Nigel Roebuck

REFLECTIONS

  • Why Schumacher should have been banned
  • It’s time to change the rule on team orders
  • Watching the Edmonton IndyCar race on TV, I was more than a touch nonplussed when Hélio Castroneves was given a penalty in the late laps for allegedly blocking his Penske team-mate Will Power immediately after a restart. This cost Castroneves the race, and afterwards he freely advised officials of his disappointment. Not to put too fine a point on it, he was fighting mad, and his histrionics further earned him a substantial fine and ‘probation’ for the rest of this season.

    Castroneves has long been renowned for theatrical behaviour, so his response was not unexpected, but on this occasion I had sympathy for him. For some time there has been in Indycar racing a complete ban on blocking, introduced at a time when virtually all the races were run on ovals, but no matter how many times I watched this moment of supposed controversy at the Edmonton airport track I could not see that Castroneves did anything that warranted sanction. All he did, it seemed to me, was hold his line on the approach to a turn, and oblige Power to go the long way round. Where lies the crime in that?

    A week later, at the Hungaroring, we went from one extreme to the other, when Michael Schumacher quite deliberately moved over on Rubens Barrichello, ushering him to within an inch or two of the pitwall at maximum speed.

    The stewards, advised on this occasion by Derek Warwick, later announced that Schumacher would be penalised 10 grid positions at the next race, Spa. To most observers, that didn’t constitute much of a punishment (particularly in the context of Schumacher’s qualifying performances so far this year), for what Jackie Stewart called, “The most dangerous move that I can recall seeing in all my time in motor racing – worse even than what Senna did to Prost at Suzuka in 1990…”

    Two years earlier than that, in the Portuguese Grand Prix of 1988, Senna nudged the overtaking Prost towards the pitwall at 190mph, and at the time we were all scandalised, for the sometimes homicidal driving of Giuseppe Farina was long forgotten, and in the modern era we had seen nothing like this.

    Senna may have been a genius, but he was also consummately ruthless on the track, particularly towards Prost, his nemesis. The move on Alain that day in Estoril went unpunished, and thus began a sea change in the way motor racing was conducted. What had once been described by Stirling Moss and his generation as “dirty driving” now became increasingly the norm, and to venture a word like ‘sportsmanship’ in the 21st century is to invite derision.

    It was no more than inevitable that this should happen, for young drivers invariably ape their peers. “I think Ayrton was like that from the start of his Formula 1 career,” says Damon Hill, “and, for all I admired him, I think his approach was responsible for a fundamental shift in the ethics of the sport.

    “Back in 1985, when he was the coming superstar in F1, I was in Formula Ford, and you could see that people were trying to be Ayrton Senna – they were using terrorist tactics on the track. The views that I had, that I’d gleaned from being around my dad and people like him, I soon had to abandon - I mean, you realised that nothing was going to be done when a guy rammed you off the track. It would go to the stewards afterwards, and you’d say, ‘That was unfair’, and they’d say, ‘Oh well, that’s motor racing’. So of course you said to yourself, ‘Well, if that’s the way people see motor racing these days, then I have to adopt the same sort of tactics.’”

    I once asked the late Phil Hill what he made of the driving practices of the modern era. “In my time,” he said, “there was one guy with a reputation for… imprudence, and he came to use that as a weapon to scare other drivers out of the way. I thought that was evil.

    “Why do some of them drive the way they do today? Well, because they can get away with it, I guess. They don’t get punished, and usually these days they don’t get hurt. That’s the only possible explanation. Doing that sort of stuff in my day was just unthinkable – for one thing, we believed certain tactics were unacceptable anyway, and for another, the potential consequences were terrible. I know it sounds corny, but those were the facts. If you got upside down, usually you were dead…”

    No driver followed Senna’s example more adeptly, more absolutely, than Schumacher. It’s amusing – not to say ironic – now to recall Michael’s outrage, at Interlagos in 1992, at the moves Ayrton had pulled to keep him behind. “I don’t know what game he was playing,” he said, “but it wasn’t a nice one. For a three-time World Champion, it’s not necessary to do something like that.” In very short order, Schumacher would come to see the short-term benefits of ‘doing something like that’. And act upon it.

    Two years later, after all, he drove his damaged Benetton into Hill’s Williams at Adelaide, thereby settling the World Championship in his favour, and in similar circumstances, at Jerez in 1997, tried – unsuccessfully this time – to take out Jacques Villeneuve. Such as Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Fernando Alonso – and even his own kid brother Ralf – can tell you horror stories of what presuming to overtake Schumacher can lead to. In Martin Whitmarsh’s office sits the front wing endplate, complete with tyre marks, from Mika Häkkinen’s McLaren, legacy of Schumacher’s 190mph chop at Spa in 2000. And down the years Michael’s behaviour invariably went unpunished, the FIA and its stewards passing up endless opportunities to put a marker down, just as they had with Senna.

    Early this year I talked with Juan Pablo Montoya about Schumacher’s imminent return to F1 after three years away. Would the stewards – perhaps tougher now than in Michael’s earlier career – take a harder line with him?

    Montoya laughed. “I doubt it,” he said. “With him it’s different, isn’t it? It always was, and I’d be surprised if it changed…”

    Immediately before the incident at the Hungaroring Barrichello – for five years Schumacher’s loyal team-mate at Ferrari – radioed the Williams pit to say that Michael, whom he was trying to overtake for 10th place, was up to his old tricks, leaving tempting gaps for Rubens, then chopping across once he was into them, obliging him to lift.

    Seconds later Schumacher made a mistake at the last corner, so that Barrichello had a good run on him down the pit straight. Schumacher took up a position in the middle of the track, and could be plainly seen looking left-right in his mirrors to see which way Barrichello would go. Rubens went right, to give himself the inside line into the next corner, whereupon Michael immediately did the same, edging his rival ever closer to the pitwall – suggesting, in other words, that he back off.

    Barrichello bravely declined to lift, even though in the end he was literally skimming the wall. If another driver had been gunning it out of pitlane at that moment – or if the Williams and Mercedes had made contact - it would have been like a plane crash. Apart from anything else, one was struck again by Schumacher’s apparently absolute lack of imagination – does it never cross his mind on these occasions that he, too, might be at risk?

    Afterwards Barrichello was scathing about what had happened, but Schumacher icily suggested he was a whinger: “This is Formula 1,” he said. “Everyone knows I don’t give presents…”

    Even by his own standards, the arrogance was breathtakingly glib and contemptible. Apologists for Schumacher, already working overtime this season – ‘It’s not him, it’s the car…’ – did their best to soften the whole thing, suggesting that what Michael had done was merely ‘hard racing’.

    In my eyes, anyone who saw that as no more than ‘hard racing’ is either blind or imbecilic. ‘Hard racing’ was what Gilles Villeneuve used to do. “Gilles was a giant of a racing driver,” as Keke Rosberg said, “because, although he was the toughest bastard I ever raced against, he was always totally fair.”

    In Hungary the apologists suggested that of course Schumacher hadn’t intended to endanger Barrichello, but that didn’t wash with Stewart, the driver who did more than any other to improve safety in the sport.

    “I heard what Norbert Haug had to say afterwards, defending Schumacher,” said Jackie, “and I have to say I thought he looked very uncomfortable as he was doing it.

    “Just as when Senna pushed Prost off the road in Japan, what Schumacher did to Barrichello was clearly premeditated – and I have to say that I really take my hat off to Rubens for staying with it. As shocked as I was by what I was seeing, I was extremely impressed that he had the courage to go through with it. Even as it was happening, there was a time when he could have backed off, but then there came a point when he was too far into it, when he couldn’t have got out of it. It was an absolutely shocking display, and I am so sorry that it happened, because it reflects so badly on the sport. And as for the way Michael justified it afterwards… ‘Everyone knows I’m not easy to pass…’, as if to say, ‘Let that be a lesson to you…’ Then he suggested that Rubens was a whinger –terrible! Presumably, later on someone then talked to him, to get him to make the apology the following day.

    “If you make a mistake, you must expect - and accept – that it’s going to cost you, that you can’t just chop across the guy trying to pass you. It’s too late for Schumacher to learn such a thing, but perhaps not for those clearly influenced by him, like Vettel. I think the liberties that are now taken by some drivers are beyond what’s acceptable, and the penalty for Schumacher should have been much more severe than a 10-place drop at the next race, no question about it.”

    To my mind, Schumacher should have been banned from at least one Grand Prix. At Estoril in 1989 Nigel Mansell overshot his pit, and then reversed his Ferrari back into it. Against the rules, of course, but there was no question of any drive-through penalty, or anything of the kind – no, no, the stewards informed his team that Mansell had been disqualified and would receive the black flag. This was duly waved, and three times Mansell – in the throes of a fierce battle with Senna’s McLaren – ignored it, later claiming that he had not seen it. As a consequence, he was banned from the next race at Jerez. A serious offence, yes, but hardly comparable with what Schumacher did at the Hungaroring.

    The thought occurs that, had Michael been banned for a race, of course, Mercedes would necessarily have put Nick Heidfeld in his car, which might well have proved embarrassing for the team, for the underrated Heidfeld might well have achieved more than the man he was replacing. We shall never know, of course, but we can imagine what has been said in the Mercedes boardroom through the summer: Schumacher’s return is hardly turning out to be the PR/marketing deal made in heaven.

    Forgive the digression. Much more importantly, had Schumacher received a race ban for his move on Barrichello, it would have registered with every other driver in F1 – and, more to the point, every kid on a kart who thinks, ‘Well, Michael does these things, and he’s won seven World Championships, so obviously that’s the way I should do it…’ ‘Terrorist tactics’, as Hill said of Senna.

    The fact is, messages do get passed down. The youthful Schumacher may have been briefly appalled by Senna’s intimidatory driving at Interlagos all those years ago, but it took him no time at all to start behaving the same way.

    We have, in F1, the unwritten rule that ‘one move’ is acceptable in protecting your position – you may, in other words, chop across the bows of an overtaking car with impunity, so long as you do it only once. In itself, this is subject to widespread abuse, as we have seen countless times: ‘Did he make a second or third move – or was he just moving back onto the ideal line for the next corner?’

    The whole ‘one move’ thing I have always thought an absurdity. Of course F1 is tough, and so it always should be, but the notion of ‘back off or we have an accident’ should have no part to play in something calling itself a sport.

    Come to that, it is also highly detrimental to racing, to the spectacle. For a very long time fans have justifiably lamented the lack of overtaking in Formula 1, and while it’s a fact that ever more sophisticated aerodynamics (and silly circuit designs) have militated against cars passing each other, so also has this increased acceptance that blocking is kosher.

    As I mentioned in a previous column, former F1 driver Derek Daly, to whom I spoke immediately after the Canadian Grand Prix, was aghast at what he had just witnessed. “Don’t you guys want overtaking in F1?” he said. “I can’t believe some of the things I’ve seen this afternoon - but they get away with it, don’t they?” In his opinion, which had been the worst offenders? “From what I saw, Schumacher - of course! – and [Nico] Hulkenberg, a rookie, who’s grown up watching Michael, I suppose…”

    In the same way, consider Sebastian Vettel’s starts at Silverstone and Hockenheim. Each time he was on pole position, each time he made a less than perfect getaway – and each time his first thought was to swerve across in front of the car immediately behind him. It didn’t work on either occasion – neither Mark Webber nor Fernando Alonso is renowned for susceptibility to intimidation – and in Germany Vettel’s messing about cost so much time that, in trying to force Alonso to yield, he allowed Felipe Massa to leapfrog both of them.

    “That was a man with his head right out of gear,” said Stewart. “OK, he’d made a bad start – it happens – but I’m sorry, you just don’t do something like that.”

    No, you don’t – or you shouldn’t – but it’s in the very DNA of Grand Prix racing these days. At the start, you don’t concentrate on gunning it for the first corner; no, you move around so as to discourage the driver behind you from thinking about a pass.

    Recently I watched a video of an ’80s Grand Prix, before there was such a thing as a pitlane speed limit. In those days I, like everyone else, never gave such things a thought – by definition, pitstops were something to be got through as quickly as possible, and that was all there was to it. By definition the procedure was dangerous - but so it had always been.

    Watch it now, though, and you can’t believe it was ever like that. At Estoril in 1993 the active suspension of Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari glitched as he accelerated out of the pitlane, causing the car to bottom out as he rejoined the circuit. The car immediately spun across the road – between Erik Comas’s Larrousse and Derek Warwick’s Arrows, both of which it miraculously missed.

    I asked Berger what kind of speed he would have been doing when the problem occurred. “Oh, I don’t know… 220, 240…” Not far off 150mph, in other words. In the pitlane.

    The following year, at Imola, the right rear wheel of Alboreto’s Minardi, not properly secured, flew off the car as Michele accelerated down the pitlane, striking – and injuring – Ferrari and Lotus mechanics. Thereafter, the FIA introduced a pitlane speed limit, which now seems like no more than common sense. Only last month, in Hungary, Rosberg’s Mercedes shed its right rear wheel in similar circumstances, and it bounced to a spectacular height even though relatively Nico was crawling when it became detached. Had he been going quickly, the consequences might have been dire.

    As I watched the ’80s pitstops, I thought to myself, ‘Dear God, did it really used to be like that? Whatever we were thinking?’ And it’s my hope that one day we will look back on the antics of Senna and Schumacher - and on the permitted ‘one move’ – and reach a similar conclusion.

    “What happened in Hungary was extreme,” said Stewart, “but it was hardly anything new. I mean, look what Michael did to Kubica and Massa in Montréal – and this is a guy who works for the FIA, on road safety! That strikes me as a bit…ironic, really. And at the same time, the FIA doesn’t want anyone from the GPDA on the Safety Council!”

    It seems to me that this is an odd sport that gets semi-hysterical about ‘team orders’ - about two cars changing order, in the interests of a team – yet blithely accepts that these days drivers indulge in practices that in any sane world would be condemned. For ordering Massa to allow Alonso to pass, Ferrari was fined $100,000, and the matter was also referred to the World Motor Sport Council for further consideration, and perhaps further punishment. Why there was not a similar recommendation, in the case of Schumacher’s offence in Hungary, I cannot understand.

    It’s a fact that, beyond admiring his once extraordinary skills, I have never been a fan of Michael, never included him in the pantheon. To understand why, you need look no further than the events at the Hungaroring on August 1.

    We have, I think, been quite astonishingly fortunate over time that no one has been injured, or worse, in an accident spawned by tactics of this kind. And if we continue tacitly to accept them, I want to see no hand-wringing from the powers-that-be as and when something catastrophic occurs, as eventually it surely must.

    “As long as the drivers – some of them, anyway – are behaving like this,” concluded Stewart, “it’s quite difficult to take them seriously when they complain about safety in any other context, isn’t it?”

    *

    A quiet time in F1, this, for it is August, and therefore time for the mid-season break. When I called Williams early in the month, the factory – like all the others – was shut, and only the PRs and marketing people were on duty.

    This being so, there have been precious few news stories, and conversation among racing people has been confined largely to events of the recent past. Hockenheim and the Hungaroring provided plenty of scope.

    This is, I think, the best Grand Prix season for many a long year, in part because refuelling has been banned and we have got away from the dreary sprint-stop-sprint syndrome where looking after your tyres was of no account, and in part because we have three genuinely competitive teams, with a couple more not far away, and an especially fine crop of drivers. Mark Webber has won four Grands Prix, and Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso a couple apiece. With seven races still to be run, any one of them could finish the year as World Champion.

    Of the drivers in the top three teams, only Felipe Massa has yet to win a Grand Prix in 2010, and the one he looked like winning - in Germany – he was obliged to surrender to the greater good of Ferrari, which wants to see one of its drivers take the title, and knows Alonso is the more likely to succeed. Where Webber and Vettel are very close on points, as are Hamilton and Button, Alonso is some way clear of Massa, so one can understand Ferrari’s point of view.

    Ah, but what to do when circumstances become… tricky? At Hockenheim Alonso was comfortably quicker than Massa in qualifying, as he invariably is, but still Felipe lined up third. And at the start, when poleman Vettel swerved at Fernando, delaying them both, he lost no time in capitalising on the situation, bravely snicking by the pair of them into the first corner.

    Thereafter the Ferraris were essentially in control, with Vettel lurking not far behind, but offering no immediate threat. And Massa, it should be said, looked very composed in the lead. A couple of times Alonso ‘had a look’, but he was never close enough to make it stick. If Massa were perhaps less at ease on the harder Bridgestones to which they changed at the stops, still he seemed well set.

    Behind him, though, Alonso was becoming frustrated. Of course there was the thought that, had Vettel not tried to shove him into the pitwall, Massa would never have got ahead in the first place, and also an awareness that Vettel’s Red Bull – the fastest car of the season – was still but five seconds behind. As well as that, despite a sequence of poor results in the recent past, Fernando had continued to insist that still he had the possibility to become World Champion. In times past, such as in Melbourne, circumstances had left him stuck behind his team-mate, and he had been none too pleased about it.

    It is a fact that Alonso is one of the sport’s natural autocrats, and F1 insiders will tell you that, whether overt about it or not, the really great drivers always are. In that context, I recall a conversation with Steve Nichols, the designer of McLaren’s most successful car, the MP4-4 of 1988, and a man who somehow maintained a good relationship with both its warring drivers, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

    “I hated seeing the situation develop between them, because I liked both of them,” Nichols told me, “but there was nothing anyone could do about it – not even Ron [Dennis]. These people are very intense, you know. Senna is like that in a very obvious, aggressive sort of way, but even Prost… there’s the sweet guy we all know, but underneath he’s pretty goddam competitive.”

    Alonso, too, is intense – far more so than his predecessor at Ferrari, Kimi Räikkönen - and ‘pretty goddam competitive’. When he dominated the 2007 Malaysian Grand Prix, only his second race for McLaren, I remember Martin Whitmarsh ecstatically describing Fernando as a ‘lean, mean killing machine’ – in the sense of a man put on earth to win Grands Prix. Alonso personifies ‘hard racer’, but never have I seen him do anything questionable on a race track.

    Not in the Schumacher sense of the word, anyway. After Hockenheim, though, there were plenty who questioned what had happened on lap 49 when Massa, after radio contact from his race engineer Rob Smedley, backed off, allowing his team-mate to pass.

    At the post-race press conference the questioning of Alonso was predictably aggressive, and of course there was the pathos of Massa’s situation to heighten the sense of drama, the contrast between the two. Did Fernando not feel guilty about what had happened? Was this not, after all, a year to the day since Felipe’s accident in Budapest?

    Alonso, despite the claims of some, is not made of stone, but in a situation like that he was impervious to insult, shrugging off the questions as if not realising that insult had been intended. After a string of disappointing results, he said, Ferrari had scored a one-two, and perhaps the tide had been turned. As he left the press room he betrayed not the slightest anger at the wringer through which he had just been put. ‘Is that it?’ he seemed to be saying. ‘Can I go back to work now?’

    I was no different from virtually everyone else at Hockenheim that afternoon: I have never cared to see two cars changing places at the behest of the team management. That said, I think those who claimed – not without reason – that they had been robbed of the spectacle of Massa and Alonso fi ghting it out were being a touch simplistic.

    Like it or not, the fact was that Ferrari had been through a series of disappointing results, some of which the team could reasonably claim to have been the consequence of outside infl uences. Now, at Hockenheim, the cars were on the pace at the front of the pack, and how stupid would Ferrari have looked if – in the course of a fight – Massa and Alonso had tangled, as did the Red Bulls at Istanbul, when Vettel screwed up his pass of Webber? It is doubtful that Luca di Montezemolo would have warmly welcomed Stefano Domenicali on his return to Maranello.

    I did not, as I say, relish the sight of Massa moving over for Alonso, and would far prefer to have watched them go at it. But such are the aerodynamic rules in F1 that, even when one driver is plainly quicker than the other, it is nigh impossible to overtake an identical car. Here was an opportunity for Ferrari to bring one of its drivers back into the World Championship fight, and in this era the World Championship is the only thing that matters. You might regret that, as assuredly do I, but it’s the way it is.

    Where I took issue with some of the hysterics was in their comparison of this with what took place at the A1-Ring in 2002. At the Austrian Grand Prix the year before, Michael Schumacher was delayed by a contretemps with Juan Pablo Montoya, and on the final lap Rubens Barrichello was ordered to give up his second place to him. Not pretty, but in the circumstances perhaps not surprising, either, for David Coulthard won the race, and at the time DC was only a handful of points behind Schumacher.

    The following year it was entirely different, however, for Barrichello dominated both qualifying and race, yet was still ordered to let Schumacher through for the win – this despite the fact that, after only five races, Michael already had a massive lead in the World Championship. I can still hear the jeers from the stands as Rubens came up to the line on a trailing throttle, allowing the other Ferrari by.

    It was that infamous day which brought into play a new rule within the F1 Sporting Regulations, stating that, ‘Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited’. (Actually, I’d quite to like to see one to the effect that, ‘Homicidal driving which interferes with a race result is prohibited’, but there you are…)

    Given that the law is in force, Ferrari unquestionably broke it in Germany, and therefore had to take its punishment. Life changes, doesn’t it? Once I was able to smoke in a pub, but now it’s against the law, so I don’t go to pubs any more. But I could of course go the Ferrari route, pop in for a scotch and soda, light a fag, and get fined – and I just might if a possible World Championship hung on it.

    Of course one hopes never to see a repeat of what happened in Austria eight years ago, but I reckon that on that occasion Ferrari should have been subject to the catch-all charge of ‘bringing the sport into disrepute’ (which undoubtedly was the case), and there the matter should have rested.

    Why? Because a blanket ban on ‘team orders’ is frankly unrealistic, and any unenforceable law should not exist. The fact is, there have always been team orders in F1, and folk who go on about it as if it were some recent phenomenon betray a certain ignorance of the sport’s history. Ye Gods, try telling that to Alfred Neubauer! Until the early ’60s, indeed, a team leader would take over a team-mate’s car if his own broke…

    After Juan Manuel Fangio, his fourth World Championship on the line, retired from the 1956 Italian Grand Prix, team-mate Luigi Musso was ordered on a pitstop to get out of his car and give it over to the great man. Musso, an Italian at Monza, declined to alight, whereupon Peter Collins - unbidden – gallantly stepped aside for Fangio, who went on to clinch the title.

    Look at the results of the 1957 British Grand Prix, and you will find that the winning Vanwall – scoring the very first World Championship Grand Prix victory for a British car – was driven by Moss and Brooks, Stirling taking over Tony’s car after his own had failed.

    So let’s not pretend that ‘team orders’ have ever been other than intrinsic to Grand Prix racing. I thought it both unfortunate and unfair that Smedley should have been required to issue the coded instruction to Massa, but of course if Domenicali had done it, the fact of his conversing with Felipe in a race would have been an obvious departure from normal procedure. As it was, nobody was fooled by, ‘Fernando is faster than you – please confirm you have understood…’

    Ferrari weren’t too subtle, I grant you, but it did seem to me that certain F1 people were a touch holier-than-thou about it. Eddie Jordan, for example, seemed almost to be suggesting to his BBC audience that all Ferrari personnel should be hung, drawn and quartered – yet, when put on the spot, admitted that he personally had ordered Ralf Schumacher not to threaten Damon Hill as the pair headed for a Jordan one-two at Spa in 1998. As for McLaren people… have they forgotten Suzuka in ’91, when Senna was ordered to give way to Berger on the final lap? To say nothing of sundry Häkkinen/Coulthard happenings…

    In none of these cases, of course, was it ‘against the law’ at the time, as it wasn’t with Phil Hill and Mike Hawthorn at Casablanca in 1958, with Lorenzo Bandini and John Surtees at Mexico City in ’64, with Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese at Monza in ’92, with Schumacher and Eddie Irvine at Sepang in ’99, etc, etc, etc…

    Now – for the moment, anyway – it is against the law, but that doesn’t mean that the law isn’t flouted by means of artifice – think of the unfortunately long pitstop, the failure to bring a driver in at the optimum moment, the need to ‘turn down your engine in the interests of fuel consumption’… and on, and on.

    Personally, I find it admirable – and courageous – when teams allow their drivers to go at it, no holds barred, but I have never believed it should be a requirement, a regulation of the sport. F1 is not a talent show, put on for entertainment alone, but a serious endeavour, in which countless millions and man hours are spent in a quest to succeed. It is also an unusual sport in that you have people in the same team trying to beat each other.

    One might suggest that they should put the team’s interests first, as did Phil Hill at Monaco in 1961 when he accepted he could do nothing about catching Stirling Moss, and moved over to allow Ferrari team-mate Richie Ginther to have a go, but fundamentally Grand Prix drivers aren’t made like that.

    In the end I agree with the assertion of Bernie Ecclestone – and, no doubt, the ghost of Neubauer – that every team should be free to run its operation as it sees fit.

    That being so, this rule – which should never have come into effect in the first place - should be rescinded. As David Coulthard said at Hockenheim, “Every team in this pitlane gives team orders, and anyone who says they don’t is lying…”

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