SEPTEMBER 9, 2010
Drivers back FIA team orders directive
The news that the ban on team orders will be reviewed by F1's Sporting Working Group later in the year, has been received with a degree of relief in the Formula 1 paddock.
The relevant article 39.1 states: "team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited." It was put in place in response to Ferrari orchestrating an unnecessary switch at the Austrian GP in 2002, allowing Michael Schumacher to win his fifth race in six starts at the beginning of the year."
Arguably, however, the rule has been ineffective and impossible to police, leading to calls for it to be scrapped. It seems that is the direction the governing body is heading with the review, which will happen in November. The interesting question is what happens in the interim period, during the championship run-in when Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull could be tempted to impose orders again.
Barrichello and Schumacher are currently the two most experienced drivers in F1 and could be expected to have their own personal views on team orders, based on their individual experiences.
The next most experienced driver in the F1 paddock, with 229 starts, is Lotus Racing's Jarno Trulli, who said: "In my opinion this is a sport where the team counts as much as in football. It's true we have only two drivers on the track rather than 11 players but it's still about strategy and a big amount of data collection.
"Strategy plays an important role and it's part of this business. You cannot impede, in my opinion, team orders. True, it's a sport but it's also a business and teams are spending a lot to develop a car, to promote sponsors and to have drivers win. It's sad for fans to see what happened at Hockenheim but it's part of the business and you can see it in other sports -- maybe not as obviously as we saw in Germany, but it's still happening. Many teams have done it before even when we had this rule. They should let teams decide who they are going to support, or not."
That is a widely held view, the fact that if team orders are inevitably going to be applied, better that they are applied transparently rather than in a clandestine manner which circumnavigates the rule but has the same effect (see separate Analysis).