Formula 1 – Team Orders; Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

BullsFollowing Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix, the world watched as Red Bull Racing suffered yet another implosion in inter team relations. Sebastian Vettel had done the unthinkable; he had passed Mark Webber after being told to hold position on the circuit. Mark Webber was clearly upset as he thought the race was over and had no idea why he was being challenged by Vettel. Almost immediately, fans took to the Twitter stream and the Facebook with comments regarding how dirty a move it had been on the part of Vettel. Mark Webber was yet again labeled a victim of Red Bull’s constant favoritism of the triple world champion.

Team orders are nothing new to Formula 1. Think back to the Schumacher days when Barrichello would pull over and allow Schumacher to win the race. Team orders were illegal but teams would still use them through either nifty code words or the easier way around was through race strategy. Fans were not impressed and the moves turned a lot of people off to Formula 1. The FiA could not control the teams, so they made team orders legal but told the teams not to make it so obvious. Whether it was legal now or not, fans still hate team orders. See Felipe Massa in Germany. “Fernando is faster than you!” “Good lad.” Fans bitched for weeks about how Massa had been robbed and it wasn’t fair he was asked to move over for Alonso who was the clear number one driver. Yet after this weekend, we bitch because Vettel didn’t follow orders and passed Webber when the Australian thought he was safe? We can’t have our cake and eat it too.

Fans also say that Vettel further hurt his credibility by apologizing and lying to the world about the situation. I think that fans should follow some of their own advice and stop lying to themselves. Just admit it already, the reason why you are really mad is that Vettel won the race (again) and Webber lost. It has nothing to do with team orders because we have complained about them for so long. This is an attack because we don’t like the fact Vettel wins more often than not and nobody knows how to stop it. We didn’t appreciate his snide comment on the radio earlier in the race about Mark Webber being too slow and “get him out of the way”. What this truly appears to be, was a fresh opportunity to levy criticism at a driver that has been very successful at both on track accomplishments as well as not giving many people reason to criticize.

The same people who cried foul at Vettel were calling foul that Mercedes made Nico Rosberg hold position behind Lewis Hamilton. Another case of team orders that soured the race and made for a rather uncomfortable podium. Mercedes claims they have dealt with them….I have a feeling that is just a good cover after seeing the Red Bull implosion. Rosberg will remember this and don’t think for one second Lewis Hamilton will understand when he is told to hold station.
I am not asking that we all love Vettel and worship his every step. Ask yourself this however; are you mad because Vettel disobeyed and order? Or are you mad because he won again and Webber didn’t? Just be honest with yourself. Do you want team orders or do you want to see great racing for the lead like we seen on Sunday? One thing you have to admit is when Vettel and Webber started to battle; we were all at the edge of our seats and wanted it to go on until they crossed the checkered flag. It was the second round of the season, are team orders really necessary? Teams always talk about putting on a great show for the fans (justification for crap Pirelli compounds) but the one time we get a spectacular finish, the teams bitch about it. We all have to take a look at what we really want out of our racing. We all (F1 Teams and leadership as well) can’t have our cake and eat it too.