Honda website
Honda website

MAY 29, 2007

A positive thought about the Monaco investigation

The McLaren team says that it has nothing to worry about with regard to an investigation into the possible use of team orders at Monaco.

"McLaren are completely comfortable with the FIA's investigation into our race strategy and that all decisions taken both before and during the race were completely in compliance with the International Sporting Code," the team said.

The question that is raised by the investigation is one which has existed since the new rules were introduced in 2002. Team orders are only prohibited if they "interfere with a race result". But what is "a race result"? This is very vague. The definition is arguable because every finishing position could be said to be part of the result. If this rule is taken to mean the finishing order, rather than the outcome of the fight for victory, it could thus be applied all through the field. Similarly, if there is no change of position at the front in the final stint of a race, it is hard to argue that the race was interfered with, as the order was established when the cars had finished their stops and it is quite normal for teams to tell drivers to hold station in order to avoid there being a collision and the team losing all the points it is going to get. There is also a valid argument that with the current rules teams need to conserve their engines for the next race.

Overtaking at Monaco is notoriously difficult, a fact underlined by the race on Sunday when the only overtaking after the first lap came when another driver made a mistake. Thus while Hamilton was obviously very quick after his second pit stop and closed the gap to Alonso, passing Fernando would have been a completely different matter.

Perhaps the current case will end up producing a more workable definition of what team orders are - which would be a positive.