Former F1 World Champion Jenson Button has slated team orders as being bad for team morale and bad for progress – although the McLaren-Mercedes star has re-assured that despite their controversial legalisation by the FIA in the wake of the well-documented Hockenheim furore last summer, he does not believe there will be any such further incidents so early on in the season.
Last year, Button had vowed to reconsider his future in the sport should such flagrant manipulation of a race's results as was committed by Ferrari in the 2010 German Grand Prix – when Felipe Massa was manoeuvred out of the way to enable his team-mate Fernando Alonso to sweep to victory and thereby bolster his ultimately unsuccessful title chances – be declared permissible.
Ferrari's blatant disregard for the sport's fans prompted an outcry, but governing body the FIA elected to blame grey areas in the rules and consequent difficulties in enforcement rather than the Scuderia
itself, going on to scrap the regulation outlawing team orders that had been brought into force following the infamous staged finish of the Austrian Grand Prix in 2002, similarly involving the Prancing Horse.
Whilst Button has gone on to reiterate his distaste for the practice and what he holds to be its detrimental effect upon the atmosphere inside a team, the 31-year-old is confident that even though they are now acceptable, the spectre of team orders will not cast a shadow over the battle for glory in F1 2011 and that teams will not abuse their newfound freedom to 'manage' their two drivers.
“I don't think [team orders from an early stage of the season] will happen, I really don't,” the nine-time grand prix-winner told Reuters
. “I think [teams] will realise that two drivers are better than one. For setting a car up, you need two experienced drivers.
“If you are putting all your eggs in one basket, the other driver is not going to feel like giving you feedback, is he? He's not going to feel like pushing the car to the limit. He's not going to qualify well and he's not going to race well. If I had a team, I would have both drivers having a fair shot at it because they are going to push each other hard.
“I hope that drivers are allowed to race fairly. You do all this hard work of getting to F1 and fighting your way through the lower ranks, and you arrive and you should be given fair treatment.
“You could say [team orders] are great because all the points go to one driver, but the morale within the team must be terrible because one driver always knows he is on the back foot. It can't be positive for a team to be in that environment, to have one driver know that he's got to give a place up.
“I am happy with the position that we have [at McLaren] with no team orders; it's the way it should be when you are both world champions. You both want to fight for a world championship again – you don't want to give each other an inch on the circuit.”