Toro Rosso fail to enforce team discipline


Following the 2015 Monaco GP, Christian Horner praised his drivers for “great teamwork” after they switched positions twice, due to team orders.

Under the late safety car Danial Ricciadro had put on a new set of super soft tyres which saw him breeze past Kimi Raikkonen at Mirabeau and then quickly catch his team mate who was in fourth place at the time.

Danny Kvyat was on older soft compound tyres and following Sebastian Vettel – also on older soft tyres. Kvyat was clearly not able to challenge Vettel for the podium so the team took the decision to give Ricciardo the opportunity to do so.

“He managed a brave move to get past Kimi,” said Horner, “and then it made sense to switch the drivers on the understanding that if he couldn’t pass the cars ahead he would have to give the position back.”

The Aussie was unable to make a move stick on Vettel, so with a lap to go the team ordered him to give back the place to his team mate.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained was the Red Bull pragmatic philosophy.

At the 2015 Singapore GP, Toro Rosso found themselves in a similar position with a handful of laps to go.

Verstappen was stuck behind Force India’s Sergio Perez, with Carlos Sainz on fresher tyres behind him.

The team made the call to Verstappen to let Sainz through and attack Perez, but the response from Max was a point blank “no.”

Carlos Sainz explained after the chequered flag, “I saw what Red Bull did in Monaco [where Ricciardo and Kvyat swapped positions] and said ‘this is the best thing you can do’ – play the team game and let the guy on a newer tyre, that was me, try, at least have one shot.”

“If I can’t [pass Perez], Max finishes P8 and me P9, not a problem. I just wanted one shot, he never gave it to me”.

Having made the call to allow Sainz though, you would think the team Principal would be at least irritated by Verstappen’s refusal to play the team game.

However, Franz Tost explained this was not the case. “Carlos had new tyres, [and asked] therefore [if he and Verstappen] can switch positions.

“But Carlos was too slow, he was too far behind – and then we said no, Max is right, because Carlos was too slow and could not have caught Perez.

“Therefore we said no, it doesn’t make sense. Carlos was also three to five tenths behind [Verstappen]; he had to be closer for us to switch positions.”

Williams attempted the same thing in 2014, telling Massa to allow Bottas threw and the Brazilian refused. However, Williams later admitted that the call to Massa was the wrong decision by them.

Yet Tost justifies the call being made but in the same breath refuses to criticise Verstappen for failing to obey the team order.

One has to wonder whether a certain Dr Marko had a quiet word at the end of the race and whether Max Verstappen is now their ‘No 1 driver’.

47 responses to “Toro Rosso fail to enforce team discipline

  1. Eddie Jordan was not impressed with Verstappen, in an interview after the race. The driver really looked like a naughty schoolboy being told off by his headmaster.
    Is Verstappen going to be another Vettel when it comes to team orders, I wonder. 🙂

    • I think his eyebrows overruled the team orders!
      I fear you are correct, he’s going to develop into another Vettel from what we’ve seen of him so far.

  2. Tost is talking out his arse!

    Watching TK’s notebook segment after the race, he noted that Max mentioned he had a discussion with his father about what to do if such a situation arises. To which he replied, he was told to flatly refuse any such order and deal with the consequences after.

    Verstappen on talking to dad, Jos, re:defying team orders. “He told me if I had let him past he would have kicked me in the nuts.”

    I said this earlier in the season, I get the impression Jos is a very pushy parent and he’s trying get Max to make up for his failings when he was in the sport. I’ve not got a big problem with that, but when you’re instructing him to disobey his team boss, then that’s going too far.

    • I think you’re right, Fortis.

      Right now, Verstappen’s a novelty. A cute, cheeky little bastard. But at some stage he’ll grow up and just be a bastard, if he’s not careful. He’s got to be smarter, in my opinion. He’s clearly a racing talent, but he’s got to be smarter.

      Jos’ bringing the baggage of his F1 career – being owned by Schumacher, losing momentum in his career – and imparting 1990’s lessons to a 2015 situation.

      As for what Tost says… well Max might be right after the fact, in retrospect. But he might not have been. He could’ve given Sainz a go and switched back.

      There’s a time to be a ruthless F1 sociopath, perhaps on track putting a rival into a wall for a win, and there’s a time to be smart. The very best know this balance…

      • You guys crack me up every time… Just because his dad said that to him, Max lost the ability to think for himself? Max explained right after the race why he didn’t obey and it wasnt cause his dad told him.

        In any case, Max had the pace over Carlos all race long. He was already slicing through the field (Nasr, Maldonado, Grosjean) If there is a rookie driver on this grid who can definitely overtake a guy like Perez if the opportunity arises its #MV33, not #CS55.

        • Agreed. Max had as much a chance of passing Perez as Carlos did. Wasn’t Carlos’s tyres only 1 lap newer anyway?

    • It’s one of the most difficult things of being a parent: you try to guide your kids around problems you’ve encountered. So Jos is just one of ‘us’. He is pushy, but his daughter doesn’t race, while she apparently also Has loads of talent.

      Now don’t get me wrong: the man is an arsehole but he really wants the best for Max. The possibility at Toro Rosso was so fitting in this context: it avoids being in a top team too soon and gives Max space to learn.

      Coming to the team order, I can only underwrite the others who pointed out a lack of context. Following orders is just plain stupid and everyone should be able to critisize anyone in organisations. If organisations think old fashioned, they will disease.

      • Totally agreed. I don’t understand how Max should have understood the order “We need to swap positions – Just do it” as “Max, Carlos has fresher tyres. Let him have a go at Perez. If he doesn’t succeed in one lap, you’ll get your position back”. All the commentators in the videos I watched (Dutch television, BBC, RTL Television and Sky Sports) did not understand why they had to swap and assumed it was because Carlos let Max pass earlier in the race (which was not the case).

        Up until that point Max had been the one who was leading the way forward. He passed other drivers and Carlos could only follow at some distance. His comment after the race that he had overtaken many cars was pointless as exactly the same (and more given he started all the way at the back of the field) was true for Max. Max’s responce was much like Hamilton to Rosberg last season: if you are that far behind, you’re not faster than me so stay behind. Ironically, Eddie Jordan (in his post race interview) completely agreed with Hamilton back then, but he talked to Max like he did something wrong. Maybe because he isn’t British?

  3. Max had the upper hand all weekend on Carlos however was very unlucky at the start.
    The safety car was a blessing but Max was by far the most impressive racer today.
    Without the bad luck at the start he would have been in the race for a much better end result.
    Sorry Carlos, you just did not deserve that spot! Close but not close enough in the end.

  4. It’d be interesting to know if they’d fully explained the plan to him or not – the broadcast radio message which, from his reply, sounded like the initial one didn’t really appear to have the caveat that he’d get that place back again if Carlos was unable to pass Perez.

  5. The problem is the way they told Verstappen to swap positions. They didn’t say to him (on tv) that he could get the position back if Sainz couldn’t make it stick. May be if they did Verstappen would have obeyed.

  6. I wonder if Verstappen was properly explained what Sainz wanted to do? We’ve heard the radio calls to switch but I never heard the call where it was explained that Carlos would switch back… it seemed to me that in the interviews after the race Verstappen was not aware of Sainz’s plan to switch back if he had failed to make the pass.

    Hearing Tost defend Verstappen do make you wonder if Verstappen is named as the #1 driver? Sainz was further back 6/7 laps before the end, when the first call was made, but 5/6 laps to the end Sainz was right at the back of Verstappen. Then again if they did switch would it have been worth it? Sainz was slightly faster but was it fast enough to be able to pass Perez? It looked like Perez was just a lot quicker than Verstappen on all points on the track where it would have been possible to pass so would Sainz be able to do what Verstappen could not?

    Just looking from the point of view of the team you have to say that if a team asks a driver something the driver has to comply, no questions asked. I think Verstappen was very lucky that it was Perez in his Force India that he was driving behind because with other cars it might have been a different story… (and probably not such a supporting/understanding team principal.

  7. Winners don’t give up positions to teammates if there is not something like a championship on the line. Would Senna have done it? Hell no. Would Prost have done it? No. Only the Barichello’s of this world do that. And they are nr. 2 drivers and that is exactly what Sainz now is in that team. A nr.2 driver with no confirmed contract for next year.

  8. We already have enough egomaniacal children – of all ages – in F1. Now watch the immoderate praise being heaped on this proto-monster steadily transform him into another Hamilton or worse. The genetics don’t bode well for anyone who has noted his father’s behaviour off-track, either.
    For once Eddie “Mr. Malaprop” Jordan is bang on.

    • F1 usually gets realy exciting when you have one new egomaniacal child take on another established one.

    • Do you race to win, ore do you race to give your team mate gifts. Max had a very difficult race, driving one and a half round behind the pack. Fighting back to the 8 position of the grid. This boy was full of adrenaline. And on a moment like this the team making this call?
      Get real, never heart such a stupid call like this where no world champion points were involved.

  9. I think the judge is just being his anal-retentive self here. He’s spoiling for a fight because he can’t think of anything to write. The call to Verstappen was wrong. Sainz never was close enough to challenge. Last year in Hungary that was still okay when it involved Hamilton and Rosberg, suddenly this year it’s not okay anymore. He should really lay off the booze.

    • Except last year the judge did not say it was right, in fact he along with many others, yourself included, laid into Lewis for not following the team’s request.

      So there’s no favouritism being shown here with Max.

      • The judge fails to mention that Verstappen and Saint were both on the same compound, with only one lap age difference. In the Kvyay/Ricciardo example they were on different compounds, so the speed advantage would be much more likely.

    • @FatHippo – When i say anything remotely critical of the Judge, I get censored and threatened with being banned. How do you get away with it? Do i have to join the thcik skinned ‘pottamus club?

      (assuming this comment even gets past the censor and is printed!)

    • No matter if the call is wrong or right, when the boss man makes a call you obey. Ignoring orders is never in your favour… next time sainz won’t move either. And I’ll be guessing both daddy and junior verstappen will be serious pissed off then.

          • I have to say, adding to what Hippo has said, there are a few with double standards – not only here but out in the interwebs. No names, no need to be personal about it.

            I smashed Hamilton as a selfish twat last year for ruining a teammates, and thus his teams’, different strategy on Rosberg’s car. It was short sighted.

            Equally I’ve given Max a kick in the backside… though Max is a rookie, it was close to the end of the race and there’s a chance the situation wasn’t clear about a swap-back.

            But it’s odd that there would be those who exonerated Lewis last year, but stick the boot into Max now – mainly it seems as a result of their driver having suffered a fallout that they disagreed with last year.

            Bit of self-serving inconsistency…

            I stand by my comments re: Max, but at least they’re consistent with my take on Lewis’ behaviour last year which, to me, was more egregious.

      • Wrong!!! Sainz don’t have to move next time. Max handle his own problems, you don’t have to worry about that.

  10. We don’t have the complete radio message so we don’t know what exactly he was told. But my belief is if you are not competing for the driver’s championship, rather, not in contention, maximum team points should be the objective.
    Max is too young to be out of control.
    Torro Rosso is all about developing drivers for Redbull, not about encouraging bad attitudes.

  11. Like all things else around Max this gets blown out if proportion. Drivers tend to agree its for the good of the team when their teammates are asked to move over, not so much when they are. So Max just doing what most drivers/teenagers (see, now I’m at it it 😋) would do, test the resolve of team boss to see how much they can get away with.
    Issue is not with Max but with Red Bull lite. Tost’s comments are nonsense. If the team issues an order it should be followed, end of. If Tost insists it was an incorrect order than I expect him to censure whomever dared to make the “request”.
    Either way I don’t see why Sainz should move over again next time when asked to aid Max, this is immediately detremental to a team with aspirations to claim as many points as possible.
    Btw – Sainz is having a fine debut season in his own right, I consider him and Max an excellent pairing.

  12. So now, on the resilience/defiance level, Verstappen has the same attitude as Vettel, Schumacher, Hamilton, Senna, Prost.

    He doesn’t have the same attitude as Webber, Barrichello, Rosberg, Massa.

    Think that shows something to me. Champion material.

    • Except when vettel did that multi 21 the world nearly exploded. Yet the same people are now cheering max on for his monumental balls.

      • You are aware the circumstances couldn’t really be much more different, right? I mean just as one example of the differences between the two, if Sainz had actually had the pace advantage over Verstappen that Vettel had over Webber we wouldn’t even be having this conversation now because he’d have made the pass and made it stick without having to be ‘helped’ by the team.

      • Thx ! Meanwhile I found the same info on an other site. It was 1 lap. That makes Sainz’ reasoning to give the guy with fresher tyres a go plain nonsense. I find it rather naive to think that you will beat Max on just that area where he has been excelling all season.

  13. It always seemed to me there were four types of teams when it comes to team orders…

    McLaren – we don’t give our drivers team orders. We might hope they’d give up a place in the interests of the team, but we won’t tell them to.

    Ferrari (Alonso era). We have a No 1 and a No 2 and the No.2’s job is to support the No.1, period. On the other hand he gets to drive a Ferrari.

    Mercedes (Brawn era). We don’t have a No.1 or No.2 but if I give them an order they’ll do what I tell them to!

    Red Bull (Vettel era). We don’t have a No.1 or a No.2 but if we give orders, only one of our drivers will take any notice.

    Should we therefore be surprised to see which type of team Toro Rosso seem to be? 🙂

    • “Red Bull (Vettel era). We don’t have a No.1 or a No.2 but if we give orders, only one of our drivers will take any notice.”

      I’d suggest that looking at Silverstone and Malaysia proved that neither driver took notice. But then again they were both trying to win the WDC, in this instance the goal was to maximise the teams points haul rather than just er… Maximise.

  14. Utter nonsense to compare RB/Monaco with STR/Singapore. Ricciardo had significant fresher/faster tires, and significant more speed. Of course Kvyat made way!
    Carlos on the other hand did not have significant fresher/faster tires, but above all not even the slightest amount more speed than Max.

    This is one more example of a totally blown up media situation. It gives the Max haters a little ammunition, a reason to be! 😉

  15. If it’s a battle for a podium or something I really understand not moving over. When it’s for 7th & 8th though and the team could really use the financial help that those extra points might bring it’s pretty bloody daft.

    Either way though, Sainz knows where he stands with his team mate, and that should mean that he never pulls over for Max in future either.

  16. Thank you for this article TJ.

    While we can bicker about Jos as a parent, after the race he told Sky he told Max to, quote, NEVER follow an order to allow a teammate to pass (keyboard problems with quotation-apostrophe key). Jos went on to say, and I am paraphrasing here, that if you do that once the team will run over a driver. From the statements made by Jos and from how Max reacted we know Jos influenced his son and his decision to ignore team orders.

    I have no idea whether Jos is speaking from a bitter past experience or speaking as a river from another era, or is perceiving how Seb Vettel continues to be seen as a so-called gentleman, when, just under his present, seemingly smooth public veneer is the same caustic, petulant child we have seen in the past – and who we saw just after his tire shredded at Monza. And for those who will say it was okay for him to be angered to curse on-air in real time, notice Nico Rosberg held his tongue on-air when he, too, had every right to blow up during post-tire shred interviews.

    Whatever is informing Jos, it seems he has misinformed Max – and Max is running with the chip Jos has on his shoulder.

    If people actually watched the race it was clear that Sainz was close to directly behind Max; it was not a Lewis-Nico, over a second apart situation. Watch the Sky telecast and listen to the late race commentary of those contentious moments. At one point just before the kerfuffle, Crofty exclaimed, quote, And Sainz is just behind Verstappen!

    We should be giving kudos to Carlos Sainz for showing tremendous restraint in his post-race interview. Instead people are lauding Verstappen for insolence.

    • It almost always seems like Vettel hesitates before swearing, almost like he’s taking a run-up at it for maximum effect. I know English isn’t his first language it’s clear he’s not stumbling over his words, he’s deliberately choosing to do it because he knows the reaction it’ll get. It’s like when kids first learn to swear and decide to push boundaries and see what happens…

  17. Funny thing is.. Max would not need a team order to pass Carlos.

    He would simply overtake him, like a Boss

  18. Could you imagine Senna, Prost, Schumacher, Alonso, Vettel moving over in response to such a team order?

    Verstappen is a talent beyond what we’ve seen in recent times, and will ultimately join the Greats! And the Greats don’t give way to anyone. However unfair that might seem to mere mortals, that is the very quality, as brutal as it is, which sets them apart.

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