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Team orders rule ties F1 in knots

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Andrew Benson | 17:16 UK time, Sunday, 25 July 2010

Fernando Alonso's victory in the German Grand Prix was the best possible result the race could have produced for the world championship battle.

It means the Spaniard, in a car that is now absolutely competitive after recent updates, has closed the gap on leader Lewis Hamilton and the prospect of a five-driver battle for the world title remains very much alive.

Of course, that point has become rather lost in the intense controversy about how Alonso secured the 23rd victory of his career.

The Spaniard was clearly handed first place on a plate by team-mate Felipe Massa on lap 49, the Brazilian slowing down out of the hairpin at Turn Six after his engineer Rob Smedley had told him on the radio: "Fernando is faster than you."

Ferrari have been fined $100,000 (£65,000) for a breach of article 39.1 of the F1 sporting regulations, which says: "Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited." The race stewards decided not to change the result but have referred the matter to the World Council of motorsport's governing body the FIA.

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Ferrari claimed after the race that they had not ordered Massa to let Alonso past, which strictly speaking is true, even if the whole watching world understood the subtext of Smedley's message as clearly as the Brazilian did.

Let's be clear about this: Smedley's message was a clear, coded instruction to Massa to let Alonso through and this was therefore clearly an example of team orders.

But that is where the situation gets a bit murkier.

Just because Ferrari effectively asked Massa to let Alonso win, was that necessarily the wrong thing to do? Is it right that the F1 rules ban team orders? Did Ferrari even technically break the rule?

There are so many difficult areas here.

First of all, technically, Ferrari did not order Massa to let Alonso win, not in so many words.

Secondly, what does the rule actually mean? Did what Ferrari did interfere with the race result? How can anyone possibly know? They could, if they wanted, argue that Alonso, who had been significantly faster than Massa all weekend, was going to get past eventually. Or that they didn't want to risk a collision between their two drivers by letting them race.

They didn't do that. Instead, they have been forced into what many will view as the ridiculous charade of having to dress it up as Massa's decision.

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Parallels will be drawn between this race and the notorious one in Austria in 2002, when then Ferrari boss (and now FIA president) Jean Todt ordered Rubens Barrichello to let Michael Schumacher past to win.

That day, despite repeated demands in the closing laps, Barrichello only ceded position on the run to the chequered flag. The resulting outcry - which started with Schumacher being booed on the podium and ended up with Ferrari being given a $1m fine - led to the rule banning team orders being introduced.

But I don't see it as the same situation. There was no need to deprive Barrichello of that win. Schumacher had dominated the start of the 2002 season and already had a significant championship lead at a race that came much earlier in the season than this one.

What happened in Hockenheim on Sunday was different. Alonso has been Ferrari's stronger driver all year and is clearly the only one who has a chance of the championship.

This - unlike the situation between the two Red Bull drivers at Silverstone - is not an example of two evenly matched drivers in one team battling it out for the title and the team making a call that potentially disadvantages one of them.

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Massa has simply not been strong enough this season compared to Alonso for anyone to make a case that he will be consistently beating him for the rest of the season, and by extension feature in the world championship battle.

As BBC F1 analyst Martin Brundle put it during the race, Alonso has had a tough couple of weekends, suffering badly at the hands of some stewards' decisions, and he needs as many points as he can get to haul himself back into the title chase.

Schumacher himself was very interesting on this subject after the race on Sunday.

"Watching the TV occasionally (on the big screens during the race), I've seen Felipe being in first position and I felt happy because he is a good friend of mine," he said. "Then hearing that Alonso won the race I was wondering what kind of strategy was that?

"I have been criticised in the past for exactly that and I have to say that I would do exactly the same if I was in their situation. At the end of the day, what are we here for? It's fighting for a championship and there is only one that can win it.

"By the end of the year, if you think you would have lost the championship for exactly that point you will ask yourself, all the fans, the television, the journalists, why didn't you do so?

"If you go back to other years, other teams and other situations, in the last race there were clear team orders and everybody accepts those. Whether it's the last race, second last race or even earlier, what's the point?

"I can see that in the years when we did it, because we were leading so much, that people thought it was unnecessary and I can agree on that one in a way.

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"But in principle I cannot. I agree with what's going on. You have to do it in a way that is nice and maybe not too obvious - make it nice fight. But there's only one target, and that's winning the championship."

It's worth pointing out that the previous version of this rule said "team orders that are against the interests of competition are forbidden".

Under that wording, you could even make the case that what Ferrari did was explicitly allowed, even encouraged, by the rules - in that letting Alonso win was absolutely in the interests of competition, ie in increasing the prospects of an interesting world championship fight.

That wording was changed because of its inherent vagueness, but there is a far wider point here - and that is whether the rule should be there in the first place.

Many people watching the German Grand Prix will doubtless have been disgusted by what happened, and feel that they were deprived of seeing two men battle it out to the finish.

But the reality of F1 is as David Coulthard described it after the race on Sunday: "Every team in this pit lane gives team orders and anyone who says they don't is lying."

F1 is a team sport; teams constantly manipulate races. Having a rule banning team orders doesn't mean they don't happen, it simply means teams have to find duplicitous ways of employing them.

Equally, I don't see the logic of an argument that says Ferrari should be penalised for this incident but teams and drivers should not have been punished for similar situations in the past.

The most obvious recent one that springs to mind decided the result of the world championship in 2007.

In the final race of the season in Brazil, Massa was leading then-Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, with Alonso - then at McLaren - in third place and the Spaniard's team-mate Hamilton fighting his way back up the field, eventually finishing fifth.

Had Massa won, Hamilton would have been world champion - but Massa, clearly under instruction from Ferrari, gave up a victory in his home race so his team-mate could win the title.

No one complained then. So why now?

Comments

Page 1 of 17

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Just goes to show, again, that most F1 races these days are decided in the garage and not on the track. How much longer can it carry on like that and still attract the fans and sponsors?

  • Comment number 4.

    Bit dodgy if you ask me. Thought it was called motor racing.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    at the end of the day if alonso was faster than massa he should have raced him alonso is the first to complain about anything and everything ....alonsos lack off celebration shows even he was not happy to win like that.... he was not the better driver because he didnt race but as usuall ferrai can do what they want i want to see racing even against teams red bull have done it i watch it too see racing

  • Comment number 7.

    Fernando Alonso has always criticised Michael Schumacher for his professional ethics. But after today's race, can Alonso say to himself that he is a true winner of German Grand prix. May be Ferrari forced to issue team order after his outbrust on radio "It is ridiculous". And how can Alonso defend the Ferrari action by sayting that it was in the interest of team. The true winner today is Massa and big loser is Ferrari as a team

  • Comment number 8.

    McClaren and Red Bull must copy Ferrari and start to favour one of their drivers (rather than taking points from each other) if they want to win the Champonship. If they want to play by the books then I am afraid they will not win the Champonship. DECISION TIME

  • Comment number 9.

    Firstly, the Stewards document cites the offence as "Breach of the Article 39.1 of the FIA 2010 Sporting Regulations and of Article 151.c) of the 2010 FIA International Sporting Code." which are the Team Order prohibition and Bringing the Sport into Disrepute respectively. It's available online at [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    Secondly, what do Ferrari actually gain from this? Ferrari are a constructor, and thus have a Constructors Championship to fight. Switching their drivers did not affect the number of points the team got in the provisional result, and they obviously broke the rules to do so. Alonso and Massa are fighting their drivers championships, not the team. If Alonso couldn't get past Massa on the track, well that should be his problem. In favouring one driver, Ferrari have undermined the other, which can't help harmony within the team trying to catch up in the Constructors battle... [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 10.

    Andrew, your tacit acceptance of a team fixing the result of a race makes me wonder why you bother with the charade of calling F1 a sport. It's just commerce on wheels, not a competition.

    The FIA have set an appalling precedent in allowing the result to stand. It gives a green light to any other team in a similar position to fix the result. What a disgrace.

  • Comment number 11.

    Im not avid watcher of the sport but it's clear to me there is corruption deep within F1 still.

    I personally cant stand Alonso, he's the first to complain if anything seems suspicous so he really does need to practice what he preaches after this scandal.....

  • Comment number 12.

    The fact that the result stands is a farce. Ferrari have been fined $100,000 "for breaching Article 39.1 of the sporting regulations, which regulates against team orders, and Article 151 (c) of the 2010 FIA International Sporting Code, which relates to bringing the sport into disrepute" according to www.formula1.com

    So the stewards have found them the guilty of breaching 39.1, as is their right, so why haven't they been excluded from the race results?

  • Comment number 13.

    The memory of the British person is so selective. Andrew how come no mention of heikki letting lewis past at turn 6 two years ago at turn 6 at this very same track. From mark Hughes autosport the following week his very words are " he was delayed further by exiting the pits behind kovalainen that Hamilton was faster ". This is no different to what happened here today and he also let him past at France that year and in china 08 kimi let massa past and nothing was sayed then so what's the difference then. If Ferrari get threw out of this race Hamilton should lose his championship also

  • Comment number 14.

    We could argue till the cows come home about whether or not team orders should be allowed. Personally, I think they should, as this is a team sport.

    But the fact of the matter is that the rules state that team orders are not allowed. Ferrari blatantly gave Massa an order to let Alonso through, and it is clear they broke the rule by virtue of the fine handed to them. But that was too lenient: they should have been disqualified from the race.

    On the brighter side, I had good odds on a podium finish for Massa...

  • Comment number 15.

    It's the same old story with Alonso. If he can't get his own way he whinges like a spoilt teenager. It's pathetic. The thing I hated most was the way he stood on the top step and looked so pleased with himself. If you're faster, Fernando, overtake fairly, not with your teammate's help. Felipe should never have been put in that position.

    This whole thing stinks. I would have banned Ferrari for the next race.

  • Comment number 16.

    So much fuss about this... what about McLaren's "piece of information" to JB to save fuel, or even worse, Vettel's attempt to drive Alonso into the wall at the start?

  • Comment number 17.

    Some fair points Andrew, well written.

  • Comment number 18.

    What I find more interesting than the obvious 'team orders' issue is why Alonso feels the need to win by not overtaking? I mean the the guy didnt even try, he may well have been faster at that stage of the race but he wasnt earlier on and we are talking a couple of tenths seperating the two, it seemed fair to me that over the whole race Massa was the faster and had done enough to deserve the win (including getting the better of his team mate at the start - does that no longer mean anything, that a driver should risk everything at potentially the most dangerous part of the race all for nought?)
    The FIA need to make it super clear this time around OR simply do away with the regulation all together and we can have a free for all. The FIA also need to clearly stipulate that ANY driver seeking to obtain a contract that will give him preferential treatment over a team mate in a racing situation should also be illegal or deemed unsporting. If you ban team orders then surely it must be unsporting for a driver to be able to seek contractual advantage before the cars even hit the track.
    Clearly this is a bit of a minefield but it shows that teams no longer trust team mates to be able to race correctly without the risk of causing problems which may lead to the team losing out.

  • Comment number 19.

    What a joke, once again Ferrari show there utter indifference to the rules £100,000 fine to the richest team, They will be laughing all the way home! If this would have been any other team they would have been disqulifed.

    A VERY sad day for F1

  • Comment number 20.

    What has been proven today is that the rules are there, yes, but you can pay your way round them.

    Alonso has an enormous PR problem and he will find, just like Schumacher, this isn't going to help him one bit. It's all good for F1 because it will get lots of press inches.

    To here Christian Horner complainging...well...pot...kettle...

    Red Bull shot themselves in the foot last time out, now it's Ferrari's turn. Thank God for McLaren.

  • Comment number 21.

    The moderator has removed my link above; I won't repost it but it's to the stewards report on the Official FIA website. Just so it makes sense.

  • Comment number 22.

    No mention anywhere on 606 about McLaren telling Heikki to let Lewis past in Hockenheim 2 years ago. I wonder why? Because a British driver won.

    Yes what happened today was wrong and even as an Alonso fan I sat watching the final part of the race very disappointed.

    However, if McLaren got away with it then, why should Ferrari be punished now?

  • Comment number 23.

    What happens if you put a bet on Massa to win, could you sue ferrari for loss of winnings, you didnt bet on the team ti win you net on Massa, what happened was race fixing, plain and simple

  • Comment number 24.

    sagamix wrote:

    Bit dodgy if you ask me. Thought it was called motor *racing*.

    Agreed, I didn't believe the sport was about simply driving about in an F1 car, you're supposed to race. The fact that Alonso was faster is a moot point, plenty of expert races have been won through tremendous tactical driving to keep a faster car behind you. The release of the message was wholly unnecessary and designed to tell Felipe only one thing: that Fernando is to overtake you. The Prancing Horse has demonstrated many times over the years that it's been, at times, a Prattling Joke and this is one of these. My sincerest hope is that the lying "word" of Ferrari is not taken and that they are hit severely with a punishment more suited to a team fixing this race result.

  • Comment number 25.

    Alonso said in Valencia that he felt the race had been "Manipulated". Wounder what he thinks of this race then...

  • Comment number 26.

    ferrari would have got the 1-2 anyway, they said that vettel was closing alonso down and if he'd past him it would have ruined their race, so they swith alonso and massa, if vettel had passed massa would it have ruined their race then when they were after a 1-2? in the word of alonso in 2006 " i no longer consider f1 a sport"

  • Comment number 27.

    If Schumacher would have done the same thing, is any further proof needed that it was the wrong thing to do?
    I've been growing more and more disenchanted with F1 and this is the last straw for me. I won't be watching any more "races".

  • Comment number 28.

    Good article Andrew. I'm broadly in agreement with yourself and DC and was quite surprised to learn that Ferrari have been fined and referred to the WMSC. (And I say that as someone who would have loved to have seen Massa win today.)

    On the referral, bringing the sport into disrepute can lead to some very serious sanctions. Could we have an article or further information on what will happen next, when in might happen and what sanctions the WMSC could impose?

  • Comment number 29.

    The fine is insufficient punishment, there needed to be an accompanying points penalty. They should reduce Alonso's points to a second place finish. This would mean that Ferrari would be suitably punished for fixing the car positions as they would lose points in the constructors championship and Alonso would receive the points he would have gained without interference. Massa should also only receive 2nd place points for his complicity. I think ferrari would quite happily paid 100 000 and still made the same decision if they had known this would be the penalty.

  • Comment number 30.

    A fine!, what a joke, one if the richest teams in the sport gets fined pocket change for manipulating the result of an international F1 race, in full view of the Hockenheim race fans and within full hearing and vision of the miilions of TV fans.

    This was never about money but about racing integrity and the image of the sport. The outcome should have been determined by loss of points or demotion back down the field.

    As other commentators have stated if Alonso's pace was so quick why didn't he race and overtake Phillipe, still a Ferrari one two finish.

    A disgraceful finish within an increasingly cynical season, Bernie you are presiding over a rotten borough, get together with Jean Todt before F1 becomes the pariah rather than the pinnacle of motorsport.

  • Comment number 31.

    I can't believe that Schumacher watches the big screen TV's while racing!

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    Very very wrong . This stinks . The inference here is that just because Alonso has ( in his world ) had some bad luck / judgements against him he should be let off any penalties . How much more blatant do a team have to be ? , And the pathetic fine ! , How much does that equate for each of the Ferrari personnel that the stewards think that blatantly( allegedly ) lied ? ! . Yet another sad sad day for the sport i love ..

  • Comment number 34.

    A slower driver should allow the faster one drive ahead without the need of being told so. Massa is always the slower one, there is no need for him to feel hurt. That is a fact. As for FIA's decision: There are too many rules as it is, and FIA is NO GOOD for F1. Period.

  • Comment number 35.

    So, Ferrari favouritism is still alive and kicking. It gives the lie to the old claim that teams are only fighting for the constructors' title.
    The stewards got the decision right at the end. It would have been even more unfair to Massa if he had been robbed of a second place points finish as well.

  • Comment number 36.

    Look at the bright side - at least no-one had to crash this time in order for Alonso to win. Does the man just have absolutely no morals? More proof that he can't deal with having a quick team-mate. Shove him off to Hispania or Virgin and see how he does there.
    Imagine the uproar if McLaren had used team orders today (I know they did a few years ago, but everyone is out to get Hamilton these days)

  • Comment number 37.

    Andrew dear boy.You asked the question , no one complained 3 years ago when Massa moved over for Kimi.Then it was clear to the whole world that if Kimi was 2nd, and Massa 1st ,with Hamilton out of the running , then Massa would move over in order for Kimi to win the title.This I believe was a pre-meditated agreement between Kimi and Fellipe and not construed as a 'team order'.Fellipe needed no coded order to make way for Kimi.He would have simply known Hamiltons position, so he helped Kimi that day...It was obvious.Today however was diferant , we are only half way through the year and it was blatently Ferrari telling Massa to give up a deserved win , because Ferrari wanted Alonso to win , who could'nt pass fairly and had to complain to the team,Massa was'nt in on this but he knew thats what the team wanted,you can tell he was gutted,, as It was so blatent.Shame on Ferrari and shame on Alonso.

  • Comment number 38.

    One rule for Ferrari.... Hamilton lied about overtaking whilst the safety car was out last season and it was a scandal. I'm sure if asked the question the Ferrari team would do the same only to be undone by the team radio chatter. Or, the FIA should just ask Massa, he was ready to tell the truth in the post-race interview. Alonso moaned during the last race it was "unfair" that Hamilton kept second place after a drive-thru... Well, this was unfair on Massa. I hope they are both stripped of their points, and the all powerful Ferrari are told to behave. It's disgraceful.

  • Comment number 39.

    Ferrari CHEATED - OFFICIAL.
    The Stewards decision is below. They have therefore concluded that Ferrari CHEATED:
    "The Stewards document cites the offence as "Breach of the Article 39.1 of the FIA 2010 Sporting Regulations and of Article 151.c) of the 2010 FIA International Sporting Code." which are the Team Order prohibition and Bringing the Sport into Disrepute respectively."
    Ferrari CHEATED - OFFICIAL

  • Comment number 40.

    Yet another bunch of responses where people's prejudices are clearly on show. This was very unsubtle, but most of the teams have made team decisions favouring one driver. Inherently what's the difference between this and giving Weber's wing to Vettel? Nothing!

    Alonso did not look happy or smug on the top step. He looked sheepish and ashamed. Who just came top (easily) of the *driver's* poll about who's the best current driver? Alonso. He may not have a magic personality, but none of these guys have small egos, and they all want that World Championship more than anything else. Some have just been coached to dissemble better than others.

  • Comment number 41.

    A sad day for F1, Fernando Alonso and Ferrari. They can dress it up how they like but that is not what people pay to see. Shame on the lot of them I say!

  • Comment number 42.

    All the time that F1 has both a Drivers Championship and a Constructors Championship running in parallel, then conflicts of interest such as this will occur. DC likened the situation to the players of a football team. If this is how we are supposed to view F1 then all reference to the Drivers Championship must be dropped, so that it is clearly viewed as a team sport only.
    As Massa was the one who 'decided' to fix the result, he should be the one who gets the penalty. That way it might stop other drivers from following team orders in future.

  • Comment number 43.

    The race today was an extremely poor advert for F1. Not only was the racing pretty dull the obvious breach of the rules left a very bitter taste in the mouth. Those who say it is a team sport, it happens all the time, look at the other instances of it happening etc etc yadda yadda miss the point that this sport wouldn't exist in anything like this form if it weren't for the fans. The fans want to watch RACING, which is not what we saw today. The Schumacher Barrichello thing showed how much fans are turned off by this behaviour, today was a clear example of the same. A very bad day for F1.

  • Comment number 44.

    It's supposed to be motor RACING - if Alonso didn't have the power or skill to pass then he didn't deserve to win !

    I sincerely hope that the FIA show some backbone and hammer Ferrari (and not by giving them a fine) the best way to stamp out this sort of thing would be a massive points deduction. Personally I won't be bothering with F1 any more if they get away with a trivial fine

    On the other hand if teams were only allowed to have one car in the race ...

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    Congratulations Fernando and Ferrari on a great race with great performance and making the right choice to swap drivers for the championship. it is only a shame people with little F1 knowledge or mclaren fans as i like to call them are still so sore from being given sound thrashing in the race they feel the need to complain about team orders something there team has done time and time again ( hold position is as much a team order as anything else )

  • Comment number 47.

    #13, Irish con, "The memory of the British person is so selective." So we all have selective memories, and of course you don't. You may have a valid point, but why couldn't you just have said "Andrew..." or "Some of the posters on here..."? Can't you just give it a rest sometimes?

  • Comment number 48.

    An absolute disgrace. Ferrari and Alonso have decided to disregard the clear rules of the sport and have deprived the viewing public of a fair race, which they have evry right to expect. This can't do the sport any good, and its just a pity that the officials couldn't find the courage to apply an appropriate penalty.

    Can there be any Ferrari or Alonso fans left after this? It would have been refreshing had Alonso slowed on the last lap to reinstate the correct placings. I wasn't holding my breath though.



  • Comment number 49.

    It's unbelievable. Half way through the season and Ferrari have already decided who they want to win the world championship. Now we can never really tell if Fernando Alonso has been beating Fellipe Massa on merit.

    I think Ferrari favoured Alonso from the start and have been giving Massa bad cars.

    Fernando constantly complained over the radio about it. If he is faster then why not show his race craft and beat him on the track?

    I cannot accept this result at all.

  • Comment number 50.

    What I don't understand is IF Alonso was that much faster than Massa why he couldn't overtake him legitimately? Or at the very least why Massa had to be told that Alonso was faster even though he wasn't actually pressuring him?

    Once again Alonso goes down in my esteem. He does have immense talent don't get me wrong but if he focused himself rather than throwing his toys out of the pram when things don't go his way he would have blazed past Massa and earned the win today rather than having it given to him.

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    How typical of F1 admin to gloss over Ferrari's flouting of the rules!! No-one should be in any doubt of F1 Admin's bias towards Ferrari. If this blatant breach of team order rules had been committed by another team such as McLaren, they would have been stripped of the win, drivers & constructors points as well as a VERY hefty fine and called before the FIA council to answer for their blatant disregard!!!
    I think it's about time Ferrari were brought into line (VERY SHARPLY) with the rest of the F1 teams!!

  • Comment number 53.

    What disturbs me most about the post-race washup on the BBC red button, and this blog, is the obvious contempt that Martin and DC have for the fans who largely fund the TV income and hence so much of the F1 industry. Well done Eddie for sticking up to the people who really matter.

    If Martin's and DC's cynical support for a team-only "sport" is taken at face value, why then all the discussion in the transmissions about individual drivers? Methinks these two, hitherto so sensible and even-handed, have now blotted their copybook with the viewers and shown where their true loyalty lies - with the circus that feeds their bank balances,and not the audience.

  • Comment number 54.

    'F1 is a team sport; teams constantly manipulate races. Having a rule banning team orders doesn't mean they don't happen, it simply means teams have to find duplicitous ways of employing them.'

    Fair enough. F1 is a business and there is any amount of dodgy dealing. The problem here is the blatant disregard for the rules followed by the laughable attempts to explain the situation away. Yes, races are manipulated by teams, but today was such a huge series of whoppers one after the other that the whole F1 business is brought into disrepute.

    Cite as many examples as you want about previous incidents, but times change, attitudes change and F1 changes too. Make no mistake: F1 is run as a business nowadays and anything that taints the F1 brand is going to get squashed.

  • Comment number 55.

  • Comment number 56.

    Simply Alonso is ruining F1 He thinks he and Ferrari can get away with anything He should have been given
    a drive through straight away So a few pounds - they will do it again and again When will the bosses get
    some teeth Ferrari will never leave - they need F1 If Alonso wins the championship myself and 126 others
    will not bother to watch next year Ferrari or others will connive and cheat to win

    It is simple break a rule during the race and you must complete a drive through - simple isn't it

    And tell Brundle to stop feeling sorry for Alonso, or join Ferrari

  • Comment number 57.

    On the contrary, I beg to differ - myself and many people complained at the result of 2007. Races should be won on the track, not in the pit lane.

    I think we should really be looking closer at the role Formula 1's sanctioning body handle this issue. The FIA is the most corrupt sporting organisation I have ever seen. If this were to have happened to any other team, there would be no doubt as to the outcome of this blatant disregard of the rules. Though it's hardly surprising when you realise that half of the FIA is ex-Ferarri.

  • Comment number 58.

    Regardless of whether you think the rules on team orders is correct or not, what if i was a betting man and had put good money on Massa to win. Could i now take Ferrari to court for fraud?

  • Comment number 59.

    If F1 is to retain any credibility then the drivers have to be allowed to race. I feel sorry for Massa and Smedley that they have to be part of this charade and disappointed that Ferrari think the world stupid enough to believe their poorly concealed lies.
    DC is off the mark and whilst I normally respect his driver's perspective, this is not his area of expertise; the fans have a right to be frustrated - they are what F1 is there for - its a viewing spectacle, not a way to pay the drivers' champagne lifestyle.
    The fans lost out today and in particular those who had bet on Massa to win - no doubt Ferrari will be refunding everyone's stakes?

  • Comment number 60.

    Let's hope the WMSC come down as hard as they did on McLaren in 2007.

    I think a $100 million fine and DSQ from the WCC should just about do it.

  • Comment number 61.

    OK, bottom line is this. I sat there watching a race unfold, expecting to see Alonso try to get past Massa, perhaps bringing Vettel into the equation, possibly not, but it would have been genuinely exciting. That natural course of events was tampered with, and i felt i had wasted my afternoon. It is motor racing, not motorised team-manoeuvring. One is exciting, one is not.

    I have never thought of F1 as a sport, but dont mind watching it of a sunday afternoon. This plays straight into the hands of those who argue it is not a sport. Sure there is a bit of favouring going on behind the scenes, but come race day, i'd like to see a race, not asking too much.

    Of course one can understand why Ferrari acted so, but i am not convinced every team would have done same, and understanding doesn't make it right. I understand what Thierry Henry did against Ireland - apologising for this afternoons debacle is for the die hard fan or the deluded.

    Very very poor.

  • Comment number 62.

    Ferrari very technically did nothing wrong because they covered themselves so much so in terms of evidence for wording of radio messages. But the tone of the messages - the way they were said - gave enough evidence and the just sheer awfulness of the way the pass took place was also too dubious. I mean, all Massa had to do was outbrake himself somewhere or get 'stuck' behind one of the close backmarkers and it would have been seen as a racing incident rather than team orders. But it wasn't enough clear cut evidence to disqualify Ferrari and take an immediate decision i.e. ban the team from competing in the next race.

    So a fine and further decision by the WMSC is the right thing. I wouldn't be surprised if ferrari don't get thrown out of the constructors championship and that there are further fines, because it's a team decision and one which should not harm the drivers. That's why the result stood also.

    Of course team orders go on, they are just coded or done so subtlety, or even without the driver knowing - for example a compromised pit stop strategy compared to the other driver. Everyone knows they go on and it always has done. I have mixed feelings on whether or not the rule should be changed or removed.

  • Comment number 63.

    Poor showing from the reds today!!
    Felipe took the lead at the start and was more than a match for alonso all the way! So what if he struggled on the prime tyre and lost time to alonso?? If alonso was quicker it was up to him to get past felipe using the skill you would think a double world champion should have!!
    The worst part of it was ferrari who obviously believe we are stupid! Alonso said he overtook because he saw felipe going slow and didn't know what was happening and then felipe tried to convince everyone that he made the decision. They were clearly spoonfed what to tell the media and the half-attempt by stefano to get a group photo on the podium was just embarassing!! 8 races to go and they are already rubbishing felipe and backing fernando?? Ferrari hang your head in shame!!!

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 65.

    Sorry, just to clarify in my post #62, i would not be surprised if Ferrari did get excluded from the constructors championship.

  • Comment number 66.

    Very odd article from a F1 expert.

    The comparison with the final race in Brazil in Brazil surely does not apply. In that race Massa was no longer in contention for the title, thus one can argue that he would let his team mate through irrespective of any team order. Thus, in that case, the argument that it was Massa's decision to let Kimi go and not a team order will be very hard to challenge.

    In today's case, it was clearly not a driver decision but a team order, as clearly Massa wanted to win the race), as such in breach of the FIA rules. If one follows your rationle, why not declare Alonso as the world champion and we all stop wasting our time watching TV or following F1.

  • Comment number 67.

    if i were a betting man which i am not and had put money on massa winning then how would i be feeling right now!
    not team orders what a load of rubbish.
    if this was horse racing and someone had pulled a horse up to let another pass it there would be outrage and bans etc.
    the fia and the stewards saw and heared what we all did watching that race and it was team orders.....lets see something done about it this is about racing not a game of team orders and christian slater was right to say if we can all do this then we could of told mark webber to pull over and let sebastian through four weeks ago.
    lets see justice done before this becomes the norm in f1

  • Comment number 68.

    Andrew,

    I just cant get over the hypocrisy. And also I cant ignore and get over the complete double standards by you, MB & DC by trying to justify the breach. I understand why Ferrari did what they did but they broke the rules.

    The bottom line is.....Ferrari clearly BROKE THE RULES - end off!!

    - Whatever the reason is, is not the point! Yes I know team orders are always there, and will always be...but the fact of the matter is that Ferrari once again showed complete disregard & disrespect for the rules & chose to breach them. Also it is too soon to count felippe out of the championship yet, mathimatically he still has a chance and anything can happen in the remainder of the races.

    I just cant get over you people slating Micahel Schumacher endlessly and continue to do 8 years later and you scathe him directly for a decision made by his team principle, Michael didnt make that decision...and most importantly...at the time....FERRARI & MICHAEL DIDNT BREAK ANY RULES!!!
    Yes it was not appropriate but no rules were broken.

    Its unbelievable that after all the condemnation of 'team orders' throughout this season and in the past years....some of the beeb team and others will think of defending or justifying this travesty. If it wasnt against the RULES then so be it.


    The doubles standards are unprofessional and down right dirty.
    -Ferrari, Alonso & those justifying a rule break are being totally unprofessional.
    Its absolutely disgusting!



  • Comment number 69.

    I don't think Alonso was too happy with his victory, given his face on the podium...Vettel was the happiest of the three! And while the $100,000 penalty seems remarkably small, I'm glad Felipe Massa gets to keep his points for the race. He certainly earned them!

  • Comment number 70.

    @ Scuderiafarr
    He does moan a lot though.
    And it's annoying.

  • Comment number 71.

    I think the penalty is clever, it is small but we don't want to bring down the entire F1 season into disrepute, if ferrari accept and pay the fine then clearly if they do it again it there will be bigger consequences,

    I think it was wrong today, for the followers of the sport, if he is faster then he can overtake, simple, if he cannot overtake after at least trying a few times then maybe let him past - but Massa would (let him pass) if Alanso was persistant for the team;

    Alonso had a poor start and it didn't work out for him - unlucky - if everytime he thorws his dummys out of his pram because he is behind someone then he should be left to earn his wages and do something about it on the track - not call his boss on the radio and moan - he is pathetic,

    Any good luck Massa, I hope you do well and get in front of your so called team mate in every race! but I still want Button to win the title :-)

    Andy

  • Comment number 72.

    Think it is bad that the stewards were only interested in this after the race when the press and fans started to ask awkward questions.

    Also $100K is not a lot of money to a team like Ferrari, if the stewards would have wanted to give a real penalty to the team they could have taken away the Team points for this race, or left the result the same but deducted Alonso the 7 extra points that this move gave him (not imposed a fine of about the same value as 1 Ferrari road car).

    However, good to see that the matter will be referred to the FIA's World Motor Sport Council for further consideration, where heavier sanctions could be imposed.

    Would like to see a grid drop for Alonso at the next race.

  • Comment number 73.

    Couldent agree with you more scuderiafarr

  • Comment number 74.

    Its getting a bit tedious hearing Alonso whine everytime things are noy going his way.

  • Comment number 75.

    ITS DISGUSTING .... MEANT TO BE A RACE WHERE U TRY AND WIN...THIS IS NOW A CHAMPIONSHIP WHERE CARS JUST GO ROUND AND ROUND.. BOOOORING !!!... ALSO WHATS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PLANNED CRASH AND TODAYS CARRY ON?? ITS THE SAME SITUATION EXCEPT THERE WASNT A CRASH...60,000 FINE?? BY THE TIME I FINNISH THIS POST ALONSO WOULD OF MADE THAT AMOUNT IN INTEREST AT HIS LOCAL BANK..THE TEAM SHOULD BE BANNED FOR A RACE...WONT BE WATCHING ANYMORE DISGUSTING!!

  • Comment number 76.

    I like it how everyone is happy to talk about rules and respect and are happy to smear the fact that Ferrari cleaned up today while looking good for for the rest of the season...

    But of course totally ignoring the fact that Hamilton clearly Cheated a couple weeks ago when blatantly over taking the safety car which was very clearly avoidable. Then being given a measly drive through penalty which had no effect on the outcome due to Hamilton taking full advantage of his gain, allowing the illegal move to give him a bigger point gap over Alonso..

    Yet when Ferrari get just a fine for another twist of rules, its out outrageous? and the punishment is not great enough? .. I smell double standards.

    Had the Stewards used common sense to accuse Ferrari and change the result outcome... it would raise questions to the evidence they had that this race outcome was changed, when they did not do so When Hamilton benefited from his own dirty move a couple races ago... which lead to the rules actually being amended!

    I think Its very telling how McLaren and Lewis have been very tight lipped on this matter seeing as their grasp on the rules over the last few seasons has been nothing to exactly brag about...

    Alonso Deserved to win today and was faster than Massa all weekend and had a good chance of getting in front of him anyway... Massa only got to first spot because Vettel was more worried about Alonso, why?.. because he is more of a threat.

    I like and rate Massa but he has under achieved all year and put him self in that position, not Ferrari. And If people think Ferrari are the only ones who favour a driver or apply the odd team order of this nature then you need to take a rain check.






  • Comment number 77.

    Alonso should be a politician.Everybody heard that it was team orders, people are not stupid. The fine is wholly inappropriate and not a deterrent to stop this happening in future.
    I mean what happened if you had bet on Massa to win? The whole thing stinks. At the end of the day the teams only priority should be to secure the constructors championship.

  • Comment number 78.

    Most of the comments above ignore much of what's said in Andrew's blog.
    Are the complainers really saying Alonso's victory today was NOT the best possible result for the world championship battle? That the result was a good reason for enthusiasts to abandon F1?

    Or is it the fear of an Alonso/Ferrari championship that's to blame for the sudden outburst of virtuous indignation?


  • Comment number 79.

    Didn't FA complain about the race being manipulated a few weeks ago. I am sure that we won't hear any similiar complaints from him - double standards on his part.

    He has is now the beneficary of two manipulated races i.e. crashgate and this weekend - and he obviously claims he knows nothing about the manipulation.

  • Comment number 80.

    #46."it is only a shame people with little F1 knowledge or mclaren fans as i like to call them are still so sore from being given sound thrashing in the race they feel the need to complain about team orders something there team has done time and time again"

    im a big ferrari fan and an even bigger schumacher fan and have watched the sport since i was 4 and even i am disgusted with the way ferrari have acted today just as i was in 2002.today it was against the rules clearly or they wouldnt have fined them, im sure 90% of people here have a great knowledge of f1, you really think this is a great advertisment for our "sport"?

  • Comment number 81.

    Totally disagree with Andrew Bensons blog about letting team orders come back.

    Their are 2 championships in F1, the Teams and the Drivers.....

    Several people on the BBC team seem to be saying ''well its ok really, it was for the teams benefit''....how?
    Ferrari still have the same number of points had they not swapped the drivers, it has not benefited Ferrari's championship at all!

    Had Massa swapped to increase Ferrari's championship chances then it would have been different, he is after all paid by them to do a job and the team should come 1st.

    But he did not, it was simply to let another man drive past and take 1st place and increase HIS personnel championship chances, and this is just wrong, F1 is 1st and foremost Racing, the best man on the day should take the 1st place, match fixing of any sort is not sporting.

    If i am reading Andrew Bog correctly and some people would want F1 let Team orders back in officially, then fine, but then the drivers championship should be removed and just the Team championship should remain, as that would be the only truly competitive championship in the Sport as the Drivers is simply engineered.



  • Comment number 82.

    If you place abet on a driver to win..that is your problem, how ridiculous to think you can sue.

    As for the rest of you, you are completely way out and really do forget what happens in previous races and how much other teams get away with things. For goodness sake..why don´t you just get off Ferrari´s case ...moan...moan.moan..moan...moan, Alonso has been the quickest all weekend and is way ahead of massa...so it was thr right move to make...there is nothing wrong with Alonso he loves what he does and is a passionate racing driver....i suppose hamilton is god???? i think not

  • Comment number 83.

    Scuderiafarr - I think McLaren are wrong to stop drivers racing - but I'm not sure that's what happened; besides, the key difference with Hamilton and Button was that their positions did not change, they were encouraged not to challenge each other at that point in the race; the positions they'd worked hard to get. Today was different on account of them being forced to change places AND then continuing to lie, when it is so obvious what happened.

  • Comment number 84.

    Pathetic. This makes an absolute joke out of what has been a great, hard fought season so far. Proven beyond any doubt that Alonso won't fight it out fair and square with a team mate. It happened when at McLaren and now at Ferrari.

  • Comment number 85.

    Why all this debate? The rules were changed in 2002 to prohibit orders from the pits telling one driver to move over for another. Ferrari broke the rules. Andrew, it's not a grey area, it's rather that you're not happy with the rule. The rule was broken. The only debate is the degree of punishment.

    As it's so hard to enforce, perhaps the rule should be repealed and the public simply boo the podium when they know it's happened.

  • Comment number 86.

    I have said it before and I say it again, F1 is one of the most dishonest sports out there. The sport has a record of inconsistency in rulings, outright lying and fixing results. Your view that the result makes the championship much more interesting, that the law is open to interpretation and it has happened in the past just goes to show how people connected to F1 are as misguided as the authorities. The point is that what they did and everyone knows this was against the laws of the sport and Ferrari has the gall to openly lie to the authorities and us. You guys will do anything to keep people watching F1. Why would I spend over an hour watching a sport where in the final stages the result can be changed not through drivers skill but team orders. The sport is rotten.

  • Comment number 87.

    Its a muti million pound industry which generates vast amounts of capital through sponsorship. Sponsors only want to chuck money at the sport due to the vast worldwide audience that follow the sport. This is an audience that seem to be universally annoyed by this move from Ferrari.

    It appears that the teams and pundits need to modernize a touch as I dont think you can compare todays F1 with that of 50 years ago. It is far wealthier and with a far more eductaed audience (in terms of motor sport). People want to see racing, and in the end the fastest man and team will win.

    P.S If it had been Hamilton he probably would have passed Massa without the need of interference from the pit wall.

  • Comment number 88.

    Good article outlining all the issues. The main problems for me are:

    1) Massa clearly wasn't happy about it
    2) Alonso seemed to believe he was the correct winner
    3) It has happened so early/middle of the the season
    4) All the lies - if they were more honest and gracious towards Massa then they would get a lot more sympathy and understanding

    I understand and agree with why they did it but think the whole thing could have been handled better.

  • Comment number 89.

    "Fernando Alonso's victory in the German Grand Prix was the best possible result the race could have produced for the world championship battle."

    Best result for the World Championship battle(s) would have been an honest result. This result can only lead to a tainting of the world championships should they go Ferrari's way.

    "Alonso has been Ferrari's stronger driver all year and is clearly the only one who has a chance of the championship"

    Alonso is with Ferrari team orders. Alonso wasn't the strongest driver at the start of today's race was he? If Massa had been allowed to win today with Alonso 2nd he would only have been 24 points adrift of Alonso, which to put into perspective would be less than 10 points under the old system. I.e a difference of one race win and one no score. Today was round 11 of 19 races,with a further 200 points up for grabs in the WDC and that's far to early in the season to be singling drivers out for assisted number 1 status.

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    cant believe they can be fined so muc,h yet the result still stands, team orders are not allowed yet that was blatant. Massa was gutted and rightfully so how come ferrari get away with it time after time

  • Comment number 92.

    The way I see it, this is like diving in football. Simulation is against the rules, there's no arguing that, but players still try to get away with it. And they often do. However, if they get caught, (beyond any reasonable doubt) they will be punished for it.

    How is this any different?

  • Comment number 93.

    i think perhaps the people who run F1 forget that actually the ordinary watcher wants to see a race.. I don't care if Massa or Alonso crashed whilst racing each other, thats what its all about in my view. A sanitised and controlled race is really not what we want to see !!!

  • Comment number 94.

    $100,000 fine? Ridiculous the car that was on the grid probably cost more than that. The FIA should be ashamed after that excuse of a punishment. This ruined what could of been a really good grand prix. I'm totally in agreement with Eddie Jordan, whatever Ferrari may say those were team orders. End of

  • Comment number 95.

    I think it´s not about what´s right or wrong, but it´s about Ferrari. Remember, we have watched Hamilton x Button, Webber x Vettel and these fights were amazing, as we all used to see when Prost, Piquet, Mansell and Senna were still driving.
    If you think this kind of situation should go on, we´re gonna have a kind of another classification, not a race. And more, we cannot see anymore a fight between the same team drivers?
    Sorry, but this is not the F1 I wanna watch.

  • Comment number 96.

    Frankly, I can see why everyone is annoyed, and I am too. Felipe deserved to win, but in context for the rest of the season, it was best for Fernando to. 5 driver shoot-out = exciting.

    I think everyone is more annoyed at the way it all happened today.

    Ferrari only partly broke the rules, because of the way it all transpired.

    They only had to be more covert and for Felipe to know his place (frankly for the championship he's out of it) and I'm sure it would have been different if it was roles reversed.

    So Ferrari did the right thing but didn't do it correctly.

    Thus leading to the furore, the investigations and the fine.

    I don't care if it deprives of one race result where an exciting finish may not have been guaranteed if the result helps to set up an exciting rest of the season.

    If you guys were real F1 fans you'd give it a rest and let it go now. Yes it was controversial but everything in F1 is and get used to it. Look at the bigger picture.

    So it was right, but wrong. Therefore Ferrari look like idiots. End of.
    And any punishment should be on the team and not the drivers. So a fine and a strong punishment from the WMSC - for example expelling the team from the Constructors championship - would be satisfactory, but any other action would upset the intriguing drivers championship which we now face.

  • Comment number 97.

    If Alonso had to fight with Massa they would have been preocuppied with each other and Vettle may have caught them up. Now that would have been interesting.

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 99.

    Andrew Benson = Ferrari fanboy, if this blog is anything to go by. F1 is corrupt, end of story.

  • Comment number 100.

    HIGHLANDER, I can not believe you want such a harsh punishment......Mclaren stole papers to copy Ferrari's car coz they can't design there own!!!!! Ferrari did nothing wrong...get over it and don't be so pathetic

 

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