Will Gray

Gray Matter: Can F1 work the team orders game?

Will Gray

View photo


Ferrari's embarrassingly blatant driver switch in Germany flaunted the F1 rules - but is there any way that the sport can bring back team orders in a way that keeps fans happy?

Team orders have always been a part of grand prix racing but since a ban on them was introduced in 2002, teams have been forced into making thinly veiled moves to switch positions, be it through a fumbled stop in the pits, a temporary mechanical glitch or an 'independent' decision by the lead driver to slow and pull over on the track.

The wording of the ban, in Sporting Regulation 39.1, is pretty open for interpretation, stating only: "Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited."

So any move that sees a team 'interfere' with the race by switching driver positions is breaking the rules - but so too, in the word of the law, is 'interfering' with the race by telling drivers to hold station in the latter stages of a grand prix to save fuel or to protect the engine - and that is now standard practice.

It's a team game, whether positions are switching or staying the same.

McLaren and Red Bull, however, have claimed proudly this season that they are not playing the team game and are allowing their drivers to race each other. That's admirable, but it won't last forever.

When the Red Bull pair crashed in Turkey there were cries of 'how could they let their drivers collide' and then, when they continued to let them race and another first-lap fight cost Sebastian Vettel vital championship points at Silverstone, they were criticised for throwing away their advantage.

Well, if your two drivers are racing, that's the risk.

Formula One's fundamental problem is that it is a team game where the prize for an individual is greater than the one for the group.

Given the importance of teamwork in F1 - not only on track but also behind the scenes - the constructors' championship should really be the ultimate prize. Yet it is the drivers' crown that is put as priority.

It would be like Manchester United not caring whether they won the Champions League or not, as long as Wayne Rooney won player of the tournament.

So how about admitting the sport is a team game, bringing back team orders and scrapping the drivers' championship altogether. And throw in Bernie's medal idea to decide F1's 'golden boot'?

A bit extreme? Probably.

Alternatively, what if the ban on team orders (position switching OR position holding) was retained, but only for the first third of a season? Teams would, in the regulations, have to allow their drivers to have an open fight to claim as many points for themselves as possible.

At the chosen marker, the points table could then decide who gets number one status and who is the number two within the team - and from then on if team orders are allowed and it becomes a team game, with the number two driver conceding to the number one in any case where they are closely competitive.

Still too extreme? Probably.

But it gets you thinking...

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so that everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Win cash in one day fantasy football contests. Join now!

    Learn how to play

    Contest Entries Entry Fee Prizes Starts (EDT)
    Premier League £300 Saturday 214/340 £1 £300 Today 10:00 AM Enter
    Premier League £250 Saturday 34/57 £5 £250 Today 10:00 AM Enter
    PL £1 Learn To Play [No Risk] 69/150 £1 £180 Today 10:00 AM Enter
    • Premier League live: Liverpool v Swansea City

      Premier League live: Liverpool v Swansea City

      Liverpool welcome Swansea City to Anfield on Saturday, as Jurgen Klopp's men look to remain firmly in the Premier League title race. Follow it live here More »

    • What now for Wayne Rooney?

      What now for Wayne Rooney?

      One goal away from breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s 249 official goals for Manchester United and Wayne Rooney finds himself in a peculiar position. For a man who is about to break the all-time goalscoring record for his club – a feat he’s already achieved for his country – the Red Devils captain has found himself off the pitch more times than he has been on it this season. There is no denying that Rooney doesn’t deserve his many plaudits. More »

      Yahoo Sport UK - 13 hours ago
    • La Liga Leaks: Sampaoli ‘committed to Sevilla’, 'N’Zonzi replacement' already lined up

      La Liga Leaks: Sampaoli ‘committed to Sevilla’, 'N’Zonzi replacement' already lined up

      Jorge Sampaoli knows he is the man of the moment in world football, with his name linked to various top jobs both in Spain and abroad, but the man himself refuses to get carried away with the fanfare surrounding his time at Sevilla. “To be the fashionable name [in football] can end quickly and tomorrow another coach will take his place. Sampaoli has found himself near the top of the lists for Barcelona, dependent on Luis Enrique’s future, as well as the Argentina job, one which he turned down in the summer.  All of the previous comments came from his press conference ahead of Sevilla’s match with Osasuna on Sunday. Monchi, another man of the moment, has been speaking about Steven N’Zonzi’s future in an interview with ‘Radio MARCA’. “N’Zonzi’s renewal is moving along, little by little, there’s work to be done but we hope it’ll reach a positive conclusion.  I think he could still bring even more to the team.” The former Stoke man himself is wanted by sides in England, Spain and Italy. More »

      Yahoo Sport UK - 2 hours 38 minutes ago
    • Premier League transfer window 2017 LIVE: All the ins and outs

      Premier League transfer window 2017 LIVE: All the ins and outs

      Live coverage of all the Premier League's incomings and outgoings this January More »

      Yahoo Sport UK - Tue, Jan 3, 2017 13:48 GMT
    • Pochettino: Tottenham bigger than City

      Pochettino: Tottenham bigger than City

      Tottenham are a bigger club than Manchester City in the Premier League, according to Mauricio Pochettino. More »

      Omnisport - 12 hours ago