The use of team orders by more than one major team this weekend has left a sour taste with many F1 fans. The fanbase is divided – at Red Bull, there are those who feel Sebastian Vettel should have respected the order to hold position, and those who claim that he should race as hard as he could, regardless of the situation.
In the case of the Mercedes team orders, things are more clear-cut. Nico Rosberg passing fuel-saving Lewis Hamilton would have had no adverse affect on the team’s standing in the championship, and it was a more “pure” outcome – if they weren’t teammates, Rosberg would have passed Hamilton easily.
I fully agree with those who argue that Nico shouldn’t have been held up, and that he deserved to take the podium spot. However, the fact that he still obeyed team principal Ross Brawn shows a degree of respect within the team, something that is not apparent at Red Bull.
If another team orders debate arises at Red Bull, neither driver will think twice about ignoring such an instruction from the pit wall. This might be fun to watch, but it raises huge risks for the team, and can destroy any professional friendship between the drivers and/or their bosses. Sebastian and Mark would do well to avoid a repeat of Turkey 2010 in the future.
Whether the fans like it or not, Formula 1 is a team sport at heart, and the team should always come first. Ferrari understand this, having ironed out any hope of a rivalry between Alonso and Massa in recent years. Meanwhile, the current constructors’ champions are faced with dealing with two ego-fuelled rebels, who will now lock horns on-track at the first opportunity. It doesn’t take a genius to calculate that Ferrari’s system is more consistent and safe.
Vettel’s ignoring of his team’s instructions has unraveled any remaining friendliness between himself and Webber, that much is certain. Compare this to Rosberg’s choice, which has gained him respect within the team, and by Hamilton. If such an issue arises again, both drivers should be able to deal with it in a professional manner which benefits the team. Red Bull have no hope of this.
This isn’t about adrenaline-fueled glory runs, or brazen chest-bashing. It’s about understanding that the team is more important than the individual driver, and how sacrifices should be made for long-term benefits. If a three-time world champion can’t comprehend this, the Red Bull have a serious problem on their hands.