Mercedes GP CEO Nick Fry says teams should put the good of the sport above their own personal ambitions, and realize how damaging the use of team orders can be to the image of grand prix racing.
Fry reckons that F1 faces such big challenges from other sporting and entertainment sectors that it cannot afford accusations that it is not a proper sport.
"I think the first thing is that we all have to obey the rules," Fry told AUTOSPORT. "Whether you like it or not the stewards and the FIA have the final say. Putting that aside, I think the teams have an absolute responsibility for the show. The show is what generates the fans; the fans are what generate the sponsors, and the sponsors generate sponsorship which allows us to run the teams. So they are the customers at the end of the day, and we have got to put on a good show.
"Putting aside whether or not it was team orders, I do feel sorry for Felipe [Massa] especially after what happened last year which we were very sad about. He was putting in a great performance. It doesn't seem fair regardless."
Fry acknowledges there are huge commercial pressures on teams to succeed in F1, but believes that they should think more carefully about delivering what fans of the sport want.
"Personally, I think the show is the most important thing," he said. "I heard David Coulthard talk about the history and the fact there always were team orders, but I think times have changed. This is sport and the fans out there want to see the drivers fighting. While the teams think it is a teams' championship, most of the fans – possibly with the exception of Ferrari – support the drivers who happen to drive for a team. I think we have to let them fight it out and only intervene if it is getting out of hand, and they are knocking each other off."
Fry believes that ultimately a team has to decide what its core strategy is – and he says at his current squad, through its BAR and Brawn GP identities, has been that of driver equality.
"I think you have got to start with basic philosophy, and the basic philosophy since I've been at this team is that we treat both drivers equally," he said. "When I first arrived with Jacques [Villeneuve] and Olivier [Panis] it was very difficult to do that because we were simply not well enough organized, and sometimes we had to give one driver something and not give it to the other. But it was in the full knowledge of both and we tried to distribute fairly.
"That situation for us changed a long time ago and the only rule is don't crash into each other. Apart from that, you have a responsibility to give them equal stuff and we would not countenance a contract that went against that."