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Mercedes team orders leave a sour taste in Sochi as Ferrari struggle again

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Lewis Hamilton’s victory in Russia was not ideal but nor was it a repeat of Austria 2002. The Scuderia have much to ponder

The spectre of Austria 2002 continues to hang over every instance of teams employing orders. When Ferrari made Rubens Barrichello move over for Michael Schumacher it was a decision of such cynical overkill it rightly remains infamous. At that point the season was only five races old, Schumacher had won four of them and had twice as many points as his nearest challenger, Juan Pablo Montoya. It was simply unnecessary. Team orders were banned afterwards but it was a rule that proved unenforceable and since 2011 they have been legal. In Russia Mercedes’ decision to make Valtteri Bottas cede his place and the win to Lewis Hamilton was not what anyone wanted to see but in what has always been a team sport it was, for them at least, necessary and understandable – incomparable to 2002. Hamilton enjoys a strong advantage but remains only a DNF from becoming vulnerable again, making every point vital.

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