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Two Races Left – Team Orders All Around!

According to Martin Whitmarsh, the way things work in the atmosphere of love, respect, and cuddling they foster over at McLaren is that Jenson will now just happily help Lewis on his way to the championship without anyone having to say anything to him at all!  Aaaww.

Unfortunately, Jenson Button is like, “Hmm.  Actually, you know what?  No.

Of course, Whitmarsh thinks it’s time for Red Bull to throw all their support behind one driver — Webber — as well.  (Is it just me, or is all this somewhat at odds with the ethos indicated by these statements?) However, he says rather poetically that Red Bull’s “heart beats for Vettel,” and therefore this is unlikely to happen.

Christian Horner agrees.  Well. . .he agrees with the Red-Bull-not-favoring-one-driver part.  (He hasn’t actually made a public statement about for whom the team’s heart beats.)   As far as he’s concerned, though, McLaren’s strategy at this point should be a “no brainer”: support Hamilton over Button.  Why one would be a no brainer and the other not so much is a little puzzling, and it might be hard for Red Bull to justify without admitting their preferential love for Vettel.  The fact is that neither Button nor Vettel has been mathematically eliminated from the championship, although Vettel has, er, been more not mathematically eliminated than Button.

Naturally, the team-orders-loving Brothers Schumacher also consider it to be time for Red Bull to support Webber over Vettel. “Sebastian needs to get as many points as he can, but Red Bull must see to it that Webber gets the title,” Michael “Move Over Rubens” Schumacher said, rather bluntly.

Not surprising coming from him, of course — but here’s the part that really stuck in my craw:

“I’m sorry for Sebastian,” he told German television Sky. “I have to recall almost a decade ago, when everyone thought we at Ferrari were crazy to be thinking about the championship so early.

“But if Red Bull had done the same, their worry lines would be much smaller now,” added the German.

Okay — call me naive, call me ignorant (go ahead!), but I find this attitude really irritating.  I found it irritating a few weeks ago, too, when Ferrari was crowing “See? We were right to favor Fernando all along!”  It’s a bit like a self-fulfilling prophecy, choosing a number one driver early on in the season.  Which, obviously, is kind of the point — but then don’t pretend that it’s proven something about the wisdom of your decision when it all works out so famously for that driver.

So much of racing is psychological; how can the knowledge that your own team isn’t 100 percent behind you not have an effect on your performance?  Who knows whether things might have gone differently for Felipe Massa if he’d been allowed to win that race in Hockenheim? I’m not saying that Alonso has no performance edge over Massa; I think most would agree that he does.  But where would Massa be in the points right now had he been able to win that race, which — who knows — might have spurred him on to better performance in subsequent races?  This is someone who has come very close to winning the championship before, after all.

But Ferrari might as well be saying, “Look! We favored Fernando early on and ensured that he enjoyed an advantage over Felipe, and now he’s doing better in the championship!”  Um, yes.  Yes, you did, and yes, he is.  Funny how that works.

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