Friday, 25 September 2009

Thought Picnic: F1 needs serious cleaning up

Drivers to the ransom

The travails of Renault with the sanctions and the loss of sponsorship hardly begins to deal with an underlying deficit of integrity in Formula 1.

If one would recall, the Ferrari spy row where McLaren was said to have obtained documents from its rival under suspicious circumstances did not come to light until Fernando Alonso threatened to tell after he found out that he was not being treated as the lead driver for McLaren in relation to Lewis Hamilton.

Likewise, the race fixing scandal in Singapore where Nelson Piquet was advised to crash his car to give his team mate Fernando Alonso advantage in the race also did not come to light until he was sacked from the team.

That Fernando Alonso appears in these two very serious cases is almost too coincidental to entertain more review, or maybe not.

Bad deeds coming to light

What appears t be happening is that a lot of sinister and underhand activity is going on in these teams where the drivers seem to have the ability to blackmail or hold their teams to ransom if things are not going their way.

Earlier in this season, it was the case of Lewis Hamilton being told to lie to the race stewards, if this issue had not come to light, there is the likelihood that it could have been used as leverage or some bargaining poly sometime in the future.

The trend that seems to be showing up is that the drivers can be persuaded to commit unsportmanly acts without question, pointing to the possibility that they have no principles; they are dishonest and may not be trusted.

And none of these offences come to light until the driver either gets caught out or the driver feels hard done by.

Tell and be excused

This might just be a generalisation but it is worrisome that there are other secrets lurking in the background from other drivers or disgruntled staff who might just find the opportunity to get even and in the process get themselves exonerated when as participants, conspirators or collaborators they should be sanctioned under standard legal redress processes.

In the end, one is left with a feeling that F1 does not represent the pinnacle of sportsmanship and honest competition but a series of underhand activities done in secret which many pray would not be revealed.

There is no doubt that there is a need for a root and branch analysis of driver-team relationships and the need for drivers to be able to have enough backbone not to allow their names to be smeared with unseemly activity.

It is unlikely that the ruling bodies would like to deal with this head-on because the pain of the loss of trust and the work involved in rebuilding that trust would be insurmountable.

With all the penalties and sanctions, the real problem has hardly had any scrutiny and that is very sad.

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