F1 Team Orders: Are They Back or Even Still Around?

Go back to Austria in 2001, final lap of the race as Jean Tadt tells Rubens Barrichello to let Schumacher pass. Barrichello was instructed by Ferrari to cede 2nd position to Schumacher to gain points to defend the driver's title. Barrichello did not comply until the last corner of the last lap, stirring up many emotions after the race. A similar situation happened at the next year's race resulting in a huge fine for the Ferrari team in addition to the FIA banning "team orders" period. 10 years have gone by and most outspoken persons against team orders, Red Bull Team Principal, Christian Horner, has done a reversal on the matter. In an interview with Speed TV in 2010 Horner said, "You can't manipulate the outcome of a race by introducing team orders and there does need to be a clarification on it. And rightly or wrongly Red Bull have allowed our driver's to race." However during the British Grand Prix in 2011, none other than Red Bull asked Mark Weber, who was making a move on championship leading driver, Sebastian Vettel, to maintain the gap with Vettel and not attempt a point losing pass.

So it seems team orders are back. And yes, they are allowed this season. Mark Weber did note that team orders have always been a part of how Red Bull strategize their movements. Nico Rosberg stated after the German Grand Prix. "In the end we are an employee of the team. So the team has the priority, that's the way it is in racing. We musn't forget that. We are paid by the team to represent the team and to do well for the team. That pretty much summarizes it up doesn't it. But of course we drivers', the ego side of us always comes out and we want to race; we want to win races, but that's always a compromise and you have to find out for yourself on how best to handle it."

Horner backed his statements by saying he did not want a repeat of Turkey in the 2010 season, when Weber and Vettel eliminated each other out of the race. He also noted that with three laps remaining he wanted the team to bank the points. As a competitive driver, the team mentality has to be a difficult mental block. These drivers are born competitors at heart and team orders or not, all desire to win and deserve to win if they are in the position. In the mortal words of the late, great, Ayrton Senna: "By being a race driver, means you are racing with other people, and if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver, because we are competing, we are competing to win, and the main motivation to all of us is to compete for victory, not to come second, third, fourth... I race to win, as long as I feel it is possible." Indeed.

Douglas Scheirer is an editor and co-founder of F1UnitedStatesGP.com, a site dedicated to the United States Grand Prix held in Austin, TX. In addition to F1 Austin Info, the site provides access to United States Grand Prix Tickets, United States Grand Prix Hotels & accommodations.

View the original article here