Formula One – what a farce
There, I’ve said it. I thought I’d get my point out of the way as quickly as possible. Formula One has, in the past week, quite rapidly descended into farcical spectacle. And this time Flavio Briatore wasn’t anywhere to be seen, nor were any medals involved. All it took was a Frenchman and a group of twenty-six apparently bewildered motoring enthusiasts, and it’s all gone tits-up. Yes, I just said tits-up, but that’s not all I’m confused by.
Normally, when Rob and I are this perplexed over Formula One it’s because we’re trying to decode the Lotus vs Lotus battle which has, as we’re all aware, amounted to nothing and became the most pointless battle in existence – other than it allowing us to use the sound effect of Tony Fernandes laughing more frequently. Today, however, we’re confused about something that has significantly wider implications than who can put the word ‘Team’ in front of their name. We’re dealing with politics – real politics – a state in revolt, and human life. Shit just got real.
After being postponed, a meeting of Jean ‘the conductor’ Todt’s World Motor Sport Council returned an (apparently) unanimous vote to reinstate Bahrain on October 30, and shift the Indian Grand Prix to the first or second weekend in December. The decision was based on information brought back by FIA vice president Carlos Gracia after a ‘fact finding’ mission earlier that week. His conclusions was that things were hunky-dory, and that Formula One could head down its leisure. Marvellous, now on with the show.
Erm, no actually. Let’s put to one side the fact that Gracia was led about the place by the under-fire government, and that his advice on human rights was supplied to him by the Bahrain National Institute of Human Rights rather than an independent organisation. If we pretend for a moment that none of that mattered, why is the constant stream of news from Bahrain reporting violent clashes between the government and protestors being ignored? Rather ironically, this video was uncovered and circulated just days after the FIA’s decision, as if the extra emphasis was needed.
The strongest criticism thus far has come from the FIA’s longest-serving president and whip enthusiast Max Mosley, who has slammed Todt’s decision as being irresponsible, saying that F1 will become nothing more than a political tool by the Bahrain government to legitimise its regime of oppression.
‘If Formula One allows itself to be used in this way in Bahrain, it will share the regime’s guilt as surely as if it went out and helped brutalise unarmed protesters.’
-Max Mosley, Daily Telegraph
‘Having carried out these horrific acts, the Bahrain government wants to clean up its image. That’s where the Grand Prix comes in. By running the race they hope to show the world the troubles were just a
‘By agreeing to race there, Formula One becomes complicit in what has happened. It becomes one of the Bahrain government’s instruments of repression. The decision to hold the race is a mistake which will not be forgotten and, if not reversed, will eventually cost Formula One dear.
You can read his full column here.
On the same day, Bernie Ecclestone defended the WMSC’s decision – he himself was one of the 26 who voted, and the 26 who voted in favour.
The truth of the matter is, this was voted on by the FIA, that was it. It went through the World Council,’ said the 80 year old.
‘The FIA sent people out there to check on the situation, they came back and reported everything is fine.’
This comes from a man, mind you, who tell sus that ‘over-education’ is the source of the world’s problems.
Now here’s where it becomes comical. After Jean Todt beings his media campaign, including an interview with the BBC’s Ted Kravitz, to convince people he’s made the right choice, Bernie Ecclestone has since come out and said he’d like a re-vote. Say what?
Ecclestone, the man who runs this ridiculous circus, the man who –as far as I can tell – is the only one who stands to gain anything (that anything estimated to be worth around $40 million) from going to Bahrain, is now the only Council member to oppose it? Pardon by Olav Mol, but vot the fuck?
‘The way things are at the moment, we have no idea what is going to happen.’
Formula One’s medal man has since declared that he wants a re-vote as soon as possible, even if it means the teams have to break out their fax machines to get it done. He’s worried that Gracia might have gotten it wrong. If we move Bahrain to the end of the season, then at least if the situation erodes, we just declare the championship in Brazil. Read his worries here.
What’s more is that Stefano Domenicali – who sits on the Council representing FOTA – voted in favour as well. FOTA are yet to formulate an official response, but it’s widely known that they’re against Bahrain’s return, even if just because they don’t want to draw out the end of the season.
What’s more – wait for it – Jean Todt admits that there wasn’t actually a formal count, but merely a ‘show of hands’ – and he didn’t even bother tally them. It’s not even as if twenty-six is a big number, Jean! A minute, maybe two, was all it would’ve taken!
The WMSC needed unanimity to pass the motion, and it’s now revealed that it mightn’t have had that. Not that this matters anyway since Max Mosley has cleverly pointed out that the FIA’s own sporting code says that the calendar can’t be changed unless the unanimity amongst the teams as well – and we already know they’re opposed, though we don’t know how strongly.
Formula One, I’m happy to declare, is roughly as confusing as an episode of Lost. There are so many questions: is the FIA attempting to deceive the teams? Why did Stefano Domenicali vote against the wishes of FOTA? Why has Bernie Ecclestone changed his mind? Where did that polar bear come from? And why are we so desperate to return to Bahrain this year anyway? Politics aside, I don’t think anyone was that keen on it in the first place.
It’s a joke, it’s a farce. It seems inconceivable that the FIA could be so foolish as to allow the Bahrain government to influence their decision – but why else would they want so sorely to return? There is nothing to gain from racing there, other than the money Bernie insists he doesn’t need. The teams don’t want it, the fans don’t want it. The media doesn’t want it. It just makes no sense. But not only is it confusing for fans, it’s tarnishing the sport’s image, and quite badly at that. It can’t go on.
And to make matters worse, Lotus are appealing the Lotus vs Lotus case. I’m going back to bed.