Let them race. These words have been spoken time and time again over the years in Formula 1 and usually in response to the implementation of team orders.
Rather than letting team mates race against each other like the rivals they are (both naturally and professionally), team principles sometimes feel it is in the best interests of the team to execute orders to assist one driver over the other.
However, even though it is preached that team orders are only ever put into effect when a driver is in reach of the illustrious Driver’s Championship, a hierarchy in the front rowed teams can clearly be seen.
This hierarchy, once established, can dictate races before they have begun. Predicting who will excel from race to race comes to be easier, as it becomes less likely that the team’s favored driver will finish behind their ‘number 2’.
Regardless of qualifying results, it is hard to believe that Felipe Massa will finish ahead of Fernando Alonso in any race. Though Massa is certainly capable enough to win a race, the chances of Ferrari letting potential championship winning points go to him over their annually paid $40 million Spaniard driver is hard to believe.
This stands true for not only the Italian Scuderia, but for Lotus also. Kimi Raikkonen (who also pockets an annual amount with eight figures) has finished ahead of his team mate, Roman Grosjean, four out of five times this year alone.
It also stands to mention that the only time he did not finish ahead of Grosjean was when his race was tarnished due to being demoted to a tenth place grid start and his car taking damage on the opening lap of the race.
Whilst both of these teams have kept any hint of team orders quiet this season so far, Mercedes has not been so shy. Nico Rosberg was told to hold position in Malaysia behind his team mate, Lewis Hamilton, despite the German having the better car on the day.
Hamilton has earned himself a three-year contract with the ‘Silver Arrows’ team which could be worth $100 million. With this much money being spent on the ‘best’ drivers, favoritism existing in teams is inevitable.
No team owner wants to see the lesser paid driver excel over the other who costs a considerable amount more. Teams are not procuring these top tiered drivers for second place in the Championships on offer; the top step on the podium is the only sign of a good investment.