Team orders have often lead Ferrari to controversy and embarrassment, but how many one-offs are too many one-offs?
Ferrari have recently adopted an all-new team orders policy, appearing to 'let their drivers race', as Christian Horner would say. That is very uncommon for the Italian team, as they have always had a very strict approach regarding their drivers' priority: When it comes to the team, one of the two always has to back off, in order for the other one to benefit off them. But that 'one of the two' has always been a specific driver, unlike this season.
Monaco and Silverstone have been two perfect examples of Ferrari's new approach, with the team losing significant points in both cases. Both races could've been a 1-2 result for the people from Maranello, but, not being able to choose between Leclerc and Sainz, or taking too long to make a call anyway, they threw that away.
As I said earlier, this has never happened before. It's the first time that Ferrari is facing a serious dilemma, and are not able to make a choice. So, let's remember the times where Ferrari was in fact able to choose a favourite, causing controversy.
1982 San Marino Grand Prix, Gilles Villeneuve vs Didier Pironi
This might not be an example of Ferrari making a choice, but what came from it was actually shocking. In 1982, when Ferrari's 'Slow' sign was a thing, Gilles Villeneuve was leading the San Marino Grand Prix, with his teammate, Didier Pironi following him in P2. As per a pre-race-agreement, both drivers would have slow down, when the sign was showed, in order to finish under formation, with no change in the order though.
Villeneuve was showed the sign and immediately slowed down, expecting Pironi to do the same. The Frenchman did not follow the team's orders and cruised past Villeneuve, driving to his second, out of three, victory of his career.
Villeneuve was so furious he didn't even step on the podium. He came back the next race, ready to smash Pironi on track, but his anger lead him to a fatal mistake. Villeneuve crashed in Qualifying of the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix, suffering multiple injuries that lead to his death, leaving everyone in shambles. Would Villeneuve still be alive, if it wasn't for Ferrari's 'slow' sign? I guess we'll never know.
2002 Austrian Grand Prix, Schumacher vs Barrichello
Rubens Barrichello was leading the majority of the race, with Michael Schumacher right behind him, until he was asked by Ferrari to move over, in order for Michael Schumacher to win the race, to stretch his lead on the drivers' Championship.
Barrichello initially refused to step aside, but eventually let Schumacher by, at the last corner of the last lap of the race, with Schumacher making it to the finish line first, just 2 tenths ahead of Barrichello.
Having already won four out of five races in the beginning of the season, Schumacher arrived in Austria with a 21-point lead over Juan Pablo Montoya, who was second in the standings. Many considered Ferrari's approach extreme and unnecessary, with the Italian team receiving lots of booing on track and harsh comments from the press.
Schumacher let Barrichello step on the top step of the podium, breaking protocol, with both drivers receiving a fine for breaching protocol.
2010 German Grand Prix, Alonso vs Massa
Starting from P3, Felipe Massa had a stellar start, overtaking both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, who started from P1 and P2, respectively. He struggled with tyre temperature for a little while, but apart from that, he didn't really have any issues.
With Massa finding traffic ahead of him, Alonso eventually caught up with him, reducing the gap between the Ferrari pair.
Ferrari, wanting to help Alonso achieve the 25th win of his career, asked Massa to let him by towards the end of the race. The move seemed rather controversial, as Ferrari wasn't really hunting a championship victory, with the Maranello team being third in the constructors' standings, and Fernando Alonso standing fifth. Ferrari received a $100.000 fine by the race stewards for imposing team orders.