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Saturday, August 30, 2003

Conspiracy Theory : More Dodgy FIA Rulings

Well what more can I say? The FIA are at it again. Now, with pressure from the Bridgestone teams and in particulary, Ferrari, no doubt, the FIA have ruled that from the next race onwards (Monza) they will change the way they measure tyres widths.

Apparently at issue here is the legality of the Michelin tyres. Now first, it must be understood that Michelin have been building their tyres in its current form since the San Marino Grand Prix in 2001. That's more than 2 years ago. But of course back in those days, their tyres were crap. So naturally the Bridgestone teams and of course Ferrari had very little to complain about.

Now the situation is different. Michelin are nigh all conquering with their latest offerings. So naturally there are those, and in particular the high profile Ferrari team are not at all pleased with the state of play. Michelin's tyres are said to have "special" characteristics that allow it to exceed the maximum tyre width of 270mm when their threads wear down during the course of a race. On the Autosport website it is further speculated that the tyre width increases beyond the maximum permissible width when the tyre is run at speed.

So what do the FIA do? They have just announced that from Monza onwards, the way that tyre widths are measured will be changed. The tyres will now be measured before and after the race. Prior to this, tyres were measured for legality only prior to the race. This of course is happenning in the middle of the bloody season when the championship is really hanging in the balance. I mean come on.

Take yourselves back to 1982 when minimum ride heights were introduced into Formula 1 to reduce the effectiveness of ground effects aerodynamics. The teams and in particular Williams countered this with electro hydraulic suspension systems that when at rest or not at speed would raise the car far above and beyond the minimum ride height. During the race however, it would lower the car to below the minimum requirement. It is legal because during the race and when the cars are running you couldn't measure for certain the car's ride height. So all is legal. And in fact the minimum height rule was abandoned after that season. It wasn't until 1994 when the wooden plank was introduced could the FIA regulate ride heights on Formula 1 cars.

Still though, it was a brilliant idea using that particular suspension system. But now let's say for arguments sake that Michelin has found a loophole in the regulations, they should at least be rewarded for their ingenuity. But to change the rules in the middle of a season reeks of foul play.

Michael Schumacher earlier this week stated that "Ferrari is a really strong team and the greater the difficulty the more determined we are to win." Yeah bitch. A bit too determined aren't we? I have no doubt that this team with its close association with Bridgestone are fully behind this plot. Yes, you can call this a conspiracy theory but I'll tell you something everyone in the paddock knows that these manouverings are part and parcel of the Maranello team being the ultimate politcial animals that they are. If the situation were reversed, you can bet the FIA wouldn't take any action against Bridgestone and would just shut the other teams up.

Perhaps the FIA are afraid that if Ferrari doesn't win again, they will lose all those blind bimbo tifosi that just so adore the scarlet machines. After all, last Sunday's debacle was pretty humiliating. All those years thinking their team is all that and all. Certainly I think a lot of those who especially know nothing about racing (and most Ferrari fans fall in this categories... not all but most) would begin to switch off their tele. The other teams are just not as exciting or emotionally charged. And you'd lose all these fans and viewing figures. And we can't have that can we, Bernie?

Again I digress. So, back to the original point. Changing the rules like this in the middle of a season is simply foul play. The Michelin teams and Michelin themselves should be prepared for a huge court room battle with the FIA.

I used to think that Jean Marie Balestre was a hugely biased FIA president. Being a Frenchman I always thought he ruled for his countryman Alain Prost more often than not. But at least he wasn't a greedy little bastard like Max Mosley and his comrade Bernie Ecclestone. My point is the FIA reeks with manipulation all in the name of the almighty dollar (or is the Euro these days?). This latest episode is just another example. And just when it was fun watching Formula 1 again.

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