I was watching the Formula-1 race at Hockenheim, Germany, on tv this morning. I haven't watched F-1 regularly almost since back when F-1 races were only telecast on cable tv around 2am in the morning. Nowadays, the races are on network tv. Every Sunday or every other Sunday on Fox. Every other Sunday because F-1 has an international venue. Every race is in a different country. Then moving on to a different continent. The drivers and crew need the two weeks to acclimate themselves to the new race tracks and the region's food.
During today's race, Ferrari was leading one-two when team orders directed the leading Ferrari driver to relinquish his position to his Ferrari team mate behind him by letting the trailing driver pass him on the race track. As you probably would have guessed, this did not sit well with the lead driver, at all. After a lap or two, the Ferrari pit again radioed their reluctant driver, "Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?" At this point, the lead driver, Massa, was at peril of insubordination if he did not take the hint and comply. So Massa let's his anointed team mate Fernando Alonso through. However, Massa did not simply move aside gracefully, instead, he feigned a driving error that no driver with F-1 stature would have made at that point in the race track as to set the record straight that he had not been outmaneuvered.
Fernando Alonso, the trailing driver, is a two-time F-1 world champion and was ahead in points than Massa for the individual driver's championship although not leading other F-1 drivers overall in that department. Little that mattered to Massa, the subject of the highway robbery in broad daylight. The Hockenheim race track in Germany is narrow by F-1 standards making it more difficult to safely execute a pass at 180-mph. And perhaps, Ferrari was simply trying to avoid repeating what happened to the Red Bull team earlier this season in the Turkey Grand Prix with Red Bull leading one-two when the trailing Red Bull driver attempted a pass only to crash into his team mate and deny Red Bull any team (constructor's) points in the final tally.
What makes F-1 viewer-friendly is the on-board cameras and occasionally the broadcast booth is even allowed to tap into the chatter between the pit boss and their drivers as it was so during this racing controversy on Lap 49 of 67. The tv announcers were starting to irritate me by condescending with the Ferrari orders on the basis that the fortunes of the racing team takes priority over the personal gains of individual drivers. How that particular rationale applies to this situation remains a mystery if for no other reason than when you're leading one-two, it doesn't matter which driver is ahead of whom, because the team still gets the same number of constructor's points irregardless of the order of finish. Hypothetically if two team mates were jockeying for position amidst heavy traffic further back in the pack I would understand the safety issue. However, in a one-two lead situation, the lead driver is being ordered to relinquish a win which he has an equal right to.