New debate over team orders in F1
Updated: Tuesday, 26 Mar 2013 11:11
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes there is a case to answer for team orders to again be banned following the furore that occurred during Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel's blatant decision to ignore a request from Horner to hold position when running second to team-mate Mark Webber and instead go gunning for the win has stirred up a hornet's nest.
It was in 2010 the FIA removed from the sporting regulations the rule that stated 'team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited'.
That was in the wake of Ferrari's coded call to Felipe Massa to hand over the lead of that year's Hungarian Grand Prix, and with it the win, to team-mate Fernando Alonso.
Given what occurred in Malaysia, it begs the question whether a team should be free to lay down the law, or whether team-mates should be free to race one another and give the fans a true spectacle rather than a manufactured outcome.
Asked about a potential return of a ban on team orders, Horner can see both sides of the argument as he said: "From a public point of view it's understandable.
"Seeing the two guys (Vettel and Webber) going wheel to wheel was fantastic racing, and they raced each other tremendously well.
"But then you are in conflict because at what point is it a team sport because our position as a team is to take maximum points?"
That was the case at Mercedes as Nico Rosberg obeyed a call from team principal Ross Brawn to hold position behind Lewis Hamilton when the duo were running fourth and third respectively.
That angered Rosberg who was faster than Hamilton in the final stint, and knew it could have been him on the podium and not the Briton.
For the sport of F1, plenty of headlines have been generated in the wake of what unfolded on Sunday, with plenty more likely to come on the approach to the next race in China on 14 April.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh feels damage has been done, although was mindful of being too critical bearing in mind his own team's philosophy.
Whitmarsh said: "No, I don't think the team order headlines are good for F1 personally.
"But it is very easy for me to get very pious and say 'well, we don't do it', and condemn others. I don't want to do that.
"Anyone can turn around to us and say 'In 2007 you threw away a championship. You could have favoured either driver and they would have been world champion', which everyone knows is true.
"It doesn't feel right, though, that we could have arbitrarily sat in an office in Woking and say 'Right, we're going to have Alonso as world champion', or 'We're going to have Lewis as world champion'.”