Alan Donnelly inadvertently reveals FIA’s Ferrari bias

A story has appeared on Autosport.com this morning which reports on some comments that Alan Donnelly made in Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport. In it, the FIA’s man in the steward’s room and known Max Mosley lackey attempted to rebut claims that the FIA is biased in favour of Ferrari.

What I find interesting is that the example he uses to “rebut” the theory is exactly the same example used by Max Mosley in a recent interview with the BBC. This suggests that the FIA is now running a coordinated campaign in order to re-establish its credibility as governing body.

It sorely needs that campaign. With the multitude of increasingly bizarre penalties handed out throughout this season, trust in the FIA’s systems have taken a hammer-blow. The only thing that has become clear this season is that there is no way of knowing what will get punished and what won’t.

Fans no longer trust the FIA, as you will see by dropping in to any blog or message board. Many in the media no longer trust the FIA’s stewards. Increasingly, drivers are calling for urgent changes to be made to the stewarding system. Teams have decided that enough is enough and have formed FOTA to counter the FIA’s madness. And yesterday, even Bernie Ecclestone slammed some of the penalties recently handed out by the FIA.

It looks like the only people who have any trust in the FIA any more are the FIA themselves. And any government that has lost the trust of everyone is clearly no longer fit for purpose. Now, the FIA is erratically throwing out increasingly bizarre ideas to change the face of F1 from tip to toe. Many of the changes, most notably a standardised engine, are completely antithetical to the idea of grand prix motor racing as we have all grown to know it, and Max Mosley’s vision of F1 is sure to alienate most fans.

It is a sign of the mismanagement and desperation of the poisonous and discredited little man at the top Max Mosley. He should have left his post after the Indygate debacle in 2005 when Max Mosley, in consort with Jean Todt, refused to compromise to allow the race go ahead. Since then, Max Mosley has never had my favour and the events of this year have further underlined my feelings.

Earlier this year, at the height of the sex scandal, he promised that he would step down at the end of his term next year. But as I noted at the time, he promised to resign in 2004 then changed his mind. True enough, the signs now are that he will continue on as FIA President. It is clear that he only promised to resign to help him get through the General Assembly vote. This makes him a liar. What a terrible person to have in such a powerful position.

Let us not forget that at the end of last season, the well-respected permanent steward Tony Scott Andrews left the role which had been seen as a relative success. In his place, a new consultant to the stewards was appointed. That man was Mosley’s mate Alan Donnelly. Donnelly’s company, Sovereign Strategy, based in an FIA-owned building, used to list Ferrari as one of its clients on its website. The Ferrari name mysteriously disappeared when Donnelly was appointed in his new role.

Mosley and Donnelly are now trotting out the following “proof” of why the FIA is not biased in favour of Ferrari:

You just need one example to debunk that theory: at Monaco the stewards noticed that on Raikkonen’s F2008 the wheels had not been fitted before the three-minute mark as allowed in the regulations. So the stewards penalised Kimi with a drive-through in a track where you can’t overtake.

That would be an inadequate argument anyway, as I already wrote when Mosley came out with it on the BBC. But it is even worse than that. As Don Speekingleesh pointed out in the comments, the Sporting Regulations clearly state that such an infraction should actually result in a driver starting from the back of the grid.

Article 38.5 of the Sporting Regulations (PDF link) states:

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.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic. Alan Donnelly’s own “proof” that the FIA is not biased in favour of Ferrari actually appears to support of the conspiracy theory. It is clear that, according to the letter of the rules, Kimi Raikkonen should have started the race from the back of the grid. As it was, with just the drive-through penalty he never fell lower than 6th before crashing into Adrian Sutil.

What a mess the FIA is in. It is no wonder stewards’ decisions are so erratic and unpredictable. The FIA do not even appear to know what their own rules are. This is shown in the FIA’s embarrassingly wrong-footed attempts to debunk the Ferrari International Assistance theory. What a cock-up.

12 comments

  1. “What a mess the FIA is in. It is no wonder stewards’ decisions are so erratic and unpredictable. The FIA do not even appear to know what their own rules are”

    Indeed they are in a complete mess.I’d like to know how they’d stand up if someone took them to the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) , which it wouldn’t surprise me too much if it happened.

  2. […] Alan Donnelly inadvertently reveals FIA’s Ferrari bias – “Alan Donnelly’s own “proof” that the FIA is not biased in favour of Ferrari actually appears to support of the conspiracy theory. It is clear that, according to the letter of the rules, Kimi Raikkonen should have started the race from the back of the grid. As it was, with just the drive-through penalty he never fell lower than 6th before crashing into Adrian Sutil.” […]

  3. it is a great shame that this sort of nonsense goes on. It is one more reason why whoever wins this season won’t be considered the true champion until they do it again.

  4. I’m not sure but wasn’t Montoya black flagged for a similar incident? I mean I can imagine that you’re too late to put the guy with a flag in front of the driver … he these stewards have 25 years experience right so could be slow because of their age right?
    So can anyone recall the black flag of Montoya incident? Because if this is true it’s even worse isn’t it.

  5. K2san — I think the Montoya black flag you are referring to was probably the 2004 United States Grand Prix, but that was quite a different incident. In that instance, Montoya actually switched to his spare car after the time limit.

  6. See – thats the problem when you tell lies. You have to keep telling them in order to try & retain control over the story, and you end up tripping up.

    I love these ad hominem attacks from Mosley and Mini Me (Donnelly). If they could learn to argue their case without insults then they might stand half a chance of souding reasonable and credible.

    As it is, they can’t, won’t and don’t – yet we are stuck with them. What a ridiculous state of affairs to be in. Exactly what will it take for the teams to say no more?

  7. @Andrew

    Not true. If Hamilton can win despite the obvious bias against him he more than deserves it. Now of Massa wins, that won’t really count, as he’s been handed so many points by the FIA it’s obvious he wouldn’t deserve it.

  8. Montoya broke the rule that forbids anybody to be on the grid except for drivers in their cars within 15 seconds of the start. This is an absolute safety issue, hence why the back flag (which is the usual penalty for this, even though I’m not entirely sure whether the FIA remembered to specify this in the regulations).

    Raikkonen broke the rule that says mechanics may not work on the car within three minutes of the start. That is a conditional safety issue; it’s there to make it more likely that the “nobody on grid within 15 seconds” rule is respected, but it’s primary purpose is to ensure an orderly removal of people from the grid. By not allowing work on the car in the final minute the mechanics can be on the grid, it means that they have time to gather their things together and make their way to the edge of the track in the allotted minute. Kimi’s mechanics obviously did this because otherwise Kimi would have been liable to two penalties rather than one.

    The stewards will never come up with fair and consistent judgements until they read and memorise the regulations. It’s got to the point where the stewards are simply an encumberance to fair racing rather than the facilitators they are meant to be.

  9. Montoya actually broke the rule of switching to the T-Car too close to the start without the FIA’s approval, if you’re thinking of the US GP 2004.