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Should Red Bull have let their drivers battle for second? - Team orders are legal but that doesn't make them right

Published by Christine

Team orders are legal for the 2011 season, but so far this year we haven't really seen them come into force. The British Grand Prix saw the first real instance of team orders, with Mark Webber instructed to remain behind his teammate for the final few corners of the race.

Coming a year after he took a convincing win, and uttered the immortal line: "Not bad for a number two driver," Webber finds himself on the back foot once more. Battling Vettel for second place, the Australian attempted an overtaking move, but was given the team radio message: "Mark, maintain track position."

That put an end to the on-track battle, and guaranteed an extension to Vettel's lead in the championship.

Vettel enjoys his 2nd place
Vettel enjoys his 2nd placeCredit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Afterwards, Christian Horner defended the decision by confirming that they would let the drivers race each other at the start of any Grand Prix, but when you're getting towards the end and any overtaking move could see both drivers crash out, then things are different.

From a team point of view, we decided that it was best to hold the positions in those final two laps. Obviously Mark disagreed with that. I can understand he's frustrated, but from a team point of view we can't afford to give away a whole load of points.

...the last thing you want to see is your two cars in the fence. The message was quite clear to him what the team expected, not what I expected, but what the team collectively expected. He should be fine with that. It was crystal clear this morning going into the race.

- Christian Horner

However, Webber has said he is not fine with it, at all, and he also seems to resent the idea of the two crashing into each other.

I am not fine with it, no. That is the answer to that. If Fernando retires on the last lap, we are fighting for the win. Of course I ignored the team because I wanted to try and get a place. Seb was doing his best, I was doing my best. I wasn't going to crash with anyone.

- Mark Webber

The big question is, then, were Red Bull right in "maintaining track position" or should they have let their drivers battle to the very last corner?