Bitterness (bit|ter|ness)Pronunciation: :/bɪtənəs/
- Sharpness of taste; lack of sweetness.
“The lime juice imparts a slight bitterness”
- Anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly; resentment
“The 2010 German Grand Prix”
Long term fans of the sport will have seen yesterday’s race before, specifically the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix. The callous nature by which Ferrari “guided” Fernando Alonso to victory at the Hockenheimring was a sharp reminder that team orders are alive and well in Formula 1; however we need to ask ourselves why we thought they ever went away.
There does not need to be a position swap for there to be team orders – team orders may also mean telling drivers to hold station (McLaren, Istanbul; although that was hardly successful); team orders may also imply driver’s getting equipment over their team mates (Red Bull, Silverstone).
The revelation of the order at Ferrari yesterday was also quite telling for several reasons; mainly it reduced Felipe Massa, Rob Smedley and their respective engineers subservient to Alonso’s half of the garage, but it was also interesting that FOM chose to broadcast it. Those that remember the debacle of Austria 2002 will also recall that pit reporter Ted Kravitz spoke of little notes of paper being passed around the Ferrari pitwall and of buttons being pressed in an ominous fashion, unlike yesterday. On lap 48, the order was loud and clear, even if it was not “direct.” Unlike eight years ago, the viewer could only assume what the message was, whereas yesterday we were silent witnesses to the discussion – partners in our own deception.
On the back of a rather dull race – and for the most part, this was the first dud Grand Prix after several attempts – FOM managed to drum up the perfect controversy with the perfect protagonists.
At the forefront are Ferrari; with all their passion and history leaning over a volatile and inconsistent former-World Champion and a deeply respected Brazilian charger, leading the Grand Prix with grace and skill, exactly one year after an accident that very nearly killed him.
Ferrari have shown bursts of speed in the last few races, but arrogance and silly mistakes had left them adrift of both McLaren’s and Red Bull’s in both the Driver’s and Constructor’s Championships, but not so far adrift that the titles had evaporated from their grasp. Also, it is questionable that Alonso was far enough ahead of Massa to warrant such favouritism – not this early at least.
There will always be team orders – they are a sad part of the sport and an unlikeable relic of the days when gentlemen drivers would hand over their car’s to a team’s lead; but what happened yesterday was far from gentlemanly and was as far removed from dignified as humanly possible.
Until the sport can come up with a way to realistically quash team orders and let drivers race for the good of the fans, then we will simply see this strategy play a part again and again and the sport will continue to receive very public black eyes as a result.