I am fed up with the power-crazy FIA’s interfering

I have really had enough. Formula 1 is being ruined by a ridiculously Byzantine rule book, political in-fighting, inconsistent penalty decisions, nonsensical posturing and the power-crazy FIA President responsible for it all.

It seems to me as though the FIA is increasingly determined to stick its nose in everything, constantly bossing the teams and bosses around for no good reason, and ruining the sporting spectacle for the fans at home. All too often the race result is changed hours after the chequered flag is waved. And with the multitude of almost-random grid penalties being handed out race-in race-out they really might as well draw lots to determine the grid order.

There is no need for McLaren to be given a special scrutineer to ensure that Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso are given equal treatment throughout the weekend. Even Fernando Alonso — whose complaints set off the chain of events that led to McLaren getting the extra scrutineer — says that it is completely unnecessary.

There is surely no-one who seriously considers that McLaren would do anything but offer their drivers complete equality — as far as they possibly can — this weekend. For a start, if anything goes wrong with Alonso’s car, there will be no shortage of people ready to suspect the worst and waiting to throw stones at Ron Dennis for it.

But even if McLaren were to ditch their long-standing (and contractually-binding) policy of equality between their two drivers, what business is it of the FIA’s? None whatsoever. McLaren are a private team, and they should be allowed to run their team in whatever way they see fit. Of course, Max Mosley sees it differently.

How interesting, though, that the FIA turned a blind eye to Ferrari’s policy of explicitly favouring one driver over another during the years that Michael Schumacher drove for them. Not only was this Ferrari’s well-known policy, but Ferrari were proud of it. Many today see it as the model by which all modern F1 teams should be run. If the FIA are so worried about equality, why are they not intervene when Michael Schumacher was competing for any of the five World Championships that he won for Ferrari, or for Ferrari’s own six Constructors’ Championships?

As if that wasn’t bad enough, on Friday at Interlagos came news that three drivers had broken a rule that nobody had heard of. Why on earth is there a rule concerning the number of sets of wet tyres a team can use during a practice session?

Quick, fire up the FIA Random Penalty Generator. Because we don’t know where Takuma Sato, Jenson Button or Lewis Hamilton will be on the grid. That’s right, Lewis Hamilton. Given all the criticism the FIA have faced this season, you would think they would be sensible enough to keep their grubby mitts off the championship battle and let the drivers decide the outcome on the track, the way sport should be.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am not the biggest fan of Lewis Hamilton. But I must sympathise with him and the McLaren team here. Of course, it is fair enough if Lewis Hamilton and the McLaren team have broken a rule. To be frank, it baffles me why Lewis Hamilton needed two sets of tyres when he only did a dozen or so laps. And McLaren (and Honda and Super Aguri) should not be in the sort of situation where they find themselves not knowing the rules.

But this is quite a silly rule that I can’t understand the point of. This probably comes under the FIA’s catch-all “cost cutting” heading, the excuse they give for introducing all of their silliest rules. It is on days like this when I wonder if Formula 1 would not be better just re-writing the rules from scratch.

A good government needs to learn when to leave things alone and treat people as mature adults who can sort things out for themselves. Of course, most governments rather prefer to grab as much power as they can, and the FIA is no different.


  1. McLaren is a private team, but they choose to participate in the FIA’s series, which means they choose to play by those rules. Under normal commercial terms they would be allowed to favour a driver if they elected to do so, but they’re not operating in that world any more.

    As far as the rule on tires – there’s many rules that fans will not have heard of, but they all exist, presumably for a purpose. Maybe the rule is unnecessary, in which case it should be voted out, but until that is done, it needs to be followed. Or is the suggestion that the rule didn’t exist, and the FIA have conjured this up to penalise Hamilton?

    What is really strange for me is that in the most important race of his life, Hamilton, his engineers and the team have allowed a rule to be broken. For me that’s pretty sloppy, and if I were Hamilton I wouldn’t be best pleased about the team’s awareness of the regulations.

  2. My theory is that Fernando switched Hamilton’s tyres in the garage while nobody was looking, and then tipped off the FIA observer. When they found Lewis had used 2 sets, they then went round and checked all the other teams.

  3. A good government needs to learn when to leave things alone…

    I agree. This whole ‘equality steward’ thing is the FIA at it’s most ridiculous. Added on top of this a minor infringement of using an extra set of tyres during practice. Practice! For crying out loud! I’m not a typical out-and-out Hamilton supporter, quite the possible opposite, actually, but this rule is pointless. During the race I can see the relevance, but during the practice sessions they are relatively pointless.

    I ask, where were these special scrutineers in the Ferrari-dominance years? Oh, yes! Britain weren’t competing for title…

  4. Well, there’s a simple solution to over-zealous application of the rules.

    Don’t break the rules.

  5. The rule about the tires has been around for years. There’s no excuse for breaking it. The penalty last time it was broken (by Ralf) was 0.5 added to his qualifying time. Funny that it wasn’t applied this time…