A Formula for Disaster: Why Ferrari's "Team Orders" Could Destroy F1

Rib Calhoun Jr.Contributor IJuly 26, 2010

HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 25:  Race winner Fernando Alonso (R) of Spain and Ferrari celebrates on the podium with second placed Felipe Massa (L) of Brazil and Ferrari following the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 25, 2010 in Hockenheim, Germany.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

A Ferrari won the German Grand Prix on Sunday. There was only one problem: the wrong one did.

And the "win" could cost F1 much more than its already failing reputation.

Felipe Massa appeared to allow his fellow Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonzo pass him during Sunday's race. FIA later confirmed this by penalizing Ferrari $100,000, after team orders were conveyed to Massa at the 49th lap of the race which saw Alonzo move to the front.

The monetary penalty is mere peanuts for Ferrari. But what is more indomitable is the fact that the race results were allowed to stand.

With F1 in quiet recovery from last year's near coup by major constructors, one might understand FIA not coming down severely on their sports' most popular constructor for fear of losing control of an already tense situation.

But that is precisely why they should.

Allowing Ferrari to keep the one-two podium not only does nothing to enforce the ban on "team rules" dictating outcomes of races, but also endangers the very existence of the sport.

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By doing nothing FIA is actually encouraging Ferrari—and other teams by proxy—to ignore the rules set out in F1. It also gives the appearance that it is Ferrari, not the FIA, who is really in charge and that alone could be disaster.

Multi-billion dollar companies never became so by playing on the losing end of an uneven field in anything; let alone F1. The perception that F1 is a "losing field" for their brands could spell the end of their relationships with the sport.

And that could cost them money.

Money, of course, is the real motivation in F1. If F1 itself is perceived as being nothing more than a prancing ground for Ferrari; that other manufacturers' money is doing nothing more than bolstering the Stallion's brand and not their own, they may simply do en masse what some other constructors already have done:


And for all the brand power of "Formula One," no one will watch a "one horse" dog and pony show bleeding constructors—and fans—for very long. For the want of an actual race, fans may finally seek their speed elsewhere.

For want of a return on their investment, manufacturers will either move onto other series or—as was nearly the case last year—start their own. And no one watching F1 means no sponsorship or manufacturers money for FIA.

But what is most surprising is that, for all this, they still allow Ferrari to run roughshod over the sport, as if the preceeding predictions could never come to pass and as if history itself had never existed. One mentions history because FIA should know better; There's precedent for all this. Which begs the question:

Has no one in Paris, France ever heard of CART?

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