FIA throws another spanner in the works for the BBC

Earlier today I had written about a small pile of troubles that have hit the BBC over its choice of commentary team for next season. Today it has emerged that the BBC has yet another problem — and this time it is with that despicable little man, Alan Donnelly.

The Daily Mail reports that Alan Donnelly — former Labour MEP (explains a lot), the FIA’s representative on earth and chief defender of Max Mosley — is expending his energy trying to dissuade the BBC from employing Martin Brundle. This is despite the fact that Brundle is widely regarded as one of the best pundits in any sport, never mind F1.

There is clear evidence that the FIA has attempted to silence its critics on a number of occasions. Martin Brundle himself has been the victim of the FIA’s bullying tactics.

Last year, at the height of the Stepneygate controversy, Martin Brundle wrote in his regular column for The Sunday Times what many others believe — that McLaren were victims of a witch-hunt, a play in Max Mosley’s personal vendetta against Ron Dennis. For that, the FIA threatened to sue The Sunday Times.

In his regular column, reacting to that news, Brundle revealed that he has been threatened by the FIA a number of times in the past:

I expect my accreditation pass for next year will be hindered in some way to make my coverage of F1 more difficult and to punish me. Or they will write to ITV again to say that my commentary is not up to standard despite my unprecedented six Royal Television Society Awards for sports broadcasting. So be it.

Now the FIA appear to have stepped up a gear and are pleading with the BBC not to hire this immensely popular commentator. It is clear that, if there was not a witch-hunt against McLaren, there is certainly a witch-hunt against Martin Brundle. It is yet further evidence that the FIA is scared of open debate and is only interested in hiding the truth. Mosley’s father would have been proud.


  1. If this is true, it is utterly disgraceful. Martin Brundle is an excellent commentator and should be given pride of place in the BBC’s commentary line-up.

  2. No longer content being the Ferrari Inconvenience Association, the FIA also wishes to known as Fucking Interfering Assholes.

    Surely if the BBC were to listen to anybody it would be Bernie and FOM, not the FIA and their henchmen? The fear here is that BBC will look at the difficulties in assembling their commentary team along with Donnelly’s lobbying and throw in the towel over Brundle.

    I hope they believe in providing quality coverage to the point where they stand their decisions which, at this point, have been looked upon favourably by most. Brundle’s appointment is as essential now as Murray Walker’s was with ITV back in 1997. Anything less would do the sport and its fans a great disservice, despite whatever other innovations in coverage the BBC may provide.

  3. Keith, Steev — absolutely. I know what you mean about the Beeb possibly throwing in the towel. I can’t suppose they can have suspected that there was quite this much politics and underhand goings-on in F1. Shows you how nasty F1 has become under the leadership of Max Mosley over the past decade or so since the BBC left the sport.

  4. I just hope the BBC has the guts to object to Donnelly interfering in their business. It just amazes me that anyone can continue to believe in the FIA’s integrity when they are prepared to stoop to this level. It is time to face the unfortunate fact that a man without morality in his private life will have none in his business life too.

  5. Clive, in politics, morality doesn’t matter. It’s power that matters – regardless of whether it arises from influence or fear.

    Mosley knows it all too well.

  6. If anything, the Daily Mail expose will force the FIA to at least give pause to what they’re doing, and the BBC will probably realize that ratings are more important, which means Brundle stays on.

  7. great couple of posts vee!
    not suprised though,
    as it’s not the first time or will it be the last.
    remember matt bishop last year?

  8. Quite right, Journeyer – morality has nothing to do with politics. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it, does it?

  9. Words just fail me at the sheer arrogance of these two @ssholes thinking they can ditact to the beeb.

    But then, as Clive mentioned, S&Max tried to dictacte to the Australian Supreme Court in Melbourne 2005, so he clearly thinks he is above anybody.

    What a delusion to entertain, when he is lower than a flea on a gnat.

  10. Matt Bishop wrote an admittedly ill-advised press release concerning what Renault had taken from McLaren in the McLaren/Renault spying incident of last year. The FIA detected some (relatively) minor errors and tried to make McLaren change the entire release. They changed the release, but only to remove the errors. Despite the contents of the amended release being verified by Renault people in the subsequent court case and despite the court declaring them guilty, the FIA still let them off and came down all the heavier on McLaren (or at least it seemed that way).

  11. As for the current situation, this is incredibly stupid. Granted that the FIA are responsible for the paperwork concerning press passes (but only the paperwork – everything else is handled by CVC’s companies), but that does not mean they are supposed to remove people for fair criticism.

    Now if Martin had been alleging something blatantly erroneous, then there would be cause. But all Martin has done, as far as I can see, is challenge a few obviously bad decisions. Martin has been doing that for years (at least since the 1999 bargeboard matter) and if he is more vociferous now, it is because the FIA have forgotten their own regulations and are making things up as they go along, not because he has himself become more prone to unwarranted criticism.

    It would be wise of the BBC to take Martin on and stand its ground. Not only because Bernie controls the contract under which it operates, but because the BBC is supposed to be a bastion of (relatively) unbiased journalism. Such would be incompatible with hiring the sort of FIA-biased individual the FIA would like simply because the FIA is acting like a schoolground bully.

  12. Alianora — Ah yes, I remember that press release now. The only notorious Matt Bishop thing from last year that came to mind was him telling that “rictus” to “off you eff”!

  13. sorry vee was away for a while but i guess la canta filled in for me 🙂 bishop’s first assignment was to write that press release. after he was a guest and key speaker at the fia gala every year.. in 2007 his invitation was cancelled. the fia totally fell out with him.

  14. I hope the BBC announce in Brazil that Brundle is to be part of the coverage. That way the F1 press can decend en masse on Donnelly to ask him his opinion.

    This man has contributed nothing to F1 but acts like he owns it. All he is in reality is a dogsbody for a seriously discredited president who if he had any class whatever would have resigned his office by now.

    You have to wonder why someone like Donnelly who is likely to lose his master’s protection before long would seek to make an enemy of the most popular F1 opinion former in the country. You would need to be some kind of moron to follow that strategy. Either that or you would need to have a messianic belief that you were right like Max and Bernie.