Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2021

Team orders are bad for F1 even when they are logical – Vettel

2021 Mexico City Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel says his former team Red Bull should allow Sergio Perez to win his home race this weekend if he has the chance.

Perez could become the first Mexican driver to win their home event on Sunday. However as he is no longer in contention for the championship Red Bull may instruct him to let team mate Max Verstappen past if the opportunity arises.

Vettel, who famously disobeyed an instruction from Red Bull in the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix, said he is “not a fan of team orders.”

“There’s two different team orders,” he explained. “There’s the team order that you give way and you get it back in the same race if you are on different strategies and then there’s obviously the team order where clearly one has to get out of the way to make the other one score more points.

“Now, even if maybe the situation is logically very easy to explain, I still think it’s bad and I would be in favour of not having any team orders ever. I think it’s just [that] nobody likes it.”

Perez has seldom led Verstappen on-track this year, and Vettel believes he should be allowed to stay ahead if he gets there on merit. “If Checo happens to be ahead then Checo should stay ahead,” said Vettel.

However he acknowledged Verstappen’s championship rival Lewis Hamilton has benefited from his team mate Valtteri Bottas following team orders on previous occasions. Bottas, who will leave Mercedes at the end of the season, said he is prepared to help Hamilton if the opportunity arises.

“Realistically I’m not in the championship battle anymore and I’m a team player,” he said. “For me it would be important that, as a team, we could get the fifth constructors title together in a row, that will be already quite a big achievement.

“I want to get as many points as I want and if there will be an opportunity in a reasonable way to help Lewis in the fight, obviously, as his team mate, I’ll do it. So I think that’s the mindset and approach, really. So it’s not that different to some races ago.”

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Dieter Rencken
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56 comments on “Team orders are bad for F1 even when they are logical – Vettel”

  1. The forgets the third type of team order, the one which is used most often, and the one he also benefited from many times: give the superior strategy to one driver and give the other driver a strategy which supports that first driver.

    1. True, the slightly more subtle team order.

      I don’t mind team orders, if Redbull didn’t take a win from Perez because it was his home grand prix and they lost the WDC because of it I’d feel like I wasn’t watching a sport. It’s a team sport and part of the enjoyment for me is team mate strategies.

  2. Team orders are unavoidable when teams have 2 cars on track.

  3. Multi 21 Seb! Multi 21!

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      5th November 2021, 8:35

      Beat me to it

    2. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
      5th November 2021, 9:44

      lol, me too

    3. That is how tiresome F1 can be: the guy benefit from team orders that robbed Leclerc podia in his first season, now says team orders are bad.

      1. Seb is like 2 different ppl. This is the rational polite Seb, the other one that drives the car will happily use team orders.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          5th November 2021, 12:44

          @lejimster82 – Let’s be fair though – there’s very few F1 Champions that this statement wouldn’t apply to. They all talk about what is good and bad in the sport but they are all ruthless when it comes to winning at any cost. The only exceptions in the last 20 years are Button (who only won because Brawn found a huge loophole in the rules) and Kimi (who doesn’t care and just wants to win however it happens).

          1. Raikkonen won the tItle because of subtle team orders (favourable strategy over Massa). ThIs was in combination with McLaren not being able to order Alonso to fall behind Hamilton, and sacrifice any slim chances of his own title i.e last lap Ferrari failure or post race dq/penalty.

      2. When did Leclerc get robbed of a podium? Vettel got robbed off qualifying in Monza because of Leclerc disobeying team orders, exactly a weekend after Vettel obeyed team orders and held Lewis back which is the only reason Leclerc won his first race.

    4. He ignored Multi 21, wrong example.
      And he ignored it because Webber wasn’t a team player at the Brazilian GP the season before.

      1. And Webber had admittedly ignored team orders before as well, see Silverstone 2011:

        He just couldn’t get the job done. Yet everyone remembers “Multi21”, barely anyone remembers this.

        1. It’s not that they don’t remember, they choose to ignore it since facts don’t fit their narrative.

        2. And this is what I love about team orders. A team can give them, and we get to see who accepts them.

          “We were racing. I was faster. I overtook him. I won.”

          Redbull should instruct the switch. In this scenario, Perez should refuse. And Max should understand.

      2. On so many occasion they have told Webber to maintain his position behind Vettel

  4. There is a 0 % chance of Red Bull allowing Perez to win the race, if Verstappen is P2. And neither should they. Formula One is a team sport and Perez is not fighting for the drivers’ championship anymore.

    1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
      5th November 2021, 9:46

      A big factor for me is whether Perez is just ordered to let Verstappen past, or whether he seems to be part of that decision. I actually think that today’s Perez would decide in favour of the team himself. (Although the fact that this is his home race might change that entirely.)

    2. It really depends on if the position switch can safely be done without losing points to Mercedes. We are all obsessed about this question, but Checo needs to be driving one of the best weekends of his life to get into that position first.

      1. @lejimster82

        “but Checo needs to be driving one of the best weekends of his life to get into that position first.”

        Yeah well said, and in that regard if he does then doesn’t he deserve the win?

        So much is simply going to depend on how the chips fall on Sunday. And/or of course what RBR have discussed about all the various potential scenarios ahead of time.

  5. It’s exasperating how Mercedes have spent years ruining races with team orders, gifting LH easy wins at the expense of Bottas, and everyone just accepts it.

    Meanwhile, Red Bull have taken flack from all quarters this week for team orders they haven’t even made yet!

    1. They haven’t taken any flack neither they got criticed for anything. Simply, this is the best chance Sergio Perez would ever get to winning a home grand prix and people are speculating/fantasizing about what would happen.

  6. Team orders are rubbish, and they have infected F1 so deep that they are irremovable.
    Worse than that – people actually want them, rather than just begrudgingly accepting them as a reality.

    In this case, if Red Bull were 1-2 they would have absolutely no reason (as a team) to swap their drivers around. They would earn the exact same WCC points regardless of their order.
    And if the WDC actually meant anything in F1, that would automatically outlaw any team orders.

    But then, F1 and their sporting regulations…. Nothing else in the universe is as flexible.
    In F1, money (through business and marketing) is far more important than sport.

    1. Problem with that is that when Hamilton beats Verstappen and Red Bull wins WCC, nobody will see giant billboards with both Perez and Verstappen reading “Red Bull 2021 WCC champions!”. There will be billboards with Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes reading “Mercedes and World champion 2021 Lewis Hamilton. A winning combination”. In your scenario they would take WCC and possibly give away WDC. In the swap scenario they woud still get WCC AND get the WDC with Verstappen.

      1. But that’s my point – the WDC only matters to the teams for marketing purposes.

        If the WDC was the primary concern (as it is for many viewers) then there could be no legal way for the team to orchestrate swapping their drivers around without fiddling with their pit strategy or faking a technical issue.

        1. S Just to be clear and realistic, in almost all Championships won in F1 the WDC driver needed the WCC car in order to win. The odd time that hasn’t happened, the WDC winner had a very very strong second place car in the WCC. The two go hand in hand so it makes no sense for you to say the WDC only matters for marketing purposes. I think you have no leg to stand on with your suggestion of ‘legal way.’ I think that the WDC and WCC go hand in hand and overwhelmingly (with the odd exception sure) (see Ferrari’s admitted one-rooster rule at times) both drivers start out on a team with a fair and equal shot at the title, and when it simply doesn’t work out for one driver over another it is a no brainer that the one driver without the shot not take points away from the one driver that does have the shot. I’m not sure what you’re on about with ‘legal way.’

          1. If the drivers champion (almost) always has the fastest car, have F1 really crowned a true drivers champion?
            Or merely a ‘best driver in the fastest team’ champion?
            Is that satisfying to you?

            Legal – meaning within the rules….

            “Appendix M to the International Sporting Code governs “manipulation of competitions” which it describes as “an arrangement, act or intentional omission aimed at improperly altering the result or running of a competition in order to remove all or part of the unpredictable nature of said competition, aiming to obtain an undue advantage for oneself or others.”

            To quote this very site from an article a couple of weeks ago.

            How is it possible to permit this behaviour in a Drivers Championship? Or even a teams championship, for that matter?
            As I said above – regulations are very flexible with F1 in particular.

          2. S Yes they have crowned a true drivers champion for it is not their fault that the team built him a dominant car. That just sometimes happens. Sometimes it is easier for a Champion than others.

            To answer your question based on the regulation you cite, it would simply not be seen as manipulation of the nature this rule intends, which would damage the reputation of F1, when in the situation we are talking about SP is not in the Championship fight and everyone knows it, and if indeed he were to cede to Max, that would be understood as team play, not something that would put the sport into disrepute as I believe you are talking about.

            It is behaviour such as what happened in Austria 02 that I think would be more fitting to the argument you are trying to make. And of course yes, if SP were about to win but slow down and pull over with meters to go to let Max by, like Reubens did for MS in Austria 02, that would be too blatant and not looked upon favourably by F1.

            As I think of it too, wasn’t that reg quoted a couple of weeks ago when the 97 Championship was being discussed, particularly when it came to the unproven suspicion that theoretically Williams and McLaren had an agreement ahead of Jerez that Mac not get in JV’s way? That would have been inter-team collusion as opposed to intra-team discussions.

            Back to the point, there’s a time when something could be seen as blatant manipulation that could theoretically embarrass F1 as a sport, and those are rare, and then there’s the times when it is simply mathematically prudent for a team to take a certain decision, and when everyone knows it within and without F1, there is no damage to F1’s reputation and it is seen more as a no-brainer.

          3. Come on, @robbie. You don’t really believe that the WDC ‘winner’ is always the best driver of the entire year, do you?
            Suppose Gasly was the one who extracted the most from themselves, their team and their circumstances over the season. The only reason he isn’t the champion is because he’s in the wrong car.
            But Hamilton drove the fastest car all year, even though he made a bunch of driving errors he has more points so he is the champion.
            Deserving champion? Not in my book.

            The quote was from the DTM Final article – as they had just engineered a result in exactly the same way that F1 teams do regularly.

            IMO, any time a team manipulates their performance to assist one driver over another is unacceptable in something that is supposedly a sport.
            Maths do not enter the equation – as every result should be the best possible for every participant.
            If it is deemed to be acceptable, then the WDC is meaningless.

    2. S I disagree. Team orders are sometimes rubbish and sometimes a no brainer. Imho most people don’t actually want them, unless they favour their favourite driver of course, but otherwise begrudgingly accept them as reality. If RBR were 1-2 one could argue there is no reason not to swap them around, as it would make no difference in the WCC but a huge difference in the WDC for Max. The WDC does mean something which is why it is often a no brainer for the one driver with no WDC shot as the season winds down, to not take points away from the driver on the team that does have the shot. But then for me I have always thought that if it comes to that point in the season, the driver without the shot should instinctively know, and not need an order to cede points to his WDC-potential teammate whenever possible.

      1. Team orders are only a no-brainer when you disregard the integrity of the WDC, @robbie.
        In a strictly WDC sense, every driver is competing with every other driver for championship position, regardless of which car they drive or who pays them.

        And yes, I would prefer if F1 was more like Prost/Senna in 1988 or even Hamilton/Rosberg in 2016.
        Who doesn’t look back on those two seasons with a sense that they were seeing a real sporting competition?
        It gets so boring when the pit wall controls every little aspect of what is supposed to be a sport. If it’s a team sport, then drop the WDC completely and stop awarding drivers individual points. It means nothing.

        1. S but your argument makes no sense. It is a team sport and at the beginning of a season both drivers are given a fair shot at the title, obviously car dependent and all that. Both are to accumulate points towards the Constructors title too. Yes you are right that “every driver is competing with every other driver for Championship position.” And of course you are right that the best Championships are the ones that come down to the last race, and perhaps even moreso when it is two teammates, but that is pretty rare, or at least takes for them to have dominant cars throughout the season as is the case in the two seasons you cite.

          I still don’t understand your point about dropping the WDC completely if it’s a team sport. We have seen historically that one driver usually does better on a team than another throughout a season, the exceptions being as we have discussed when the car is utterly dominant and the whole season becomes a two teammate Championship fight. The reality is that more often than not one driver prevails over another on a team, at which point, because it is a team, it becomes a no brainer that the lesser pointed driver, especially when he no longer has a realistic mathematical shot at the title, not take points away from the one that does. If two teammates are not in the title fight at all of course it makes no sense to order one ahead of the other, but when it is for the title, it is a no brainer.

          I don’t know why you are this insistent given that the lesser pointed driver would agree with me (et al) that it is incumbent on him to cede points to his teammate if at all possible, for the good of the team, or at a bare minimum not get in his way. To not do so would be incredibly selfish and counter-productive to the team goal. And that’s even when, as you say, every driver is competing with every other driver for championship position. The title winning positions are what need to prevail as the season winds down and the math now dictates things.

          So, when I am absolutely fine with team orders is generally when they shouldn’t be needed at all, which is when the one driver with no longer a realistic shot not keep his teammate that has the shot from maximizing his points as the season winds down. I have a harder time accepting team orders when they are made near the start of a season when there is still so much to play for…so many points available. And to the extreme, I struggled greatly with MS’s teammates being literally under contract to not compete. There you had a case of dominant cars but the one teammate not allowed to take points away from MS by contract from race one of the seasons. That to me was terrible. I hold MS’s titles in little regard for needing a contracted subservient teammate to win them, and for he and Ferrari robbing us of true racing akin to the examples you gave of 1988 and 2016, when they had dominant cars in 2000-2004.

          1. Mmmm, I watched those seasons and while I don’t remember everything, I’m pretty sure barrichello took plenty of points from schumacher, there’s been races he won where schumacher got 2nd, was he not respecting the contract then? I simply don’t believe he had to let schumacher fast, I just believe barrichello was a bottas-like driver who had no business challenging schumacher in the same car.

          2. Your inability (or unwillingness) to see my point is confusing, @robbie.
            Yes F1 is a team sport, but it is ALSO an individual one. There’s a WCC for the teams, and there’s a WDC for the drivers. One unavoidably and necessarily impacts the integrity of the other.
            I’m truly surprised if you really can’t see what I’m saying – of course you are free to disagree, but that doesn’t seem to be the issue.

            I wan’t referring to those two championships because they came down to the final race/s – I chose them specifically because both championship contenders were in the same car, and they were fully going at it without being managed and/or hamstrung by the team. I thought that would have been obvious given the context of this article and discussion.
            If the WDC were real, teams would have no reason not to put two alpha’s in their cars, rather than what we usually see where there is an alpha and a beta. A Bottas for Hamilton, a Barrichello for Schumacher… Intentionally a team player, generally slower or less consistent and willing to move aside when instructed to do so.
            As I say – if the team telling a driver to deliberately slow down to let a competitor pass isn’t manipulation of a sporting contest, then nothing is. Likewise intentionally giving one an inferior strategy for the same purpose – though at least that can be argued to be a ‘miscalculation.’

  7. I think the issue with banning team orders was the teams simply invented a series of code words to mask them.

    So I personally think they can’t be banished in any meaningful form.

    Sadly, I think we have to accept that teams are minded to win at almost any cost so we will have situations that we find unpalatable from a sporting spectacle perspective.

    1. I agree. I do not think team orders should be banned but when teams use it in an unsporting manner they should be mocked relentlessly.

  8. I find it EXTREMELY funny that journalists are pushing these questions based on nothing. How often have we seen Perez ahead of Verstappen this year?

    Why even ask something about a situation that will only happen if the stars align? it’s only because it’s Perez’s home race… but there’s no suggestion at all that he’ll be in such position.

    1. @fer-no65 However SP has just come off of two podium finishes, he is Mexican, no Mexican has won his home race, he’s in a WDC/WCC car which he has never had before, and stranger things have happened. I don’t see why it isn’t at least a talking point with respect to team orders. Wouldn’t it be more surprising, or ‘laughable’ as you imply, if nobody connected these factors together at all?

  9. I see a 6 second pit stop in Perez’s future.

    1. That is a sort of team order, true, however happens to verstappen too (monza).

  10. What if Russell is in front of Lewis. Does he get a call?

    1. Everyone knows the answer to that question.
      But it wouldn’t bring F1 into disrepute…. It isn’t even unsporting…. Apparently.

      It is if it involves Tsunoda, though… So we’ve heard recently.

    2. Or, if LH in his Mercedes was being held up by even an uncooperative GR in his Williams for very long, does LH deserve the spot;) Of course GR has already had his Mercedes ‘global obligation’ explained to him by TW, so they’ve been proactive in that regard, so a call shouldn’t be necessary;) Plus there’s GR not wanting to ruffle anyone’s feathers at Mercedes ahead of going there. Hopefully he’ll wait until he’s in the same car as LH, lol.

  11. The solution to no team orders, equal prize money

  12. petebaldwin (@)
    5th November 2021, 12:19

    Team orders are bad for fans but F1 is a team sport so they will always be a part of it. If you’re a functioning part of a team, you don’t just look after yourself and when your team mate is fighting for a title and you aren’t, your job is to help them.

    If we somehow end up in a situation where Perez is ahead of Max, it’ll be tough for him to give up a win but it’s a necessity. The same would apply to Bottas if we were racing in Finland this weekend (or any other driver on the grid if their team mate was in the title fight and they weren’t).

    1. @petebaldwin You’re most likely right, but I sure do wonder if indeed SP was in for the win, with Max P2, and somehow LH was much further down (not likely) then I do wonder if there might be a ton of good will and a bit of a gamble keeping the seven points from Max for the overall good of the team and Checo for the rest of this season and for next when they still need him to be up there more on average. No question if they ‘let’ Checo have the win it would by a real feather in RBR’s cap, and really rub anti-RBRers who love to call them a one-rooster team the wrong way.

      1. You can’t really sacrifice those 7 points in my opinion, you know how hamilton lucky has been and unless you’re mathematically sure you have enough you might need them.

  13. Why is this such a theme suddenly?

    Perez finishes ahead of Verstappen when both finished: 0 (zero).
    Verstappen led more than half all available laps. I can’t find the stat, but I believe he is in front of Perez 95% of the time (counting for different pit strategies).

    If Perez finds himself in front of Verstappen on a track where Verstappen is very strong (and Perez not so much), there had to be something bad happening to Verstappen earlier in the race and the team order is to restore the natural order.

    1. You’re not wrong, but…SP has had two third places in the last two races…he is Mexican…no Mexican has won his home race…he is in a WDC/WCC capable car for the first time in his career…

      I think it would be more surprising if this wasn’t brought up as a theme for this particular race given the aspects I have pointed out.

  14. I’ve never had any issue with team orders because for me they are a part of the sport & have been going back to the very start & not just in F1 but every category.

    TBH I had a bigger issue with the attempts to ban/restrict them than I did with the team orders themselves because the ‘ban’ created far more farcical situation where we all knew team orders were still happening but teams/drivers had to sort of dance round them & insist they weren’t which just made everyone involved look stupid.

    If I were on the pit wall running a team i’d use them without thinking about it not just if I had a driver fighting for a WDC but also if my 2 drivers were on different strategies or if the driver behind looked like the faster of the 2 with a better chance of moving forward. It’s my duty to get the best result for the team and/or to maximise the chance for one of my drivers to win the championship. If you don’t act & score a poorer result than you could have or fail to win the championship then I would have failed my team.

    1. @stefmeister Yeah for sure, wasn’t the ban a result of Austria 02? Or it might have been when Massa got the call on FA’s behalf? Either way yes they backed off on that ban because they knew teams would just code it any number of ways. The whole point from F1 was ‘please folks, just don’t make it so blatant that it makes the sport look silly.’

      1. They said fernando is faster than you, so I believe they removed it at that point cause they understood people could code them any way.

  15. @robbie no? why would they? asking about something that has not happened yet. It’s not like Perez has made way to Verstappen in such position before…

    Why anticipate such story? and what are Red Bull going to answer anyway? once that moment arrives, a decision will be made and no one needs these questions from previous days to judge anything. It’s not that it gives us any background or anything…

    1. @fer-no65 I think it’s a valid topic and sure enough Horner has been asked and his answer is that yes they would pull the win from SP if they had to, but it would be an extremely tough decision.

  16. Somewhat surprised to see it as a topic of conversation, to be honest.

    1) Perez has not yet been able to match Verstappen in a race. It is unlikely, he will drive in front of his team leader for more than a couple of laps during pitstops. He came somewhat close in Baku, but that was as good as it got.
    2) it has ver6 rarely happened that a team mate surrendered victory to benefit a championship fight. Bottas did it once, a couple of years ago. For another example, we already need to go back to Massa and Alonso in 2010, Massa to Raikkonen in Brazil 2007, Barrichello in Austria 2002 and Salo in Germany 1999,
    Mostly the team leader is either too strong anyway, or the team just executes a sub par strategy, if really necessary,
    3) Whenever any of the above happened, only Germany 2010 and especially Austria 2002 caused an outrage,

    Not worth a topic, I would say…

    And yet… yet I am responding…

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