News and views on motorsports

Monday, September 11, 2006


It may have been an academic argument once Fernando Alonso's engine expired in a cloud of smoke in Monza yesterday but nevertheless his grid penalty after Saturday's qualifying was still the subject of some very heated words from both the world champion and his team boss. Most damning of all was Alonso who said : "I think one per cent of people here will be happy today - those who yesterday decided the race. I hope they sleep well tonight." Furthermore, he "no longer consider F1 is a sport."

No doubt Fernando is more than a little upset about the entire affair and why shouldn't he be? As mentioned numerous times everywhere, little retard boy was no where close to him either on the straights or in the corners. Even if, as Ferrari argues, that the aero turbulence caused delay to Massa, Fernando cannot be penalised for the behaviour of the laws of physics. The world champion himself was trying to catch the start/finish line with mere seconds remaining on the clock to start his banzai lap. Massa was clearly from the television pictures at least 100 metres away.

Understandably, even Flavio Briatore, who is normally sympathetic to the FIA (being of course a good friend of both Max and Bernie) was livid. "This is a world championship which has already been decided at the table," said the supermodel dater. "We have understood how things go – it has all been decided...they have decided to give the world championship to Schumacher and that is how it will be.” And , “Compared to what is happening in Formula 1, ‘Calciopoli’ just makes me smile.” He would later recant this last statement saying that it was all a joke taken out of context. I doubt if Max would actually penalize Flavio for this but he could under the heading of "bringing the sport to disrepute." I say bring it on. For the actual fact is, it is the bloody FIA that has brought the sport into disrepute.

Max though had this to say when talking to Martin Brundle. In the interview:

Brundle: "I’ve looked at it very closely, I’ve raced 158 GPs, I commentated on it live, Alonso was so far ahead that you wouldn’t have known whether it was a Toyota, Renault or a McLaren at one point…"

Mad Max: "That is exactly where you are wrong. You see we have the advantage that we have the actual data from the car. We can look at what actually happened to the car, we can see whether it was a driver error or whether it was an aerodynamic problem and so on.He was destabilised in the Parabolica because of the wake of the car in front. That wouldn’t have happened if Alonso had had more time."

In the end even Max admitted the need for a change of ruling. But consummate politician he said : "What we are thinking very seriously about is to say next season that we will only look at these questions only if there is evidence of deliberate impeding - or in other words, intent. I don't think there was intent, but what they [the stewards] did was absolutely consistent with the rest of the season." Furthermore : "Now the rule is, rightly or wrongly, that if you are on your out-lap then you move over for the man who is on his hot lap. He did not do it - one driver suffered, and he gained an advantage."

Like all good politicians Max has a wonderful way of deflecting arguments to suit his purpose. For one thing, in the Brundle interview he claimed that the Renault team was late in sending him on his way and therefore Fernando had to hurry it up and in the process delayed Massa. Or at least, his aero turbulence did.

Both arguments are spurious. For one thing, Renault's delay was caused by a puncture suffered by Fernando. He was driving on his wheel rims and shedding bodywork all the way. Surely Renault would have had to do at least a quick check and then seeing that time was still available sent him on his way. And yet, if we follow the idiot's words, Renault should have simply hurried it up and let him go.

As for aero turbulence causing delay to Massa, a driver should be penalized for blocking and not for his bloody aerodynamics. And lastly, I do not recall any other situation this year where the stewards came to this same conclusion. In the case that I do remember, the one involving Fisichella and Villeneuve, the pair was much closer together and therefore Fisichella did have some case.

Given how critical this decision was to the world championship, you can see why the conspiracy theorists are having a field day. This coupled with the whole mass damper affair gives plenty of ammunition to those who believe that this championship is being rigged for a big finale, if not to give Ferrari and Schumacher (and the legion of tifosi) one last hurrah before Schumi leaves.

In the end though, it did not affect the outcome of the race per se for as we all know the Renault engine blew up. Fernando may have attributed that to having to use more revs than needed but the fact remains that his car retired. But still it has yet again left a bitter taste and once again calls upon the need for better governance of the sport. Except that the teams and manufacturers are such cowards that they will simply let this one slide yet again.

Someone recently accused me of being pessimistic. Well, if I am then I have every right to be. Yes, FIA presidents have always caused controversy but none to the extent of bloody Mad Max. He has single handedly changed the face and spirit of Formula 1 racing with his new technical rules that have upset and alienated most die hard fans. He has made greater errors in vast numbers in applying the sporting regulations. And he has even stooped to deliberate lying and gross misrepresentation. Disrepute? If anyone has put the sport to disrepute not once but on countless occassions then it is the FIA president himself and his cohorts who should stand trial.

Pessimistic? I shall not count the ways here. But you give me a reason to smile. Perhaps if you could lend me your rose tinted glasses so that I can.

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