Formula 1 - Boullier: too early for team orders

Lotus boss Eric Boullier says he would not impose team orders so early in a Formula 1 season, following the controversy over Red Bull's 'multi 21' team spat in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

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Lotus team boss Eric Boullier (Reuters)

Sebastian Vettel battled past Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber at Sepang despite the squad requesting that they hold position to the finish.

Boullier said he had experience of drivers disobeying team orders, but feels they are not required until the championship is finely poised anyway.

"It happens because of the adrenaline and excitement of winning a race, but I think in Formula 1 it should not happen," he said.

"Firstly, we should not have team orders so early in the season; not while the championship is at such an early stage. When it happens you need to fix it and fix it quickly."

The Frenchman is certain Vettel should be given some form of sancture by Red Bull.

"Don't forget that the drivers are paid to work for you, as they are for the company," Boullier argued.

"I don't see any people in the world who could disobey their company and not be sanctioned, or at least give clarification as to why they've disobeyed."

He also insisted he would be able to enforce team orders on his lead driver Kimi Raikkonen if required.

"One of our drivers is famous for doing pretty much what we wants, but when you have 600 people behind you, there is a certain respect you must have for the team," Boullier said.


Malaysia 2013 was not the first time a leading F1 team had tried to implement instructions early in a season and seen things go awry...

Brazil 1981

Carlos Reutemann had been overshadowed by eventual champion Alan Jones in their first season together at Williams in 1980, but mounted a resurgence at the start of '81.

In the closing stages of round two at a wet Rio, Reutemann found himself ahead of Jones and duly received a 'JONES-REUT' instruction on the team pitboard... which was waved with ever more urgency as Reutemann paid no heed.

He went on to win and later insisted he planned to let Jones past on the last lap, but had been caught out by the two-hour time limit slightly trimming the distance.

San Marino 1982

The infamous case of Imola 1982 was only round three of that year's world championship. Amid the FOCA/FISA turmoil, a boycott by most non-manufacturer teams left a 14-car grid and a race ultimately dominated by Ferrari's Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi.

Villeneuve believed they would hold formation in the second half of the race, but Pironi fought all the way to the flag and snatched victory. The distraught Villeneuve vowed never to speak to Pironi again, and had a fatal crash in qualifying for the next race at Zolder.

San Marino 1989

Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost's relationship took a turn for the even worse in round two of their second season as McLaren team-mates.

Prost was counting on a pre-race agreement that whoever was ahead at the first corner would be allowed to stay in front.

But Senna overtook him into Tosa at the restart after the race was halted for Gerhard Berger's fiery Tamburello accident. Senna felt the restart made the agreement void, leaving Prost livid.

Melbourne 1998

David Coulthard had let McLaren team-mate Mika Hakkinen past as they hunted down the hobbled Williams of Jacques Villeneuve in the 1997 season finale at Jerez.

The Scot found himself doing the same when 1998 commenced. Hakkinen had qualified on pole and was leading a race in which the McLarens were a class apart, but threw away first place by making an errant pitstop.

McLaren asked Coulthard to hand the lead back to Hakkinen and he duly obliged, expecting the favour to eventually be returned.

Being given third place at Suzuka in Hakkinen's F1 farewell nearly four years later was not what Coulthard had in mind...

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