There was some controversy at the Malaysian Grand Prix, with Felipe Massa being ordered to let teammate Valtteri Bottas pass. It wasn't good for fans, it wasn't good for racing, but it was good for the team. Which was a shame. Thankfully, at today's Bahrain Grand Prix, we saw the power of racing without team orders.
When Formula One fans talk about "team orders," they usually mean one thing – a driver in the lead is asked to pull over (or worse) to help ensure that their teammate in the race secures a better points position. The reasons why they could be issued are complex, but usually they revolve around promoting one driver's chances over another's in the championship.
They're generally considered pretty awful, and even most drivers hate them. Pulling over to let someone go past you is, in fact, the opposite of racing. Because racing means finishing first, not finishing second so that some other guy who your team has chosen as the star will stand atop the podium.
Which is why it's such a joy that Mercedes has officially announced that it won't be issuing team orders.
And really, it shouldn't, when your team is as stacked as Mercedes' is. 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton and son-of-the-1982-World-Champion Nico Rosberg are a pretty tough pair to beat.
And that's a main reason why the Bahrain Grand Prix was such an amazing race. Mercedes definitely has the fastest car to start out he year, partially owing to its incredibly innovative turbo design, and usually when you have a dominant race car from one team you get pretty boring racing.
One guy always wins, and one guy always comes in second, and that's that. We saw it over the past four years, as Sebastian Vettel racked up championships for Red Bull.
But now, with Mercedes leading the pack, it doesn't matter as much if two cars are miles ahead of everybody else. Because they'll be duking it out with each other right until the finish.
And in the case of today's race, even past the finish.
Hamilton and Rosberg went at each other, lap after lap, pushing each other to see who was truly the fastest. They weren't just racing against each other, they were racing with each other. One would take the outside line, and the other would dart to the inside. One would brake late, and the other would try to force them off the track.
At one point, Mercedes team director Paddy Lowe pleaded with both drivers to at least bring the cars home, and to stop nearly trying to destroy each other in fits of racing fury, but they didn't even seem to notice.
That doesn't mean there weren't any team orders, but just that they didn't matter for the racing overall. And that's a win for everybody.
It doesn't even matter who won (it was Lewis, for the record, with Nico coming in second), because it was full of great racing anyways. Perennial backmarker Force India managed to grab a podium, ahead of the once-mighty Red Bulls. Ferrari is struggling at the back of the pack, but because it's got the insanely talented drivers of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, it's still grittily determined not to give up a single place.
And the beautiful Williams of Felipe Massa managed to hold off so many for so long, with brakes locking up everywhere and masterful moves across the track.
Oh, and this happened:
And that was pretty great, too, because Esteban Gutierrez managed to walk away from that monster flip. And his assailant, Pastor Maldonado, only managed to get a five-place grid penalty and only had two penalty points added to his license for China, which is ridiculous considering he basically scooped a guy onto his head and Daniel Ricciardo received double that in penalties just for a little pit-lane incident.
It was crazy, it was beautiful, at times it made no sense whatsoever, and that's what can make F1 so great.
Your full provisional results are below:
Photos via Getty Images