When even Bernie Ecclestone says that a stewards’ decision is a farce, you can bet that something is wrong. In an interview with Germany’s Sport Bild publication, as reported by Update F1, Bernie admitted that he understood Briatore’s anger at the Monza stewards’ penalizing of the alleged blocking by Alonso of Felipe Massa in qualifying. He labeled the decision a farce and went on to say that Ferrari is the only team to get political support from the FIA.
These are stunning admissions, even if no surprise to those who follow the politics ever-present behind the F1 facade. Bernie has always been regarded as an important part of the monolith that is the FIA and has even been termed “Mr Formula One”. For him to break ranks and disagree with the party line shows that there is some justification for suspicions that the FIA is manipulating the result of this year’s championship.
Unfortunately, it will count for nothing in the end. Although it now seems unlikely that Briatore will be penalized for his angry remarks after hearing of the stewards’ decision, nothing will be done to right the wrong perpetrated upon Alonso. It will drift off into the past and be forgotten until the next blatantly partisan ruling by the FIA.
What really irritates me is the FIA’s accusation that Briatore brought F1 into disrepute by his statements. It seems to have been missed that the statements were directed against the FIA, not F1; are we to understand that the FIA considers itself to be Formula One and therefore untouchable? Let’s get things into perspective here: the FIA is the sport’s governing body, composed of delegates from various countries and interests, and it is as capable of error and bad judgement as any other assemblage of human beings. It should never be considered as above criticism.
Formula One is the sport, the teams, the cars, the drivers, the circuits, the fans, the races and, oh yes, the governing body too. Any of these elements can be criticized but the FIA seems to think itself the one constituent that is sacrosanct. And the sad fact is that the FIA has done more than anyone else to bring F1 into disrepute with its long list of dubious decisions, court cases and high-handed rulings.
Yet we continue to watch the show. In truth, the political wranglings that are so much a part of F1 these days are almost as fascinating as the sport itself. We are as human as the delegates of the FIA and we do enjoy a good fight. It stirs the blood to become incensed over some idiotic decision that affects a driver that we’re rooting for; we may get angry but that is a very good indicator that we are hooked on this sport, that it has come to be an important part of our lives.
Ironically, it seems that it’s our passion for F1 that enables the FIA to act in the way it does.