Team orders row dominates Malaysia Rate the Race

2013 Malaysian Grand Prix

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There’s no mistaking what the major talking point of the Malaysian Grand Prix was for most F1 Fanatic readers.

Mercedes and Red Bull’s decision to impose team orders – and Sebastian Vettel’s refusal to heed them – provoked a frenzy of discussion two weeks ago.

In our regular Rate the Race poll readers awarded an average of 6.826 out of 10, significantly down on last year’s score. And over 5% were sufficiently unimpressed with what they saw to award the race one out of ten.

The events of the final laps seemed to cast a shadow over some of the other highlights of the race. These included battles between Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen, Massa’s “around the outside” overtakes and three rookies narrowly missing out on points (Bottas, Gutierrez and Bianchi).

But for many the closing stages defined the Malaysian Grand Prix. Here’s what you had to say about it:

The first half was a 10/10, the second half was a 2/10. So 6/10 overall.

Until the Mercedes fuel/team orders issue, this was a 9/10 but the sight of the two Mercedes coasting right next to each other was just awful.

Vettel rebelling against the wishes of his bosses was exciting though.

Very exciting race, there will be a lot of talk, but from a spectator I enjoyed it.

I’m quite surprised by the community. I mean, Red Bull is right to be upset, but us? We saw great racing, we saw a driver wanting to win without caring about team orders. Everyone would have loved Massa to defend from Alonso in Hockenheim 2010, Webber to overtake Vettel in Silverstone 2011. As a spectator I like when a driver wants to win no matter what.

On the other hand, I’m sorry for Rosberg. He deserved a podium and he couldn’t properly fight for it.

Team orders ruined fight for third and whole race.

The first half was good but apart from a few incidents the latter part of the race was a bit of a dull anti-climax.

Weak. Maybe I’m being too harsh but there was way more politics in this race than I could handle. I respect Vettel as a driver and think he’s an amazing talent, but I don’t like his attitude and his sense of entitlement.

Moving on from the main talking point of the race, the action in the pits also drew a lot of comment:

Plenty of wheel-to-wheel, no quarter asked or given, racing. Up front and in the midfield. That’s what I love to see. Wet and dry conditions.

Also comedy and tragedy in the pits. Hamilton in the wrong box, Button’s wheel falling off, Force India going nuts.

I’m so sorry Alonso retired early. Bad mistake from Ferrari not to call him in, and denied us a thriller of him dicing the Red Bulls and Mercedes in the leader group. And Raikkonen was a damp squib.

The use of aggressive tyre compounds and two DRS zones to create exciting racing drew a lot of comment:

Felt the DRS was working too well today and the two zones were just dumb.

I was watching the in-car feeds on Sky today on my laptop and saw many cases of cars backing out of overtakes into the final corner in order to not be ahead at the next DRS detection. DRS is now starting to discourage good moves just because drivers don’t want to be the lead car, that isn’t right in my view.

Also I’m starting to get a bit fed up of all this tyre saving. I never could get into sportscar racing because i didn’t like that element of it so may stop watching F1 if it gets much worse.

Fuel and tyre saving is a joke. I like the difference in tyres giving many strategies a possibility but they should have enough sets to get through the race.

But the overriding subject of interest for most readers remained the controversies that unfolded in the final quarter of the race:

F1 is hard to put up with these days. Up until lap 40 it was a eight or nine out of 10. But now I’m not so sure. For the first time I heard the winner apologisng for overtaking others and the Mercedes show-run brought back memories of Ross Brawn manufacturing results.

In my opinion, it would need a serious discussion whether F1 should be more about real competition or more like wrestling – because I’d like to know where this is heading.

Malaysian Grand Prix Rate the Race results

Race Average score out of ten
2008 Malaysian Grand Prix 5.738
2009 Malaysian Grand Prix 5.284
2010 Malaysian Grand Prix 6.684
2011 Malaysian Grand Prix 7.775
2012 Malaysian Grand Prix 8.452
2013 Malaysian Grand Prix 6.826

2013 Malaysian Grand Prix

Browse all 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix articles

Image © Red Bull/Getty

45 comments on “Team orders row dominates Malaysia Rate the Race”

  1. I guess the best thing about the use of team orders this time was that they got displayed as clearly for the public. Lets hope teams learn and cut down on them, maybe we can take Ross Brawn telling us how he minds using them already (IMO against better judgment if we look at him abundantly using TO earlier – did he grow tired of them as well at Ferrari?).
    I do hope that we will see all team orders issued this year being treated like they were by the likes of Vettel and Bottas and just have a real race for it.

    1. @bascb: What happened with Bottas?

    2. @bascb

      the best thing about the use of team orders this time was that they got displayed as clearly for the public

      They were in the case of Mercedes, but not Red Bull. We didn’t hear the order to Vettel until after he’d passed Webber, so at the time he was attacking it looked like a real battle. And the order that was given – “multi 21” – was coded, it wasn’t a clear “hold position”.

      When the team orders ban was scrapped the apologists’ line was that fans would be more accepting of team orders now the lifting of the ban meant teams could issue them in a clear and unambiguous way. But Malaysia showed that isn’t always the case.

      The obvious question that arises is why disguise some orders and not others? Is it easier for drivers to hear and understand “multi 21” instead of “hold position”? Do they think they have something to gain from using a code their rivals might not work out? Or were they trying to make it less obvious they were killing a battle for the lead?

      1. Yes, that’s true Keithcollantine, I had forgotten that we only got info about that when the battle was over (it did make it more intense to watch that battle, not fearing they would back off for team orders).

        I think that all teams like to state how they do not want their “guys” to hold back etc. and let them race, instead of admitting they regularly order their drivers around to hold position or exchange places on track. Sure enough we have heard all people at Red Bull claim often enough that they do that, just as often as we hear it from McLaren.

        And in Red Bulls case it might even be more or less by habit of never ever telling the whole picture (we only heard about Webber being lean on fuel this week through a German newspaper) and wanting to keep as much secrets as they can.

        1. ah forgot the @keithcollantine :-)

    3. @bascb – Why is there so much fuss on team orders… The team always lets you race against the 20 other odd drivers, no holds barred… I think we all agree to this… Then why can’t we leave the teams to sort their own matters out, when it comes to their own drivers…

      And even if the team did allow, in all situations, all drivers to race against their team mates, without any ‘team orders’, how would that change the team’s score?? Vettel defied team orders, Red Bull got a total of 37 points (albiet putting itself in high risk of tyre wear) , if he had not defied, still Red Bull would have gotten the same (with more peace of mind, good team morale etc)… The same with Mercedes too… This brings us to the question, that as fans do we only look at the driver side of the championship, not the constructors? We all become blind to ‘our’ favorite driver, winning or scoring that extra points, or showing that extra racing skill. Can we not accept the fact that the teams are the best judge for themselves, that they have the right to decide what is best for the team…

      1. @jjjj

        that as fans do we only look at the driver side of the championship, not the constructors?

        I think the driver’s championship holds far more importance to the general fanbase: the headlines are much more voluminous for the driver’s champion than the constructor’s champion, and in general the drivers are the ones that are remembered and talked about.

        So judging by that, the general fanbase must also then expect the drivers to be allowed to race, particularly at such an early stage in the season, wouldn’t you agree? Therefore, the teams (who indirectly receive their funding from the tv audiences) should not impose team orders in my view unless it is absolutely necessary (for example, if there is a serious risk of a collision or a car not finishing, or if there is a championship on the line) – I don’t believe that was the case in Malaysia for either Red Bull or Mercedes.

        So personally then, I think that both teams were wrong to impose team orders (particularly Mercedes) and that is why I condone Vettel’s actions – as much distaste as I have for all the PR nonsense afterwards.

      2. @jjjj

        This brings us to the question, that as fans do we only look at the driver side of the championship, not the constructors?

        Simple answer- Brazil 2008. Just look at how delighted Ferrari were at the news they had clinched the constructor’s championship.

      3. @ jjjj In here there are 2 things I see completely different

        The team always lets you race against the 20 other odd drivers, no holds barred… I think we all agree to this… Then why can’t we leave the teams to sort their own matters out, when it comes to their own drivers…

        First of all, it was clear that the teams were NOT letting their cars race the others, otherwise Brawn would have let Rosberg have a shot at chasing the Red Bulls. The fact that both the teams leading the race did much the same with TO shows they were planning to stop racing with still a quarter of the race left to go.

        And as for the second point, who cares about the constructors championship apart from the teams? Sure its, nice to get it after you either already have the drivers championship or as a bit of a consolation for not getting that, but apart from that, not many outside the paddock really care for them.
        And even if I would care for it, I still mind that a team tells their guys not to race, as racing is what we all tune in to see (or even pay great amounts to see live). I understand that teams would like to limit their risks, but I do not think it is good racing when they do so.

        1. that should have been to @jjjj

  2. My personal view is that race was much better than a 6.8: the racing throughout was great, there was a battle for the lead and there was drama with Alonso’s incident.

    The podium was a farce, but I wouldn’t class that as part of the race itself.

    1. +1

      really enjoyed the racing…keeping my eye out for Bianchi in china, finally some young drivers proving their worth..exciting season ahead for the youngsters..

    2. I agree. It was a fantastic race in terms of intrigue and drama – especially the battle for the lead which was very exciting, so I can’t understand people scoring 2/10 for the second half of the race, just because of Brawn’s bad call and the pressure he is under at Mercedes at the moment.

      I also think the race sets up the F1 season nicely in terms of the internal dynamic between teammates, so for that I think the race was an important one – not just an exciting one.

      1. @john-h

        I also think the race sets up the F1 season nicely in terms of the internal dynamic between teammates, so for that I think the race was an important one – not just an exciting one.

        Exactly! I don’t see how the fact that Vettel and Webber may now have an even more strained relationship than before can be a bad thing!

  3. The race was fine, and the fight between Vettel and Webber, for the lead, was one of the best moments of the race.
    In other hand, the “Mercedes thing” was just embarrassing to watch. And the podium was awkward as well.

  4. The worst thing about the team orders debacle is the timing of the incident. If we’d had back to back races in Malaysia and China we would have long forgotten about Red Bull and Mercedes antics. But with three weeks between Malaysia and the next race this debate has dragged on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on…

    It’s time to put it to bed. It has been covered from every single possible angle. All of the key players in the incidents have been spoken to, all the people on the fringes with something to say have chucked their 2 cents in, all the pundits have had their say, heck, just about anyone who could string a sentence together has had their say. I hope in China we focus on the racing, because I am bored to death with this debate now. If we focus on the potentially fantastic season which is develping there should be plenty of things to talk about without having to mention the phrase “multi 21”.

    1. @geemac 100% agree with that: the worst part is that there have been many pointless discussions on forums (fora?) and comment sections (not only on F1F). The first 3 or 4 days after the GP, I found it a very interesting subject to discuss, but after that most of the discussions turned into a good old fashioned “yes he did” “no he didn’t” “yes he did” “no he didn’t” argument.

      1. Yeah. I should have added that I wasn’t venting at F1F, the qaulity of the reporting on this site was obvioulsy first rate! :) But as you mentioned, some of the drivvel that came up on some forums made some terrible reading!

    2. Michael Brown (@)
      7th April 2013, 15:14

      It’s ok, now everybody’s arguing over Bahrain.

    3. All of the key players in the incidents have been spoken to

      Personally, I am curious to see Webber in China and how much he will be comfortable with the official party line that “they have shaken hands and all is well now” @geemac.

      But sure enough the fact that the only other thing of interest (that alleged protest against the top 3 finishing teams about their floors or somethign) was almost as well based as the various 1. april stories combined with the long interval between races helped to give it as much space.

  5. Regardless of if Vettel’s overtake was right or not, the move made things extremely exciting.

    It’s rate the race not rate the post-race politics.

    F1 fans are a strange bunch sometimes.

    1. @tommyb89 – exactly! As I said, the podium is not part of the race. It should be rated from your feeling after the chequered flag has dropped in my view.

      1. It should be, just in the same way that Driver of the Weekend should be based on the entire weekend, not just the race. :)

      2. @tommyb89 and @vettel1 I fully agree with you, I was really disappointed with the decisions that were made during the race but i still voted 8 because of the great action. Because let’s face it: the fight between Vettel and Webber was brilliant and intense

    2. Sometimes the rating is completely unjustified. Some people ride on certain emotions only while rating the race which is a shame!!

    3. That Vettel move only adds to the farce and not exciting at all. I was supposed to watch racing and I respect the strategy element for the team because this is also a team sport, but what was the exciting part of Vettel racing Webber if they weren’t racing on equal terms? What was exciting is the drama surrounding the team orders but I certainly would prefer it not to be part of the racing itself.

      1. I still fail to see how racing on unequal terms is a factor in this ‘was it, was it not the most exciting battle of the race?’. Webber and Vettel were on different strategies. Webber had to save fuel at the end of the race but Vettel, who probably saved fuel earlier, now did not. That’s all there is to it. Webber clearly turned his engine back up during the fight, otherwise Vettel would’ve just gone sailing past him. The only unequal part of their fight was Webber’s expectation that they’d hold position after the final stops, which was clearly not the case when Vettel kept coming at him, and in the end Webber’s honest expectation disappeared as well because he’s clearly not stupid, he was racing Vettel by then too. The only ‘expectation’ Webber had was afterwards when he tried to gain the moral high ground after the race, which unfortunately falls to pieces when you consider his opinion on Silverstone 2011.

      2. @frans – read F‘s comment below.

  6. Why are we only having the team orders debate with Mercedes and Red Bull, have we forgotten that Ferrari pitted Massa to favour Alonso in the first race of the season and the Frenchman at Lotus was running around in an inferior car to his team mate in Malaysia ? Its always team first in F1, equal team-mates is bad for the team, just ask McLaren.

    1. There was also Force India’s decision to keep Di Resta behind Sutil in the final laps at Australia.

  7. Keith, you ment the battle between Hulkenberg and Raikkonen I believe?

    Nice fight though , on the edge but fair enough:)

  8. This may seem far out but…

    When Rosberg was unable to make his overtakes of Hamilton stick (being faster around
    the lap as LH was saving tires but not on the straight where LH could take it back with DRS)
    he asked for LH to move over, which was not granted…

    So by NOT asking LH to move over, Mercedes didn’t actually use team orders, rather the opposite.

    1. @tvm – he was also told to maintain position though and slow down, but interesting perspective nonetheless. I did seem to notice though that when he did try and overtake earlier he always did so in the first DRS zone, which was stupid as Hamilton could then just come back at him!

      1. (@vettel1)

        I did seem to notice though that when he did try and overtake earlier he always did so in the first DRS zone, which was stupid as Hamilton could then just come back at him

        Yeah I found that quite perplexing myself, seem to lack some extremely basic common sense. But then again, having two DRS zones on two long straights seems silly in itself, so I don’t quite know what to make of that.

      2. Yeah noticed that to, and not once but twice actually, pretty dumb if you considering it was the last chance for Rosberg to pass, I don’t think he’ll make that mistake again ;-)

  9. I hated the race but I’m surprised with the score nonetheless, biggest problems in my view was the stupid use of DRS and the decadent ending but in hindsight the start was better than I remembered when I posted my vote.

  10. Melchior (@)
    7th April 2013, 23:51

    We wouldn’t have been aware of Red Bull team orders if Vettel did what he was told and held position.
    Having said that,i still believe the race was worth a lot more than 6.8 as there was a hell of a lot of exciting stuff to watch during the race.

  11. The reason that racers cannot race is not team orders but the current F1 regulations. If the tire and fuel supply was not limited we could have seen drivers race to the end instead of coasting. For Red Bull, Mercedes, and possibly others, orders were issued to ensure that their cars safely finished the race.

    While team orders were the avenue by which we ended up with this situation, the team orders were in place to deal with the current regulations.

    The result is that the 1st place getter apologised for being first, the guy in 2nd was mad for not being first and the 3rd placer claimed that he should have been fourth! What a farce.

    1. Nothing more need be said.

      1. Hmmm… not sure about that, although I do understand the frustration regarding the current regs.

        First of all, I think the teams are still learning, after 2 races, about their current cars and how they treat and are treated by the current tires.

        Secondly, it would seem to me the team orders came about more because both main teams in question, Red Bull and Merc, had two slightly different strategies going, and each team had one driver do better than the other with their particular strategy.

        I don’t think Red Bull HAD to order SV to hold station, but for whatever reason, perhaps fairness toward MW, they did. Perhaps they just didn’t want a repeat of some nasty clashes between the drivers in the past and didn’t want to squander a 1-2 finish. Same with Merc. They didn’t HAVE to do a team order to improve their race outcome points-wise, but they did, for reasons they haven’t entirely explained.

        Bottom line for me…within the current regs, like them or not regarding fuel and tires, both Red Bull and Merc managed to have one driver on their team with a pretty successful strategy, so they could have done it for both. It obviously wasn’t the regs that stopped one driver from each team having a more successful day long term, in terms of pace and fuel in the end. They could have let SV past and told MW sorry but his was the better strategy, we’ve learned, and we’ll do better for you next time, but for now we don’t want to be caught up by the Mercs. And Merc could have let NR go try to chase down the Red Bulls if they thought that was a possibility, or at least let him try. They didn’t, but I don’t think it was the regs that FORCED them to make team orders.

        1. I don’t think that we are disagreeing, I think that we are looking at different aspect of what happened in Malaysia.

          My comment was as a result of hearing a driver (I’m hitting myself for not remembering who) saying that with the current tires the drivers can’t drive flat out for the whole of the race like they used to in the past. Irrespective of who, I think we know that it is the case that drivers will run out of rubber or usable tires if they drive ten/tenths from P1 through to the chequered flag.

          Secondly, Ross Brawn stating that they did not expect the racing to be so competitive and therefore had to tell Lewis to conserve fuel.

          Everything you said (Robbie) is true and I agree with, but I still contend that it occurred as a result of the regulations.

          Would Seb have overtaken Mark if he hadn’t been in conservation mode?
          Would Nico have caught up with Lewis if he wasn’t about to run out of fuel?

          We will never know.

          As I see it, we can’t see 22 cars driving at ten/tenths for the duration of a race and that is a shame.

  12. So I will say something more,Engine and Gearbox saving is a major contribution to team orders in the third part of each race.All though reliability has improved since the drivers have been forced to drive well within the cars over all pace, a mechanical failure caused by what must now be considered ,excessive unnecessary racing between team mates ,is also a factor.

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