MARCH 23, 1998
The FIA and team orders
This effectively means that the FIA stewards will be allowed to decide if team orders were given and may penalize teams as a result. There are no guidelines to restrict such arbitrary decision-making. What will definitely happen is that any teams using team orders will now do so in a much more disguised fashion, telling drivers to pretend to have technical problems, make deliberate mistakes or bring cars into the pits for no reason if they wish to change the order of the cars. It will be virtually impossible for stewards to ascertain when team orders have been applied and when fate has played a hand.
This fudging of the regulations - and the similar vagueness of the tire regulations - mean that the FIA is exposing itself to the charge that the rules can be brought into play if the World Championship needs to be manipulated to bring about an exciting end-of-season showdown. And that cannot be good for the reputation of Grand Prix racing.