The way the race and the incidents during it were managed raise doubts that could see F1 lose some credibility again, as it was seen around the world.
–Ferrari statement, 27 June 2010
It’s a shame, not for us because this is racing, but for all the fans who came here to watch a manipulated race.
–Fernando Alonso, 27 June 2010
I don’t consider Formula 1 a sport anymore.
–Fernando Alonso, 10 September 2006
I don’t mind team orders in F1. We know they exist. F1 is a team sport, not just a contest between drivers. It is always important to bear that in mind.
But F1 is also a sport, and those involved should always remember that. Ferrari in particular should be sensitive to this matter, and instantly comparisons were drawn with the scandal of Austria 2002.
This was nothing like as bad as Austria 2002 — when the move was made at the very last corner, with Rubens Barrichello having dominated over his team mate Michael Schumacher all weekend. But the way it was executed still left a sour taste in the mouth.
Today is exactly one year on from Felipe Massa’s horrific accident in Hungary, and he was having a fantastic race in Germany. He found himself under intense pressure from Fernando Alonso for a period. But Alonso failed to capitalise on his chances, and Massa put the hammer down to extend the lead.
The way the team orders were executed after Massa had established his right to win the race was the problem. It insulted our intelligence.
I think most can understand why Alonso would be favoured for the Championship. But, as in Austria 2002, it is too early in the season to be switching drivers round. There is still half of the season to go, and anything can happen. (I am sure that if team orders were not in play in 1999, Eddie Irvine would have won the Drivers’ Championship.)
The way Rob Smedley relayed his instructions to Felipe Massa left us in no doubt as to what was really going on. With that, he has left the door wide open for punishment.
Much of the post-race debate has focussed on the rules regarding team orders. My view on this is clear: there should be no rule on team orders. As David Coulthard consistently pointed out, there is no way to police it. F1 is a team sport, it always has been. There are team orders, there always have been, and there always will be.
The issue is not whether team orders should exist or whether they are legal or not. What is key, though, is that a team should always remember at the end of the day there are viewers out there upon whom F1 depends. As Fota and the like keep on telling us, it’s all about the show!
The problem was that Ferrari executed a team order in the most blatant way possible. Then they tried to deny that there were any team orders. In doing this, they treated the fans with complete contempt. They acted as though we are idiots. This is what has caused the outcry.
Ferrari have been fined $100,000 for their actions today, and the matter has been referred to the World Motor Sport Council. I think a fine alone is a fair enough punishment. The result should stand. It is not the switch that was offensive — it was the way they went about it.
The embarrassment Ferrari have caused themselves should be punishment enough. If they acted in a more noble and sporting way, then people would start taking them more seriously when they start talking about “manipulated” results and how “Formula 1 is not a sport anymore”.