Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Were Red Bull Right To Give Team Orders?

In the aftermath of the British Grand Prix, which saw one of the most exciting finishes to a Grand Prix for a while (since Canada at least), it emerged that Mark Webber had ignored at least two team orders, instructing him to "maintain the gap" to his team mate Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel, as now appears customary, led most of the Grand Prix. In the closing stages the Australian's pace was much quicker than his team mate's, and was catching him considerably each lap.

A radio message from Red Bull boss Christian Horner to Webber was braodcast during the final laps. "Maintain the gap, Mark" was played for all TV audiences to hear, but all radio messages are delayed before being broadcast. It was immediately clear that Webber had either not received, or was deliberately ignoring the instruction, as he continued to gain on his younger team mate.

Webber attempted an overtaking manoeuver on Vettel on the former start/finish straight, but Vettel defended well and prevented the pass.

Webber defended his decision to disobey his team in the post-race press conference, and again on his column on the BBC website, saying that he knew that provided he acted sensibly and didn't collide with his team mate, then he would be able to sleep easily, which he wouldn't have been able to do if he obeyed his team and maintained the gap.

Were Red Bull right to give this instruction?

Sebastian Vettel is so far ahead in the Championship race (80 points ahead) he could afford to miss the next three races and he would still be leading.
If the two drivers had collided and they had both retired from the race, Vettel's lead would have been reduced to 71 points, and Mark Webber would have fallen from second in the Championship to fourth, with Hamilton benefiting the most - overtaking Webber and Alonso to move second.

Arguably, the team orders - if they were to be used - should perhaps have been given to Vettel, instructing him to let his faster team mate through. If this would have happenend, Vettel's lead would be reduced to 74 points, with Webber still second, Alonso third and Hamilton fourth.

However, it must be said that Red Bull should perhaps not have used team orders at all.

In Germany last year, Ferrari caused an uproar amongst fans and rival teams by instructing Felipe Massa to let his team mate Fernando Alonso through. As team orders were outlawed in 2010, Ferrari were fined for bringing the sport into disrepute.
For this season, the team order ban has been dropped, and therefore Red Bull were within their rights to instruct their drivers as they did in Silverstone.

Despite the two Red Bull drivers colliding in spectacular style in the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix, the team insisted that they would not use team orders, and the drivers would be free to race each other for the remainder of the 2010 season.

Horner explained the reasons for this decision: "was it wrong to allow the drivers to race each other? I don't think it was. If we wanted processions we would tell the drivers after the start to hold positions. But that is not what Red Bull is about, and that is not what our beliefs of what grand prix racing should be about."

Red Bull managed to win both the 2010 Drivers and Constructors World Championships in the final race of the 2010 season, despite keeping true to their no team orders promise, and it looking like Alonso would win the title, leading the Championship into the final race.

Red Bull again promised that their drivers would be free to race in 2011, and yet, despite Vettel appearing to have the title already wrapped up, they have chosen to apply the orders at their home Grand Prix, where in 2010 Webber said of his hard fought victory "Not bad for a number two driver".

Read Red Bull's 2010 comments at www.planetf1.com

No comments:

Post a Comment