Nobody has confidence in the FIA

A full race review will come later. But I have to talk about the stewards’ investigation because it is so pressing.

I was hoping — as was everyone else who loves sport — that the World Championship would be decided on the track. I was hoping that there would be no irregularities found after the race. After the year Formula 1 has had, to have the World Champion decided in a private room between three men was the last thing we needed.

Unfortunately, the nature of the sport means that it is not always that way. Sometimes the scrutineers find something on the cars that causes a result to be changed after the fans have left the circuit. It happens a few times a year. This is a regrettable reality of Formula 1, but it is the reality. It was just unfortunate that it had to happen on this of all days.

Once it was announced that the Williams and BMW cars were being investigated for fuel irregularities, it was clear to me that the FIA were stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they disqualified the four drivers, they would be accused of handing the Championship to Hamilton. If they didn’t (as they haven’t), then they would have been accused of stealing the Championship from Hamilton.

Surprise, surprise, now that the decision — that the drivers will not be disqualified — has been confirmed, sure enough I can hear Stephen Nolan on BBC Radio 5 Live doing his nut about it (luckily David Croft is rather more balanced). There is no doubt in my mind that the reaction from some other people would have been equally angry had the decision gone the other way.

Earlier on this evening I was listening to the 606 phone-in, and everyone seemed to have a different conspiracy theory about the race. Depending on who you listen to, the FIA are pro-Ferrari, pro-Hamilton, anti-Hamilton, anti-McLaren. McLaren are pro-Alonso, anti-Alonso, anti-Hamilton, pro-Hamilton.

It is a sign of the bad management at the FIA that this could happen. Here we were in a situation where the stewards’ decision, whichever way it went, would have been criticised. And whenever anything slightly abnormal happens there is somebody out there ready with a conspiracy theory about it.

Murray Walker always used to say, “Anything can happen in Formula 1 — and it usually does.” Today it would be better to say, “Anything can happen in Formula 1 — and when it does, point the finger at the FIA.”

This has come about because Max Mosley has politicised the sport to a poisonous degree. The FIA has created far too many ridiculous rules, making the sport more convoluted than it should be. And Max Mosley does business on the basis of personal grudges rather than what is good for the sport.

It is sad — but understandable — that people can not have confidence in the decisions made by the FIA. It is yet another sign for me that the sooner Max Mosley is removed from his post as President of the FIA the better.


  1. Well, nobody trust the Fia, thats true for sure. But ironically everybody is happy with the result: Hamilton´s fans, because Alonso didn´t win; Alonso´s fans, because Hamilton didn´t win; and Raiko´s fans, because Iceman won.

  2. The FIA couldn’t have taken away Raikonnen’s title after the celebrations, and the events of today’s race. If there was any other decision, there would have been a huge uproar and rightfully so. It would have been quite fitting, that a season of controversy would have ended with ‘cheats’ handing other cheats the title.

    The British media better not criticise Hamilton after throwing away the title, just because it happened on the same weekend as the RWC final. He’s been amazing this season, and his team have let him down. 2nd in this rookie year is top notch.

    The title is in the right hands – driver and constructor, it’s just a shame that Williams and BMW had to add extra ifs and buts to the equation.

  3. Totally agree. Apparently Mclaren are going to contest it, but the fact remains that if they do win, Lewis will be accused of not ‘winning’ his championship, and the FIA of manipulating the results to suit the media/marketing campaign.

    OK, the teams were seen to have broken the rules, and may have gained a performance advantage, but the fault should lie with the teams, not the drivers (as the McLaren/Ferrari spy scandal set a prescedent). Therefore the most that should happen is that the teams get fined, and the constructors points stripped. I don’t believe that the teams would do it to impede the drivers world championship (which none of the drivers were contesting at that point), more to try and gain an edge in the constructors championship and potentially a larger slice of the media pie (I’ve not looked to see if either team has moved up in the constructors championship as a result, and to be honest, I can’t be bothered)

    Hard luck to Lewis, he did drive a good season, but in the end, Kimi won the most races (even before this one started) and therefore is a deserved world champion.

    Of course, there is the small matter of ‘team orders’ at Ferrari – if they hadn’t forced the switch of Kimi and Massa in the pits, Lewis would be world champion – Kimi would never have overtaken Massa on the track. Now that’s another bit of controversy for the media to mull over.

  4. Firstly, it was an amazing race and for me Hamilton’s drive will be remembered, not Raikkonens win, the Ferrari switcheroo or Alonso’s mediocre pace behind the Ferraris.

    It is rather sad that the championship may be decided by FIA stewards, but it is also rather appropriate for this season and as much as I dont really want this season’s championship to be decided that way but that I would also like Hamilton to win – I have to say that had this not been the decider I see no reason why the cars wouldnt have been disqualified if the breaches are proper breaches.

    It happened to McLaren, why shouldnt it happen to other teams – decider or not?

  5. As you say, this was a tough call for the stewards as they couldn’t do right for doing wrong in a way. I bet they too hoped for a quiet afternoon’s work, and must have thought “Oh no!” when they were told there were irregularities to be investigated.

    I agree with Andy, the easy way out was to dock the constructors points and leave the drivers alone – how McLaren can argue that the Williams and BMW drivers should be penalised when their own drivers weren’t earlier in the season I’ll never know!

    I suppose in their position they will see it as being a “can’t lose” case – if they do lose the appeal then they are in the position they are in now, and if they win Lewis is world champion.

  6. The fuel temperature being 3º below spec is significant. Motorcyclists can feel the effect of cold fuel and air creating a denser charge: their bikes feel livelier in the cold.
    If it was deliberate, the three cars deserve disqualification. If accidental, they should each be demoted one place.
    This is a clear breaking of the regulations, and a such should be dealt with irrespective of any effect on the Championship: so be it!

  7. As far as I understand it, the reason the stewards have given for their decision is that there is confusion as to what the ambient temperature actually was. The temperature as measured by FOM was a few degrees higher than the temperature recorded by the meteorologists who advise the teams and the FIA.

    So it could be that the fuel wasn’t actually >10ºC below ambient temperature. It is a bit odd that two teams fell foul of the regulation…

  8. After watching the Interlagos race, and then stumbling to work like a 3-day old molerat coming out into the midday sun for the very first time (The race finished at 2am here in Singapore), here are my initial thoughts.

    1. Delight
    Kimi finally won the championship. An excellent way to celebrate your 28th birthday, 4 years after nearly becoming the youngest ever World champion (only to be denied by car reliability: 3 retirements vs 1 for Schumi, lost by 2 pts); and 2 years after nearly becoming the second youngest ever World champion – after Fittipaldi – only to have Alonso become the youngest, though he couldn’t blame car reliability this time (3 retirements vs 2 for Alonso, lost by 21 pts).

    I was starting to get a bit worried that Kimi might be becoming yesterday’s news – without a world championship, to boot – given Alonso’s double win, and then Hamilton’s meteoric rise. I suppose I just have a soft spot for those who suffer a few bumps along the way, and willing them to eventual redemption. Victory tastes that much sweeter when (usually it’s a case of “when” for me in general, and it comes really late, but i get there nonetheless) it finally arrives, and it’s all a bit Edgar Allan Poe, but that’s how I like it.

    Now for Newcastle United to do the same (I can wish)…

    2. Delirium
    As I said before, I’ve got a bit of Poe in my psyche, which on hindsight explains my uncontrollable gesticulating at the TV when Kimi inched past Hamilton, and then Alonso followed suit. When Hamilton ran wide trying to get past Alonso, I was besides myself with glee, screaming at the top of voice in the middle of the night. And when transmission problems struck Hamilton in lap 8…you would have sworn I was Alonso’s best mate sticking up for his buddy.

    That said, Hamilton did give it his all, and drove like a champion in trying to claw back those positions. When Kimi took the chequered flag, I refused to celebrrate until Rosberg, Kubica and Heidfeld made it past the finish line. I slept well thereafter.

    3. Denouement
    Now that the dust has settled, I began reflecting on some parallels between McLaren this season and past, specifically Ron Dennis’ principle of letting two drivers race each other. As far as winning championships, driver or constructor, it didn’t work between Montoya and Kimi, it didn’t work out between Kimi and Coulthard, and during the Hakkinen/Coulthard partnership in 1998 did McLaren win both Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles in the same year. Hakkinen won the drivers’ title in 1999, but thereafter it’s proven rather unfeasible.

    I admire Ron Dennis’ stand on the principal of equality and merit, which I think might have been reinforced by the Senna/Prost partnership that swept all before them in 1988-89. The fact that it was tumultuous and yet produced incredible success probably convinced Dennis instead of dissuading him about the strategy’s effectiveness. Now I don’t claim to have followed F1 since the days Fangio, Clark or even Lauda (though I do remember watching Senna, Mansell, Prost, and Piquet as a kid), so I don’t know this for a fact, but did teams beforehand always have a number 1 driver before Schumi made it something of an art form? Perhaps Ron Dennis just likes to do things his way, but if it harms his own team, well….

    4. Debrief
    Lewis Hamilton: has had incredible luck, suffering no engine/transmission/suspension reliability issues – European GP (tyre), China GP (tyre) – until Brazil, and the China GP retirement was of his own making, going into the pits too fast (you could blame McLaren for leaving him out there on knackered tyres, but that’s all moot now). Whether he’ll ever have such wonderful in the future, we shall see.

    The Ferrari boys: Despite me being a Kimi fan, I have to say the 2nd pit stop situation that preceded his ascension into 1st place does bear some scrutiny. Did Ferrari bring Massa in first so Kimi can get some quick laps in? And not just one, but three flying laps, when the Finn had his first pit stop just one lap after Massa?

    It’s not exactly team orders, but I suppose Ferrari still operates on the Schumi-model of a 1st and 2nd driver team, at least for this race since only Kimi has a chance of winning the drivers’ championship. Whether Massa’s running wide just before the 2nd pit stop was orchestrated to let Kimi close the gap is debatable, but like Duncan has said: if you’re looking for a conspiracy, you’ll find it. The bottom line: When you have a competitive car, you have a better chance of winning both drivers & constructors if you have a clear #1 and a good #2 willing to play second fiddle (see Ferrari 1997 to 2006).

    Fernando Alonso: I’m a bit disappointed by his slamming McLaren after the race, but I suppose that’s understandable given his recent ordeal. Hamilton has the protection of the team, Alonso’s reduced to a one-man band, whether it’s his fault or not.

    I can’t help but look back at Monaco and think that’s where the Schumi Doctrine might have been applied forcefully by Ron Dennis i.e. make it CLEAR that Fernando’s top dog, or Lewis if Ron prefers it so, but state it clearly so none of this malarkey would have come to pass. Whether anything else happened between the Spainard and the rookie before Hamilton’s whinging (and then counter-whinging from Alonso, and etc etc) made it clear that all is not well in the McLaren camp we’ll never know. The big question now is: Will Ron Dennis persist with his “both drivers are equal” principle?

    In any case, well done Kimi. Now you can do some serious drinking. =)

  9. Just a thought, a lot of the talk about the “politics” are based on steward verdicts that are either downright questionable or just vague. No real line between the races etc. Now, I am not 100% certain as I read this somewhere, but this is happening (all the time) because the race stewards are amateurs and are different persons in every race. The rule books are difficult… So if there would be a official unbiased FIA board (yes I know what you will say next), there would be less confusion after suspected rule breaches etc.

    As for the whole fuel incident… Why don’t they just let go? Haven’t they already had enough pr-fiascos for this year? Even the Mclaren drivers seem to be against these latest developments. And what can the team possibly gain by getting a couple of extra wcc points though court rooms? (But of course, I am Finnish…)

  10. Osmo, you are correct about the stewards. There is one permanent FIA steward who attends all of the races, Tony Scott Andrews. But two other stewards also work during a race, and these two others are amateurs and change from race to race.

    The introduction of a permanent steward a few years ago was supposed to help bring more consistency to the decisions, but if anything they seem to have become even worse!

    Thanks for all of the comments, and welcome if you are new — especially Alvin. What an in-depth comment!

  11. Just a quick comment regarding the Ferrari boys as Alvin put it. I don’t think an awful lot of fiddling happened in the second pit stop, rather it happened before qualifying. Massa was sent out as a hare, with low fuel, I’m willing to bet Kimi had more than the one extra lap of fuel before the race. Essentially, I believe Ferrari brought Kimi in early at the first stops so as to give Massa the best chance of winning the race if the championship win was impossible. That is at least my read on the situation.

    Obviously Massa would have been under instructions to not go much faster than Kimi, if at all, but as I say I feel the switching of places was built into the strategies pre-qualifying.

  12. No mention of the start button? I wanted to see that on the steering wheel diagram…

    Still, not nearly as bad as the ITV-F1 article I reckon. Mark Hughes has a book to sell. It used to be called Lewis Hamilton: Champion of the World. Oh dear!

  13. In reality the BMW and Williams teams should not be DSQ’d. However people have been DSQ’d over smaller issues before when its bin for the benefit of moving a Ferrari up the field. I believe that the FIA do earn the name Ferrari, International, Assistance

    1. Cast your mind back to Hungary 06 Robert Kubica was 4 kgs underweight he got DSQ’d which enabled Schumacher to score a point even though he retired from the race. Now I personally think that running illegal fuel is worse then being under weight. You know for a fact that if the shoe was on the other foot and it was a Ferrari driver that needed 5th position they would not hesitate about disqualifying the illegal cars
    2. and why dither around just because its is the finale the rules should be the rules why change them you know if it was round 1 they would have been DSQ’d no offence meant but from what I can see they don’t want to change the result for Raikkonens sake , not being funny but Mclaren are not cheating its not Hamiltons fault that he had more points then Raikkonen going into Brazil

    In a perfect world no penalties would be issued but due to the fact that the FIA have been so overly harsh on other teams I see it only fair that the penalise the BMW’s and the William drivers in the interest of equality and fairness to all the teams