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27 Jul 2010

Never mention Team Orders in Formula 1....

Hockenheim, Germany. Ferari have just told driver Felipe Massa, currently in 1st place that "Fernando (his teammate, in second) is faster than you, do you understand the message?"

So what, the casual fan would think.

Not in Formula 1. Teams use coded messages to tell their drivers to switch positions, usually because one driver is already further ahead in the championship and needs the points. Usually, nobody complains because it happens in the last few races of the season.

Not with 7 races to go. And never is it as obvious as this. And it has (rightly) been compared to this, also involving Ferrari, which lead to the whole ban on team orders coming in in the first place.

What we are all angry about is this; We all admit these orders happen all the time all over the pit lane, but never this early or this blatantly. What makes matters worse is that Ferrari and Alonso are doing everything they can to prove this was Massa's decision and Massa's alone, despite Massa's in-car data proving he held off to let Alonso through.

This has caused widespread criticism across the sport for a few reasons:
  • Spectators paid huge sums of money to see a race, not a fixed result
  • The whole idea of a race is that the best driver wins, not the one who needs it more
  • Ferrari's denial of any wrong-doing is what seems to be angering most
However, it can be argued that what they did was logical and the right thing to do for the team:
  • Massa was 31 points behind Alonso before race started, so Alonso should have won the race to help his championship
  • Massa has little chance of winning from where he is, let Alonso claim the points
  • Ferrari do not want to have their cars crash into each other while fighting for the lead.
So really, the argument can be fought for both viewpoints. Ferrari though, have made their bed and have to lie in it. They have to defend the indefensible, a job I will never want to do.


What's your view on the whole "scandal?"

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