Given the micro management by World Champions Mercedes AMG F1 of their drivers, the Formula One team most famous for controlling the on track positioning of its cars could be forced into more extreme measures than they have previously taken.
In the Silver Arrows motorhome, an army of stenographers updates the driver schedules, almost by the minute. It is said, the schedule which the drivers care most about – is the one which schedules who gets final pooping preferences before each on track session.
Yet Ferrari after years of obsessive control of its drivers – particularly the number two – Ferrari are maybe entering a new era of freedom and laisse faire. As the new dawn breaks over Maranello, the air is fresher, the Tuscan produce tastes a sweeter and Mr. Good Hello’s Bon Homie is being spread abroad with gay abandon.
Three races in and already questions began in the paddock this weekend of Ferrari and even Mercedes employing a number one/two driver policy. The Schumacher era more than any other in Formula One history defines what this policy means, though Felipe Massa was the most recent of the red team’s drivers to feel the pain of being forced to surrender his position on track in favour of a team mate.
Following the Chinese GP, Maurizio Arrivabene explained his position with regards to team orders under his reign at Ferrari. “When I arrived in Maranello [as team principal] I saw the old rules of engagement, and I made some changes in the presence of both drivers and their race engineers”.
Arrivabene confirms there is to be no driver preference, despite the fact that Sebastian has already accumulated 55 points to Kimi’s 24. “Everyone is free to make his run.”
When probed on the matter of team orders, Maurizio retorted, “I do not want to hear about team orders”.
This is smart driver management by the Scuderia’s new boss, because it would be easy for Kimi to feel isolated, lose motivation and thus reduce the challenge Ferrari hopes to bring to Mercedes.
Further, in an era where reliability is once again an issue, it would just take a couple of difficult weekends for Vettel to see Kimi up there with him in terms of number of points scored.
Also as the Mercedes ‘rules of engagement’ on track encyclopaedia become ever more complex whilst the window where Lewis and Nico are allowed to race gets smaller – Ferrari now provide a glimmer of hope the fans can watch at least two cars do battle properly – rather than a stage managed Sunday afternoon dawdle.