A little background on team orders

Motor racing is both a team sport and a sport for individuals. There are, in consequence, two World Championships: one for the drivers and one for the constructors. The Drivers’World Championship is important to the drivers and tends to be prioritised by the fans and the media; but it is the Constructors’ World Championship that dictates the financial returns for a team and thus it is the most important thing for them. Thus, it is logical and acceptable that a team be allowed to protect its investment in the sport by deciding its on-track strategies.

Some fans complain and say that this is not fair, but that is a rather simplistic and naive attitude. Team bosses will always do what is best for the team and that cannot be changed. It is simply logic. If the rules try to impose freedom on the drivers, the teams will find ways around it. In the end, the only logical solution is to let teams decide. If drivers do not want to race for a team that uses team orders, then they should not sign for that organisation.

Team orders have been part of the sport of motor racing since long before anyone dreamed of a World Championship. Originally they were based on the very simple principle that he who pays the piper calls the tune. The men who owned the racing cars in the early years of the sport were wealthy men. Sometimes they loaned cars to others, but they did not want to be beaten and so the men in the other cars accepted that they would give way if the owner wanted to win.

As the sport developed and teams grew bigger and more professional, team orders remained. In the 1930s the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix team had all kinds of problems as a result. Luigi Fagioli was so frustrated by having to finish behind Rudi Caracciola in one event that he quit the team and moved to AutoUnion. Caracciola and Manfred Von Brauchitsch were also allowed to beat Hermann Lang and Dick Seaman despite the fact that the latter two drivers were quicker.

After World War II the dominant Alfa Romeo factory team was famous for its team orders with Achille Varzi, Nino Farina and Count Felice Trossi being allowed to win, despite the fact that Jean-Pierre Wimille was much faster. This went on for two years and then Wimille became team leader and, until his death, was virtually unbeatable.

It was not always junior drivers giving way to the seniors. Other elements were included in the decision-making. In 1955, for example, it is said that the Mercedes team asked Juan Manuel Fangio to allow his teammate Stirling Moss to win the British Grand Prix at Aintree, because that would be a more popular result and would help promote Mercedes-Benz sales in what was at the time a rather difficult market. Fangio sat behind Moss all the way to the flag, but never admitted what had happened. A year later Peter Collins famously allowed Juan Manuel Fangio to win the 1956 World Championship for Ferrari, telling team boss Enzo Ferrari that “I never thought that a 25-year-old guy like me could take on such a big responsibility. I have lots of time ahead of me. Fangio should stay World Champion for another year. He deserves it.” Collins died two years later at the Nurburgring and never did win the title he so richly deserved.

In 1961 there were team orders at Ferrari at the French GP where Wolfgang Von Trips was ordered into the lead ahead of Ritchie Ginther and Giancarlo Baghetti, but when Von Trips and Ginther retired, Baghetti became the first and only man to win on his F1 debut. Again, in 1964 Lorenzo Bandini moved over for John Surtees during the Mexican Grand Prix, allowing Surtees to get the necessary points to beat Graham Hill to the World Championship.

In 1967 Ford used team orders at the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, with Graham Hill winning a coin toss with Jim Clark. But Hill ran into gearbox trouble and finally Clark passed him to avoid an embarrassing spectacle of a healthy car trolling around behind a sick one. In the 1970s there were several cases of team orders being obeyed with Ronnie Peterson sitting behind Mario Andretti in several races, but accepting the position because he said Andretti had done the development work on the Lotus and because he had signed a contract to be the team’s number two driver. Gilles Villeneuve had a similar deal with Ferrari in 1979, which allowed Jody Scheckter to win the title, although Villeneuve could have won it if he had been racing as hard as he was able to do.

In the 1980s, attitudes changed as more money came into the sport, and the first major examples of breaking team orders were seen. Alan Jones was Williams team leader in 1979. At the German GP Clay Regazzoni was instructed by the Williams team not to challenge Jones for the lead, despite Clay being ahead of the Australian in the World Championship. In 1981 Carlos Reutemann decided not to accept an order to let Jones win in Brazil. After that the Australian refused to help Reutemann and this allowed Nelson Piquet to win the World Championship in the final race at Las Vegas, a race that Jones won. By the end of the season both men were so disenchanted with the sport that they both retired, although Jones did later make a comeback. Thereafter Williams decided not to use team orders, unless it was deemed to be absolutely essential. In 1985 this philosophy resulted in Piquet and Nigel Mansell taking points from one another to such an extent that Alain Prost was able to snatch the title for McLaren.

Being sporting hurt Williams.

Famously, in 1982 the problem struck Ferrari when Didier Pironi ignored team orders and beat Gilles Villeneuve at Imola. Villeneuve died two weeks later, still furious at what had happened. That same year Rene Arnoux won the French GP despite team orders that victory should go to Alain Prost and that resulted in Arnoux leaving the team at the end of the year. In the 1983 South African Grand Prix, Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham-BMW team asked Riccardo Patrese to allow Piquet to win if that would be required to get Piquet the title. In the end, however, Piquet was third and clinched the title, while Patrese was allowed to win.

McLaren generally avoided team orders but this hurt in 1989 when team mates Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost collided at Suzuka while fighting over the World Championship. In the end it did not matter which driver won because the two were so far ahead in the title race.

Two years later at Suzuka Gerhard Berger sacrificed his race to help Ayrton Senna win the title, by forcing the pace early on, ruining his tires but snaring Nigel Mansell into giving chase. Mansell went off. Senna won the title, but at the finish of the race he pulled over and let Berger win. In 1992 Patrese was asked to help Nigel Mansell at the French GP and blatantly waved his Williams team-mate ahead to victory. At the end of the year Mansell, already champion, pulled over in the Japanese GP and let Patrese into the lead to say thanks. In 1994 and 1996 Williams used team orders to help wrap up World Championships with David Coulthard moving out of the way of Damon Hill at Monza in 1994 and Jacques Villeneuve letting Hill through in 1996.

At the start of 1998 some excitement in Melbourne when Coulthard moved over to let his McLaren team-mate Mika Hakkinen win the Australian GP. This was a decision based on the fact that the team had made a mistake and penalised Hakkinen and that team boss Ron Dennis was keen to encourage Hakkinen who was, at that time, still recovering from his accident in Adelaide in 1995. He felt it was the right thing to do. The FIA declared that “any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition” should in future be penalized severely, but accepted that team orders were not prohibited. The World Council ruled that “it is perfectly legitimate for a team to decide that one of its drivers is its Championship contender and that the other will support him. What is not acceptable, in the World Council’s view, is any arrangement which interferes with a race and cannot be justified by the relevant team’s interest in the championship.” In 1999, after Schumacher was injured, Ferrari used team orders several times to help Eddie Irvine in his efforts to win the World Championship: Mika Salo handed Irvine victory in Germany and Schumacher helped Irvine to win in Malaysia. That year in Belgium the two Jordans of Damon Hill and Ralf Schumacher found themselves unexpectedly in the lead and Schumacher was ordered not to overtake Hill, to assure Jordan of a 1-2 finish.

In the years that followed there were multiple occasions when Rubens Barrichello helped Schumacher win races for Ferrari, but things blew up in 2002 when Barrichello allowed Schumacher to pass at the finish line in Austria. The crowd reaction was very negative and the FIA, in an attempt at crowd-pleasing, attempted to ban team orders. The practice continued but was disguised until finally in 2010 the regulation was scratched from the rulebook, after Felipe Massa blatantly slowed for Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso in the German GP. The team incurred a $100,000 fine, but it was clear that coded messages were being used all the time.

What is of key importance in any team is trust and respect between the team members. This is why a driver who breaks team orders is so castigated because he is, in effect, betraying the team and creating mistrust within the organisation.

194 thoughts on “A little background on team orders

  1. Excellent blog Joe – congratulations on a well-structured argument. A pity other F1 pundits cannot do the same.

  2. How will Vettle cope now with an openly antagonistic team mate this year.
    If Vettel is fighting Alonso (or Lewis or Kimi) for the title at the end of the season, how will he react when Mark helps the other driver. Especially if Mark is about to retire from the sport/move to another team.

    1. It depends if he wants a future with the team. If he does he will do as he is told. If he does not he upset the apple cart. There is also no guarantee that the team would not influence things technically if he broke team orders. Really he has no choice.

      1. some would argue that that is what red bull did last year, which is what caused webbers lack of form. he could also decide that he is sick of it and leave in the middle of the season or stop delivering results. both are scenarios which would hurt the team and to a certain extent also vettels titel chances.

        i think that by trying to spin this thing in the direction of “both drivers have disregarded team orders in the past” red bull are doing themselves no favours. first of all, it could be argued that vettels blatant disrespect has been caused by the protection he received in the past and second, i don’t know if it is wise to humiliate mark webber for both, strategic and pr reasons.

        1. I don’t think Red Bull is trying very hard to do that. I think fans are jumping to the wrong conclusions. Do you honestly think that if Mark had borken team orders that he would still be there? Think about it…

          1. well christian horners immidiate reaction when questioned by reporters was alluding to mark webber ignoring team orders in brazil. and the team update they published states that “It’s worth noting that this is not an entirely new situation for us. At Infiniti Red Bull Racing, we have two drivers who both want to win races and Championships and this has been the case since Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel started driving together in 2009.” red bull also always talked of “the drivers” which gives the impression that both of them share an equal part of the blame for what happened. maybe i’m jumping to the wrong conclusions but i got the impression that this is their spin on the situation.

            of course i don’t think that mark webber would still drive for red bull had he ignored team orders, which makes their line of defense all the more ridiculous. to me, it looks as if the team has weak leadership, and christian horner might be the one who comes out of this with the most damaged reputation.

  3. “…to avoid an embarrassing spectacle of a healthy car trolling around behind a sick one.”

    Certainly this is how it looked on the final lap with the two Merc’s. Silly. From my armchair point of view I feel Niki Lauda had something to do with it.

    Also, if Hamilton felt so guilty, why didn’t he let Nico through and then cruise as he pleases?

        1. Lauda was correct to be upset over that particular team order. Just because a team order is given doesn’t mean it’s a good one. Lewis and Nico showed themselves to be excellent team players by following orders no matter how questionable.

          1. None of Lauda’s apparent fury would have anything to do with undermining the inconvenient current team principal to make an easier job of putting in the new fellow, of course…

      1. Lauda should have been more furious with them not putting enough fuel in the cars, that’s not Lewis’s fault as Ross quite clearly explained to Nico.

    1. Speaking of Lauda, can someone please explain to me why he keeps getting jobs with F1 teams? Is there anything he’s particularly good at? (Other than back-channel mumble-mumble….)

  4. Formula 1 is motor racing . . . it is natural for the spectators to want to see racing. In some circumstances a “Team” will want to limit racing between it’s drivers “in the interest of the Team”. So how can the interests of the spectators and the Teams be reconciled ? Simple, disconnect the Driver’s Championship from the Manufacturer’s Championship and ban Team orders.

    How is this disconnect achieved ? award Manufacturers points for qualifying positions and Drivers points for race positions. The Team gets to control the drivers during Qualifying “in the best interests of the Team” and the Drivers are free to race during the race, everyone can be happy.

    1. At the end of the day, why should there be any interest in reconciling the wishes of the team and the fans when fans are not invested in what the teams are trying to achieve with regards to finishing order, beyond some rudimentary fanatical attachment?

  5. Thanks for the great article Joe. Following a conversation with my Dad after the race on Sunday he wondered whether the betting industry has ever had anything to say about their use in F1, bearing in mind some people may see orders as results being ‘manipulated’ by parties not directly taking part in the sport itself

    I suggested that you’d assume people betting on the sport would be aware of their existence and be prepared for them, but he felt there was a morally grey area when investigations would be launched in other sports if there was any hint of artificially arriving at a result. Taking it a step further he said what if an unscrupulous team member was aware of a team order plan ahead of time and placed a bet on that result coming up ahead of it doing so,

    I thought it was interesting point and bared some consideration. What’s your view?

    1. No-one in F1 gives a damn about the betting industry. If people are dumb enough to place bets on F1 then they must accept the way the game is played and not whine about it.

      1. Actually if you’re quite smart, you can bet on f1, eg never bet on massa for a win, cause we know, if alonso’s going massa at best will 2nd, same with lotus, and redbull, increases your odds quite a bit when you only have to bet on a handful of cars.

        Generally only handful of teams can win, then they have a nominated/faster driver, go each way and you can’t really loose.

        I think f1 is one of the few sport where you can regularly sting bookies, i’ve made a profit ove the last 5 years, every year. Bookies just dont care about f1, so are so slow to move on odds. Just wish i brave enough to bet more than a fiver everytime, i’d of paid my mortgage off by now if i was

      2. The same argument about upsetting the betting was raised – loudly – in Melbourne after the 1998 race, Australians being fervent gamblers. I was writing for one of the Melbourne papers, whose sports columnists on the Monday castigated McLaren and raised the betting issue. I was allowed to reply to them in the paper on the Tuesday, explaining in the same terms as Joe has here. But the columnists were not appeased.

        It is a fundamental division (even in my well-informed household) between those who recognise the team argument, and those who favour all-out racing, and I’m afraid never will be resolved.

    2. The only area of concern would be if, for example, Horner told Vettel to let Webber win and it emerged that Horner had a lot of money on Webber or was going to get a cut from somebody else who did. Collusion with bookies and gamblers is very much to be discouraged in any sport. Ignoring them is the best policy.

  6. A very nice summary for previously issued Team order incidents. I’m still firmly of the opinion that if there is a gap and the racer goes for it, despite team orders not allowing him to, then he shouldn’t be blamed for it. He is faced with two options in his mind. Either to listen to his instincts or his compatriots. Both the options are so conflicting that whichever one he picks, at the end of the race, he has done the right thing.

    1. “Either to listen to his instincts or his compatriots. Both the options are so conflicting that whichever one he picks, at the end of the race, he has done the right thing.” Love that, you’ve summed up the dilemma perfectly.

  7. When Barrichello let Schumacher by, the fans went apoplectic for such contrivance. The same with Massa and Alonso. Now the circle turns and they wax indignent when team orders are ignored. Ficklness in spades. The people who protest the loudest never liked Vettel and so it becomes a hanging crime. Certainly Webber has done so in the past, he just never succeeded.

    As I posted before, I don’t have issues with the whole thing. A driver has a limited shelf life and needs to make hay while the sun shines. As long as they don’t take each other off, the team makes out no matter who comes first or second.

    You cite the Mansell/Piquet example (you wrote 1985 but it was actually 1987)but that is disingenuous. By your reckoning the constructors care about the constructors title due to money. Williams won that year so by your reckoning it shouldn’t have mattered that they took points off one another as long as they scored maximum points.

    Finally while I am well aware of the history of team orders, that doesn’t make it naive to wish racers would race. That’s the whole point of the sport, isn’t it?

    1. It is naive to think it will happen when the teams have to consider the economic implications. Williams lost two World Championships because firstly they had team orders with Reutemann and then did not have team orders with Mansell/Piquet. There is not easy answer.

      1. I understand the team implications re: money. However, Williams let Piquet & Mansell race and still took the constructors title. They got their title and money and the drivers got to race each other. Yeah they lost to Prost but the team got their cash.

    2. It wasn’t 1987, it was 1986. Prost beat Albireto to the WDC at the European GP in 1985, I was there.
      In 1986, Piquet had replaced Rosberg and Mansell and Piquet arrived in Adelaide ahead of Prost.
      When Mansell’s tyre blew famously down the main straight, Williams called Piquet in for a tyre change. Prost won against the odds.
      1987, Mansell spun at Suzuka, damaging his back. Piquet took the WDC.

      1994, Williams won the WCC but Schumacher infamously took the WDC.
      1996, I don’t remember Villeneuve allowing Hill past, they fought until Suzuka that year with Hill taking the championship. That year MSC finished third in the WDC and was never a threat.

    3. Ficklness in spades.

      Very little attention should be thrown at the concept of Team Orders in these circumstances.

      The attention should go towards Christian Horner’s effectiveness as a team boss and Sebastian Vettel putting himself ahead of the team.

    4. The two examples you raise, Schumacher and Barrichello, and Massa and Alonso, are very different however. A team asking its drivers to hold station means ‘don’t overtake’ – by that point, mark had done enough to prove he deserved to win – he’d timed his pit-stop for Slicks right, and had pushed the car at the right times to ensure he led coming out of his stops. Vettel was told NOT to pass

      In the other two examples, the driver in front had done enough to prove they should be leading. Massa had led from early on in Germany, while Barrichello had dominated the entire weekend in Austria, from practice through to those last laps. In both these instances, the driver in the lead was told to let the other driver past.

      Barrichello wasn’t slower than Schumacher, and Massa could have held his own. But the question has to be asked, in this situation, if the order had not been given, would Webber have been able to hold Vettel? We won’t know. Mark has already mentioned he had turned his engine down and was cruising to the end. Could he have had the pace? Perhaps so. But the fact is, the drivers were told to hold station, and Vettel broke that order.

      That’s like Schumacher or Alonso not overtaking Barrichello or Massa respectively.

    5. Fans went apologetic in the Barrichello/Schumacher and Massa/Alonso sagas? How tall is the tree you fell from? Those two stand among the most criticized events I can remember in recent memory.

      Shit happens in all the teams, and now it is Vettel’s turn to take flack for what he did in Malaysia. Suck it up and stop whining.

      Great article, by the way.

  8. Thanks Joe, that is a very revealing timeline, and serves as a good reminder that team orders always have been and always will be very important when you have two cars racing in one team. No one likes to see the slower car win a race based on team orders, but it is a reality of the sport.

    Thanks again for your detailed insights!

  9. Well I hope that shuts up a few, who didn’t realise it’s the team that counts, and always has been; drivers are employees and should do as they are told. It’s not like there is a shortage of drivers.

  10. Eleven years, and I still won’t buy fuel from Shell, after the Schumacher/ Barrichello finish line switch. At the time, after sending and e-mail to tell, I received a reply from Shell, distancing themselves from anything happening with the Ferrari team.
    I’m sure, that my response was not the only one that registered, at some level, with the sponsor.

    1. Eleven years, but eleven years of making your own life miserable not being able to stop at shell, nor drive a ferrari, cruise in fuel saving mode while in a hurry, make xtra miles to take gas elsewhere. Write again when you reach 25 years!

      1. EXTRA MILES? Sorry, if you live in an area with only one or two filling stations. Here in the land of milk and honey, there are 5 stations with a kilometer of my house. To boycott any one of them is not an issue, but a choice.
        And my personal choice has deprived them of $30,000.
        Oh, and in 25 years, I’ll probably be dead.

  11. Great potted history. nice to be reminded of sporting gestures (in some cases anyway) – and for aficionados that lasts in the memory – for example Ronnie Peterson RIP .

    There’s been all sorts of guff elsewhere about drivers being competitive animals with no limits – but given the current ridiculous tyres (and we also seem to be going back to economy drives so far as fuel saving mode is concerned as of the weekend – or was that a one off?) – then drivers seem to be hamstrung and Mark faced the position of either taking Vettel off or letting him past.

    So Sebastian if you want Michael Schumacher’s legacy (despite all his kindness out of the sport) keep it up – for me it’s not about winning at any price and a race full of those people would be a demolition derby

  12. I don’t recall Villeneuve moving over for Hill in 1996, apart from the Australian GP, when Villeneuve had the oil issue and had to slow.

    The Williams was so far ahead of the field that they didn’t required team orders and Hill and Villeneuve took the title fight to the final race.

  13. Thanks Joe on the valuable history lesson, some “fans” would do well to understand the entire history lesson above. “there are no winners in war”

    1. The problem is Matt that “fans” nowadays don’t read the history of a given subject, they only see the current.
      Why us it when they make lists of best musicians, movies etc, the lists are filled with bubble gum trash. The pioneers hardly ever get credit due.
      Is this a symptom of the Internet age? Where communications are throwaway and incidental?
      The number of times I’ve read posts that claim Ferrari gas always been a no.1 and no.2 team infuriates me. Enzo Ferrari would never have signed MSC on those conditions. His philosophy was Ferrari cars won races, the drivers lost them. This after all was a man schooled in Motorsport from the pre war era.
      The only time Ferrari applied team orders was in championship situations.

        1. I believe he wasn’t alluding to Enzo signing Schuey, but rather Enzo would not have signed Schuey under those terms.

      1. It isn’t a symptom of the internet age, because of the internet age you can find out the history far better than you ever could before, every single race is detailed on wikipedia for example

  14. Whilst I agree that team orders always have- and will continue to be an essential ingredient of F1, do you think the vast and inordinate amount of media copy generated by the action of ‘traitors’ is due to the fans’ passion for the sport – or that the vast majority simply find it easier and more enjoyable to focus on flawed personalities as opposed to the technical structure and depth of the sport itself?

  15. Joe, Bernie yesterday in the Telegraph, on the subject of team orders, said that he short fuelled one of his drivers at Brabham because he said he wouldn’t let his team-mate who was fighting for the title, through. He said he wouldn’t mention any names: I’m assuming it was John Watson and Niki Lauda in ’78. Your thoughts?

    As long as team orders are permitted, much as we might desire it to be otherwise, we can’t criticise teams for using them and therefore drivers who breach team orders are undermining the importance of the team.

    I wonder whether it has dawned on Sebastian just how difficult Mark can make the rest of his season?

    While he may have the edge on Mark, there have been any number of times in the past where Mark has been ahead, or just behind. It’s always good to have a helpful team-mate at your back, just as it is always helpful to have a less combative team-mate when you NEED to overtake to keep your championship alive.

    Regardless of the volume of calls for punishment to be meted out, it may well be that Sebastian has put himself in the position, very early on in the season, where his team-mate can punish him again and again on the racetrack.

      1. I don’t think Patrese was anywhere near fast enough to impact on Piquet in ’83, though whenever he was interviewed he did seem to be a bit of a curmudgeon. Having said that it’s likely that James Hunt’s dislike rubbed off on me a little

        1. James Hunt attacked Patrese because he felt guilty about what HE had done. Patrese was a great bloke and a very good racing driver.

      2. Bear in mind, in 1983, F1 teams were running with refuelling and pitstops. Something Brabham had pioneered in 1982.
        So I can’t see how they would under fuel a car that year

          1. Exactly. That was why ’83 sprang to mind. Patrese was fast on the odd weekend that year (as per Bernie’s story), taking pole in Italy and winning in South Africa (after Piquet slowed down, once Prost was out and the title alreay assured) but was pretty average most of the rest of the season.

  16. I’ve been a fan since 1976 and never been under any delusion that it is anything but a team sport. Of course there are stars with egos as there are in football but you don’t see them ignoring their manager (and if you do they get severely punished).

    Vettel appears not to recognise that the last three world championships were in fact won in the main by the efforts of Newey and his part of that team. Most of the drivers on the grid would have won it given that car.

    1. You don’t have Rooney and van Persie competing against each other for a Players FA Cup . . . your analogy doesn’t work.

      Lets the Teams compete on Saturday and let the Drivers compete on Sunday, or scrap one of the Championships.

      1. The football analogy works, but as an analogy, not as a carbon copy of F1. The teams go out to play and win. If their two star strikers start getting selfish and taking the ball off each other (for bragging rights or whatever) that would not be tolerated. If you can’t trust someone to pass the ball to you, you don’t pass it to them. Everyone loses out, not just the 2 culprits.

  17. Hey Joe. One Q I have is that Mark ignored team orders at Silverstone in 2011. Similar situation, recce drawing to a close, holds station. Mark ignored the team and went for it. He was alongside Seb at one point. So my Q is what I’d so different here? Why was Mark happy to ignore them, but do cross now? The one reason I can think of is of the Silverstone incident wasn’t preagreed. But is ‘race to the last stop’ rule has been common knowledge for years – even when team orders were banned this aspect was still fairly open. So, genuinely, what is the difference between the two incidents?

    1. Yes, he went alongside but he did not pass. Therefore he did not break team orders. He was showing that he could have won. That often happens with a frustrated driver. It is not the same as making the pass.

      1. Ah come on, Mark didn’t make the move stick. He didn’t just pull alongside to make a point, he ignored the team call and admitted so himself. Everyone called Mark a hero for sticking two fingers up at the team and being a racing driver and his own man.

          1. What is there to go against that though? Has Mark told you his messages on the two and comments to a were a bit of a double bluff and he was toeing the line all along, in his own style?

          2. I agree Ceepeeng, mark admitted so himself. So it’s not a case of believe what you like.

            But the Australian was told “Mark, maintain the gap” on the team radio.
            “I’m not fine with it, no,” Webber said after the race, and added that he did not pay attention to the orders.
            “Of course I ignored the team and I was battling to the end. I was trying to do my best with the amount of conversation on the radio.
            “I wasn’t doing much talking back, but I got a lot of messages coming my way, but I was trying to the end.”
            When asked if he felt like a number two driver, Webber replied: “Not really. I just want to race to the end.

            1. Well I believe different to you I’m afraid.

              The part of team orders Mark was ignoring was to leave a gap.

              He wanted to show he could pass Vettel, so he climbed all over the back of him to make a point.

              Go and watch the video, it is obvious he is holding something back.

              1. “[If] Fernando [Alonso] retires on the last lap, we’re battling for victory”

                “Four or five laps to go I started to get messages. Of course they want the points, but I also need to try to get some points as well.”

                He was clearly trying to overtake….

                1. In the video you can hear Vettel ask for protection saying to the pit wall “be wise”. Webber is obviously making him feel nervous but after a bit of show boating behind sarcastically confirms ” maintain the gap, yeah righto”.

                  The only clear thing is my opinion is different to yours.

                  1. Up until this video I must be honest I didn’t agree with yourself or Joe. Thankyou for sharing this and I think it was clear that Mark was making a point rather than actually overtaking Seb.

                    This is why I come here to be educated!

      2. This is what I always thought of that incident. It was to show he could have passed that day.
        Most of this last race has been blown up because of rosberg listening to the team and vettel doing his own thing.
        Bernie will be over the moon because of the ‘show’.
        I am annoyed at vettel for doing this but, more because it was a pass that was almost manufactured because of the team orders and, vettel ignoring them. Kind of like a a drs pass!

  18. the deciding factor between these two instances is that at silverstone the team had not told vettel to turn his engine down, sepang was like shooting ducks in a barrel.

      1. Not true. Horner told on radio Webber to “consider his future at RB” (ie. should he ALSO ignore team orders, turn up engine again, and chase Vettel down for a dangerous scrap to retake the lead).

        Webber chose to heed the ‘ongoing Team Order’ to conserve the least risk team option of not battling any more for the lead. RBR wanted no part of their drivers engaging in further actions which could lose lots of WCC points, if they crashed or if they chewed up tyres. Vettel had already risked that disastrous scenario against team orders. A second protracted battle would likely not end well for RBR. The Mercs were lurking not far behind to clean up any RBR mess.

        If you are unable to rationalise this situation, then either you choose to understand little of F1, or you choose to see what suits pure Vettel fanaticism. JF

    1. Did Mark really turn his engine down?
      Presumably no “Multi 21” order would come into affect until at least a couple of corners after the pit stops, until then they could race.
      LAP 44: Mark exits with Seb trying to pass as they go round the first corner. The tussle continues for a few corners.
      LAP 45: Both drivers set the FASTEST 2 lap times of the race – hardly indicative of either turning their engine down. Mark is only fractionally slower than Seb on this lap and the difference can be easily attributable to the DRS advantage that Seb had.
      LAP 46: Seb attacks on the start/finish straight for the 2nd lap since the two pitted, this time briefly getting alongside.
      It’s unlikely RB would instruct either to turn down their engines prior to the stops, given that at that stage the Mercs were still chasing hard and there was always a chance Hamilton could overtake either RB if there was an issue during the pitstop. I’m not convinced that Mark would have turned his engine down (and Seb not) when we was fending of Seb from the moment he exited the pits to the moment he was passed. More likely IMO he was caught and passed because Seb was the quicker driver of the two at that point…
      Remember Seb had the softer compound iirc and DRS and was only fractionally quicker in the two laps – the speed difference hardly represents “shooting ducks in a barrel”.
      ALL THAT SAID Seb was out of order for attacking Mark after the “Multi 21” call, let alone actually passing.

  19. Jo, I think that most of the people reading your blog are long term F1 followers, and as such understand the inevitability of team orders. Historical perspective is very important as are the economic imperatives that drive F1.

    Could it be that those of us who have been following the sport for a long time – over 40 years for me (!) – accept the team orders thing more easily than those who have been attracted to F1 during the ‘hyped’ television era that we live in now. F1 and other motor sport is not really comparable to other sports, because success is a combination of driver, car and team. Could it be that those that disagree with team orders maybe are only focussing on the driver element, rather than looking at all the elements.

    1. Excellent. I’ve been following F1 for almost 14 years and have learned to accept team orders are the norm for a team to gain the maximum out of a weekend. I wasn’t surprised when Vettel did what he did, in fact, I thought it was exciting. Unsporting yes, but exciting. But the lying afterwards killed it for me. I think it might have been better if he just admitted that he chose to not follow team orders, faced the consequences and move on. After all, he already got the points.
      Maybe I just don’t like liars.

      1. Sorry. I am at a loss here Jeremy.

        You are ‘OK’ with SV’s unsporting or tactical-deceit of a team mate and the Team.
        But you are ‘not OK’ with SV’s attempt at a blatant verbal-deceit to the public at all.

        The only difference being that in the second case, he was lying to you (trying to deceive you) by proxy as part of the public audience; whereas the former was just deceit to Mark Webber and the RBR team garage.

        So as long as you aren’t the one being deceived……

  20. Did you see this interview with Bernie where he mentioned once underfuelliing his driver to prevent him from finishing ahead of his teammate (because he stated he would not follow team orders) Joe? – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/f1news/9953272/Bernie-Ecclestone-hits-out-at-Red-Bulls-team-orders-and-warns-Mark-Webber-may-seek-revenge-on-Sebastian-Vettel.html

    Is it something that is known in the paddock, or a new bit of information?

    1. As I said some people think that morality is not important, or they have their own idea on what morality is. That is the way of the world.

    2. “Vettel, in his new position as Red Bull team principal” .

      I think that blog is a little tongue in cheek.

      1. Made me smile though 🙂

        It’s quite quite a bit of truth it in mind. The current crop of bosses – Whitmarsh, Domenicali, Boullier, Brawn and Horner…they’re all dull as hell, overly aware of how sensitive the media can be and pander to their drivers.

        Instead of doing or saying interesting, they give the odd TV interview and say all the right things. They’re not strong personalities at all.

  21. The team orders debate seems to be focussing on the impact on the driver championship in terms of points but there are secondary considerations of the implications of other rules which the teams will have been taking into account.

    Both teams realised that there were no additional points to be gained or likely lost so were able to de tune their cars to save milage on engines and gearboxes. This might be an unintended effect of the rules in place forcing engines/gearboxes to last a certain number of races or suffer a penalty. It’s only logical that the second race into the season and in hot conditions they would want to save the components as much stress as possible. Later in the season as they understand the failure rates and modes they can take more risk but early on they need to save as much as possible.

    If Vettel left his engine in a higher setting, pushed harder and stressed it more, what is the likely impact on future additional useage, is there any way (through your sources Joe?) we can find out how much engine life you might be able to effectively save by detuning the engine for the last stint of the race?

    1. I’d imagine that it would degenerate into a game of probabilities. Probably very hard to actually calculate though, you’d have to test-rig so many usage cycles, so many sets of ambient conditions to get a clear idea. Fatigue and part-lifing are still really games of chance, even if massive efforts are made on all fronts to reduce the unknowns.

      But more of a concern, given last year’s results, would be fears of the Renault alternator packing up again in the heat. A problem which should have been resolved of course, but you never know.

      1. Hadn’t thought about the alternator issue affecting the Renualt.

        Unless you can trial unlimited engines I guess it’s hard to get a good feel with a small sample of data across all the engines on what mileage is left other than “more than if we’d run it flat out”. Perhaps this is why F1 engineers are paid fairly well!? I assume there is no limit on the number of engines you can rig test other than that of the RRA…

        1. Engine testing would come under the remit of the engine manufacturers. Team budgets would be impacted purely because the manufacturers would logically pass the costs on to their customers, but in principle if Ferrari, Mercedes or Renault wanted to test a billion engines and pay for it from their non-F1 activities I don’t think the FIA could punish them.

  22. Nice piece, Joe. Just one thing, not sure I’d agree that Seaman and Lang were quicker than Caracciola. They were younger, for sure, and certain conditions and races probably favoured them, but Carach was still mighty in the wet and on the ‘ring in particular. Neubauer, as I’m sure you know, reckoned he was the finest of all the drivers he knew – including Moss and Fangio.

  23. Joe, an excellent analysis. As you say, to deny the reality of team orders is facile. May I add another notable example of team orders? As an unreconstructed Moss fan, I still find Ferrari’s instruction to Phil Hill to let Hawthorn past in the closing laps of the 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix to be quite painful. Ouch! Four wins to one.

    But was it reasonable? Absolutely.

  24. Spot-on as always Joe, a shame to have to explain it all again but there you go. I think the only real problem with the whole team orders thing is whilst fans who follow F1 in detail understand and are quite happy with the concept the more casual F1 watcher doesn’t understand so easily – and this is who the newspapers seem to cater for – hence the reported indignation when this sort of things happen. If it were possible for the commentary team to explain exactly what was agreed for each team for each race it would be readily accepted by the watching public. However as this would obviously compromise team strategy and confidentiality it’s unlikely to happen any time soon! The only answer is one driver ‘teams’ or scrap the driver’s championship and focus on the manufacturer’s championship. I don’t think Bernie.would like either option much!

  25. Some of the stories related seem hinged not on team orders but rather on chivalry, which leaves a good taste in the mouth. An alleged example of that outside of F1 which I read of in Niki Lauda’s “My Years with Ferrari,” is that of W. von Trips holding station behind Piero Taruffi and allowing him to win the 1957 Mille Miglia. Anyway, I think the encapsulation of a widespread sentiment today is: It’s gotten tiresome seeing Seb win, it would’ve been refreshing to see Mark win, Seb selfishly and unethically deprived many of seeing that, now he’s a verified “bad guy,” and many hope like hell that a “good guy” like Mark or Nico will beat him.

  26. Blah, blah, blah!!! F1 Reporters are trying to tell us something that we, motorsports fans, are going against!!!

    We want RACING, and what they are telling us is that team orders are OK!!!

    Well, it’s a contradiction, no?!!

    So, we do understand ALL the reporters need to keep their passes to the races!!! We are not born yesterday!! 😉

    We also know and understand the “politics” in F1!! But, could they make it LESS obvious??!! Yeah, remembering the embarrissing ferrari/shitmaker days??!

    So, please end the blah, blah, blah!
    We know better!! 🙂

    1. What a ridiculous comment. You really don’t better, but I am sure you think you do. This blog exists to try to educate and amuse. If you don’t wish to be educated or amused you are in the wrong place.

      1. Yes.
        Didn’t you know that ‘Blah’ is an acronym for ‘Barrichello Laughs Aloud Hysterically’?

  27. Well I guess I understand the team dynamic, and while I don’t
    Iike it, I accept it as part of this sport I love.

    I just find Vettel’s actions to ne without honour.

    Yes, as a racer, he saw an opportunity and he took it blah blah. However took the lead when his team mate was at a disadvantage. That’s all there’s to it.

    Other champions have exhibited the same behaviour (including Senna and Schumi). My opinion doesn’t count for much, but I hold them in contempt as well.

    It’s one thing to pass a disadvantaged driver you’re racing. Another who is following a directive you, also, we’re give. But decided not to honor.

    That’s what this is about.

    Just my humble opinion.

  28. Anyone remember the firestorm caused by Chinese Olympic badminton players following team orders, trying to lose a group match so they wouldn’t face the other Chinese pair until the final, thus making it possible for China to win both gold AND silver?

    They were thrown out of the tournament for it.

        1. It is not match fixing. It is how the sport operates and has always operated. If you don’t like that, then that’s fine go watch badminton. But ranting about the sport is a waste of time and energy. There are reasons it is how it is, these have been explained at length. If you don’t agree with them, vote with your feet.

    1. That was clearly a terrible set-up for the Olympic badminton thing and everyone had been saying so before the tournament, when they changed it to be so. So in a way only the actual players were hurt by it – I think the sport had it coming to be honest (Or that’s how it seemed from what I heard at the time).

  29. The Jordan team orders at Spa were ’98, not ’99. Not meaning to be picky but I feel the ’99 race was an important one in McLaren’s history of team orders. Obviously they were criticised after Melbourne ’98 but I don’t remember them giving any orders to Coulthard to move over any time after that.

    I remember Hakkinen took pole but Coulthard muscled past him into La Source off the starting line and romped away to victory. Even though Hakkinen was well ahead of Coulthard in the standings at the time, the team gave no order for DC to support Mika, and the tension between the two was visible after the race. But DC did do a little favour for Mika in Suzuka that year if you remember!

    All that Melbourne ’98 stuff seems pretty tame compared to what’s happened since then…

  30. “The Drivers’World Championship is important to the drivers and tends to be prioritised by the fans and the media; but it is the Constructors’ World Championship that dictates the financial returns for a team and thus it is the most important thing for them.”

    Joe, this bit comes across as misleading.

    Ultimately, a lot of the most famous recent examples of team orders (Ferrari in Austria and Germany for instance) haven’t been about maximising Constructors’ results (a 1-2 is a 1-2 either way) but Drivers’ World Championship chances for one of the two drivers.

    And beyond contractual “rights” or pure favouritism, this stuff comes up because there is a connection between the DWC and the teams’ bottom lines.

    If the media and the fans are paying attention to the Drivers’ Championship more than the Constructors’, it follows that sponsors are likely to do so too. I’m mainly hypothesising here, but its not an unreasonable assumption to make. Increased sponsorship would be a somewhat indirect effect, and therefore one would assume difficult to quantify as precisely as CWC-related funding, but it’s almost certainly there.

    If you ask Adrian Newey which one he’d rather, he might well say the CWC trophy. The accountants might well agree – the DWC effect might be pretty trivial. The marketing people though, they might well prefer a DWC win.

    1. I am simply telling you what the teams think. Maybe there are some people who think the Drivers’ is important but in general the Constructors’ is what matters most.

      1. Most fans don’t understand the commercial value of a Constructor’s Championship and consequently place more value on the Drivers’ Championship.

      2. Surely then, that’s why Brawn’s/Mercedes’ decision with Hamilton and Rosberg is so strange, as if there is some contractual favouritism for Hamilton in play. Especially as at Sepang, with Rosberg in a faster car, DRS and a near 1km long straight there could hardly be a safer place to effect a clean pass.

    2. When a 1-2 result is pretty much guaranteed, I think the focus shifts to ‘Lets have one of our driver win the WDC (or a better chance at it at least).’ Hence, team orders.

      ‘The marketing people though, they might well prefer a DWC win.’
      I don’t know. I remember a Mercedes ad in a magazine quoting how many CWC they won with Mclaren even when they had Hakkinen and Lewis as WDC. Mind you this was quite a while ago.

    3. I think the reason that the 2002 Austria switch rankled so much was that (apart from how it was right on the finish line of course!) Ferrari already had the championship sewn up for Schumacher pretty much, already with a big lead and the fastest car package.

      So in a way, they didn’t need to do it and that’s what rankled – it was done in bad taste. Barrichello was clearly the quicker driver that day and switching the positions had barely any effect on the championship anyway.

      Would the sponsors have preferred consecutive Schumacher domination over occasional Barrichello wins? I always wondered if sponsorship was why Bernie seemingly focussed on winning the DWC over the CWC.

  31. Slightly off topic Joe but going back to the Jordan 1-2 at Spa, was there any INTER-team funny business going on? I seem to remember Alesi charging down on the two Jordans at quite a rate Hill was struggling and Ralf was under pressure from Alesi putting the 1-2 at risk of ending with potentially nothing. Everyone at Jordan was bitting their nails, then Ron Dennis then turns up at the Jordan pit wall talking to Eddie, next thing Coulthard who was a few laps down (after the Schumacher incident) then puts on a charge and passed Alesi for no obvious benefit (which was allowed as you can unlap yourself), but then didn’t push past the two Jordans.

    Was this something funny going on, Dennis doing a favour for EJ in the hope of a return some day? Or to perhaps stick it at Ferrari (Sauber at the time had close ties), or am I just reading too much into it (I was a big fan of Jean at the time!)

    1. I can remember Hill proposing the arrangement on the radio, Ralf was on his tail and looking for his maiden victory. Sky asked him about it just after the race just gone. Ralf had of course previously bumped off his team-mate Fisichella for his first podium in Argentina 1997.

      I don’t remember the Coulthard-Alesi situation but that is interesting. Conditions really were atrocious that day, remember when DC instigated the massive first start pile-up after La Source! As a youngster, very exciting to watch :D, and notice all the goings-on, such as Ralf braking and avoiding the huge pile up, Herbert almost making it through everything only to be tagged by a wayward tyre and launched into a spin, and finally the lead Minardi (Tuero?) losing a front wing after all the spray had dissipated and running into something at a snail’s pace after everything had pretty much settled :).

      1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_wBTN0MqE4 – Go to 7.20 and you can see Dennis talking to Jordan, a few laps later DC goes past Alesi and that’s it.
        As for Hill, I don’t think that video has the radio from him on but I have heard it before where he basically says to Eddie they will crash if he doesn’t give the orders

  32. I’ve seen a number of comments (here and elsewhere) that this story is not really about Webber and Vettel, but more about Chirstian Horner’s authority, or rather lack of it. I think that is spot on, and inevitably people are saying no driver would have dared disobey Frank, Ron, Bernie or Enzo. Perhaps the difference is that, like the drivers, Horner is also an employee, a hired hand paid to do the bidding of the owner. Red Bull is not HIS team. Conversely, the aforementioned quartet were all team owners as well as team principals. Perhaps this also goes some way to explaining the different level of respect given to Ross Brawn by Lewis & Nico. Of course, Merc is not HIS team now, but it had his name on it a couple of years ago, and that must make a difference in the relationship between the team principal and his drivers.

    Continuing the football analogy from above, Horner appears to have lost control of the dressing room. And when that happens, there is only outcome: the manager is given the red card.

    1. I will agree with your comments but only to the extent that Dietrich Mateschitz I think owes it to Christian Horner to back him – otherwise he (Christian) is damaged. A driver should not be able to dictate against the team’s orders

    2. When you contrast Ross’s authoritative tone towards Nico “NEGATIVE NICO, NEGATIVE!” to Horner’s wishy washy “Come on Seb, this is silly” it’s not hard to see the lack of respect Horner has brought upon himself. Vettel has made himself untouchable at Red Bull and for this reason Mark should leave, just for the sake of his own self respect. Maybe Flabbio can pull some strings at Enstone to get him a drive there?

  33. Williams definitely did not use team orders in 1996. The closest they came was when Hill pressured Villeneuve to take a trip over the Grass on Melbourne and broke an oil line. Villeneuve would not have been able to finish with his car in the state so was ordered to slow down. Damon kept his FW18 on the track and won..

  34. I’d add a some on rallying: In late 1983, Audi’s Hannu Mikkola could win the World title and for that Stig Blomqvist, by far the fastest man of the season, had to stay behind Hannu. At the 1984 Monte Carlo, new recruit Walter Röhrl and Blomqvist battled all along the Common Route but Audi had stablished that the first one at the start of the Final Route would become winner. Röhrl was. And two rallies later, in Portugal, Lancia’s Attilio Bettega and Massimo Biasion had to stop in the last day of rallying so team leader Markku Alèn didn’t have any suspended dust while trying to catch rally leader Mikkola…

    1. And in 1989 Jean Todt decided the outcome of the Paris-Dakar by a coin toss between Vatanen and Ickx.

      1. I was there and I felt JT was wrong because it was five days before the end of the rally. That was too early for such a decision and I felt it was unsporting. However, I was younger then, and probably did not appreciate how important it is for a corporation to not let “tearaway” drivers control the outcome of their investment. The use of team orders is always going to be contentious and one must question the logic of why these things are needed so early in the season. However this is Red Bull’s choice because it is Red Bull’s investment. That is fair. We all want to see racing but teams do not want to see two cars parked beside the track, or overtaken because they have used up their fuel and tyres unwisely. When an order is given it is the responsibility of a driver to obey that order because his team mate will be doing that. To take advantage of that situation and take positions is unscrupulous and unsporting.

        We have had a vast amount of comment, informed and otherwise, and I think it is time to move on. The problem is not going to be solved here.

        I hope that people now understand the issues more than before.

  35. Surely the bottom line is that the driver is the employee of the team. If the employer gives an order then the employee should honour that. Just depends whether the employer has the balls to punish non compliance.

  36. JS. Would team orders only really apply to the bigger teams and drivers, or also to the lower teams where the driver brings a lot of funding. This fact would surely affect any orders given.

  37. Very interesting, alternate take, on Red Bull and team orders here http://f1professor.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/history-explains-the-present-and-the-future-f1. Prof. Mark Jenkins makes the very valid point that while McLaren, Ferrari, et al were set up to race cars and the drivers are simply there to undertake that duty on behalf of the team, Red Bull Racing was undertaken to showcase the drivers rather than the car, meaning the car and team are only there as a vehicle for the drivers (and of course the Brand).

    It raises such an interesting historical element to this story that I am now unsure how to view this debate, where before reading it I was committed to my position. Damn!

    1. I don’t think the article raises any serious questions about team orders. They are part of the sport, if Red Bull views it otherwise then it is in the wrong sport.

  38. This is what Mark Webber said after Silverstone 2011:

    “I chose to race as hard and as fair as I thought was possible, trying my best to beat Seb. I got pretty close a couple of times but couldn’t quite pull it off.

    To manage it but then be told to hold position is something I wasn’t prepared to follow at the time. If I’d backed off and held the gap at three seconds, as I was asked to do, it would have been much more difficult for me to sleep after the race.

    At the same time, I knew I was going against the team’s wishes.”

    He admits himself that he went against the team’s wishes.
    The hypocrisy of Webber’s sulking last weekend is astounding.

    1. It really depends on where you get the quotes from. As far as I am concerned Webber backed off because the team told him to do. And that is that. The other point to bear in mind is that if Webber broke team orders in 2011 at Silverstone why was there no outcry… Your last sentence simply highlights that you do really understand these guys.

        1. Yep, but I can write that I wanted to kill someone and I am not a murderer. If Mark had done it, then he would have been castigated in the way Vettel has been – and he would not be at Red Bull now. He (or his ghost writer) might write that he could not pull it off, but if he had done it would have been disastrous for him. Teams run the sport. It is their money. Drivers are employees and when they forget that they pay for it.

          1. Not a valid comparison.

            A valid comparison would be if you wrote that you tried to kill someone but weren’t able to succeed. In that case, that’s probably an admission of the crime of attempted murder.

            Of course, most (if not all) legal systems view murder as a more blameworthy crime than attempted murder, but they’re both serious crimes (with the same “mens rea” if you want to get latin about it).

            The point being that it would be slightly hypocritical of someone to complain about being murdered/overtaken (some reality suspension required of course) if they’d tried to murder/overtake the same guy previously but failed.

            Of course, that’s not to say that the conduct of either or both is not blameworthy – Jefe’s point was that it is hypocritical of Mark Webber to complain as he admitted that he attempted to do the same thing previously.

            You can believe that what Vettel did was wrong (as I do) and still believe that Mark is a hypocrit for getting overly upset about this. They are not mutually exclusive positions.

    2. The problem with this argument is that Mark was SO much quicker than Seb that day, that he would have passed him comfortably had he wanted to. I looked at the lap times at the time, Seb’s pace increased but not to the level that Mark was running at while he was catching him. Mark made a point, Seb knew it and the team knew it, yet he stayed behind. It’s not been mentioned in any significant way by Red Bull because they know that ultimately Mark obeyed team orders that day.

  39. Dear Blogger,

    read your complete in-depth analysis of the team order and the reasoning behind these orders. Honestly, it’s a thin line that is not easy to spot when you running at 300mph for more than an hour.

    Beyond the $ figure and team’s monetary position at stake, we also have to think about the ethics for which sport is known for.

    What we are trying to teach our young followers? Team effort Vs. Result Fixing. Very very thin line.

    Let’s not castigate or outcaste Sebastian for this (so called) oversight. Let’s build the sport for the good.

    1. Dear Commenter,

      If they are running at 300mph, they are likely to be in jet cars. Formula 1 is not that fast.

      The blog is designed to explain F1. I am trying to teach new fans the realities, not dressing things up and pretending it does not happen. I am explaining why it happens and why it is right that it should happen. Vettel did wrong. End of story. Anyone sensible in the sport from Bernie Ecclestone to Helmut Marko, to Christian Horner has said the same thing.

  40. “Villeneuve died two weeks later, still furious at what had happened.” I know it shouldn’t be funny but the way this is written sounds as if Gilles died from prolonged furiosity. Couldn’t help but laugh at the thought. Sorry.

  41. Formula 1 happens in real life and real life is never black or white, so there will always be room for opinions and interpretations, especially in a case like RBR in Malaysia 2013. A lot of commenters (especially in the post about Vettel and Shakespeare), have asked why there is a difference this time, compared to UK in 2011. I have asked myself that since I do think that there is a difference, and I have come to the following conclusion:

    To me, the big difference between the scenarios is that in UK 2011, Webber was faster than Vettel on equal terms. In Malaysia in 2013, Vettel was not faster than Webber on equal terms and it was only after Webber had gone into “cruise mode” that Vettel caught Webber (remember how Webber pulled away from Vettel after the latter complained over the radio about how Webber should be ordered aside?). By doing so Vettel stabbed Webber in the back and used the team’s strategy for only his own benefit, disregarding the needs and wants of his team.

    Another difference is that the team order issued in 2011 seems to me to have been made out of concern for the drivers not doing a Turkey 2010 (i.e. crash into each other) and also to ensure that Vettel won, despite Webber being quicker. In 2013, it seems RBR wanted to prevent unnecessary fighting that not only could have caused a Turkey 2010, but also could have pushed the tyres over the cliff, which would have been almost equally bad and was a real concern for RBR in Malaysia.

    I am not saying that Webber was right in 2011, but I am saying that Vettel was way more wrong in 2013.

  42. A quick question, where a team finishes in the constructors dictates prize money, but surely having the World Champion in your team makes the sponsers flock in. I’m not saying it’s important to RB, I’m just interested.

    1. There is likely to be an increase in sponsorship, but it is doubtful these days if it would be more than the TV money.

  43. I can understand the team orders thing if it is towards the end of the season and the Drivers Championship is close.

    I can’t see why Red Bull didn’t let the 2 race as their cars were already 1 and 2, so there would have been no loss of points (unless there was a repeat of Turkey 2010!). The same with Mercedes – they were placed 3 and 4 so there would have been no loss of points by the drivers swapping places.

    Nonetheless, Vettel’s behaviour during the whole race hasn’t enamoured him to the neutrals (not that I am one!) and Christian Horner has shown his deficiencies as a Team Manager.

    1. I’m quoting Joe
      ‘We all want to see racing but teams do not want to see two cars parked beside the track, or overtaken because they have used up their fuel and tyres unwisely. When an order is given it is the responsibility of a driver to obey that order because his team mate will be doing that. To take advantage of that situation and take positions is unscrupulous and unsporting.’

  44. There were stories – no idea if true – that at the final race of ’97 McLaren and Williams got together before the race and agreed to work together to deny
    Schumacher the title. If so that would be a very extreme version of team orders …

      1. Surely you mean involved in the stink, not any so called agreement? I seem to recall Ferrari leaking a tape of the radio conversations to distract from the FIA hearing on Schumacher’s kamikaze stunt.

  45. This is all very fine reasoning and a nice history lesson, Joe, but I don’t buy this ‘it’s always been like this, why should we change it?’. I know this may sound silly, but there was a time when people got themselves killed during the races every fortnight, when one would be allowed to go past the boxes at over 100 mph only inches away from the pit crew and safety was virtually unimportant. Things have changed, thankfully.

    At the same time, one must remember that, as any sport or entertainment show, F1 does need fans in order to survive, and you are one of the few who constantly remind us about that.

    Therefore, if ‘team interests’ now go against fan interests, something has to be done to fix it.

    Everything is changing all the time. Something that was acceptable in 20, 50 years ago might not go well today and I think it is reasonable to say that new F1 fans don’t like nor want to live with team orders as something that spoils the thrill and fair play of the sport, specially on times like these, when we all desperately are trying to hold to good and inspiring examples.

    So, I may be naive to expect fairness on the track, but F1 must realise that now most new fans are also ‘naive’, and my opinion is not less important than opinions from 40 year veterans – by the way, I’ve been following the sport since 1988.

    Things like Austria 2002 and Germany 2010 will never be accepted by the fans and I think they are living proof that times, indeed, they are a-changing.

    It took F1 an eternity to quit tobacco, and yet they went to Bahrain last year. The sport seems to lack common sense in a general way.

    I am not a politically correct fan boy, but I don’t think 21st Century fans will get impressed if the general mentality regarding team orders and manipulation of results don’t change.

    That’s just my humble opinion.

    PS: the idea to award Constructors points after qualifying, in order to set the drivers free to race on Sunday is an interesting one and shouldn’t be dismissed without a thought.

    1. Whether you like it or not is not going to change the reality. The teams are the employers. They make the rules. If you go against your employer what do you think will happen to you?

    2. Awarding WCC points after Qualy has one big disadvantage. The teams would set the cars up for the single fastest lap and leave the drivers with a right handful come the race. Indeed, they wouldn’t really care whether the cars finished or not if they’d already got their points.

      It might work to have WCC points awarded both after Qualy and the race as the race is good test of reliability as well and that would reward teams who could produce a good all-round car rather than just a quick one-lap car.

      Don’t forget also, as far as the team is concerned it doesn’t matter one jot whether Mark or Seb finished first, they still got 43 points. What they were interested in was ensuring both drivers made the finish, something with Seb disregarded for personal gain and which could well have cost the team heavily.

  46. Joe, do you mind if I ask how you write blogs like these? I’m always amazed at the detail, especially going back to pre-championship era, 1950s ’60s ect. you’re able to write in. Do you have a database of you old articles you refer to or does it all come straight from the noggin? When I was younger I could recall finishing positions from races ten years previous, but these days at the grand age of thirty, I find myself referring to Google more often than not..

  47. A good article Joe, but as i’m sure has already been commented somewhere is the reason i feel this occasion between webber & vettle is seen as worse than several in your blog is that 1 driver (webber) is obviously obeying the teams orders but the other (vettle) is not.
    Also is it highly unlikely that vettle will be punished for his causing mistrust in the team!
    So Christian needs to disciple vettle with a 1 race ban, which he wont because that effects their constructors points,
    so at some point in the future, hopefully when vettle is in a championship winning position & the team need webber to pull over to let him win, webber will disobey team orders & hand the title to a n other to exact his revenge.

  48. Your mention of Berger vs Mansell in Suzuka pretty well illustrates the point I’ve tried to make elsewhere on this.

    Webber could have gone off like the hare at the dogs, pushed his car and tyres to the limit and Seb would have had to so likewise to stand a chance.

    Instead Webber took it easy which allowed Vettel to do the same which – unfortunately for Mark – left him with performance available at the end when Mark had turned everything down.

    For me, that is the main thing wrong here. If Seb had won in a straight fight – and he more than likely would have – I’d have had no complaint. However, to take advantage of his teammate following advice from the engineers to ensure both cars got home safely is just morally wrong.

    Also, re you point about employees, I’ve found that certain employees can get away with pretty much what they like as they either have ‘pull’ within the company, or are so valuable to the company that the boss doesn’t dare stand up to them. It’s hard to see Seb not falling in to one of these categories so while some form of censure would be just, I have a nasty feeling it won’t be forthcoming.

    Certain other sports have a penalty ‘Bringing the game in to disrepute’ which is handed out by the authorities. It is marginal to say whether that would be just here, but that is the only way a punishment is likely.

  49. Hi Joe,

    Ive been reading your blog on a daily basis for some years already and I must say that your work is brilliant!!!

    Reading through all the comments, I am just amazed by the amount of patience you have addressing all the people who do not add any value to your blog.

    Keep up the much appreciated good work! Last but not least, any chance of an audience with Joe in Barcelona this year?

  50. Joe – at what point do you think this behaviour within the RBR team will start to influence the sponsors? Obviously Mateschitz is the owner, but these days Renault/Infiniti are putting in more money. As you have pointed out previously, corporates don’t like controversy.

    Perhaps the fizzy drink customers are rusted on and don’t care?

  51. Great article.

    I’ve often wondered, though, why Williams felt the need for Patrese to move over for Mansell at the French Grand Prix in 1992. Mansell had won 5 of the first 7 races, and the only one anywhere near him in the championship was, in fact, Patrese.

    The start of 1992 was a Mansell steamroller, and just when it seemed we might get a good race up front, team orders were rolled out. To me it seemed entirely unnecessary and poor judgement from Williams.

    I’m alright with team orders but situations like that one, just like with Ferrari in 2002, do make me want to throw something at the telly.

  52. First off Joe – great blog – appreciate the effort.

    Second, when the hell are they going to open up this sport!? Coverage is so archaic!
    The internet could allow the fans to hear all the team radio stuff in real time. I would find it fascinating to be able to select and monitor individual team communications during a live race – hear the interplay between the wall and the drivers – stresses, problems, grievances, abuse!!! i’d pay a handsome premium for it – if anyone knows a source please tell me.



  53. Joe, can you do some snooping around at China GP and see if these rumors of Red Bull not tabling up a 2014 contract for Mark are true or baloney.

  54. Amazing that some folks think it would have been best if Vettel and Webber had raced each other until their tanks were empty or their tires fell off, so that both drivers could watch from the sidelines as the silver cars took 1-2.

    Of course, it would have been interesting to have heard exactly who Horner would have tried to boss had Webber taken the bait.

    Given what actually happened, it seems to me that RB at least partially owes its 1-2 finish to Webber having shown restraint.

  55. Joe, thanks much for the OP. I knew some of it, didn’t know other parts. It’s always good to learn things, and especially nice to have things condensed in one article. I’m sure you didn’t slap it together in 10 minutes. I appreciate both the work and the result.

    Any chance of this appearing in GP+? I ask because there is no convenient index to your blog… so I guess I’m really asking if I should save this entry elsewhere, so as to have access to it later.

  56. Joe… regarding the teams’ emphasis on the Constructor’s Championship… I’m sure you are correct about this, but I wonder if you could help me with the particulars.

    Two factors involved:

    (1) the Bernie Bucks awarded to constructors based on each team’s place in the Constructor rankings, and

    (2) the marketing money the team can raise based on their visibility and standing with the public.

    I assume it’s right to say that the Driver’s Championship carries more weight with Factor #2 than does the Constructor’s Championship. So, how much $ diff is there between 1st and 2nd in the Constructor’s Championship? And what’s your best guess about the marketing $ benefit to the team of winning the Driver’s Championship?

    I realize you can’t answer the latter question precisely… am just looking for some kind of frame-of-reference, that’s all…

    1. These days the Constructors’ Champions get about $100 million in TV money. The sponsorship depends on the team, but only the biggest teams get more than $200 million in total. In the case of Red Bull most of the cash still comes from Red Bull itself, although that has reduced a little with the big new Infiniti sponsorship.

  57. Joe

    Didn’t Luigi Fagioli throw a hammer around the garage, at Neubauer perhaps, when told to let Caracciola through?

    And wasn’t there a case where one of the Mercedes drivers sat in his car in the pits, behind the car of the predetermined winner which had caught fire during a pit stop? When asked, “What the hell are you waiting for?”, or something similar to that, he replied, ” You said I had to let the other driver win!”

    1. There was some kind of incident but I believe it was later after he had left the team because he did not like team orders. He is said to have parked car once when ordered to hand it over.

  58. At last someone has articulated the fact that team orders are there because this is a team sport and the the winning team takes the spoils. Thank you.

  59. Well I guess I understand the team dynamic, and while I don’t
    Iike it, I accept it as part of this sport I love.

    I just find Vettel’s actions to ne without honour.

  60. at least the fact that RBR are totally hypocritical about letting the drivers race is now incontrovertible ; they made every effort to get vettel past at the last pit stop by reversing the normal order to attempt the undercut

    horner comes out of this as badly as vettel ; to say that there was no point in telling vettel to give the place back is fatuous , there was every point in order to maintain the team’s reputation and harmony , and to assert his authority ….the problem being that he has no authority which is now clear to all ; is there anyone who doubts that if webber had passed vettel against orders horner would have ordered him to give the place back ?

    but in the final analysis maybe RBR will be the biggest losers , they are not going to get the change of tyres that they want and the season looks to be much tighter with pirelli having done the job they were asked to do

    it is hard to imagine webber supporting vettel after this , he doesn’t have to break team orders , just letting somebody overtake easily to catch vettel could tip the balance

  61. Firstly I’d like to say what an in depth recalling of motor racing history. I am genuinely impressed with your historical knowledge of the sport and I throughly enjoyed reading it.

    I fully understand and agree with the impact that team orders has on teams, however all this has managed to point out is the negative effect of team orders throughout the years and how it takes away from motor racing. The history lesson has emphasized how team orders can change the focus of the sport from racing to financial. Granted that team orders have existed since the beginning of the sport, but just because something has been does not imply it always should be and to think that removing team orders is a naïve way of thinking is naïve in itself. The opinion of ‘that is the way it is because the money payers call the shots and not realising that shows a lack of understanding of the sport’ is a cynical view. One can fully understand the impact teams have on the sport and understand how team orders is in their best interest but at the same time desire that a sport remains a sport and does not turn into an over the top PR exercise.

    Many sports grow and evolve over the years, it is natural. The argument that ‘this is how it is’ is the same as the argument going on in european football (soccer) about the introduction of goal line cameras. The idea of goal line cameras is the most logical step forward in todays generation but it is fought against by those who say that’s not what the sport is about. Apparantly sport isn’t about fair competition, it’s about sticking to old ideals and supporting a money culture.

    Granted teams hold the most clout in the sport due to their financial power and ability to provide the ride. However there are an endless list of things teams would like to do in order to aid their victory. So should we just allow them the freedom to do that? In the 2008 Singapore GP Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds famously instructed Nelson Piquet, Jr to stag a crash so that a yellow flag would be produced thus giving Fernando Alonso an advantage (being the only driver to have pitted for fuel at that point) which resulted in him winning the race. It was in the teams best interest, so should we allow designed crashes? Yes teams will do what they want regardless but that doesn’t mean you just allow it. The aim is to try and regulate the sport to keep it true to it’s intention. The more control you give the teams the more designed the race becomes. If it is mainly about the money in the teams and PR then why call it Formula 1 Racing lets call it the Formula 1 Motorshow. We have the Goodwood Speed festival for PR. We have Formula 1 Racing for racing.

    Allowing team orders allows teams to use them for anything and everything from ensuring a points victory to helping a driver to win a championship (which in my eyes is the more acceptable use) to maximising the total team points at the end of the race (understandable but less acceptable as it takes away from the racing) to pure PR and financial gain (unacceptable). Regulating team orders will not get rid of their use, but it will reduce their use if any financial or PR gain is balanced out by the repercussions that may follow.

    Now I am not totally against the idea of team orders and how they can benefit the sport. Given a situation where a driver is fighting for the Championship win and a team mate acts as a wing man is fully understandable and acceptable. My issue is that given free reign they can be used against the sport as a PR exercise and for general race management, as your post has gloriously identified. I am not naïve to the fact that teams will use them at their will but I am aware of the fact that they can be regulated as they have in the past. The reason they have been re-allowed is down to team pressure. That happens a lot in the world of F1 and we accept it as part of the sport, but it does not make it right and it does not make us naïve for pointing out those facts. The teams aren’t going to dissapear just because they technically aren’t allowed to employ team orders at their will. What might dissapear is the support from fans should the racing become mechanical and predictable, and that’s when the money into the sport begins to dissapear.

    I would also like to add that I greatly respect your view and wealth of knowledge, which most pundits would not be able to match. However I believe that with knowledge can come cynicism. Granted the sport is what it is and a few posts in a blog won’t change anything, but we can theorise and specualte on ideals. Can you truly say that the racing enthusiast in you does not agree that the sport would benefit from a greater focus on racing?

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