Tag Archives: Ferrari

Team orders ban lifted for 2011

Ferrari's team orders in Germany are now considered legal

Ferrari's team orders in Germany are now considered legal

The ban on team orders, listed under Article 39.1 on the FIA regulations, has been scrapped from 2011 onwards. This means that team orders, such as the one Ferrari employed at the German Grand Prix this year, can now be legally made without punishment by the stewards or FIA.

The FIA’s statement for this move reads as follows:

The article forbidding team orders (39.1) is deleted.

Teams will be reminded that any actions liable to bring the 
sport into disrepute are dealt with under Article 151c of 
the International Sporting Code and any other relevant 
provisions.

While the stewards handed Ferrari a $100,000 fine after the German GP, they failed to dock or switch the points gained by Fernando Alonso, who was allowed past by Felipe Massa.

In my opinion, this isn’t actually as bad a move as it could be. While I’m completely against team orders that deliberately disadvantage one driver, team orders are used all the time these days, just in different wording.

Now that the ban has been lifted, we can see more clearly how each team operates its strategies. While I’m sure that a driver would let their team-mate past to assist the team’s race strategy for both cars, very few of them would move aside simply for the other driver to directly gain from the order.

Team orders to assist race strategies have been used plenty of times with little controversy, such as Kovalainen and Hamilton in Germany 2008, or Heidfeld and Kubica in Canada. In the situation where one car needs to be released to make the most out of their strategies, I’d say that team orders are fine.

Ferrari top both days of Pirelli tests

Two days of testing on the 2011 Pirelli tyres concluded a few days ago, with Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso each topping one day each. While the tyres were slower than this year’s Bridgetones, most of the paddock appear to be happy with the new rubber.

Day 1

Sebastian Vettel suffered a tyre failure in the evening

Sebastian Vettel suffered a tyre failure in the evening

Only one car ran from each team on these two days. Neither Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Buttom took any part, as Gary Paffett was driving the McLaren. Adrian Sutil, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Paul di Resta all shared the Force India.

On the first day, Felipe Massa was fastest with a 1.40.170, two seconds off Daniel Ricciardo’s time during the young driver test. Sebastian Vettel was 2nd, 4 tenths off the Ferrari. Gary Paffett was 3rd, Kamui Kobayashi 4th, Robert Kubica 5th, and Rubens Barrichello 6th.

Paul di Resta was 7th, but had only run during the second half of the session. Adrian Sutil initially had the car, but an exhaust problem forced him into the pits. He was only 10th.

Nico Rosberg and Jaime Alguersuari were 8th and 9th. Timo Glock was 10th, Heikki Kovalainen 11th, and Pastor Maldonado last, 1.1 seconds behind the Lotus.

Vettel’s day was ended abruptly, after a puncture in the evening. Pirelli have already suffered cuts to their rear tyres, but believe that debris caused the failure.

Times from Day 1:

Driver Car Time
1 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’40.170s
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’40.500s
3 Gary Paffett McLaren 1’40.874s
4 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1’40.950s
5 Robert Kubica Renault 1’41.032s
6 Rubens Barrichello Williams 1’41.425s
7 Paul di Resta Force India 1’41.615s
8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’41.778s
9 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1’42.019s
10 Adrian Sutil Force India 1’42.859s
11 Timo Glock Virgin 1’44.124s
12 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1’44.686s
13 Pastor Maldonado HRT 1’45.728s

Day 2

Fernando Alonso topped Day 2

Fernando Alonso topped Day 2

Fernando Alonso was quicker on the second day, but was 4 tenths off Massa’s time the day before. Michael Schumacher was 2nd, and Vettel 3rd.

Rubens Barrichello was 4th, Robert Kubica 5th, Gary Paffett 6th, and shared the car with Oliver Turvey, who was 7th. Paul di Resta was 8th, and shared the Force India with Liuzzi, who was 11th.

Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi filled the top 10. Sergio Perez was 12th, Jarno Trulli 13th. Pastor Maldonado was 14th, but caused a red flag after a spin. Timo Glock was several hundreths off Maldonado.

Times from Day 2:

Driver Team Best lap
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’40.529s
2 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’40.685s
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’40.825s
4 Rubens Barrichello Williams 1’41.294s
5 Robert Kubica Renault 1’41.614s
6 Gary Paffett McLaren 1’41.622s
7 Oliver Turvey McLaren 1’41.740s
8 Paul di Resta Force India 1’41.869s
9 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1’42.110s
10 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1’42.145s
11 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India 1’42.416s
12 Sergio Perez Sauber 1’42.777s
13 Jarno Trulli Lotus 1’44.521s
14 Pastor Maldonado HRT 1’44.768s
15 Timo Glock Virgin 1’44.783s

Pirelli have declared the test a success, although they now have 11,000 km of data to filter through. Aside from Vettel’s tyre problems, the rubber stood up well, and the switch from Bridgestones to Pirellis shouldn’t be too difficult for the teams.

With this being the final session of 2010, the F1 engines will be switched off until the 1st February 2011, when testing resumes at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia.

Ferrari decision revealed: WMSC ignores recommendations, Todt says: “Not enough evidence”

The reasoning of the World Motor Sport Council letting Ferrari off with charges of team orders has been explained today, and it’s not a pretty sight. The WMSC ignored a reccomendation from the Reporter (investigator) to penalise Fernando Alonso, while Jean Todt claimed there was “not enough evidence”.

Lars Osterlind, one of the top names of the FIA since Max Mosley took over years ago, and tipped for Presidency in the future (currently Vice-President), was appointed as the Reporter for this case. Put simply, he was in charge of investigating every single aspect of the team orders case, and he showed the WMSC some truly damning evidence to incriminate Ferrari.

For example, he found out that both drivers, before the team order, were instructed to turn their engines down, presumably to save fuel or the engine. However, Lars found that Alonso soon turned up the revs on his car “without Mr. Massa being informed. Mr Fernando Alonso was therefore benefiting from a definite performance advantage over Mr Felipe Massa in the moments preceding the contentious overtaking.”

He then went on to explain why the ethics of sport were broken:

“Motor racing ought to be unpredictable, as it has been to
date. Part of that competitive element is to take equal
interest in all competitors. Irrespective of their fitness,
talent or position in the race, competitors should be able
to rely on themselves for purposes of winning the race
without any form of external aid influencing their sporting
performance.”

He presented his full findings in a 160-page document, and gave it to the World Motor Sport Council. The FIA acknowledged that Ferrari had interfered with the race, but refused to increase the penalty, stating:

"There were many examples of what could have been said to be 
team orders in Formula 1 in recent years, and therefore there 
has been inconsistency in its application.

Also its application to indirect team orders via messages 
where drivers raise no complaints is uncertain and difficult 
to detect and police."

They even admitted that rules 39.1 (no team orders) and 151.c (bringing the sport into disrepute) were broken, but still found no reason to full prove that Ferrari’s messages directly interfered with he race, rather Felipe Massa made a “decision based on the evidence presented” to him by the team.

Ferrari claimed that “team orders were different from team strategy”, meaning that there would be a difference between a “supply of information or a request for what a team would like a driver to do” and direct orders.

The WMSC also noted that they had received letters of support for Ferrari from Frank Williams and Peter Sauber, heads of the Williams and Sauber teams.

Meanwhile, FIA president Jean Todt claimed that there was “not enough evidence” to fully prove Ferrari’s guilt. Seeing as he was in charge of Ferrari during the biggest team order scandals in F1, why are we not surprised?

Really, this is a scandalous day for Formula 1. This completely undermines the team orders ban, and will almost certainly destroy the championship battle in terms of team-mates racing each other. Ferrari, the FIA, and the WMSC should hang their heads in shame.

No further punishment for Ferrari after team orders

The World Motor Sport Council have decided that Ferrari will escape any further punishment for their team orders in Germany this year. They also announced that the $100,000 fine imposed by the FIA will continue to be upheld.

However, no reason has yet been disclosed for their decision to let them off. A statement will be added here when it is made.

All I can say is that this is absolutely disgraceful. Even if the WMSC couldn’t prosecute them under the rule banning team orders, they could just have easily used rule 151c (bringing the sport into disrepute) to serve justice.

Put simply, the WMSC have just shown themselves as being spineless cowards. It’s not as if the fans were looking for Ferrari to be thrown out altogether, maybe a larger fine and suspended ban would have done fine. A $100,000 is nothing compared to the damage Ferrari have done to the sport in recent weeks.

More on this soon.

Update: Ferrari do have to pay the FIA’s legal costs, but this surely isn’t much. Also, the Sporting Working Group are to look into whether the team orders ban should stay or not. Ferrari have released a short statement:

“Ferrari has taken note of the decision of the FIA World Council, relating to the outcome of this year’s German Grand Prix and wishes to express its appreciation of the Council’s proposal to review article 39.1 of the Formula 1 sporting regulations, in light of what emerged during today’s discussions.

Now, all the team’s efforts will be focussed on the next event on track, when the Italian Grand Prix takes place at Monza this weekend.”

Ferrari fined $100,000 and WMSC to investigate further

Ferrari have been fined $100,000 after they broke the Sporting Regulations of Formula 1 twice, regarding the team order to Felipe Massa to allow Fernando Alonso through, during the German Grand Prix. Also, the World Motor Sport Council have been referred to, meaning that they will investigate this matter further.

Felipe Massa is ordered to allow Fernando Alonso through

Felipe Massa is ordered to allow Fernando Alonso through

After the race, the team claimed that they had not ordered Massa to let Alonso through, and only “provided him with information”, even though radio transmissions proved otherwise. Also, Massa said that he allowed Alonso through,albeit of his own choosing.

The stewards decided that this incident broke article 39.1 of the Sporting Regulations, which states: “Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited.” Also, it was decided that the infamous article 151c of the International Sporting Code was broken , which involves bringing the sport into disrepute.

They decided on a fine of $100,000, even though they fined Ferrari $1,000,000 after Austria, when Rubens Barrichello allowed Michael Schumacher through at the very last second on the final lap, after being shouted at for many laps by the Ferrari boss, Jean Todt.

While the opportunity of further punishment is appealing, the fact of the matter is that the next World Motor Sport Council meeting is in September, by which time the excuse will be “it’s too late for another penalty”. In my opinion, a big loss of constructor’s points would do, as they would lose plenty more money by finishing further down the order. However, the drivers’ points should remain unchanged, as they weren’t the ones who orchestrated this incident, although you could argue that Felipe was a bit spineless letting Alonso through.

Team orders taint F1 yet again by Ferrari

It couldn’t come worse for Felipe Massa. Exactly one year after his crash in Hungary that ruled him out for the rest of the year, his team have turned his back on him, and blatantly taken a rightful win off him. Of course, championship points are what Fernando needs at the moment, but this cannot cover what happened today.

This incident kicked off when Alonso was unable to make a move on Massa for the lead. He complained on the radio: “This is ridiculous”. Clearly, the heads of the team wanted Fernando to get through, and the engineers, specifically Rob Smedley, were fighting for the drivers to battle over the lead themselves. After many laps of arguing over the matter, Smedley dejectedly ordered Massa to lift and allow Alonso through.

After this, nobody on the pit wall spoke to each other, Smedley sitting there, with his arms folded, not saying a word. Stefano Domenicail was in between Smedley and Chris Dyer, who was similarly refusing to talk, although it is not known what side of the argument he was on.

The problem lies within the FIA’s inability to punish Ferrari for this blatant act of team orders. Firstly, the stewards will need to find hard evidence to hand out a penalty, and unfortunately “Fernando is faster than you” just doesn’t cut it as evidence. While there is 100% certainty that the race was manipulated by Ferrari, they have conveniently maneuvered themselves in such a way that they cannot realistically be punished. And secondly…. Jean Todt is FIA president. Do you trust him in this situation? I don’t. But it would be nice to be surprised.

If Ferrari were to be punished, excellent. Team orders would be fully banned (at least in situations in relation to the lead of the race), and it would not happen again. If that were the case, then I would be happy enough, and move on. But, Ferrari, even if they were summoned to the stewards, could use many other blatant team orders to defend themselves. Look at Kovalainen letting Hamilton through in Germany 2008, or Raikkonen and Massa in China ’08. The radio transmission “Driver X is faster than you” has previously been shown to work, and I don’t think that it will change this time.

So, we must point the finger of blame, but I don’t think it should be aimed at Fernando Alonso. While he certainly gained from this, it was the team who made the call, and they are the ones who need to be taught a lesson. On the other hand, Fernando’s complaining about “this is ridiculous” earlier on shows that he was expecting Massa to let him through, as opposed to what happened in Australia, when he was held up by Felipe all race long.

However, should we not criticise Massa, who was obviously slower than Alonso? When Fernando got through, he was up to half a second faster at points, and pulled out a 4 second lead by the end of the race. This situation would never have happened if Felipe had the pace to stay away from Fernando in the first place.

But that’s not justifying the team order. What happened today has happened many times before, and it needs to stop now. The McLaren and Red Bull bosses are saying that they treat their drivers equally (cough *Webber* cough), and that Alonso is gaining an unfair advantage by using Massa to help himself to some extra points, and this is perfectly true. Look at what happened in Turkey, when Vettel and Webber collided. While what happened was completely unnecessary, at least the team allowed them to race each other, rather than ruin the excitement (before the crash, that is) by issuing team orders.

In fact, the shining example of how to treat your drivers comes from McLaren, who have been excellent so far in giving equal treatment to both Button and Hamilton. While the “save fuel” incident initially caused concern, the team later said that it was a mistake by Hamilton’s engineer, and I would believe them. If the world championship ended today, then McLaren would totally deserve to win it. Button or Hamilton? Doesn’t really matter.

You know what the worst part of this is for me? While in London, I bought a Ferrari shirt, and I’m wearing it as I write this.  Looking back, not a perfectly timed purchase.

Ferrari were advised to allow Kubica through

FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting has revealed that he advised Ferrari 3 times to allow Robert Kubica through, after an overtaking incident with Fernando Alonso during the British Grand Prix. Alonso was handed a drive-through penalty during the race after he cut a corner battling with Kubica, overtook the Renault but failed to give the position back.

Ferrari were advised 3 times to hand the position back to Kubica

Ferrari were advised 3 times to hand the position back to Kubica

Under normal circumstances, after repeatedly advising Ferrari, this would have turned into an order to hand the position back, but since Kubica soon retired with unrelated mechanical issues, Alonso was unable to hand the position back. However, Charlie Whiting felt that Ferrari had plenty of time to instruct Alonso to let Kubica through, before the Renault retired.

Whiting claimed that, despite the penalty being issued many laps later, Ferrari were immidiately advised to hand the position back:

"We told Ferrari three times that in my opinion they should give the
position back to Kubica.

And we told them that immediately, right after the overtaking
manoeuvre. On the radio, I suggested to them that if they exchange
position again, there would be no need for the stewards to intervene.

But they didn't do that and on the third communication they said that
Kubica was by then too far back to let him regain the position.

It's not true at all that the stewards took too long to decide. For
us the facts were clear immediately: Alonso had gained an advantage
by cutting the track."

However, team principal Stefano Domenicali argued that, despite Alonso getting past Kubica, he didn’t gain an advantage:

"He tried to be aggressive to overtake, and we complained the 
drivers not to be aggressive and we complain about the lack of 
overtaking, and so at that stage, we felt as we normally do at 
that moment that we need to go on the radio with race control to 
check what is the position.

And normally, we take the right time to discuss with race control 
to make the judgement, and the moment when race control give us 
the instruction to give back the position to Robert, it was clear 
that Robert had already lost a lot of time - effectively he had a 
problem and he came back. That is the situation we analysed.

You can have a situation where immediately there is a possibility 
to give back the position to a driver if you feel that there is 
really an advantage that you gain. On our side we felt that was 
not the case otherwise we would have done it."

I was wondering after the race, why Ferrari didn’t complain loudly about the penalty being awarded, and this is clearly why. If Ferrari are pushing the rules that much just to gain one position, then they completely deserve any penalty that they get.

2010 Mid-season review: Ferrari

The season-opener in Bahrain was kind to Ferrari, in that a 1-2 finish was far beyond what the car actually deserved. Sebastian Vettel’s engine woes meant that both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were able to overtake and keep control of the race from there. However, since then, the season has not gone the way Ferrari would have wanted.

Lack of development has cost Ferrari 2nd in the championship to Ferrari

Lack of development has cost Ferrari 2nd in the championship to Ferrari

Pre-season testing showed Ferrari to have one of the fastest cars of the grid, and it later emerged that their tyre wear rates were much lower than their rivals, giving them an extra advantage. Their 1-2 finish, aided by the reliability issues of the Red Bull car, should have been an indicator of their pace for the entire season. In Melbourne, Massa was 3rd ahead of Alonso, although the Spaniard was unhappy after being held up by Felipe for most of the race. However, soon after this, Ferrari fell out of the development race.

Despite starting with the second fastest car, Ferrari were unable to keep up development at a fast enough pace. This is mainly due to the fact that they spent too much time trying to copy the F-duct system, which took several weeks of work, with only 0.3 seconds as a reward. By the time that they had finished, McLaren had soared away from them, and it shows in the race results. In Malaysia, neither Ferrari could indicate their pace, as a stupid strategy call in qualifying left them at the back of the grid. While they recovered to 7th and 9th, Alonso soon retired with an engine failure.

In the rain-affected China race, driver relationships were more hurt than anything else. As both Ferrari cars pitted on the same lap, Alonso overtook Massa, causing the Brazilian to drop down the grid, leaving Fernando to gain Felipe’s positions. Rumours of tension in the garage were swiftly swept away however. A home race podium was nice for Alonso in Spain, but he wasn’t able to challenge Mark Webber for the win. Since then, their pace has fallen away, as Massa hasn’t scored a point since Turkey. Aside from another podium in Canada, Alonso has only managed one 6th and two 8th places since Spain.

The reason for Ferrari’s drop in pace lies solely with the car. The time spent on the F-duct was a massive waste of time for the team, as marginal gains do not give a car raw pace. This shows in the fact that Ferrari have not got a pole position, the best way of indicating raw pace, since Brazil 2008. The drivers are well up to the task of getting wins for the team, but do not have the machinery to do so.

For the rest of the season, Ferrari have 2 difficulties to deal with: keeping Alonso and Massa happy, and developing the car to catch up to Red Bull and McLaren. While a few people have suggested that the team will soon turn their attention to 2011, although the fact that they are still in the championship race should be enough to keep them interested in this season.

Alonso furious, Ferrari calls race a “scandal”

Fernando Alonso dropped to 9th after the safety car

Fernando Alonso dropped to 9th after the safety car

Fernando Alonso blasted the result of the European Grand Prix, calling it “unreal and unfair” after the safety car incident where he dropped from 3rd to 9th place, while Lewis Hamilton overtook the safety car and managed to keep his position, after a delayed drive-through penalty decision.

After the race, Fernando said:

"I think it was unreal this result and unfair as well.

We respected the rules, we don’t overtake under the yellows and we
finish ninth. That is something to think about.

It completely destroyed the race. Hopefully we can move forward
because after the victory of Vettel and podium for McLaren ninth
place is very little points for us.

We need to apologise to the 60 to 70 thousand people who came to
see this kind of race.

They gave a penalty already to Hamilton but it was too late – 30
laps to investigate one overtake."

Ferrari were similarly furious, describing the race as a scandal. Felipe Massa, Alonso’s team-mate, fell to 15th place and never recovered after the safety car. A team statement on their website read:

"A scandal, that’s the opinion of so many fans and employees who are
all in agreement: there is no other way to describe what happened 
during the European Grand Prix. The way the race and the incidents 
during it were managed raise doubts that could see Formula 1 lose 
some credibility again, as it was seen around the world."

First of all, they are both certainly correct in being furious at Lewis Hamilton, who managed to get away with overtaking the safety car, whether it was intentional or not. Meanwhile Alonso, who never broke the rules once, fell to 9th. The reason Hamilton didn’t lose any positions because of his drive-through is because the stewards took far too long to issue the penalty, by which time Lewis was able to create a large gap to stay ahead of Kobayashi after his penalty.

However, I must say that they are completely over-reacting when it comes to being annoyed about the safety car itself. Sometimes, drivers and teams lose out or benefit from the safety car deployment, and this cannot be avoided. I mean, look at Mercedes. Michael Schumacher fell to the back of the grid, and do you hear him whinging as loud as Ferrari? It is true that Schumacher wasn’t even in a points-scoring position, but it’s just an example.

Also, if Ferrari were to gain massively from the safety car, I doubt the other teams would complain as loudly as they would (Barrichello’s win in Germany 2000 springs to mind). In this case, when they lose out, they should just start thinking about how to get back up the field, but Fernando couldn’t even get past Sebastien Buemi.

While Ferrari are in the right, they need to learn that whining and over-reacting like this isn’t going to get them anywhere.

Ferrari use “promotional video” to test new modified F10

Fernando Alonso drove the Ferrari F10 at Fiorano on Thursday, to film for a “promotional video”, as well as entertaining guests at the track. However, an amateur video has shown that the F10 was using a modified rear end on the car, with a Red Bull style exhaust system.

As we know, in-season testing is banned this year to reduce costs. However, Ferrari have used the “promotional video” exception (not for the first time) to test their latest upgrade to the F10, which seems to be a copy of Red Bull’s exhaust system, which pushes exhaust gases into the diffuser.

The Red Bull exhaust-driven diffuser, which has since been copied by Ferrari

The Red Bull exhaust-driven diffuser, which has since been copied by Ferrari

While this is quite cheeky from the team, it isn’t specifically against the rules, even if no other team does this. The team even joked about it in their statement: “You have to make the most of any opportunity in this era of the testing ban!” We will have to wait and see if Ferrari’s design makes it to the next race in Valencia.

Here is the amateur footage:

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