Porsche LMP1 team principal Andreas Seidl says team orders are “part of the game” and has revealed the German manufacturer will continue to utilize such a strategy for the remainder of the season in the wake of last month’s controversial finish at the Nürburgring.
The FIA World Endurance Championship-leading No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley picked up the win in Germany, courtesy of a longer fuel stop for the then-leading No. 1 entry of Andre Lotterer in the final 30 minutes of the race.
Seidl said team orders, which they have utilized on multiple occasions, including at Fuji Speedway in 2015, will continue to be enforced to ensure both the Manufacturers and Drivers’ World Championships.
“Different to some reports after the race, it was always clear for the drivers that we will always do what’s best for Porsche,” Seidl said Friday in Mexico City, site of this weekend’s race.
“It’s a team sport. Regardless of the positions, 1-2 or other positions, it was clear there will always be a finish in the order that’s optimum for the championship. And we’ll keep doing that.
“Our task is clear. We want to win two championships, which are still on the table. This is important for us.
“In my responsibility, I’ll do everything I can do, which is allowed per the regulations, to make sure that we win these two championships.”
Seidl said last month’s Six Hours of the Nürburgring was a unique situation in that both cars were on the “same level” for the first time in multiple races and made the late-race team orders more apparent.
“What we had, the first time in a long time, we had two cars throughout the race with six drivers being on the same level,” he said.
“In the end, the performance of the cars were varying amount by the [debris] pickup that was coated by the rear wing, especially.
“Based on that, sometimes the cars were running into each other and we swapped positions and so on by radio command.
“Once we saw the race was under control, we told Earl to back off.
“At the same time, Nick had contact with a GT [car]. We had to go to the stewards, so there was a risk of a penalty. This is why we told Earl to back off and Car 1 was allowed to keep going.
“He was in front anyway at this time because Nick passed Earl when the car spun.
“But we allowed them to keep going because there was a risk of a penalty. We knew we would sort it out at the end of the race.”
Lotterer, who along with Tandy were visibly upset in the post-race press conference, admitted Nürburgring was a “hard” race for him personally, after being on the brink of his first victory with the manufacturer.
The ex-Audi LMP1 ace, along with Tandy and reigning World Drivers’ Champion Jani, were essentially eliminated from the title fight with its retirement at Le Mans, which saw their Porsche teammates take victory in the double points-paying race.
“That’s how it goes,” Lotterer said. “I will keep pushing and our performance at the Nürburgring was great.
“The team bosses are making these decisions on behalf of Porsche, and if the sister car has a retirement and a Toyota wins the point gap could shrink a lot.
“I can’t hide it’s hard for us. We race to win and that’s what drives us, especially for me. I’m new in the team and would like a victory with the team.”
Seidl said the same strategy has been in place at Porsche since its arrival into the LMP1 ranks in 2014, with the goal of making team orders as transparent as possible.
“It’s open depending on how the race goes and how big the gaps are, how you do it,” he said.
“One thing that’s important for me a team boss, when you do team orders, you need to do it transparent, to the drivers and to the outside world.
“There’s no point telling your story afterwards. It’s a clear strategy that’s in place for this kind of racing, for all manufacturers taking part in it.
“There’s no point hiding it. You do it in the easiest way.
“I think they have [all been] in this business long enough to know it happens. It’s the same at Toyota or at Audi. It’s part of the game. In the end, what matters is to win the title.”
Vincent Wouters contributed to this report