Should Dirty, Advantageous Team-Play Be Allowed in F1?

Adam PooleAnalyst IOctober 18, 2008

F1 teams are historically known for bitterness between their No. 1 and No. 2 drivers.  We only have to look at McLaren last year. Lewis Hamilton was ahead of Fernando Alonso in the championship standings and therefore received the lion's share of the attention and support from the team.

As a result of the favouritism shown in McLaren, the bitterness between Alonso and Hamilton is still at a point where Alonso states he will help Massa win the championship should he have the chance.

The Chinese Grand-Prix was the most recent example of team-play, in which second-place man, Kimi Raikkonen, eased up over seven laps to allow championship contender, Felipe Massa, through to give him the extra points and a better shot at the title in two weeks time.

Surely the FIA is aware of exactly what was happening there; Raikkonen had been consistently quicker than Massa throughout the race and was matching Hamilton on pace at some points of the race.

Kimi Raikkonen spoke to the media last week about how he is ready to "take one for the team" and assist Felipe in winning the driver's title, but in a sport where, realistically, you are racing for yourself, should such team work be allowed?

Obviously, there isn't allowed to be any evidence of this sort of foul play, therefore radio messages from the pit-wall and between drivers would have contained "coded" wording so as not to cause alarm. 

The decision of Kimi Raikkonen to allow Massa to pass cost the Fin' almost four seconds, Kimi was easing up more and more and Felipe still couldn't find the pace to catch and ultimately pass, the amount of pace that Raikkonen lost and the amount of time he gave up allowing the pass would surely set alarm bells ringing.

Now, I'l be honest, as far as the rules go concerning this move, all I am aware of is that it has to be the decision of the driver and the team are not allowed to influence the driver either way. If what Kimi did today is legal and above board, my question would have to be, why is it?

The move is blatantly going to allow Massa to gain an advantage over Lewis going into the final race of the season, even if it is only by a point or two. This small amount of points could mean the difference between Hamilton having to finish third to win the title or him having to finish fifth to clinch it.

The FIA stewards have shown often enough this year that they will come down hard on any advantages claimed by dirty driving or poor tactics, so why is this sort of advantage allowed?

My question to you is should this sort of team-play be allowed or is it, indeed, wrong for the FIA to turn a blind eye?

I wonder how much McLaren would be penalised had they been in this position.