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F1 Team Orders OK for 2011

So they have dropped the ban on team orders in #F1. No surprises really as the situation between team cars could have been manipulated in all sorts of ways besides telling one driver that the other was faster.

But it is an interesting situation. There was a time when drivers would do things for the benefit of the team anyway; Peter Collins handing his Ferrari to Fangio at Monza in ’56, giving up his own title shot so that the Maestro could take the championship being a classic example.

For many years the concept of the team hierarchy of a number one and a number two driver was standard. The second seat at Lotus was something of a poisoned chalice during the Clark years, although they did embrace the joint number one package for a while (Clark & Hill, Fittipladi & Peterson). Jackie Stewart was the de facto number one at Tyrrell and so on.

Ferrari have generally always leaned towards a number one with supporting drivers (remember that two cars per team is a fairly recent limit). Phil Hill tried to push Moss into retirement at the final round in ’58, then gave up second to Mike Hawthorn just before the end to gift the latter the title, Bandini let Surtees through to second place and the ’64 title in Mexico (despite actually scoring one point less than Graham Hill who Bandini had also punted off (accidently)). So the Schumacher era at Maranello was nothing new.

Over at Lotus, Peterson helped Andretti to the title in’78. Instances of teams chucking away a championship becuase they let the drivers race are fairly rare. The Alonso & Hamilton thing at McLaren where they raced each other and gave the title away by a point is one example, and Mansell and the Brazilian bloke at Williams in ’86 is another, but it isn’t something you see often, hence all the exitement at Red Bull as the 2010 season drew to a close; would Webber and Vettel race each other out of contention and let Alonso sneak it?

As we know, Vettel walked off with the race and the title after a great drive from him, a less great drive from Webber and a bad call for Alonso. The fuss was that a team who let their two drivers go at it could have given the title away to a team that had played the team orders game, but were the fans really in danger of being cheated? Of course they weren’t.

As for betting scandals, well, there is a precedent, but you have to go all the way back to Tripoli in the 1930’s to find it. I doubt that you could pull that off in modern F1, despite the Alonso/Renault win that followed the Piquet jnr accident the other year.

Team orders are a fact of life and I always felt that the ban was silly as regular readers here will know. Now it’s gone. Roll on 2011.

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