Wednesday, September 29, 2010

To Team Order or Not to Team Order?

I realize that all the hype surrounding the topic of Team Orders has sort of died away. The FIA has given their ruling on the events of the German Grand Prix, Ferrari has been fined and I'm sure they'll never do it again. Ever. Still, the topic is far from dead.

My opinion on the matter is that team orders have always been a part of the sport and in some circumstances they are justified. Think back to Shanghai 2008 when Raikkonen eased out of the way for Massa so Massa could finish 2nd and get those valuable points in his championship contest against Hamilton. In the interview after the race Kimi said there were no orders, he just new the best thing to do for the team and so he did it. Perhaps that's true, but I think everyone felt that someone told him to yield the position. *Note that Massa never complained about that series of events.

Then there's the other side of the coin; the ugly side of team orders if you will. Singapore of the same year. Nelson (I just want my dad to accept me) Pique slams his car into the wall, setting the stage for teammate Alonso's win. Clearly unacceptable. Of course Fernando knew nothing about it. You're probably saying "Why Tim, are you implying that Fernando knew what was happening, what was planned?" Yes I am. He knew about it and he was complicit.

Jump forward to Germany where now Massa has to yield a position. Alonso is the more likely candidate for the championship, so he gets the favor. To quote Fernando, "One can not deny the force of nature that is my eyebrows. It is their destiny to carry me to another championship, and none will stand in their way!" I may be paraphrasing a bit. I think he said something like "Did Filipe miss a gear?" Need I remind you that these are dual clutch sequential gear boxes. You can't MISS a gear!!! Of course you could go down a gear instead of up while you're accelerating out of a corner, but everyone knows you've done that when they are slipping through the oil slick your engine leaves behind when it explodes. "Tim are you saying..." YES! Alonso knew and he was complicit, again. *Note that in this circumstance, when it wasn't to his favor Massa cried like a baby.

So what should the FIA do? I say scrap the rule. The FIA will never rid the sport of team orders. I mean, if I were a team principle, I'd absolutely have a way around the rule. Gurney Hallek would be my inspiration. I would set up code words or phrases to tell the drivers exactly what to do. I'd make damned sure no one listening in would know what we were talking about. "Filipe, we're worried the car is too red" means "let your teammate by." Or, "Alonso, your teammate did not miss a gear" would mean "come up with a better excuse you daffy Spaniard. We have to throw the FIA off our trail." No one on the outside would have a clue of what the message really was. Feints within feints, that's all I'm saying.

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