Team Orders: Sauber, Williams and the FIA…what would you do?

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Ferrari escaped further punishment in last weeks World Motor Sport Council hearing in which they were found to have issued team orders, which are banned in F1, and were perhaps prompted to do so by the FIA’s lack of governance and policing of the rule. There were letters written by Williams F1 and Sauber supporting no further action against Ferrari and for a full review of the regulation that has been in place since Ferrari’s 2002 Austrian Grand Prix charade.

According to Sauber‘s managing director, Monisha Kaltenborn, the team offered support for a review of the team orders ban in F1 and not Ferrari although they are currently an engine customer of Ferrari’s. It certainly didn’t take anyone very long to suggest that notion but the Williams F1 support was a bit more difficult to explain. Some have offered a future Williams F1 / Ferrari engine supply deal which seems a bit daft as Williams have always been the contrary party to Ferrari’s bold positions of late.

So we can dismiss Sauber as carrying water for Ferrari but what can we say of Williams F1? Or does Sauber and Williams F1 have a point that has litle to do with Ferrari’s further punishment or the penalty given of $100,000? It seems Sauber wants a clarification:

“We certainly discussed the matter, because it was a matter that was debated in the paddock, and we felt that it could be seen as an opportunity to give an impetus to the FIA to review this rule and to look at its interpretation, see if it’s still correct, and maybe clarify it,” she said.

“So that was the main intention, and we felt that with this question being raised like this, we would have the opportunity to do so.

“We also did not write it in name or in favour of Ferrari. We wrote it as an interested party to the whole matter, because it is a matter that we feel concerns us all.”

I’m willing to give Sauber the benefit of the doubt and suggest that their current engine supply arrangement has little to do with their letter of support for a review. I suggest that Sauber, like Williams F1, are a team who believes the rule is long in the tooth and needs a serious inspection to understand its relevance in today’s F1. They’re not alone in this as F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has suggested the same.

So let’s unpack this, if Sauber, Williams F1, Ecclestone and others want a review and revamped regulation; what should it be? What should the FIA do about Team Orders? Should there be no rule against them at all? Should they remained banned or is there a compromise that allows teams some flexibility without robbing fans of, what they argue, is honest racing? What are your thoughts on the situation? Give us your opinion on what should happen to the regulation 39.1.


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