Jan 11, 2010

Stupid, stupid, stupid

OK, so we have a new president at the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA).

Remember that Jean Todt's election rallying cry was about bringing new ideas, a new spirit of cooperation with the teams and new ways of doing things all designed to improve the sport from inside out?

So, why then would Todt allow an appeal the French Court's decision last week to overturn the World Motor Sport Council's (WMSC) lifetime ban of Flavio Briatore?

F1 fans will recall that the WMSC kicked former Renault team boss Briatore out of F1 for life for his role in the crash gate scandal. That episode saw then Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr. crash deliberately in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to ensure that Renault teammate Fernando Alonso's fuel strategy would deliver a win.

Pat Symonds, Renault director of engineering at the time, was given a five-year ban, which was also quashed.

A statement issued by the FIA said: "It was unanimously agreed that an appeal would be prepared. The FIA will take whatever measures are necessary to ensure the continuing integrity and safety of the sport."

Really? Does anyone happen to know how dragging the sport through an embarrassing and lengthy appeal of a shameful incident will help improve its integrity? We all know that keeping such things in the spotlight go a long way to bolster reputations, right?

A more prudent course of action would be to accept the court's decision and quietly move ahead with the introduction of licences for major players in the teams, much in the same way drivers have to get a superlicence. Then, the FIA can simply refuse to grant said paperwork to Briatore. Case closed and no more scandalous revelations in court.

This would also mark a break from the FIA's former ways where anyone who was bold enough to challenge previous president Max Mosley would not just be corrected but also ground under the heels of the federation at every opportunity. Just ask former Minardi owner Paul Stoddart.

More worrisome is the fact that former FIA president Mosley took it upon himself to be the point man for the federation after the court overturned the ban.

"Remember, the court did not find that Briatore was not guilty. They just didn't like the procedure we used. But it's a very preliminary judgment," he said last week.

"Aspects of it are just extraordinary. Symonds actually admitted in writing that he was guilty and yet they found in his favour. But that's only because they are not looking at the substance, they are just looking at the procedure."

Remember that Todt was a hand-picked successor, something that made many worry that his presidency would merely be a front and Mosley would continue to be the real force behind the FIA.

Now, if Todt wants the F1 community and fans to believe the Mosley era is over and that a new dawn has begun, perhaps he should ditch the appeal, not deal with challenges in the same heavy-handed manner as before, and find a method to keep his predecessor from speaking for the federation.

If he doesn't, the feeling that Mosley continues to run things in the back rooms of the organization will not go away any time soon.

1 comment:

  1. F1 has been a bad soap opera for the past few years. Scandals, cheating, lies, and ridiculous decision making from people who should know better. Maybe to make us forget the lack of 'racing'.
    When they banned Briatore, I was ready to bet how long it would take to come back to the F1 paddock.
    The sagas will continue.