Mosley misses the point about Ferrari International Assistance jibes

The BBC have done a very interesting interview with Max Mosley. During it, the FIA president was pressed on the perception that F1’s governing body is biased in favour of Ferrari.

Adam Parsons: You have a Ferrari over there. Ferrari International Assistance — that’s one of the things I’ve read on a blog — for the FIA. Let me put to you the question that they were right in the fact — is the FIA biased in favour of Ferrari?

Max Mosley: Absolutely not, no. One’s seen that over and over again. What happens is that the bloggers notice when something happens which disadvantages, say, McLaren or Renault. They don’t notice with Ferrari. I’ll give you an example. The mechanics on Räikkönen’s car in Monaco this year were a few seconds too long on the grid changing his tyres and he got given a drive-through. Well, a drive-through in Monaco — that’s it normally. And nobody noticed.

The reason nobody noticed was because it was the right decision. Of course you don’t have people applauding when the FIA makes the right decision. It’s supposed to make the right decision. It would be a pretty sorry state of affairs if people started noticing when the FIA was right rather than when it was wrong. That Max Mosley uses this as a barometer of the FIA’s success rather concerns me about the low level of standards he is actually looking to achieve.

The beef people have with the notion of Ferrari International Assistance is not that Ferrari are never punished. It is the fact that Ferrari are not always punished when they should be.

Why, I wonder, did Max Mosley not offer a justification for the FIA’s decision to let off Ferrari for Felipe Massa’s unsafe release in Valencia? Instead, he chose to focus on one drive-through penalty that Kimi Räikkönen received several months ago, as though that was proof of anything whatsoever. Does he really think that pointing to once instance of Ferrari getting a drive-through penalty several months ago is good enough “proof” that the FIA is not biased in favour of Ferrari?

And it’s not just penalties that make people suspicious. I struggle to think of any innovations that were made by Ferrari which were banned by the FIA in recent years. Why, for instance, were Renault’s mass dampers banned, but Ferrari’s wheel bins weren’t? A coherent justification has never been offered, as far as I’m aware. Why, also, were Michelin’s tyre banned towards the end of the 2003 season when Ferrari were in the deep brown stuff when there had not been a whiff of scandal about the very same tyres for several races beforehand (Ferrari went on to win the Championship)? No answer given.

As a side-note, I notice that the interview was conducted by Adam Parsons. He has been linked to a role on the BBC’s F1 coverage next season in an investigative / journalism / uber-Ted Kravitz sort of role. The fact that he conducted this interview seems to lend some credibility to that rumour.


  1. I was impressed the interviewer dared to bring it up, and unimpressed by Mosley’s response for pretty much the same reason as you.

    It’s a typically political response of Mosley’s to try to win an argument by mis-representing what the other person’s viewpoint is. As you correctly point out, when there’s a clear violation and a cut-and-dried penalty, the very least one expects of the FIA is to enforce its own rules as written.

    It’s when the FIA has to make a judgement call on a ‘grey area’ of the regulations – these ‘unwritten rules’ I’ve been writing about recently – that one gets the impression Ferrari gets the rub of the green.

    But I still think a lot of it is just bad governance on the FIA’s part rather than any over-arching pro-Ferrari conspiracy. Regulations that allow a driver to be stripped of a win and deny him the right to appeal are plainly unjust.

  2. And of course Mosley picked a very bad example too, because the stewards didn’t follow the rules:
    Article 38.5 When the three minute signal is shown all cars must have their wheels fitted, after this signal wheels may
    only be removed in the pit lane or on the grid during a race suspension.
    Any car which does not have all its wheels fully fitted at the three minute signal must start the race from
    the back of the grid or the pit lane. Under these circumstances a marshal holding a yellow flag will prevent
    the car (or cars) from leaving the grid until all cars able to do so have left to start the formation lap.

  3. Don,

    Wow, I hadn’t realised that at all! Good work spotting that. So Raikkonen actually was advantaged by getting a drive-through in Monaco rather than the penalty he ought to have been given. You really couldn’t make it up.

  4. funny no one has spotted that until now 🙂 imagine if Adam Parsons in that interview with Mosley replied his Raikkonen Monaco example in the same way Don commented here 🙂

  5. One example of Ferrari innovation banned by the FIA: the ‘flexible’ car floor in Australia last year. OK, it wasn’t precisely an innovation but taking advantage of a ‘grey area’ of the regulations, but you get the idea. I think that Ferrari is punished less in those occasions just because it plays the game a little better than other teams (and that includes not biting the hand that will punish you…)

  6. guille, well remembered, although I think that was actually a part that was already illegal, but the rule was just ‘clarified’ by the FIA after McLaren made an inquiry. A bit like the moveable aero stuff.

  7. Exactly, the same example this year is the ‘bridge’ flexible front wing at McLaren and Renault. My point is that all the teams play at the edge of the rules, it was always like that. And some of them are better in the game of not getting caught. It’s not a problem of bias pro-Ferrari, it’s a problem of FIA incompetence in general, but that Ferrari appears to deal better with 😉