• Sir Stirling Moss

'I think what they did was dreadful'

Sir Stirling Moss July 27, 2010

I personally believe in team orders, but I think Ferrari made the wrong call at the German Grand Prix . To be completely frank, I think what they did was dreadful. Felipe Massa had a hell of a good race, he drove so much better than I ever thought he would and he deserved to be able to have a go. He was the moral winner, but of course that doesn't taste so good if you're second on the podium.

It's true that the team always has to come first, but in my mind Ferrari hasn't benefitted from making the swap. Firstly, they broke a rule. Now, that rule may be ridiculous and have no place in F1, but all the teams agreed to it and they have to bare that in mind when they are making a decision like that in front of millions of people.

Secondly, Massa was obviously fast enough to win and Fernando Alonso wasn't really under threat from Sebastian Vettel, so it's a terrible shame that they felt the need to swap them around. Maybe it's in Massa's contract, I don't know, but after the race he was obviously teed off about it and understandably so.

I think he's the sort of guy who will accept what happened, and now he might be able to use that good faith to renegotiate his position at the team for next year. I presume drivers still have contracts like I did - although I imagine they are about ten pages longer - and that's what I would do.

Mind you, I would never have signed a contract that said I wasn't No. 1 in the first place. In the latter part of my career, when I was senior enough, all my contracts said that I was No. 1, and as No. 1 I could then do what I liked. I took over other driver's cars and if I wanted an engine taken out of one car and put in mine then we'd do it. But that was all legal back then and everybody knew where they stood.

Things were different in Sir Stirling Moss' day © Getty Images
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Just to give you an example, at Mercedes - which was the finest team in the world when I was driving - we were free to fight our team-mates until we had a 30-second lead on the rest of the field. Then they would hang out a sign with REG on it, which was derived from the Italian word regolare, and that meant hold position. But we knew what the procedure would be before the race and the whole system was structured.

Massa's best reaction in the meantime is to go and win the race in Hungary. In my mind he upped his game remarkably in Germany and is still one of the best drivers in the field. He gets on with his work quietly, without all the dramas you get from some of the others, and I think that is admirable. People make a big thing about the accident at Hungary holding him back but I think that's nonsense. It's been a year since his crash and I know from experience that a year is a very long time in motorsport .

Of course, Ferrari now have to be punished by the World Motor Sport Council for breaking the rules. We're talking about FIAT here, not the small company that Ferrari used to be in my day, and it makes my eyes water wondering how much they are going to charge them for it. Of course they could take points away but I think it would be a great shame if they do - I think a larger monetary fine will be quite sufficient.

Sir Stirling Moss doesn't blame the Ferrari drivers © Sutton Images
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What's more, the drivers deserve to keep their points because you can't blame either of them for what happened. If you're Alonso and you're gifted a victory, are you supposed to turn around and say no? They were running to team orders and you have to play along with that as an F1 driver.

But with all this controversy it's easy to overlook the fact that Ferrari won the race and that the car has come a long way recently. I picked Fernando Alonso as one of my pre-season favourites and I think he is starting to show what he is capable of now.

It's good for the sport to have Ferrari competitive again and it will make the season very exciting if they can continue to hunt down McLaren and Red Bull. It's just a shame that they had to announce their return in such a crude and controversial manner.

www.stirlingmoss.com

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Sir Stirling Moss OBE - a British motor racing legend, recognised as one of the world's greatest racing drivers. He won an astonishing 212 of the 529 races he entered during his 15-year career, competing in just about every class of motor racing, including 16 Formula One races. His victory in the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix is one of the most famous races in F1 history. Stirling's vast experience comes from being a racer and from knowing those who compete in and run the sport now. He never shies away from commenting on all aspects of the sport he loves. Gallery of his career