As Kris pointed out in the comments in the previous post, McLaren are currently under investigation by Formula One’s governing body – the FIA – for using team orders to decide the outcome of the Monaco Grand Prix. After claiming pole position on Saturday, Fernando Alonso went on to win the race with team mate Lewis Hamilton finishing a fine second after an intense battle of fastest lap sharing. From viewing the race, it was clear that both drivers had the pace to win, but the pair rarely came close to each other to attempt a pass on the tight and twisty track.
So, the big controversy? McLaren boss Ron Dennis admitted to the press after the race that he had told his drivers to lap the circuit conservatively once it was known that the pair were dominating their rivals. Once it was clear that Felipe Massa could do little to take the win from the Woking squad, both Alonso and Hamilton cooled down their inter-team battle. It is this that has caused upset in the British media. But why? Is it because they possibly feel this prevented golden-boy Lewis from winning?
Honestly, what a load of tosh!
Let’s take a look at what Dennis actually did, as team principal of McLaren Mercedes.
Both his drivers are commanding the race. While they didn’t exactly pull away from third placed driver Massa, there was a reasonable margin over the Ferrari driver. And with Monaco being notoriously difficult to pass on, the chances of Felipe snatching the victory were pretty slim. So Ron radios his drivers and tells them to calm down, the race is in hand.
Now, team orders have been banned since 2002 when Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello caused a somewhat embarrassing incident in Austria. By the time Rubens came to crossing the finishing line, neither driver knew who was supposed to win and they both backed off, much like what happens when two gentlemen meet each other head on in the street:
“No, after you.”
“No, please, after you.”
“Please, I insist, you go first.”
“Please, I insist, after you…”
So fair enough, team orders are banned. But I really don’t see how the Monaco Grand Prix was fixed in that manner. Team bosses tell their drivers to back off all the time. Why push the car unnecessarily? But of course, when it comes to Lewis and this maiden victory, it appears to be a different story.
The full facts of what is happening are currently unknown, other than that the FIA have issued a statement to the press explaining that the team is under investigation and that they are reviewing the evidence they have.
I am all for every single car racing each other, but I also understand the need to drive sensibly and the teams desire to maintain a strong finish.
I have just one question to ask the British media. Had Lewis passed Fernando into turn one yesterday, and gone on to take the win with Numero Uno finishing in second, would the FIA have still launched an investigation? Would the British media still be outraged at the lack of racing?
Feel free to comment away below, but I just ask for language to be kept clean. Thank you.
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