News and views on motorsports

Thursday, June 30, 2005

After The Verdict

Did anyone expect it to be any different? No matter whether you're behind the Michelin 7 or against them, the verdict was always going to be guilty. Officially, the teams were found guilty on 2 out of 5 charges laid against them by the FIA. Pitpass summary here. Jay Steele has a few good comments here.

On the actual issue, note that all the drivers of the affected teams have issued a joint statement basically calling the FIA's proposals prior to Indianpolis as "unworkable, unpoliceable and unsafe." Whilst I've struggled to put down my thoughts on it before I think I completely agree with these blokes. The FIA's idea of asking these drivers to voluntarily reduce speed significantly in that very fast turn is perposterous and simply shows how little the Establishment knows about racing and racing drivers. And they want to make the rules?

All other issues are well commented on elsewhere including the recent Michelin refunds so I won't touch that here except to say that its probably a good PR exercise by Michelin but I somehow think it won't satisfy all the aggrieved fans. Nevertheless, good move, something you'd expect from that company.

What I do want to touch on however, is the independence of any FIA councils and appelate courts. In a recent poll in the pitlane, 9 out of 10 people do not agree that the council is an independent entity. As the Steeles put it, how can the FIA rule against itself. But in such a high stake sport like motor racing, there really needs to be an independent body trusted by everyone to do the right thing. But the will of the Motorsport Council is really a political one and has nothing to do with justice. It exists solely for the benefit of the FIA.

Even if the Council or FIA appeals courts are in truth independent, they simply cannot do their task any longer. Such councils and courts must be seen to be independent. And frankly no one sees them as such. They have no credibility.

As this article in and this statement from the teams point out, the judgement is inconsistent. First the FIA says that the teams were not guilty of wrongfully refusing to race under speed restriction, but then concludes that the teams were guilty of wrongfully refusing to race "having regard to their right to use the pit lane on each lap." But as the teams have quite rightly pointed out, no such charge was in the first place levelled on the teams. How could they find them guilty of such charges?

All you FIA sympathizers don't believe me? Then have a look at their very own letter to the teams that contained the charges brought against them. Where does it say anything about diving into the pitlane? Crap!

In any case, diving into the pitlane was never suggested by the FIA at Indianapolis prior to the race. The only one I heard of suggesting such a thing was Rubens Barrichello in the post race press conference. A Ferrari driver mind you.

It all reeks of cattle manure. Especially this suspended sentence thing. The FIA have delayed any sentencing until September. Obviously because it is to their benefit or otherwise to their detriment if the sentencing caused the teams to stage a mass walkout. The FIA have not got the interests of the sport in mind but namely their own interests. And its plain and clear to see.

And I take issue with the FIA's demands that Michelin should hand over their tyre data to the FIA for inspection by "independent technical experts." And who might these experts be? Ferrari? Bridgestone? You may accuse me of trying to hatch a conspiracy theory but given the behaviour of the FIA, Ferrari and Bridgestone in the past, I wouldn't bet against it.

This is truly sad. Formula 1 has the best drivers competing in it with some of the best racing organizations on the planet. It is the ultimate, the pinnacle of motor racing. With all due respect to fans, nothing, not NASCAR, Indycar, Champcars, Touring cars or any other racing series you can think of, comes close to it. I may be a huge touring car fan but it will never grab my attention like Formula 1.

Formula 1 may have the best of everything else but it hasn't got the best governance, an incredibly essential component of any racing series.

On a sepearate but related issue, tts sad when you have stupid articles like this one on suggesting that some silly gimmick movie about a stupid Volkswagen Beetle promoting NASCAR being something for Formula 1 to think about.

The FIA are a legacy of the twentieth century when gentlemen cronies ruled the sport and the motoring world in general. It survives to this modern age. Far more than just calling for the resignation of its incompetent and corrupt president, the entire FIA organisation needs to be overhauled. And they can start with some national affiliates I know of that follow the same modus operandi.

No comments: