F1 Driver’s Championship may have doubt cast on its integrity

According to Speed.com, the current Formula One Driver’s Championship may be clouded by an asterisk in the record books.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso currently leads the driver’s championship over Red Bull’s Mark Webber by 11 points with two races left in the season.  Back in the middle of the season, Ferrari ran first and second, with Alonso’s teammate, Felipe Massa, running in the lead.  Once they were assured of a one-two victory, the team allegedly used coded radio transmission to have Felipe pull aside and let Fernando go ahead for the win, and an additional 7 points.  This was met with a sporting violation challenge and MUCH media criticism, since “team orders” are banned (it was also met with a $100,000 fine to Ferrari).  Realize, now, that team orders are only nominally banned–many of those strongest critics freely admitted that if it was closer to the end of the season and one driver in a team had an obvious lead, then team orders should be allowed.

Hypocritical much?  OH WAIT, it gets worse:

“If Alonso wins the championship with a margin less than the seven points, it would devalue the championship – that’s a personal view,” said former FIA president Max Mosley.

Does anyone remember why Max Mosley is the FORMER president of the FIA?  OH YEAH:

At the start of 2008, Mosley said that he wanted to see through reforms such as budget capping and new technologies like KERS successfully introduced into Formula One before retiring.[97] In March of that year the News of the World, a British tabloid newspaper, released video footage of Mosley engaged in sado-masochistic sexual acts with five sex workers in a scenario that the paper said involved Nazi role-playing, a situation made more controversial by his father’s association with the Nazis.[98] Mosley admitted “the embarrassment the revelations caused”, but said that there was no Nazi theme involved.[99] He was strongly criticised by former drivers, motor manufacturers and several of the national motoring bodies who form the FIA.[100][101][102] His involvement in several high level motor sport events was cancelled.[103] Public expressions of support were limited. Mosley says that he received much supportive correspondence,[104] and said that he would continue to the end of his current term, which he said would be his last.[105] Mosley’s long time ally Ecclestone eventually appeared to support Mosley’s removal.[106]

Devalue the championship?  PLEASE, FOOL.  Shut the hell up, and go enjoy your retirement.  We don’t want to hear your offensive mouth anymore.  Go away.

As for the team orders business itself, if Ferrari wins by 1 point because they used team orders earlier than crusty old racers thought they should, well good for them.  They broke the rules, they were fined for it (and supposedly paid that fine), and it’s in the past.  If the fine wasn’t sufficient, the FIA would have taken further steps when they met specifically to discuss additional punishments months ago; you don’t get a second bite of the apple.

Red Bull is staunchly supporting the “no preferred driver” party line, despite some of those most critical of Ferrari’s earlier move saying that Red Bull should pick a champion and stick behind him now.

Besides that, the FIA is looking at abolishing the team orders ban for next year anyway (under Mosley’s self picked replacement, Jean Todt, the former Ferrari team principle).  NATCH.

Full disclosure:  GO RED CARS GO!!!

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4 Responses to “F1 Driver’s Championship may have doubt cast on its integrity”

  1. Sorry Natch but Ferrari cheated in Hockenheim. We all saw them do it. If Alonso wins by less than 7 points he won’t be a champion, it’s just that simple.

    Race fans all over the world know what Ferrari did and we don’t like it. They brought the sport into disrepute. Having a go at Mosley does not alter the fact that Alonso has 7 points that don’t belong to him.

    You just have to hope that Alonso either wins by more than 7 points or loses clearly. Otherwise your red cars will be remembered as cheats for ever more.

  2. Hi Mike!

    You’re right, they did, at a minimum, skirt the rules. At a maximum, outright broke them. But they were punished for it with the maximum fine possible, and the FIA considered additional punishments, including stripping Fernando’s points. They chose not to, so the fact of the matter is that the points are his now.

    All the teams flout the rules: last year’s diffusers that were not in accordance, but were allowed; Red Bull’s supposedly flexible floor that was quietly changed, and Schumi’s parking on the track during qualifying. It happens all the time. That doesn’t mean that the victor, or the loser, or even the also-rans didn’t earn their ranking by the end of the season.

    I certainly don’t think Ferrari will be remembered as cheats “for ever more,” especially if the ridiculous and only-sometimes-applicable rule is disbanded for next year. If we’re going to stand behind the rule, we should do it all season (props again to Red Bull for towing the tough line on this one), and not just until there is a “clear” driver who should be a team favorite.

    As for having a go at Mosley, I wasn’t trying to use that as justification for the uproar over the points bit. Really, I was trying to point out that of all people, Mosley shouldn’t be talking about people who bring disrepute on the sport. Tabloid or not, there’s enough shenanigans in his scandal that he should have faded away quietly.

    I get the argument over the points; really I do. I see both sides, but I think that the punishment should stand as time served, and the community move on. I know, I know: it’s F1; we won’t let it go. But Mosley? Come on…the guy is a leech.

    By the way, I’m jealous of you: I wish I had a race close enough to easily attend as you do. I started watching in 2006, and wasn’t hooked enough to want to go to one until 2008, when the Indy circus was canceled. They even canned Canada the next year when I wanted to go to it! I’m originally from Texas, and sure hope that the race in Austin will live up to all the hype they’re trying to generate for it. Regardless of its awesomeness or lack thereof, I’ll be in Austin 2012!

  3. Hi L-T

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. A couple of points.

    First, even if people have got away with breaches of the rules in the past, that does not mean that all breaches are OK provided you can get away with them. There were two elements to Ferrari’s cheating at Hockenheim – the clear breach of the no-team-orders rule, plus a breach of the old 151c ISC “any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition” rule. Even if there were no rule for team orders, 151c would apply as it did in the 2002 Schumacher/Barrichello incident. By ordering Massa to move over, Ferrari destroyed the competition and prevented what should have been an interesting race between the two Ferrari cars. To do this was blatantly contrary to the interests of the competition.

    Second, I find it very difficult to think the worse of Mosley because he had an unusual sex life. This had nothing to do with motor racing and involved no one connected with the sport. Different countries have different attitudes to sex. For example, I believe oral sex is actually illegal in some USA states yet it is regarded a quite normal in Europe and most other places. Over here most people regard a person’s sex life as private and, indeed, Mosley won his case against the newspaper as well as a vote of confidence from the FIA. If we only allow motor sport people to have sex in the missionary position with the light out we will be the poorer.

    Modern Formula One has been strongly influenced for the better by Mosley as almost all insiders agree and several drivers owe avoidance serious injury or death to his efforts. To call him a leech is unimpressive. We all disagree with the odd decision (and no doubt will with his successor) but the man should be given respect for his achievements.

    Hope to meet you in Austin!
    Mike

  4. Mike,

    Well written, friend; well written. In reverse order:

    I completely agree with you regarding Max’s safety achievements. The are admirable, and have truly defined his career. I’m glad he spent so much of his life in the series (especially after he quit driving; apparently not so stellar there), for I’m not sure if the competition could survive in today’s global culture if we still lost a driver or two every year.

    You are absolutely correct that many sexual acts are illegal in some states here; however, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone being charge with such a crime in at least 150 years. I believe it’s also illegal for a woman to drive a car down a street in Pennsylvania without a man waving a red flag in front of her. Please don’t judge us on our stupidity of laws. If you want to do that, let me give you some real idiot moves our various levels of government have created over the last couple centuries. I’ll start with “Prohibition:” how did that work out for us? I think the worst effect of that was that now all Americans want to watch roundy roundy left hand turns with carburetors instead of a real race.

    I think my real frustration with Mosley was that he made a comment on how someone else’s behavior reflected on the sport. I believe he said it would “devalue” the sport; I’d argue it has had, and will have had, by far less of a devaluative effect than his sex scandal. That’s hard to measure, I know; that’s why it’s my opinion. In my little corner of cyberspace, of course, my opinion is OBVIOUSLY right. 🙂

    Regarding the Ferrari’s violation of the rules (I guess both Massa’s & Barrichelo’s), I still find it to be quite hypocritical to call them out on it and not have the same standard for Sunday’s race. Even Barrichello seems to think it’s okay to violate 151c if it’s the last lap of the last race:

    “I have always been against team orders,” he is quoted by Globo. But if someone has no more mathematical chances in the last moment but the other one (the teammate) does, then it is definitely better for the team.

    “So I see nothing wrong if that happens in the last lap.”

    That’s from Speed.com. From the same article, Niki Lauda says:

    “For me it would be a great gesture from Vettel; gentlemanly and fair,” said the triple World Champion.”

    So I guess it all boils down to this: Why is it okay to have drivers voluntarily give up positions to someone else at the END of the season, and not during the European leg of the Championship? Seems to me that the rules should be interpreted during the first race the same as they’d be interpreted during the last one.

    Thanks again for writing intelligently and calmly!

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