Why F1 is in such a mess

Despite what I have written about Lewis Hamilton’s actions behind the Safety Car over the past couple of days, I think the FIA’s decision was the correct one (it’s not often I say that!). Hamilton broke the rules, but it was not the sort of thing that merited a serious punishment. A slap on the wrists or a fine perhaps, but not points deductions or anything like that.

But I don’t like the implication from the biased British media that Hamilton was found “not guilty”. Remember that Sebastian Vettel’s punishment was taken away from him. There has only been one major piece of new evidence since Sunday, and we all know what that shows.

Of course, the British media is absolutely unbearable when it comes to this sort of thing. Mark Blundell was on ITV this morning criticising the fact that the stewards have never driven a Grand Prix car before, so they’re bound not to know what it’s like. That’s funny, I don’t remember him making such a criticism before, but there you go.

It’s also quite amusing because Blundell would know a lot about not being qualified for your job. He is, after all, a broadcaster who has a shockingly poor grasp of the English language.

Funny also how all of the other Grand Prix drivers seem to have been criticising Hamilton as well. Mark Blundell conveniently ignored this point. After being grilled by his colleagues, Hamilton said:

It was a bit disappointing because I knew a few of the drivers there and I didn’t expect them to say certain things.

Perhaps it’s time to admit when you are in the wrong.

In a way, the FIA couldn’t really have risked giving Hamilton a larger penalty because they would have been accused of manipulating the championship. It’s a sign of the sorry state of affairs that the FIA has found itself in. It is constantly being accused of bias one way or another and of manipulating this and that.

There are a few measures that I would like to see the FIA bring in to help prevent this.

  1. When the race result is announced, it should not be changed

    I think there should be a time limit on when the race result can be changed. This is not to say that teams should not be able to appeal or that stewards should be unable to punish bad driving. But there should be a time limit for when a team can appeal a result. Something like six hours for instance. This does not even necessarily mean that the result has to be set in stone — just that we know what is going on. For a race result to come under question several days after the event is simply unacceptable.
    (This would be the case for drivers breaking the rules, but should be different in case a car is found to be illegal. But illegal parts on a car ought to be caught during scrutineering anyway.)

  2. Stewards in one race should not rule on something that happened in another race

    For the second time this year, the stewards have found themselves ruling on something that happened in another race. This week the Chinese GP stewards had to discuss something which had already been discussed by the Japanese stewards. This is not on really. It is like a referee at a football match giving someone a yellow card for something a footballer did in his previous match.

  3. Make penalties more sensible and predictable

    Whenever somebody is in trouble, you simply do not know what kind of punishment they are going to get. I once saw somebody referring to ‘The FIA Random Penalty Generator’ and it really is true. Disqualification? 10 place grid penalty? Drive through penalty? Start the race from the pits? Points docked? Seconds added to your time? We just don’t know which of these punishments will be used at a particular time. The stewards appear to award penalties in a completely arbitrary manner. It is no wonder people wonder about possible FIA bias. This must be sorted out, as a matter of priority.

What happened during the Japanese Grand Prix is actually a good case in point. Robert Kubica was given a drive-through penalty for being involved in an accident with Lewis Hamilton. Now, Kubica’s move was quite ambitious and he was unlikely to be able to pull it off, but did it really merit a drive-through? After all, other drivers crash into each other all the time and never get so much as a slap on the wrists. It’s kind of seen as part of the territory of motor racing.

You have to wonder when Fernando Alonso got whacked pretty hard by Sebastian Vettel. Unlike Hamilton, Alonso sustained quite bad damage to his car. Did Vettel get punished? Of course not — the FIA is biased against Alonso and in favour of Hamilton.

I know some people don’t believe me when I say that the FIA is biased in favour of Hamilton and that he is the successor to Michael Schumacher in this regard. To me, it is clear in the FIA’s eyes that the departure of Schumacher has left a void, and they have decided that Wonder Boy Britain’s Lewis Hamilton shall fill that void. (I believe it is actually illegal to say ‘Lewis Hamilton’ without prefixing it with ‘Britain’s’.)

There is a resentment about the fact that Alonso was able to beat Michael Schumacher fair and square, when Schumacher had no excuses. Alonso is the only driver ever to have managed this (apart from possibly Mika Häkkinen, and he only did it once, not twice like Alonso did).

But don’t ask me if the F1 establishment favours Hamilton. Ask the F1 establishment itself.

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has hailed Lewis Hamilton as the saviour of the sport…

“Lewis Hamilton has been a real breath of fresh air and has resurrected Formula One,” Britain’s Guardian newspaper quoted commercial rights holder Ecclestone, who is not in Shanghai, as saying…

“We lost a big hero in Michael Schumacher but in Lewis we have another. But for him, I’m not sure where the sport would be heading.”

Straight from the horse’s mouth.

There is no doubt that the mess that the FIA and Formula 1 as a whole currently finds itself in is directly the fault of its power-mad President Max Mosley. A lot of people have been criticising the FIA’s bad management recently (not just the Hamilton investigation, but the bungled email to the teams about tyres at Fuji).

Max Mosley seems to do business on the basis of personal vendettas and the FIA’s institutional pro-Ferrari bias rather than anything to do with notions of fairness or merit. This year’s witch-hunt against McLaren is a case in point — all to do with Max Mosley’s personal dislike of Ron Dennis.

Then there are the extraordinarily offensive comments he made about Jackie Stewart, somebody who had the cheek to criticise the FIA’s handling of the Stepneygate row. Doesn’t he know that people are not allowed to criticise Mosley?

Mosley said: “There’s one particular ex-driver who because he never stops talking, never has the chance to listen — so he doesn’t know what’s going on.

“He said the FIA’s decision would not have worked in a civil court. He has no qualification to say that.

“Then he starts saying this is personal between me and Ron Dennis, at great length, because everything he does is at extreme length.

“It’s annoying that some of the sponsors listen to him because he’s won a few championships. But nobody else in Formula One does — not the teams, not the drivers. He’s a figure of fun among drivers.”

Mosley, presumably alluding to the tartan trousers and cap Stewart wears to races, added: “He goes round dressed up as a 1930s music hall man. He’s a certified halfwit.”

The comment about Jackie Stewart being a “certified halfwit” is seen as a reference to Stewart’s dyslexia. Damon Hill says all that needs to be said in his letter to Autosport magazine.

Update: Pitpass also has a good article on Max Mosley’s comments about Jackie Stewart.

With such contemptuous regard for his fellow inhabitants, one has to wonder what Mosley really feels about the diminutive former second-hand car salesman who not only facilitated his entry to Planet Paddock but has allowed him to enjoy the sort of totalitarian power trip his name prevented him enjoying in the real world.

You don’t often see professional media outlets referring to the fact that Max Mosley is the son of fascist leader Oswald Mosley. Some believe that Max Mosley really wanted a career in politics, but was advised against it due to who is father was. So rather than fucking up the country, Max Mosley decided to go into motor racing politics instead so that he could fuck up motor racing.

16 comments

  1. I think the FIA’s decision was the correct one (it’s not often I say that!). Hamilton broke the rules, but it was not the sort of thing that merited a serious punishment. A slap on the wrists or a fine perhaps, but not points deductions or anything like that.

    But that was not the FIA’s decision. They did not give him a fine or even a slap on the wrists, nor did they issue a rule clarification. Therefore it is quite clear that they did find Lewis not guilty.

    There has only been one major piece of new evidence since Sunday, and we all know what that shows.

    Yes, we do, precisely nothing. If it had, the FIA would have given Lewis a penalty, a fine, or a slap on the wrists. But they did none of those.

    To my mind, you are simply inventing imaginary situations and accusing the media of being biased the other way. Lewis did not do anything to break the rules, the FIA decision proves this, and the only people who have ever said he may have done so are Toro Rosso and the media.

  2. That does not demonstrate that they thought Lewis was guilty in any way. They obviously believed the blame was 50/50 between Vettel and Webber, and that being out of the race was punishment enough for them.

  3. Well, as I said, there was only one new piece of evidence in the period between the two judgements, and that was the video that showed Hamilton brake testing Webber. This is the only thing they could have taken into account when changing their mind.

  4. Well, as I said, there was only one new piece of evidence in the period between the two judgements, and that was the video that showed Hamilton brake testing Webber.

    The VERY short, wobbly YouTube video? That in KNOW WAY shows Hamilton break testing Webber.
    If anything it shows Hamilton avoiding rear-ending the safety car and if anything allowing Webber lots of track. Either way, Webber is a big lad and doesnt need indicators on Hamiltons car.

  5. #5 Don’t ask me about that, ask the FIA stewards. Can you think of another reason why they would reverse Vettel’s penalty??

    #6 That is just part of Max Mosley’s usual chest-beating as part of his personal vendetta against Ron Dennis.

  6. I think it’s fairly clear that the FIA is biased towards Hamilton this year. Bernie’s comments reveal where this comes from – the diminutive car salesman himself. But Max is not part of that – he seems to be motivated purely by hatred of Ron Dennis and his comments after the WMSC meeting prove that he was all in favour of deducting the drivers’ points as well as McLaren’s.

    We need to recognise, however, that Hamilton is not the new Schumacher in that none of this is of his making. Schumacher was an expert at manipulating the FIA’s preference for Ferrari to his own advantage, whereas Hamilton is just lucky that his arrival in the sport has created such interest that Bernie sees him as indispensible to F1 – at the moment. Things could change very easily; let Hamilton fall out of favour with the media and the public and he will soon find himself as savagely dealt with as any other driver.

    As for the fuss about the Vettel penalty/wrist slap and Hamilton’s driving behind the pace car – hey, sometimes even a random penalty generator is bound to get it right. 😉

  7. Can you think of another reason why they would reverse Vettel’s penalty??

    They realised the penalty was a bad decision and it was actually just a racing incident?

    Schumacher was an expert at manipulating the FIA’s preference for Ferrari to his own advantage, whereas Hamilton is just lucky that his arrival in the sport has created such interest that Bernie sees him as indispensible to F1 – at the moment.

    Which is why I completly fail to understand this general Hamilton hatred, it seems entirely unjustified to me. I’m honestly baffled by it. Granted ITV’s fawning coverage of Hamilton cant help if you think he’s getting biased media coverage, but thats got nothing to do with him.

    They have to pick someone and Schuey used to be James Allen’s favourite, now he’s gone its just lucky coincidence that the racer du jour also happens to be British so the ITV hype machine goes into extra special over drive. Again, hardly Hamilton’s fault.

  8. They realised the penalty was a bad decision and it was actually just a racing incident?

    Yes, based on the new evidence. Remember, were it not for the video the stewards would not have discussed this incident at all, so it must have swung them sufficiently to meet in the first place, then to change their mind.

  9. Yes, based on the new evidence. Remember, were it not for the video the stewards would not have discussed this incident at all, so it must have swung them sufficiently to meet in the first place, then to change their mind.

    And in what way does that then relate to Hamilton. If it was just a racing incident between Vettel & Webber then what bearing does Hamilton have on it?

  10. Don’t think it cuts that much ice. Where are the limits of competitiveness in F1? The young guy is just taking it all a bit far perhaps.

  11. Matthew, you seem to have decided for yourself that it was a racing incident between Vettel and Webber. What if the FIA stewards decided it was a racing incident involving Vettel, Webber and Hamilton?

  12. Well, where have the FIA said involved Vettel, Webber AND Hamilton?

    If they haven’t then case closed, any assumption it does involve Hamilton is just that – assumption – and conjecture.

  13. Jeezo, what a stooshy – I think this may be an “agree to disagree” scenario!

    Personally I called for Hamilton to be penalised – but mainly because I thought it unfair that Vettel was punished for the incident. Webber was the only totally innocent party, Hamilton in my eyes didn’t drive well at all (although he assured us that he “didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend”) and Vettel was too busy watching Hamilton to see that Webber had almost come to a stop in front of him.

    Vettel and Hamilton should have both been fined (an equivalent of a yellow card in football) and that would’ve been an end to it – everyone would’ve known who was guilty and what had been done about it.

    As for the stewards, haven’t they now got a permanent steward who attends all the grand prix to supposedly mete out similar punishments? Not that he seems to be doing a very good job – but presumably that’s why incidents from one race can be investigated at the next, as it’s meant to be the same person presiding over all punishments.

  14. Don’t be so quick to believe Mosley when he says he wanted the drivers DSQed too. What he wants the WMSC delivers. And it’s not like he’s not known for lying through his teeth when it suits him.