Well, the first thing is that the Ferrari
F2002 is streets above the rest as far as racing cars are
concerned. We’ll come to the “Team Orders” thing in a
The second thing we learned is that the
modern F1 car is enormously strong. The fact that Heidfeld and
Sato are still alive is testament to that. Sato getting centre-punched
by a flying backwards Heidfeld is not the sort of accident you
can well predict. Hopefully Sato will be back in the drivers
seat this weekend.
got centre-punched by a flying backwards Heidfeld at the A1 in
We also learned that the crop of new young
drivers (with a couple of exceptions) are really hard
chargers. Heidfeld, Massa, Raikkonen and Webber all are
showing great speed and drive their cars to the limit. I will
refrain from commenting on the young Malaysian, as anyone who
reads my column knows what I feel about buying an F1 license.
What else did we learn? Well, we learned
that Jacques Villeneuve must pay the TV commentators a hefty
whack for them to keep on saying what a wonderful exciting
driver he is. He should have received more than just a
“drive through” penalty for barging, which seems to be his
stock in trade these days, in my opinion.
Engines? The up-rated Ferrari engine in the
Sauber had Heidfeld running as high as 3rd on the opening
laps. Ferrari have the stranglehold on engines, that’s for
sure. The Mercedes (Ilmor) is definitely not quick enough and
is unreliable, while out of the four cars with Honda engines,
only one made the finish. Both BAR’s exploded in the biggest
way, so they are still out of the points. The (Ford owned)
Cosworth went better in the Arrows than it did in the (Ford
owned) Jaguars. I have said it before, but heads will roll at
Jaguar. They have really lost the plot. I would not be in the
slightest surprised to see Ford pull the pin on F1. They do
not need it and they certainly do not need to be seen as
tail-end Charlie’s fighting the Minardi’s. Even Toyota in
their first season are miles ahead. Firm denials to pull-out
at FoMoCo, but it would not surprise.
So to the “Team Orders” and was Ferrari
right in what they did? Before we begin to discuss this, we
should look at a little history. Remember “Our Nige”?
Nigel Mansell won the world championship in 1992, helped by
team orders that made Riccardo Patrese in the second Williams
move over and let Mansell through in the French Grand Prix.
Later in the year Mansell repaid the favour by moving over for
Patrese in Japan, after Mansell was assured of the title. Yes,
the same Williams Team that has been sounding off about what a
terrible decision Ferrari has made and how they have brought
F1 into disrepute. Short memories at Williams.
And do you remember the Coulthard/Hakkinen
McLaren deal? He who leads at the first corner will win the
race, but that’s been conveniently forgotten at McLaren. And
if you think that this thing about “team orders” at
Ferrari is something new, Pironi passed Gilles Villeneuve
(Jacques late father) on the last lap of the San Marino GP in
1982 and broke the orders and Villeneuve never spoke to Pironi
There are those who are bleating about
these orders spoiling the “sport”. Just when did modern F1
racing have anything to do with “sport”? “Sport” went
out the window when sponsorship came in and the big bucks
dictate who goes where, who drives what and who comes first
and who comes second. Mr. Marlboro pays 30 million dollars for
Michael Schumacher to win the championship, not for Rubens
Barichello to win it. After all, Rooby baby has just signed a
multimillion dollar contract which tells him when he’s
allowed to win and when he’s got to come second. Rooby Baby
has been paid to take a fall in the last round.
and Barichello (courtesy pitpass.com and Bothwell
I know I am beating the hell out of this
issue - but F1 is not a “sport” of individuals. You are
not barracking for Michael Schumacher - you are barracking for
Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari. This is a “team” sport
and the team manager works out what is best for the team, not
for the individual.
Imagine you are the team manager at
Ferrari. The sponsors of your team want the team to win the
world driver’s championship and the world constructor’s
championship. You have one driver on 44 points and one driver
on 6 points, with the closest opposition on 23 points. There
are 11 races to go, worth 10 points each, so your number 1
driver is far from home and hosed. If your second driver wins
and the first driver comes second, the championship running
points score will be - second driver 16 points, first driver
50 points. Driver number 2 is still miles away from the hunt.
Reverse the order by instructing driver 2 to move over and you
get a points score of second driver 12 points and first driver
54 points. A good “team” decision.
Q: We are only at six races, wasn’t this
decision a bit too prudent, given the sport?
JT: It was a decision that was perhaps very
prudent but history has taught us to be prudent and that
things are never easy.
Q: What about the sport?
JT: The sport has seen Ferrari drive a very
good race. We have seen clearly that the moral winner has been
Rubens Barrichello, he was a very professional driver like the
whole team and it’s something that he understands.
Q: What would have happened if either of
the drivers had broken the contract and not done what they
JT: Michael is a very professional driver
and as Rubens is a very professional driver. We told them
something on the radio, it’s quick decisions, quick reaction
and they both respected it, what they were told.
Q: Does this mean that Rubens must now
follow Michael in every race until he wins the championship?
JT: At the moment, the priority is to try
to win the manufacturer’s Championship and Driver’s
championship. We feel, rightly or wrongly, that Michael has
more chance to win the Drivers’ Championship. So we have to
decide in favour of one, at the moment it’s in favour of
Please note that Jean Todt refers to
“we” all the way through that interview. He does not think
of it as Michael Schumacher, he refers to “the team” i.e.
My feeling is that Ferrari made the right
decision, but executed it very poorly. They could have
reversed the positions by putting more fuel in Barichello’s
car at the last pit stop making it longer by five seconds than
Schumacher’s, and everyone would have said what cruel luck
The final words on this incident belong to
Michael Schumacher. “I was thinking very strongly about this
and that is why said I was hoping there wouldn’t be such an
order (for Barichello to move over). If you can see the
telemetry data on the straight when Rubens backed off, I
backed off but then he backed off even further. You (the
interviewer and the spectator) sit outside and you have a lot
of time to think about all of this. We sit in there and it
wasn’t a long preparation or discussion. They came on in the
last couple of metres on the radio and said that he would back
off. I didn’t feel like, but then I have to be honest to say
no it was probably the wrong decision to win this race, yes I
agree, but if I had the chance to turn it around I would
probably do but I cannot now.”