How Effective Are Team Orders In F1 Grand Prix Races?

Fifteen laps till the end of the Malaysian Grand Prix and Mark Webber has a few seconds on team mate Sebastian Vettel. After the team told Vettel to stay behind Webber till the end of the race, he decided to ignore the call and overtake Webber who had reduced his engine mapping to reserve the engine and tyres. Back in 3rd and 4th, Rosberg had been told my Ross Brawn to back of Hamilton who was in a fuel saving map due to the aggressively low amount of fuel Mercedes decided to put in the Brit's car before the race One team obeyed their team orders, the other did not. Are team orders really effective?


We have to remember that the point of team orders is ultimately to make sure the team gains the most amount of points possible for each driver. This could mean a team order to stop the drivers racing to guarantee points or to make a driver aiming for the driver's constructors overtake their fellow team mate.



In the case of the Malaysian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel was strictly told not to overtake Mark Webber. However, Vettel ignored these warnings and went ahead in challenging for the win putting both Mark Webber and Red Bull into a situation of unease. Christian Horner described Vettel's actions to him on the radio as 'silly' with a 'some explaining to do' after the race. 

In the end, Vettel apologised but he still maintains the victory Webber deserved. The problem arises because of the conflicting interests of Vettel. There is a part of him that wants to win the constructors championship with Webber for Red Bull Racing. However, there is a bigger part to him that wants the driver's championship. He chose wrong in the eyes of the team.

This left the post-race interviews extremely awkward but, to the F1 fan, exciting to see the reaction and emotions of the racers. Webber describes how he will always be seen as the second driver to Vettel.


"In the end Seb made his own decisions today and will have protection as usual and that’s the way it goes"

The team orders controversy did not end with Nico Rosberg being told to hold back from Lewis Hamilton in 3rd who was suffering with low fuel levels even though Rosberg was the quicker car and could have possibly challenged the Red Bulls. Rosberg did obey the team orders with him giving words of warning to the Mercedes pit lane:

"Remember this"

This left Hamilton, who received a podium position, very subdued at the end who felt it should have been Rosberg who should have got the 3rd spot. With Hamilton and Rosberg being friends all the way back to do the days of go-karting with each other  their friendship should maintain strong - unlike that of Red Bull Racing which has been shattered by Vettel.

Once the F1 cars are out on the grid, ultimately  the team has no power. They can only strongly guide the driver to do what they want. However, the drivers must know that disobeying team orders will mean whatever happens next will be their consequence, their fault. The bad press and brand awareness Red Bull Racing are getting is because of Vettel's actions.

Although it left not much overtaking at the end of the race, post-race created much exciting tension: especially before the drivers walked to the podium and went to the hospitality error where Webber, at first, refused to go into the same room as Vettel. When they did talk, Adrian Newey who was receiving the trophy for the team was left in the middle of what could have been a sever argument.