Brawn: Team always comes before the driver

Date published: October 5 2018

Ross Brawn weighs in on team order debate

As team orders made headlines in Russia, Ross Brawn believes the interest of any Formula 1 team should always come before that of the individual driver.

Last time out in Russia, Mercedes brought team orders to the fore as they took the race win away from Valtteri Bottas, handing it instead to Lewis Hamilton.

That decision, while not very popular amongst fans, meant instead of leaving Sochi 43 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton holds a 50-point lead.

Both the driver and Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff have stated that only time will tell whether the team made the right call.

Brawn, who himself issued team orders during his days with Ferrari, believes they did.

He told the official F1 website: “In parc ferme after the Russian Grand Prix, it was noticeable that none of the three drivers looked particularly happy.

“Sebastian Vettel possibly had good cause, given that the result meant his title chances had slipped further away. However, Lewis Hamilton should have had every reason to celebrate, while Valtteri Bottas had just helped Mercedes score its third one-two finish of the season.

“Events on lap 25, when Mercedes instructed the Finn to move over for his team mate, followed by the later instruction that they should maintain station had undoubtedly left its mark. However, I reckon the German team’s decision was the right one. The primary aim for a team is to get the best possible result for both championships and that’s what they did.

“I have found myself in this situation many times in the past and personally, I always believed the collective interest of the team comes before that of an individual driver. It may not be easily accepted by the fans, nor look good for the sport, and that is where the team have to judge the circumstances and make their decision.

“Austria 2002 is the famous example where, for the championship, we at Ferrari wanted Michael Schumacher to finish ahead of Rubens Barrichello. Having got himself into a winning position, and, despite the prior agreement, Rubens was reluctant to let Michael by and when the final switch happened in view of the finish line it created negativity both within the team and for those watching at the track and on television. If instead Rubens had let Michael through in the first few laps of the race, as previously agreed, it likely wouldn’t have been viewed in such a negative light.

“I can understand Bottas’ frustration on Sunday, as he had a great weekend, demonstrating how well the Sochi track suits him, but team orders are part of the sport. Also, it’s always better to apply them in a transparent manner, rather than trying to hide it, something we have seen sometimes in the past, which raised accusations of deception. It’s not the most attractive aspect of our sport, but it’s always been a part of it, good or bad, and it is better to have it in the open.”

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