…That classic fundamental conflict of interest rose its ugly head once more in Canada. Drivers goals v’s team goals, and at the #CanadiaGP 2017 it may have cost Ocon a podium.
As I am sure you all witnessed, after the final round of pit stops Ricciardo (last Red Bull standing after Max retired with electrical failure) seemed to struggle to get the heat in the soft tyres which gave Perez behind the confidence that he should stick to his tail and hope for a mistake – Prerez could smell a podium and a trophy to take home.
“I had pressure, so I couldn’t afford to do any mistakes, and it was getting quite hot so concentration was being tested”
Daniels consistency however lap after lap was, for me, one of the more impressive drives of the day. I can understand where Perez’ rationale was, the car in front was battling to get heat into the soft tyre, they were all suffering from the windy conditions and he would have known that Red Bull Radio would have told Daniel that Vettel has him in his sights and he should prepare for a dog fight for P3.. All he needed was a single mistake, or lockup from Ricciardo.
Ocon was undoubtedly on a faster strategy (he had previously been up as high as P2), Ocon on the Super Softs had the Force India pit wall imploring Perez to allow the quicker driver through by lap 56, Ocon asking to be allowed to “have a crack at Ricciardo”, and looking like he might have a chance!
Despite team orders, Perez not wanting to be outshone by a younger team-mate refused to concede. All evidence shows that Ocon was faster and Ricciardo was not making mistakes. Through desperation, the team also assured Perez that should Ocon not be able to take Ricciardo then they could switch places again.
Did Perez spoil the closing moments of the 2017 Canadian GP? I imagine Ocon had so many more supporters than Perez by that last corner, crossing the line with less than a few tenths of a second between them.
As it unfolded, after brilliant period of defensive driving, Ricciardo managed to secure his place on the bottom step – and a trophy to take home with him. His third podium in three races.
Now whether you personally hate team orders, feel that a natural order of things should always be the conclusion, it is a team sport.
Team orders are allowed (at the moment), and should be therefore be followed, enquiries and arguments to be taken up and sorted in private after.
So, to that fundamental conflict of interest .. one championship, two trophy’s.
One for the driver, who gets to take it home. This is the drivers top priority because it means he now ranks as the current best driver in the world and is accompanied by membership of an elite hall of fame.
The other is a different trophy, one for the team, that stays with the team. This is the team owners priority because it sets them us as the best team in the world, and comes with many,many millions of pounds of funding for the following year, not to mention no you finding it easy to get sponsors and the best drivers who want to get in your car.
Drivers want to win at all costs, teams want to win at all costs. Who should win? Well, if it was “Team BarbyF1”, I would be mindful of keeping drivers I wanted next year happy and overlook a few things (not without them being aware I had swept it under the carpet in an overly dramatic fashion like my wife does with a place mat if I put my tea down on the antique oak table without one!) BUT from the outset I would make it clear, there is no bigger ego than the team, no priority more important and no goal bigger than the constructors title. If you win the driver’s title whilst fighting – then all the better, but if you trip each other up intentionally, or I say move over and you don’t, you will be driving a Honda next year.
There are two cars in a team, two cars to go and get tangled up in as many dogfights as they can, and the team principal SHOULD be able to use tactics with one of the cars to develop advantages in the moment caused by a certain amount of randomness and chaos.
This weekend I feel we saw the older team mate in Force India, Perez acting as the warning of “how not to be”, rather than the example of “how to be” to the younger Ocon, who’s maturity (or exuberance and optomism of youth) shone through in post race interview saying with a smile “my time will come”
The Ferrari driver closed in rapidly after getting past Perez but there wasn’t enough time and the Red Bull driver was able to hold third. Certainly the 20-year-old (behind Perez) was denied a shot of defending against Vettel and perhaps his first podium and that would have been the story of the race, well for me anyway.
Driver and Constructor Standings after the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Sunday
1. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 141
2. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 129
3. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Mercedes 93
4. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 73
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull 67
6. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull 45
1. Mercedes 222
2. Ferrari 214
3. Red Bull – TAG Heuer 112