It was a sad end to an entertaining German Grand Prix. Ferrari decided to swap the positions of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso towards the end of the race to ensure Alonso (who had the most championship points) received the maximum score, closing him in on the leaders a little bit more than if he’d finished 2nd.
Admittedly there is a much larger difference between 1st place and 2nd this year (7 points) but it is very early indeed to be manipulating the results to favour one driver over another, even if Massa was over 30 points behind Alonso as the race stated.
This was not the first time this year a faster Alonso has been stuck behind Massa, however on the other occasions they held station. My guess is that now we’re in the second half of the 2010 season, secret clauses in the drivers’ contracts come into force, allowing Ferrari to put all their eggs in the Alonso basket.
My objection to the team orders was the VERY clumsy and obvious way the cars swapped position. They could have easily pitted Massa another lap later and Alonso would have passed him more ‘naturally’. Short shifting out of a slow corner didn’t fool anyone. Perhaps this was Massa’s very public objection to the order … however it may cost both drivers dearly if they are disqualified when the World Motor Sport Council meets to discuss the matter. The $100,000 fine is just the beginning of the story.
Massa was resigned for 2 more years at Ferrari, which surprised a few people as there were drivers like Kubica interested. It seems obvious now that he was willing to be ‘number 2’ in the team in order to secure the drive, and he’s no stranger to being 2nd best at Ferrari, so why Massa would make a meal of things seems childish. Alonso WAS the faster car all weekend, as appears to have been the case at every race this year, so if he’d signed something with an ‘Obey Team Orders’ clause then he should not complain when it happens and cause more fuss than necessary.
It was not quite as bad as when Barrichello was made move over for Schumacher on the last lap of a race, however that was what triggered the FIA ban on team orders in F1! I’d hoped to never see something so brazen as that again. Sadly I don’t think F1 will ever be able to irradiate team orders. From small things such as deciding which driver gets the best front wing to deliberately swapping positions of cars in races, team orders will always be in F1 in one shape or form.