08 Jul — Different rules for different teams – huh?

Seriously…this is the kind of stuff that drives the fan base absolutely bonkers.  “Charlie,” really,  “a separate rule for two of the top three teams”?  Are you freakin’ kidding?  And F1/FIA wonders why the fans have such little respect for the organization as a whole.  I mean, we love it and are so wrapped up in it and all of its many machinations, but we are not too under its love spell that we don’t know when it is taking us for a ride.

What this ends up looking like, to me, just one American fan’s point of view, is that a very small and wealthy group of chaps (the FIA, and Formula 1) playing in a very small and wealthy sandbox (the globe-trotting circuit that is the F1 championship) with another small (did I mention wealthy?) group of people (the teams, sponsors, guests, celebrities, etc) and none of them give two shits about me, or you if you’re reading this.  What a shocker, that a small percentage of people control a very large percentage of wealth, and in this case power.

My post today is going to cover two aspects of this retarded development prior to the British GP.  Part One – Why people are correct to think that the FIA has in the past and today still, manipulates to some degree, part of the outcome of racing, for good or for bad.  Part Two – Why F1 has not been that successful in my neck of the woods, the USA.

First, I am not a historian by any measure, but what comes to mind immediately is “Mass Dampergate.”  Just to give a bit of background, in 2006 Fernando (then racing for Renault) and Michael (then racing for Ferrari) were in the last part of the championship and really going at it and if my memory doesn’t betray me, Ferrari was losing out to Renault and hadn’t won a race in the last few outings. Someone at the Ferrari brain trust decided to use one of their special trump cards with the FIA, at the time governed by that pillar of justice and morality and fairness, Mr. Max Mosely.  Mr. Mosely, however, when not clocking in and fighting for righteousness, likes to be dressed up like a prisoner and beat and whipped by hookers that have dressed themselves to resemble the bad guys from WWII.  You know the ones, they almost gassed a whole group of people out of existence.  Anyway, enough about the pleasant Mr. Max. Back to the FIA. At Ferrari’s insistence, more that halfway though the season, they (the FIA) deemed a particular part of the front suspension on Fernando’s Renault to be illegal.  Officially it was now considered to be a movable aerodynamic device.  Sound familiar?  Talk about a sucker punch.  How is it that your car can be certified legal at the beginning of the year and then all of a sudden it is not.  It is as though you are playing poker in the Wild Wild West with one hand on their fixed deck and the other on their Smith & Wesson and you’re forced to play the hand. It must have left a bitter taste in Pat Symond’s mouth at the time, but what could he do?  If he complains more, Mr. “I just got whipped last night, so don’t mess with me,”  throws some other sanction his way and Renault is at an even greater disadvantage. As it all played out later that year, Michael got a flat tire, Fernando waved ‘thank you very much’ and went on to win the championship.

However, that was preceded by yet another instance were the FIA felt compelled to change some rules to favor, despite what they said, some teams over others.  The year is 2004, here is the set-up. Half the grid is shod in Bridgestone, and the other half in Michelin. There is a three-way battle between Kimi (McLaren), Juan Pablo (Williams) both on Michelin tires, and yes, you guessed right, Michael (Ferrari) on Bridgestone tires. The championship was getting to the tighter part of the season, Ferrari had not won a race of late (sounds familiar, does it not?) and some very clever people that worked for Bridgestone at the time noticed (from the TV footage, talk about geeking out) that the Michelins at the end of the race distance were slightly, and I mean SLIGHTLY larger, or to be more precise, wider. A bigger contact patch.  Well you can imagine what followed, lots of finger pointing, accusations of cheating, Mr. “I have not been whipped in a fortnight, so stay out of my way,” was caught in a lie (what a shocker), molds had to be changed, lots of tires had to be re-cast. Ironically, at the end of all this mess that was intended to aid Ferrari, it was instead the Michelin-shod teams that somehow experienced a performance advantage on the recast-to-spec tires (ha!) thank you FIA for the extra couple of tenths. Michael went on to win the championship that year and all was forgotten, because as the saying goes, “What’s good for Ferrari is good for F1”.  Whatever … really it was all for nothing, a bunch of time, money and a huge amount of effort wasted and in the end the fans were incredulous and rightly so.

I could populate post after post with examples of the FIA being naughty and making everyone cranky because of it and despite all the information that James Allen collects about the fan base and what we are interested in and what makes us mad or excited the FIA just seem not to care. I just can’t for the life of me figure out what the PR department at the FIA are up to if anything at all.

Back to the issue at hand, which is McLaren’s override and Red Bull’s off-throttle gassing, how can you possibly think it is fair, midway through the season, to tell a team they can’t do x, y or z because of some arbitrary reason like the green issue.  To my knowledge, this is the reason Jean Todt originally gave to the teams as to why this would be not allowed and then it come out that because of the air flow this was really an aerodynamic issue.  Ok fine, mapping that is different on Saturday and Sunday makes sense per the Parc Ferme rules, and ok, fine if you want to take away off-throttle gassing through the exhausts then do it, but do it in an equitable way, and make it fair … bitches!
— johnpierre rivera (Part 2 to follow in the next post)

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