Monday, July 26, 2010

The German GP: So what's in a code?

Double World Champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari snatched his 2nd Formula 1 Grand Prix victory of the season, his 23rd career win, by winning the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim, Germany.

But the victory was tarnished by alleged team orders coming from Ferrari in a coded message relayed to teammate Felipe Massa who was leading the race with the Spaniard not far behind.

Engineer Rob Smedley to Massa: "Fernando is faster than you. Can you understand that message?"

2 laps later at lap 49, Massa slowed down at the hairpin on turn 6 allowing a surging Alonso to race past the Brazilian.

Was it team orders?

In the literal sense, no. But what is NOT being relayed is quite a team order. So what gives?

Massa, starting on 3rd had a jump on both frontrunners Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull on P1 and Alonso on P2. The German, perhaps wary of the Alonso's pace in the F10, decided to veer right in an attempt to block Alonso. In so doing, Vettel left Massa a clear path towards turn 1. Realizing the mistake, Vettel tried to compensate by getting back to Massa, thereby, releasing Alonso who lined up with Massa into turn 1. Vettel was left to settle and dig in for 3rd until the fateful 'coded' radio message.

Will fans turn red against Ferrari? Most likely NOT. (They are already red, anyway.)

I am a Ferrari fan and Massa's magnanimous move to allow the Spaniard to score as many points as possible after 2 disastrous racing weekends was a highlight of a team spirit embedded in Ferrari.

It could have been the perfect win for the Brazilian who, exactly a year and day before, suffered a freak accident during the Qualifying session of the 2009 Hungarian GP. He could have ignored the message and interpret it otherwise but he chose an option in which personal glory will have to take a backseat for awhile in favor of a teammate who needed the points most. 

(Alonso stands 5th in the Driver's Championship title hunt behind the McLaren and Red Bull drivers while Massa is 8th.)

Give Ferrari a penalty, so says the FIA. Fine. But let the results stand much like Hamilton's overtaking maneuver of the Safety Car.

Moving on. Hungaroring is up next!

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