Malaysian Grand Prix – Team Orders

Source: via Malcolm on Pinterest


Picture – Peter Gethin winner of the closest Grand Prix ever.

How Formula 1 has changed! Looking back at champions like Jack Brabham, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Niki Lauda, Jochen Rindt, Mario Andretti, and many others, they were likeable blokes and there was a camaraderie amongst F1 drivers and amongst some team mates too, Stewart and Cevert for example. A camaraderie that’s totally missing today, maybe because the risk of death is so much less?

We loved Senna for his total dedication and his incredible talent but maybe the Senna, Prost rivalry was the catalyst for the change to Schumacher and Vettel type cynicism. Schumacher cynically drove Hill off the road for his first championship and tried to do it again to Villeneuve, now we see Vettel, a great driver but cynical, manipulative and clearly not a team player (or were team orders just window dressing?).

Bizzarely, having said that I find I have some degree of sympathy for Vettel’s position today, because as a fan and former club racer I want to see start to finish racing. Does anyone else remember Gethin’s last lap, last yard victory at Monza I wonder? I don’t want to see team managers deciding how it will be after the last pit stop. If Rosberg managed his race better than Lewis he should beat him, if Vettel is able to beat Webber he should do it, BUT if agreements have been made they should be stuck to. If your team mate has backed off under team orders maybe you should respect that.

The real clue to Vettel’s quality, or not, as a human being is his demand earlier in the race that Webber be told to get out of his way. In the end he beat Webber on track, but Webber had compromised his position by turning his engine down to conserve the car and the tyres as ordered, it was that which at least in part allowed Vettel into the DRS zone.

In my view team orders should be abolished once and for all, but it’s a business and you can understand teams wanting both cars to finish as well up as possible. For a driver, who at the end of the day is a paid employee and who enjoys the privilege of driving and competing in F1 through the enormous hard work of hundreds of others it’s hard to ignore team orders; certainly Webber seems to think so, whilst it’s equally certain Vettel believes he’ll get away with it. Red Bull’s past demeanour would unfortunately lead him to believe that.

If team orders are to stay as part of the scene then drivers who disobey them should be given a warning and then ultimately get sacked if they continue to disobey. That’s what employees in other businesses can expect after all!

Terrific race though! It’s tempting to feel sorry for Webber, I hope the team give their driver’s equality, I hope Vettel does his talking through his driving and not through petulance on the radio and I hope Mark drives his own race in future and gets victories on merit.

Feel more sorry for Di Resta for the shambles his team made, Button likewise and Raikkonen for a grid penalty, which was probably much more about conditions than deliberate obstruction. Lotus are the jokers who could make it one of the best seasons ever and Raikonnen is a great character – just like the old days really.

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