July 25, 2010

Expensive Win for Ferrari

It's not just the $100000 fine, it's the inevitable blowback and "outrage" that will once again follow Ferrari, rather than what should have been triumphal headlines for having kicked everybody's ass in Germany. Ferrari was under extreme pressure to perform and deliver this week end after a string of horrible results. Stefano Domenicali had hoped for a good results and a "normal race", he got one of his wishes.

Once again I will be a contrarian, just as I defended Christian Horner's decision to rip the improved front wing from Mark Webber's car and give it to his driver with the most points, so I defend Ferrari's thinking that you need to be behind the driver with the best chance to compete for the championship win. Horner though, has a short memory...

Massa obviously signed a contract that states he's got to move over if the team asks him to. Massa is a free man, nobody forced him to stay at Ferrari under those conditions, but if he signed such a contract, he has to be man enough to stand by it and carry what he agreed to do it in such a way that it does not make his team look bad. His race engineer, Rob Smedley, needs to have a serious think about his job. His radio communications with Massa could not have been more clearly for public consumption. While he had a thankless task, the way he carried out what must have obviously been a call from very high up at Ferrari HQ, the way he carried it out was as bitchingly obvious as Massa's move out of the hairpin.

I do not expect cooler heads to prevail here, not with (insert expletive here) Alonso about one DNF away from Hamilton and Button, expect a full court press on this one even after the humongous fine.

I'll side with DC once again, the rule makes little sense in a team sport with huge economic interests in the balance and it's not in line with past history. But it's the very man for whom this rule was created who offers the most sober assessment of the situation. Wise words I thought.

Look forward to a lively discussion about this!
(all videos/ BBC)

Bonus video...

end of post


  1. Nice summary, you always do a legendary job at putting this all together!

    If there is a standing order that Alonso should finish ahead of Massa, then why make it a discussion point and problem in the middle of the race? Massa should be yielding as soon as feasible, if that's what his contract states, yes?

    I also don't think the fine is big enough. Ferrari will be happy to continue paying that to get the result they want. Maybe without the Marlboro sponsorship, they've got some bookies generating funds? Any other sport and it would be a case of outright match fixing.

    Bringing the sport into disrepute? Sounds like a few more zeros should be on the end of that number.

  2. Ferrari is not going to win any oscars for this one...

    They still have Marlboro sponsorship for a few more years I think.

  3. Great summary and combination of embedded videos.

    Personally, I don't mind that a team manipulate a result between their two drivers. But I don't want it to be so obvious that my non-F1 friends need a masquerade explained and defended by me.

    So the 'blame' for the bad stage management is across the board.... Domenicalli, Smedley, Massa and even Alonso on the radio making a fuss.

    But I also find it incredible that Ferrari didn't engage their marketing brains better. They are in the business of selling cars and do that best through positive press. Imagine the wonderful headlines about Massa winning precisely one year, to the day, since his near death experience.

    Would have been a fairytale. And he deserved it for the sweep around the outside at turn one lap one.

    Oh well.


  4. Both drivers race for them TEAM! It would've made no difference in the Constructor's Championship who came first or second. I tune into the dreaded Fox broadcast to see a race, not this BS!

    I don't care if historically F1 has had #1 and #2 drivers. F1 cars also didn't have wings at one point. Times change, the fans' opinions and outlooks change. This wouldn't be the mess it is now if fans were all for team orders now would it?

  5. As Alonso said at Monza in 2006 "F1 is not a sport"... He and Ferrari proved it today. Now Alonso has two corrupt victories to his credit - this one and the Flav orchestrated race fixing.

  6. theory:
    Massa has in his contract a line stating "you have to let alonso through if he is faster".

    would make sense, also to renew Massas contract so earlyy in the season.


  7. @F1Oursider, Right, but Ferrari wants to win the one everyone cares about, the Driver's championship...that's why they propbly took the decision they took

  8. For once I have to agree with the ridiculous Eddie Jordan.

    It is kind of heart wrenching to see Massa, a driver who was almost killed on the track a year ago in Hungary have to give up his 1st first place of the season to Alonso.

    It was also sad that they kind of deprived us of a good battle. He should not have yielded that position. If Alonso really wanted 1st place he could have very well earned it. He had his legitimate chances and he screwed them all up. Then he goes on ahead and starts whining on the radio. "This is ridiculous". NO. What's ridiculous is a 2 time world champion screwing up a bunch of great overtaking opportunities and then being gifted the win.

  9. Look, F1 may be a team sport. But it either has rules or it does not. Just because some cars are redder than others doesn't go well with the public.

    In Brazil, F1 has been at the forefront of the programming of the leading TV network for several decades. It means millions, perhaps tens of millions, watching it or watching the news about it somehow. FIA may brag about the audience of F1, but some of that audience wants a little respect for paying attention to F1 at all.

    I was very very excited about the chasing of Alonso of Felipe and I was expecting overtaking tries from him, but it all collapsed towards the end and our minds switched off of the race and to the politics of F1.

    It was shameful and having Brazil once again on the losing side of F1 team orders has been all too much.

    Right now, many Brazilians would rather no Brazilian ever again drove for Ferrari. No Brazilian has ever won a title with Ferrari and looks like never will.

    If F1 left Brazil for good, it would just lose some Petrobras sponsorships and the audience of the largest TV network in South America. Given F1 wants to go to the streets of New York and to Russia and to... It's not like it couldn't tap other resources.

    Meanwhile: yay yay Go Fernando! What a champ you would make!

  10. A few things:

    1. The "no team orders" rule is outdated/ridiculous

    2. F1 is a team sport. Drivers are part of the team.

    3. Massa could have chosen not to let FA through on purpose. Surely he would face consequences afterwords - like not being on the TEAM for long.

    4. I am a Felipe fan, but today he behaved like a whiny bitch. Both with the (obvious) pass and during the press conference.

    5. F1 is not a fairy tale. The british press (Joe Sarward) needs to understand this.

    The video compilation above is awesome, particularly Schumi's take on the issue.


  11. @Max, well put, Felipe (and Smedley) acted like a whiny kid today. Very old Barrichello like I must say. Ferrari did a lot for him, and he had a choice here. I'm pretty sure he made the wrong one.

  12. I completely understand the whole concept of team orders being outdated and a little bit silly.

    But god, no one can deny its terrible for the sport and spectators.

    I wanted to see racing, not a hypocritical Ferrari team accusing the FIA for manipulating races for a few weeks, then go off and wreck the spectacle for everyone else.

    Why does this sport have any drivers that aren't backed by the team to win, a sport having its participants who are there not to win is stupid.
    Screw big business interests, I want to see every driver going at it as hard as they can, not giving willingly trading positions.

    Bet Massa is regretting signing the contract to become a no2 driver now.

  13. It's not all Felipe and Smedley faults. I agree that they could have tried to manage it better, but F1 is sort of translated to the public at large by the TV commentators and even by what FOM shows during the transmission such as radio talks and telemetry data. When it was shown that Felipe clearly didn't have full throttle it just proved right there that it was not incompetence of Felipe that let Alonso thru.

    F1 pretends to be credible to be THE motorsport (?), and the British part of F1 tries hard to work on the credibility and the Italian part works hard to discredit it.

  14. I personally think it's bullshit that in F1 the title matters most.

    Each win is what matters. A champion that never won a race would not be as revered as a winner of a single race.

  15. Wait, what? Weren't the British involved in stealing Ferrari plans, fixing the race in Singapore and lying to stewards? Damn those Italians.... LOL

  16. Lying like now that it was not a team order? :-)

    Briatore is not Italian? :-)

    But you did not dispute that wins, each win in fact, matters a great deal. Once the season ends, there's not a lot of TV shows giving F1 champions primetime. F1 is shown during the season, so each win and collectively all of the wins have played a larger role in the minds of the public than the final result.

    BTW, if the final result is any important, I'm sure that the experts dig the constructor's title a great deal as well. But to win a constructor title you would have been in many podiums along the way so again, the final result matters a great deal less to non-experts.

  17. The Singapore plan was thought up by Pay Symonds but hey... brits can do no wrong...right? :)

  18. I disagree with Ferrari's pseudo team orders for the following reasons:

    1) It robs us the fans of real racing. It would have been great to see Alonso and Massa battle for the lead, and
    2) If other teams employed the same tactics in previous races the drivers championship standings would currently be different. Think Turkey. If Red Bull had of ordered Webber to let Vettel pass in that race, the drivers championship standings would look like this after Germany, assuming all other race results between Turkey and Germany remained the same - 1st Sebastian Vettel (161 points), 2nd Lewis Hamilton (147 points), 3rd Mark Webber (139 points), 4th Jenson Button (137 points), but instead the drivers championship standings are Hamilton first, Button second, and Webber and Vettel equal third. In Turkey Red Bull played by the rules, and let their drivers race, and as a result playing by the rules has adversely affected their quest to win the drivers and constructors championship. If however like Ferrari, they had of ordered Webber to let Vettel pass, then Vettel would current by leading the drivers championship, which would be wrong, because the extra points would have been gained by manipulating the natural results of the race.

    In any language it is wrong to let teams manipulate the results of races to enable them or their favoured driver to achieve their own personal goals (i.e. win). In some sports it's even called cheating.

  19. This will set a precident.

    If this is allowed does it now mean Mclaren can ask Jenson to let Lewis pass? Mark to let Sebastian pass?

    We're getting to the narrow end of the season and team mates are neck and neck in contention for the title.
    If Ferrari is allowed to benefit a single driver in such a manner then the other teams should follow suit to remain competitive.

  20. @Bjorn don't disagree but then again, Mclaren and RedBull are not in the same situation with respect to points, in fact their drivers are essentially even. Mclaren soon will start to give Hamilton a touch more attention...

    Look at it another way, thanks to this we now have something of a 5 way race for the champpionship

  21. Nelsinho Piquet on his twitter said (I try to translate):

    "Everybody is asking me about the F1, about what happened today with Felipe and Fernando...

    "I don't have much to say. But I hope, really, that everybody will see with this that F1 is not a fairytale world. The thing there is heavy.

    "And now that it has happened to Massa perhaps the great critics will see that to talk is easy, really easy... but it's a lot tougher than people think."

  22. The drivers championship is way too valuable due to the publicity and prestige which translates into sponsorship dollars. Before the race starts these drivers know what they have to do if and when the situation arises. They are just waiting for the final decision signaled from the pitlane. This has happened since the inception of F1 and will continue. It is a farce when the FIA tries to deny this reality by instigating the no team orders rule. The unspeakable truth is that this the FIA knows that that it is impossible for them to actually stop team orders from happening and the rule really only serves to tell the teams to make sure that they invoke team orders in a politically correct way. They should just grow up and tell the fans the truth, that this is a team sport as well as a business so get over it.


  23. I understand that it is a team sport so there may be team orders.
    The problem I have is they did it in such an obvious way. Two problems with this:
    1. It shows that ferrari don't care to be seen breaking rules
    2. Do they think that fans paying to watch the race are stupid?
    Other point is that the spineless team management should have relayed the message to Massa not Smedley.

  24. What I saw and heard on the coverage was the team tell Massa: "OK, so, 'Fernando is faster than you.' Can you confirm you understand that message?" To me that reads as plain as day: "either move faster or move over." And I would bet that in Massa's contract (and most likely Alonso's as well) there's a clause that reads along the lines of: 'If you are behind in points and your teammate is faster than you, you have to move out of the way.'

    How many times have I read about or seen with my own eyes the great teams of the past telling one driver to slow down or pit or this or that so as to benefit another driver? To me the pattern was clear: They warned Massa to get going. Massa couldn't. And so Massa moved over.No, Massa nor anyone else would like to be told that, but it is, after all, true. Alonso was noticeably faster, could seemingly close up the gap at will, and when he got around Massa, Alonso drove off.

    The other thing I did note, though, was that Smedley never said: "Move over slow poke, Fred's quicker than you." No. If you notice what they said, they mentioned that Alonso was gaining and nothing more. It could be argued that all Ferrari did was remind Massa, "Look pal. We've all got an agreement in this team. Now either pick up the pace or get out of the way." and then left it to Massa to choose.

    Massa could have chosen to be smoother about how he did it, but no. He had to make it real obvious, and now everyone back at his team has a lot of explaining to do to members of the British "press". "Gee thanks Phil. We're really going to start pulling for you now."

    I have to say that a lot of this whining about, "it's depriving us of a race," and such is really annoying.

    Essentially this is a facet that has been with racing as long as there has been multi-car teams. You don't like it? It confuses you? Then don't watch racing.

    As far as I'm concerned, you NEED to have team orders. You HAVE TO have them. To not have them puts far too much in danger beyond the petty concerns of the likes of Eddie Jordan about such crap as "the show" and having to explain to acolytes what just happened.

    If there are no team orders, things can get far too out of hand far too quickly.

    Ask Gilles Villeneuve.

    Oh wait ...

  25. Everyone that thinks massa and alonso should have battled it out should never be allowed to run anything. In the end of the day the team is more important and taking each other out isnt racing its stupid.

  26. @Tony/all... remember when you see the clip above of Eddie Jordan despairing that "Ferrari was shameful" or read some of the opinions elsewhere that in Belguim 1998, the same Edmund Jordan got on the radio and asked Ralf Schumacher to move over for Damon Hill who he though "deserved" the win...

    What about the numerous times this happened at Mclaren?
    So don't tell me about the "integrity of the sport" just when Ferrari does these things. Oh gee, you can't do that with the results, it upsets people who bet.... lol

  27. Ferrari should employ some Italian driver as the second driver to Alonso and then tell him to move over many times during the season. That would go well with the Italian public.

  28. To be fair to old Schuey - when he "stole" that win from Rubens he looked disgusted with himself after the race. Alonso - nothing of the sort.

  29. This is a very interesting argument, and I'm not sure which side I fall on yet.

    What I do know is that I would have loved to see Felipe and Fernando race each other properly, and Ferrari simultaneously robbed us of that AND broke the rules. And rules is rules, as they say.

    Maybe the rule is outdated - but it was brought in originally to keep the racing honest and the battles genuine. Of course it's a shame that the two fastest cars in the race now face being disqualified over a technicality, but they knew the rules.

    The comments above regarding betting are very intriguing - people have gone to prison for much less obvious fixing of a result.

    And there's nothing to say they WOULD have hit each other - Button and Hamilton's scrap the other weekend was a masterful display of aggressive yet considerate driving, and in the end the faster man won.

    All in all, as F1 fans, we should all be angry at Ferrari for denying us what would have doubtless been a fantastic battle.

    There, a whole comment about Ferrari and I didn't mention a 'cheating dago tw@t' (sic) once.

  30. @James...how can one talk about integrity if the concern is about gambling? not much of a moral high ground from that end of the argument!

    I think I mentioned this, I wonder if the two had tangled as Webber and Vettel did in Turkey if there would be praise for Domenicali' team management?

    Notice, Mclaren now being very subdued in its criticism...Hormer on the other hand is missing a chance to keep quiet...:)

  31. Same corner, different team... better acting

  32. Some random thoughts:

    We have indeed been stolen.
    Imagine the Senna/Prost era at McLaren without the battles. Totally boring.
    By having a clear leader in each team we would have effectively 10 drivers racing, which is ridiculous.
    100K in Ferrari's budget are pennies really.
    I can think of an "easy fix": Driver who gains position by team orders will lose the gained position, and both drivers lose a position. After the race ends, so no chance to gain them back.


  33. @andres: How do you prove team orders beyond a shadow of a doubt. How do you prove that when a team has their drivers hold station by saying "you need to conserve fuel mate" that is not a team order?

    Part of the issue here is that position between team mates was swapped but team orders happen every race.

  34. This race we learned a very valuable lesson: chopping across at the start after hashing your launch can give the third place driver the opportunity to lead both you and second place. Then when controversy ensues with the two guys in first and second no one will remember how you threw your pole and race away with a dickish move right at the start for the second race in a row.

  35. Red bull must be happy to have the spot light taken off their drivers for the time being.

  36. Rules are rules. It's no different to getting caught for spying or getting caught with an illegal wing. If you can get away with a $100,000 fine then why not break other rules?
    It's not ok just cause other teams do the same thing. A poor excuse. The rules should be respected and enforced. Why bother having them otherwise? Can you ignore some rules just cause they used to be ok?
    It dosent matter if other teams do it un-noticed or because it has happened in the past.
    Rules are rules.

  37. Thank you AC for the McLaren Video, it demonstrates how team orders are alive and well.

    DC said it best anyone that says there are no orders on their team is lying.

    MS put it perfectly, Alonso is leading the points for WDC at the team, that is what this is all about winning the WDC. Of course you have to get the guy with the most points even more points.

    I do not like NASCAR I do not tune into F1 to see wrecks, wrecks are not entertaining for me in this sport. I prefer when a team can accomplish a pass safely reducing the risk of a crash they take it.

    Alonso demonstrated he had the pace, he could have took the fight to Massa and then we could have had another Red Bull finish. That wreck broke my heart, I have been a Red Bull fan since they entered the sport.

  38. If letting Alonso pass was the only way to go, there was a much better way to execute this whole thing and i think some of you already posted videos on this.

    Surely there are more discrete phrases than "i hope you understood the message" or "sorry" in the end of the race. Maybe it's a bit of a cliché, but i think it would have been less obvious if it was an Italian who gave the orders.

  39. What a joke. Of course they have to let Fernando Win. Felipe would have driven the 48 laps to that point knowing this, as would have alonso.

    Puts some context on Alonso's "this is ridiculous" comments, as in how hard is this guy going to make me work for the pass, do I have to crash into him?

    The rule was made, and is not likely to be unmade, so the teams need to make a good show and not piss the fans off while still getting on with a) racing and b)winning championships (in no particular order)

    Most pissed off with Smedley. Either an idiot, or purposely put ferrari's balls on the block with that dumbheaded move. DC's comments right though, shouldn't have been made to give the order.

  40. I am a Ferrari fan, and I have to say this was bullshit. If Domenicali wanted to break the rules, he should have had the balls to do it personally rather then tell Rob Smedley to do it. Alosno's been a whiny bitch all season, and for you people knocking Massa for his behavior, what would you do? If you'd had a win you'd EARNED taken from you, you'd be pissed too.

  41. '' Alosno's been a whiny bitch all season'' really? What do you base that on precisely? Alonso, has been quite positive in the face of a pretty bad season so far, I don't remember him being a "whiny bitch" at all.

    Can you cite some examples?

  42. F1 has always been a team sport with the favoured driver allowed to win. Check back to the '20s and '30s. This has only been an issue since gambling became big business.


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