel winning.

    Add to this the fact that Webber could take Vettel out if Alonso somehow doesn’t finish and Red Bull are even further gambling that the driver they’ve done so much to upset this season doesn’t do anything silly.

    The current market probability on Alonso is 53% likely to win the world championship; or in other words a 47% chance he won’t win it. We can’t see him not winning it; Red Bull are just shooting themselves in the feet for wholly unsporting reasons.

  71. Here we go, reinventing the relativity of integrity and common sense all over again, huh?
    Bending the rules in the middle of the seson is bad. Bending them towards the end of the championship, when it really and definitely counts, is completely all right and even wished for.
    So, to make your first million you’d need to obbey the law, while how you make your Xth million doesn’t really matter. Oh, brave thinking for a brave new world.
    I wish I could sit down with Patrick Head and listen to his comparative reflections of this piece and the 1986 finale in – Australia!

    1. Bojan,

      Reinventing the sport? No, there have always been team orders, so it is the modern spectators who have put pressure on the sport to change. I do not disagree with that, in the name of fairness. However, the question of team orders is all about the timing of the use of team orders. When Ferrari applied the orders, the World Championship was not at stake. It was an unnecessary and badly-handled business and the reaction from the public proved that. There is only ever an outcry when team orders are used early in the season. At the end of the year these things are normal and it is revisionist to believe otherwise. The second point which you should take into account is that 1986 was 24 years ago – a quarter of a century. Commercial pressures increase and become irresistible forces in a world where money dictates survival. This does not make it right, but one has to understand why these things happen. In the old days Williams would not have taken pay-drivers, but needs must…

  72. Ah, yes, the disrepute bit. I can understand your point, Joe, but I still beg to differ. In my view, your interpretation of the disrepute argument has a twisted kind of morality. Two drivers are being asked to give up a win in order to help their team mate’s chances while still having a shot at the title themselves, one in mid-season, the other right at the end. If it’s about honesty, how can it be that the audience of the Hockenheim race are mistreated when their ‘honest’ race is tainted by team orders whereas the people at Interlagos would suddenly be alright the same procedure? The ‘championship’ doesn’t start with four races to go, and a switch yesterday would have come as unannounced as it came at Hockenheim.

    If anything, Massa was more out of it with eight rounds to go than Vettel was yesterday. Massa was slower than Alonso all season and would have had an impossible mountain to climb. Vettel, on the other hand, doesn’t need any freak circumstances to win the title next week. In old points he’s only trailing by five points, Webber by three. Alonso had a mountain to climb as well, and that’s why he needed the gift. How many times in the second half of the season, with such a points deficit, is a team in a one-two situation with the possibility to switch drivers? You have to take them as they come.

    And if there is a difference – as I said, I can somehow see your point – it’s only gradual and certainly not warranting taking the moral high ground in one case and reverting to total practicality in the other. You can’t be moral the first 15 races and then switch to being practical for the final four.

    And what about the hedging bets argument? Looking at it from Alonso’s point of view, I see that his challenge next week might actually be harder, with two Red Bulls still to watch out for.

    If Red Bull had switched drivers, all Alonso had to do was beat Webber in Abu Dhabi. He could even have finished eighth while staying ahead of Webber before Vettel would become a threat by winning the race.

    Now, instead of focusing on Webber, he will have to beat the faster Red Bull of late to remain in control. Why? First, he must now finish in one of the top places in order to stave off Vettel challenging his title lead by a win. Then, if Webber is ahead on the road (which Mark also had to be with just the one-point gap), Alonso must beat Vettel to second place, or else he will run straight into the final-lap swap. If he beats Vettel to second place but another driver wins the race – say, Hamilton – then he automatically beats Webber to the title, but that would have been the case as well if team orders had been issued yesterday. So no difference there. The same when he beats Vettel (or Webber) to the win.

    Of course, that’s all provided that all three cars finish, as they did yesterday. But then any driver is certain to lose the title with a DNF. Had the swap occurred yesterday it would have been certain for just two drivers, with Vettel already virtually out of it, and without it it’s now three drivers who stand to lose when their car fails. However, when both Webber and Alonso’s cars fail, Alonso runs a bigger risk of losing the title than would be the case with the 1-point gap to Webber and a 22-point gap to Vettel.

  73. F1 would be awfully dull if every team had the same approach. Let’s respect what Ferrari did in Hockenheim, it is in their DNA. Let’s also respect what Williams did in 1986, what McLaren did in 2007 and what Red Bull does in 2010. It is not stupid, neither honourable, it is just a different approach.

  74. My personal opinion – Red Bull simply wants Vettel to win the title. I don’t see any other reason for not promoting Webber over Vettel – both are equally quick, and they can easily trick Alonso. However, Webber’s move in announcing staying at the team for the next year really shakes the ground under Marko and the rest of the bosses. Bottom line : if Alonso finishes second, all of those talks will be pointless, but I expect Vettel to let Webber pass in Yas Marina. Then, all of the statements about team orders will be hypocritical lies.

  75. Joe

    What is different in RB’s approach to that of Maclaren?

    Maclaren went into the 07 finale with both drivers in with a shout and played a straight bat.

    We can discuss what DM and Marko are up to at RB, but to all intents and purposes, are RB doing any different to Maclaren? I don’t believe at all so

    Cheers, Craig

  76. why should they be fired ? because they didnt contrive to win a championship, if thats the case then it is a about commerce and not about a sporting contest as they are fixing the result. Like i said if i was vettel and was asked to move over i’d say no he has to pass me and then deal with the consequences later. I think Red Bull should be commended for their approach not be lambasted for playing fair no matter how ridiculous you think playing fair is

  77. You were quite critical of Fernando in 2006 Joe, when he started having a whine and a moan about ‘feeling all alone’ in the fight against Michael and Ferrari.

    Can we expect you to be similarly critical of Mark Webber for his similar ingratitude toward Red Bull?

    I’m an Australian, and frankly I think Mark Webber is a flaming disgrace with his transparent politicking. I admire and respect his recovery from injury. But at the same time, it’s becoming clear he’s lived in England too long with his whinging.

    i The irony, in all of this, is that Sebastian in contrast has carried himself with far more grace and good manner than his rather desperate teammate. Perhaps Sebastian enjoys more support from the team, but Mark seems to enjoy far more support from the Anglo-Saxon press. Perhaps a reward for his, at times, sycophantic relationship with them. Vettel who has the misfortunate of being both talented and German routinely has to face up to a hysterical media firing squad. And we don’t hear him having a whinge and a moan.

    There’s a you-tube clip of a high profile Melbournian that has sound advice for Mark Webber. Ole Chopper. Mark should heed it.

    If Mark Webber feels unloved, perhaps he needs to only look at himself. And if he loses the title this year it will be his own fault (his numerous and avoidable errors), and not the injustices of team treatment or Ferrari team orders.

    Two drivers have performed head and shoulders above all the others. That is Fernando and Vettel. ‘The right thing’ (to mock Bob McKenzie’s preposterously phrased question to SV yesterday) will be a straight fight between Sebastian and Alonso.

    Given the liklihood of Webber making yet another mistake, the chances of that are better than none.

  78. I am a Alonso fan and will not consider this WDC as a hollow victory. He gained 7 at Germany but was robbed a 15 at Valencia.

    There is nothing sadder than a guy who is 6’2″ begging to the media to let his team support him emotionally…. COME ON MAN!!! BE A MAN!!! NOT A P****Y!!

    1. WilliamsF1

      I do not think you know anything at all about Mark Webber if you can write like that. If there was a world championship for whining, it would not be Webber who would win it…

  79. Toby – have to agree with you 100% there.

    With regard to speed difference between MW and Vettel, these are the 2010 qualifying differences (average quali time behind their teammate, in secs):

    Mark Webber 0.02
    Jaime Alguersuari 0.06
    Heikki Kovalainen 0.07
    Nico Hülkenberg 0.10
    Jenson Button 0.14
    Sakon Yamamoto 0.21
    Felipe Massa 0.29
    Michael Schumacher 0.30
    Nick Heidfeld 0.33
    Pedro de la Rosa 0.34
    Vitantonio Liuzzi 0.69
    Vitaly Petrov 0.81
    Karun Chandhok 1.00
    Lucas di Grassi 1.94

    So to suggest that MW has been comprehensively beaten is not backed up by the stats – the two RB drivers are the closest matched pair in 2010.

    Red Bull needed to back the driver in the best position (Webber) rather than the driver they have clearly favoured all season (Vettel) – and now they have made the job all that much harder. Incredibly stupid. Almost seems like they would prefer to have Vettel finish on more points than Webber, just so that he will start 2010 as driver number 3.

  80. As usual great analysis, Joe.

    “Switching Vettel and Webber would not have been a case of applying team orders to the detriment of the sport.”

    This sentence makes complete nosense to me. That will be illegal. Full stop. The rule makes no exceptions, however it goes to say everybody applies the rules as they pleased.

    In the case of RebBull findind themselves on the last lap with Vet-Web-Alo, what should they do? Given the numbers Vettel could be champion if Alonso blows his engine on last corner.

    The ironic thing is they will condemned either way, if they apply “the order” it will go against the “we-never-do-team-orders-philosophy”, make them a complete farce. If not that will make them stupid (as in Turkey GP).

    My view, if Webber wins under these circunstancias he will be a well-deserved champion because that rule is plain stupid.

  81. Hi Joe,
    What do you think of Massa’s performance?
    Dont you think he is lately really underperforming? or really Fernando is as good as he looks compared to him?
    Would Massa simply have decided to not do anything to benefit, neither damage Alonso’s chances? I cant believe he is always so far off his team mate in every single race.
    Or I can believe it, but being an Alonso fan I am probably biassed on how good he is… or not.

    1. Gond,
      I think Massa has problems knowing that the team is not behind him as once it was. That hurts a driver and shows up on the stopwatch as well. This is why I think Mark Webber has been so impressive this year, because he knows how things are at Red Bull and has still been able to beat Vettel a lot of the time. That is really impressive and the reason I think that he should be World Champion this year. That is true grit…

  82. “Read my lips ‘There is no team orders at Red Bull'”. Lol. The team order is to win, nothing less. That was the message from the top, in March.

    Regarding the drivers, it is my opinion that Vettel is young, fast, and not really a bad guy (kinda Scrappy doo) and needs guidance and support from somewhere. I’m not saying he has Daddy issues, just that at 24, there is a fine line between confidence and diffidence, which needs to be controlled.

    This is probably Webber’s last chance for a title, he seems like a straight shooter but ain’t no saint. Looking at the body language, there are photos that clearly show Webber is playing mind games trying to de-stabilise the young driver, perhaps justifiably; I’d start super-gluing my front wings after Silverstone.

    Horner is in the middle of all of that, managing as best he can – doing pretty well, considering. I agree that by not allowing Webber to go through yesterday, the team has put themselves on the back foot a little more, but really, there was no choice, given their long-term strategic stance.

    I am surprised (a little) at how many people are upset at the blatant truth, Vettel is the No.1 choice, one you take off the blinkers and remove the filters. There is no anti-Vettel, pro-Webber in truth. I’ll be amazed if Webber is sitting in the Red Bull in 2011.

    I expect fireworks in Abu Dhabi as there is so much to look forward to. Webber needs to out-qualify and out-race Vettel, can he do it? Is the Ferrari going to be able to compete with the Red Bulls? What if the McLaren is the fastest car? Also, the mini side-battle between Kubica and Rosberg, who will prosper?

  83. Its all a bit tricky isn’t it? My thoughts when I heard Webbers’ comments prior to the Grand Prix were “theres a man who knows he is going somewhere else next year” I thyink he may retire or go to another team and I think this has a bearing on Red Bulls actions at Interlagos. It is clear that Vettell is the favoured son and maybe the top management want to keep him happy as they know he has a future with the team and Mark doesn’t. It was very strange that the order wasn’t switched as doing so would have kept winning the WDC in the hands of Mark. As it stands he could win the race in Abu Dhabi and still lose the title, as you said Joe this wouldn’t be the case if Red Bull had done the bleeding obvious in Brazil.
    Surely Mateschiz hasn’t spent all that money to watch the drivers title go off to Ferrari, F1 is all about competition and it would kill the ordinary staff at Red Bull if that happened. Marko and Mateschiz need to remember that in keeping one man happy they could de-motivate several hundred others. To have a great F1 team everything has to be perfect, this could haunt them in future seasons if it all goes horribly wrong.

  84. Actually I kind of admire Red Bulls stance in this, if that’s how they wish to play it.

    I am probbly the most ‘anti team order’person you will find, but even I would have conceded Red Bull the logic to swap their cars in Brizil!

    Now Alonso goes into Abu Dhabi knowing he only has to beat 1 Red Bull (either one) to win the WDC.

    The only question I have is: If the situation was reversed, would Reb Bull have asked Webber to move over? I think in Silverstone we had the answer….

  85. It is terrible how Webber has been treated and made to feel and I truly hope that karma means he wins the championship

    Here here!

    Though I think if Christian Horner had had his own way things would be different.

  86. The reasons for my ‘naive’ comment above:

    If Vettel is leading Webber (with Alonso in third) in the closing stages of Abu Dhabi, how can they make Vettel swap positions given that if it finishes Vet/Web, both RBR drivers would have the same number of points (and any Alonso failure would make Vettel champion on countback)?

    Seb would surely think twice about letting Mark through, even at the death, as Alonso could feasibly retire just yards from the chequered flag on the last lap. In other words is Vettel likely to agree to a switch that could cost him the Championship? Would he take that chance? I’m not so sure.

    Furthermore, even if he does agree to a switch in the circumstances described it would undoubtedly be at the flag and would thus be akin to Schumacher & Barrichello in Austria. That is going to re-awaken the team orders can of worms once more, at least among the uninitiated (ie. the popular press).

    Either way, it’ll be very interesting to see how such a scenario would be handled.

  87. Isn’t it all about marketing? Red Bull only wants Vettel to be champion. A young gun from Germany with a bright future ahead is the perfect champ for the brand, unlike a 34-yr old Aussie whose years in F1 are numbered and who has been complaining about unfair treatment a couple of times…

    I don’t question the integrity of Christian Horner and Adrian Newey as I believe they would love to see Webber as the champ, but they’re not the decision makers. Behind the scenes business counts and there people think that you do better business with Vettel than with Webber. For them it’s Vettel or nothing.

    I don’t have anything against Vettel. He’s a great driver and he would deserve the title just like Webber. But the influence of marketing in this sport is bigger than it ever was and Red Bull is one of the strongest examples of this trend.

    Red Bull is NOT a Formula One team. It’s a business that sells energy drinks and uses sports to market their stuff. Don’t expect fromsuch a business to act like a Formula One team.

  88. ‘It is not about the sport. Do you really think on the last lap of the race in Abu Dhabi with Vettel leading Webber and Alonso, they will really let Vettel win the race and give Alonso the title?’

    I dont think they can do this unless they want a megaton of bricks to fall on them – it would be a touch obvious don’t you think – and appallling PR for that horrible overpriced drink

    Bernie, as always, must be rubbing his hands at how the screenplay is panning out. Methinks a touch of orchestration perhaps (now where – in the last 10 years – have I seen that before?)

  89. Team orders is all about context. If it’s the last race and Seb isn’t looking like winning the title then it is most certainly still sporting if he moves over. With the laps ticking away, champagne being taken out of the fridge down at Ferrari and Mark’s lifetime ambition slipping through his fingers it has to be considered as sporting as Gilles honouring Jody’s senior status or Stirling’s reverence towards the great Fangio if Red Bull’s drivers choose to switch or maintain places to get the best result.

    Taking what would have been a monumental and emotional win away from a guy who nearly gave his life for his team that he’s been with for eight years before he’s out of contention for the title is totally different…

    If I have a preference I want Mark to win in 2010 because I’ve followed him since Formula Ford, but I never get why some people think you can’t support more than one driver? Most British fans I’ve come across are actually the most even-handed supporters of the drivers I’ve ever seen, I expect it’s the same with Joe.

    I went to the Daytona 500 once and I was gobsmacked that with 43 drivers to cheer for fans were each so ardently backing one person that they were arguing about it all around me! Seemed like a recipe for disappointment to me. Not the sort of thing you get at a blustery Bank Holiday at Brands.

    It is quite possible to enjoy watching both Fernando and Lewis, Ayrton and Alain or indeed Mark and Seb. You may have preferences when it comes to which one you would like to sit down and have a cup of tea with, but we’re talking racing here! I’m sure Joe is thinking the same way.

    It would be a fairytale if Mark wins it, but I already think the world of Sebastian and I have faith that he wouldn’t need any team orders to do what was right anyway, so the questioning of the rule-book is likely a moot point.

    Oh, and in case you missed it, Schumacher moved out of Rosberg’s way on Sunday apparently without needing to be instructed like a pre-schooler to do it. These drivers have brains as well as arms and legs y’know!

  90. “simon
    I wonder if Horner thinks he’s doing things the right way or if he’s just a mouthpiece for Helmut”

    He is.

  91. There has been a lot of talk regarding team orders now. Now it seems to make sense while earlier in the season it was a grevious sin. I heard Horner’s interview that he would leave it to the driver’s to work it out. When Vettel was asked, he said he would tease the press and not say anything. Leaving any action for the race itself. Both RBR drivers still have a chance.

    Turkey, Valencia and Korea have come to haunt Red Bull, especially the possible points Webber could have scored in Valencia and Korea had he not filpped and spun out.

    But, that’s hindsight.

    What will happen at Abu Dhabi – is this. If Vettel needs to move aside for Weber to win (assuming Weber is running right behind him) he will. There will be no team orders.

    If Alonso is not in position to win the championship, the actual places on the track will remain unchanged.

    If Webber is out of contention for the championship, any running order will remain unchanged.

    The only interesting conclusion is IF Alonso is not in the championship hunt and Webber and Vettel duke it out in a straight fight.

  92. Weak. You blast Ferrari, you blast Red Bull for the opposite. We see you say it is all about timing (you don’t have to insult your readers to reiterate the point, poor Mef). It’s just that “timing” is horrible logic for the team orders question. Would you have the 2011 rules state no team orders for 15 races, then for 5 it’s perfectly fine. By an arbitrary application of TIMING, Ferrari was perfectly legitimate in backing its driver with more points, it may win them a championship. Still seems like you are asking race teams to become actors, so when they apply team orders we are well and duly tricked. or is it just that Red Bull doesn’t apply them in favor of the driver you prefer?

  93. Joe, great post, and great to read your responses to the various comments.

    My bet for the race:
    Vettel will qualify first ahead of webber.

    He will angle his car sideways toward webber.

    Webber will be forced to get out of the throttle on the start in order to avoid a crash, whilst fernando (third on the grid) and lewis (fifth on the grid behid Kubica) will both tootle past the sideways travelling vettel, into first and second place.

    Hamilton’s poor grip and faulty eff duct (as in ‘is this effing duct working?’) will then cause both red bulls to be backed up behind him – at which point alonso will scurry away and win the race.

    At least this scenario avoids the team orders problem at red bull.

  94. Red Bull: (n) rubbish talked by an embarrassed team boss when trying to explain why he used team orders on the last lap of the season.

  95. I think everyone has a valid point no matter which way you look at it and there are good arguments for leaving it to the race track or arranging a result to benefit a particular team. However what this situation has done is to open up the playing field as to whom Ferrari and Red Bull may have to beg for favours in Abu Dabi. If it is Jenson who needs to “slow down” for a Vettel WDC then we may remember that incident when Seb foolishly tried to make the impossible possible and ruined Jensons race and championship hunt. If it is Lewis doing something to help Mark then we may remember the “racing incident” from a few races ago. Similarly Nando and Lewis’s history even though they both seem to have buried the hatchet. If Ferrari needs Macca to do a favour will Macca throw it back in their faces due to Santander jumping ship or just because they are huge rivals and constructors points may still play a part?
    I know asking other teams to do certain things is not normally a reality but this final race will just go to show how incidents through the season can come back to haunt you when you need a little help.

    I must say going back to the Brazil weekend and why certain things were not done by RBR I am still hung up on whether it was a mistake or ok to just let them continue racing. From a business sense though a Vettel WDC is worth way more than a Webber one and it would prove a point for red bull that their young driver program was well worth it.

    I do like your suggestion Joe for team orders only in last 4 races.

    PREDICTION: Hamilton to win with Button second and Hulkenberg 3rd 🙂 Everyone else will have a meltdown under the pressure. Apart from Alonso who will scrape 4th.

  96. Hello Joe, thanks for accepting my comment
    Generally I see people being intransigent to one team or another but I`ve noticed some very accurate observations as well “…dressing it up as being sporting when in fact they are leaving it open for…” 😉
    I can see where your irritation is coming from – the sporty Red Bull will eventually ask Seb to let mark through. Instead of cutting the sporty “bull“ and throwing their support behind Webber mid-season.
    So I say a lot of people are right – true, they have treated mark like shit; it was obvious even for people only watching on TV. But there is more – since Monza Vettel constantly outperformed Mark and now he even has a shot at WDC (well yes, thanks to his sporty team…) his chance is slim but not as slim as hamilton’s
    Personally I don’t buy one second whatever public stance RB has but Ferrari is no better after all (so “only Ferrari is important and drivers don’t matter” huh? Well I am not interested than either!)

    All of this is happening because of the team orders issue. Yes it’s unworkable rule. Because teams are doing for so long, it’s only natural. Wrong!!!!. Just because there are 2 cars that doesn’t mean one should race to the benefit of the other. We do not have to have team orders, plain and simple. NO TEAM ORDERS, at any time, a crystal clear rule, common ground for all so very “workable” rule. Plus it would stop making FIA punitive measures look like a bad joke.
    I know, it`ll probably never happen.

  97. Joe,

    Interesting and thought provoking as ever, but… I just can’t agree with your analysis that team orders are ok at certain times and not at others. The rule against it states that it is simply whether the orders affect the result of the race or not that must be considered, not whether those orders bring the sport into disrepute. Your position lacks a logical framework behind it. If it is ok to implement team orders at one point in a season but not at another how do you draw the demarcation line between those two points?

    Do you set it at a certain number of races? Well, no, because some title races are two-horse affairs that get sewn up with three races to go, while others are like this year and will go down to the wire with four drivers still in mathematical contention. The contrast between Ferrari and Red Bull is very useful here, as the dilemma faced by one team with two drivers in the running simply doesn’t exist for another team with only one driver in with a chance. Do we then implement the rule differently? Apparently you are arguing for that to be the case, which would seem to make having written rules largely spurious.

    Do you judge it by the political and PR impact that the decision will have? Again, no, because that is completely subjective. What frame do you judge it against? A decision that allows Webber to pass Vettel will go down well in the English-speaking nations, but will be absolute poison for F1’s reputation in the German-speaking world. Are we saying that some markets and media are more important than others in this World Championship, and that disciplinary decisions should be made to favour one point of view?

    Add into this the potential for strategy variation — e.g. one team with a weaker car but throwing all of its resources behind just one driver thereby sacrificing the Constructor’s Championship, versus another team with a strong car getting the CC tucked nicely away but leaving itself vulnerable to defeat in the Driver’s Championship — and why should we remove this option earlier in the season? As far as I can see this season’s entertainment value has benefitted from Ferrari’s concentration on just one driver so, from the point of view that F1 is an entertainment, was the short-term negative publicity attached to just one team actually more than outweighed by increased excitement and tension in the sport as a whole?

    At the moment I am torn, as fundamentally I believe that a team ought to be able to operate as a team. However, with F1’s increasing audience worldwide the neophyte and arriviste elements don’t seem to be able to get their heads around that aspect so a rule exists prohibiting team orders. Where there is a rule you can’t start to decide subjectively when to enforce it.

  98. [quote]joesaward

    If we go into the final lap in Abu Dhabi with Vettel leading Webber and Alonso, do you really think they will continue with this sporting charade? No, because it would be idiotic. And if they do then decide to help Mark Webber, it will prove that the whole sporting argument was always a complete fallacy. If they had been smarter they would have accepted that Vettel made too many mistakes early in the year and they would have allowed Mark to be in a stronger position.[/quote]

    I predict that Red Bull will not issue team orders. They have said that they will leave it to the drivers and that is the right thing to do. Martin Brundle has already realized that and advised Webber to change his attitude towards young Vettel.

    To Joe I would say that you are completely disregarding the obvious. Vettel and Webber lost pretty much the same points by mistakes. The big damage to Vettel’s challenge was really done by three mechanical failures in races that he was leading. It cost him over 60 points vs zero such point loss for Webber.

    Red Bull – who ultimately are responsible for the reliability – would be hopping mad to order the guy to give up even more race wins. If he gracefully gifts the championship to Webber all by his own decision next Sunday so be it. If not Red Bull can live with it much better than having driven their future star into the arms of another team.

    They have made a real killing this season in the marketing stakes by outperforming Ferrari by a factor of six in terms of television presence. Without the driver rivalry they would have never landed that coup. Their F1 investment has already paid off handsomely even if they do not get the WDC.

  99. I totally understand and support Red Bull’s position. They don’t want to artificially remove one of their drivers from the title race. They also want to respect the rules of the sport.

    All this is admirable. It is also extremely awkward for anyone who attempted to defend Ferrari’s appalling behaviour earlier in the year by saying, “Oh, everybody does it… just wait till the end of the season.”

    Here we are at the end of the season. Is everybody doing it? Red Bull, unlike Ferrari, are going to finish this season with their dignity in tact.

    If Vettel does let Webber through in Abu Dhabi, it will almost certainly be a result of common sense rather than team orders. Vettel won’t need to be told what to do. Graciously allowing your team mate to take the driver’s title is a world away from the illegal skulduggery we saw in Germany.

  100. It must be difficult for Christian Horner to be an actual racer at the center of what is little more than an expensive marketing exercise. Same for Webber, Vettel and Newey. Dieter Matteschitz tells the Austrian press he does not care who wins. Exactly. That is why you are a marketer but not a racer, and never will be. A racer would walk across cut glass in bare feet to see his man win the title. Red Bull need only see its name in the headlines to achieve its goal. The goals of the team and its drivers are not entirely aligned.

    I, for one, would not be surprised to see Webber depart this team. I am not an insider and have no knowledge but this dynamic seems untenable for another 12 months.

  101. Ferrari did bad for applying team orders when both drivers were mathematically on the chase, yet Red Bull did bad for not applying them when both drivers were mathematically on the chase as well?


  102. Joe,

    Please let’s be realistic about this; going into Hockenheim both Alonso and Massa were close to being cut adrift from the title fight but Ferrari backed Alonso not only because he had a points advantage but also because he is far superior in terms of pace, experience and leadership. The turnaround Alonso has performed since has proved their judgement to be correct. Meanwhile, there is no such clear distinction between drivers at Red Bull where, if anything, Vettel has had the edge on pace but has had more mechanical failures. Then consider how Webber’s negative demeanor and public statements against RBR have only compounded his problems and it becomes easier to understand their reluctance to back him. In any case, I don’t think either RBR driver deserve the WDC this season.

  103. Isn’t it wonderful that we can have this correspondence
    a few days before the final race? Isn’t it a wonderful contrast to M.S. wrapping up the title half-way through the season?

  104. @ David —7 Nov 23.33
    Another scenario
    Last lap- MW leading from SV and FA third.
    SV pulls off circuit as FA drives past for second and wins WDC by 1 point. Up yours Mark, if I cant win, neither are you. He knows RBR won’t discipline him because he is ‘The Chosen One’ and if CH says anything nasty Marko will give him a kiss and a cuddle and everything will be well with the world again!!!
    Actually the true test of the TEAM at RBR would be in that scenario, how hard would SV fight to ensure FA doesn’t finish second behind MW and get that 1 point to win WDC ?

  105. Joe

    I think team orders should be allowed all the time. And I agree – others would disagree with when you think “late neough in the season is”

    Anyway, about Webber being treated as no. 2 (and this I agree with you about) – seems Hamilton thinks it to

    Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, who retains the slimmest of chances of taking the title, said he wants Webber to win the championship. “I’d like to see Mark do it,” the 2008 winner said. “He’s done a great job this year. He has been told by his team what position [No2] he is, and against adversity he has kept at it. I think he’s done an awesome job. I’m quite impressed. He’s done pretty much everything right this year – apart from our little tangle. (Australia)”

    1. RC,

      Everyone in F1 thinks the same, even those with Red Bull tattooed on their foreheads… However, if the boss (Mr Mateschitz) says jump off a cliff then they will jump off a cliff…

  106. Hi Joe,

    Your comment above leave me baffled: “When Ferrari applied the orders [in Germany], the World Championship was not at stake.” Of course it was at stake and has been since the completion of the last lap of the 2009 season. Surely…?

    I’ve followed the sport for around 25 years and have no issue with teams orders. However – for better or worse – the rules are the rules and I agree with you that the FIA needs to step up quickly and clarify whether or not it is ever acceptable to use them and, if so, at what point in the season.

    To me it seems nuts that Red Bull won’t contemplate using them but I’ll watch with interest on Sunday to see if there are any pit stop “fluffs” or “conserve fuel” messages.

    Finally, has anyone given any thought to what happens if Red Bull do use team orders to win the WDC and Ferrari immediately demand the return of the money that they were fined in Germany?

  107. Joe
    What your saying are exacly what I think and a majority of people as well and feel a bit sorry for you to try to explain to the others for being so naive. I would loved to either see Webber or Alonso win anyway. The company drink is playing with danger just so Vettel have a small chance to win. I hope we have another Silverstone and than the drink company will be crying…lol… and Alonso win. Mateschitz is stupid he dont really care about the championship that much but than again he is gambling and hoping for Alonso to do worst than 4th come on Alonso have the second best car apart to the RB. All he need is just cruise around behind the RB and Vettel still lost.

  108. Hi Joe,

    I sure don’t Mark Webber more than what I read, but there are things that as a representative of a team can and cannot say. Through the season he has not acted as the best spokesman and the team was put in some uneasy situations.

    I don’t see many other established teams (ferrari, williams, Mclaren etc.) who would have put up with comments of Mark Webber without any consequences. His situation is nothing compared to Alonso’s in 2007 still the so-called whiner never made the same sort of comments.

    I read one of your replies where you get pissed off when people are rude. If I was one of them very sorry. However when you have a following as large and varied as yours, request that you your articles (thankfully they are free) are more balanced rather than a pro-anglo bias.


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