Gone Away ~ The journal of Clive Allen in America

Storms in the F1 Teacup
That Bernie Ecclestone, he's a character isn't he? I love this sentence from his latest pronouncement on the Big Issue of the moment:

"One thing is for sure: if there were team orders which relate to the position of the two drivers — if somebody is told to move over or hold their position — it is against all the sporting regulations we have."

Sporting regulations, Bernie? Oh come on, you are the guy who has done more than anyone else to transform F1 from a sport into a business - it has nothing to do with "sporting" and you know it. The idiotic regulation on team orders was introduced to keep the TV audience and the gamblers happy - keeping the customer satisfied, as all good businesses should.

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton in the Monaco GP

But Bernie understands how to keep the pot boiling on the theory that any publicity is good publicity. He knows perfectly well that there is no way the FIA can find the McLaren team guilty of unfair team orders at Monaco; that would require proof that Hamilton would have been able to pass Alonso if "set free" - a dubious matter indeed when one considers their lap times throughout the race and the fact that not even Raikkonen was able to overtake the car in front of him. As for pointing the finger at the timing of the pit stops, since when have the regulations given instructions on that? The fact is that the tabloids are incensed that Ron Dennis did not use team orders to manufacture a victory for Hamilton; that would have been fine in their book.

So Bernie is just pandering to the British media with suggestions of draconian punishments if the investigation finds against McLaren. He gives them their copy, they think he's a great guy, and everyone goes home happy.

Say what you like about Mr. Ecclestone, he does at least know what F1 is all about, even though he treats it as his own private toy. That is shown by his reaction to Mighty Max's proposal to have standardized chassis in F1:

"That (idea) has nothing to do with formula one."

And for Max to say that he "can remember when 30 or so of the 33 cars in the Indy 500 were built by March, and that didn’t bother anybody" merely highlights his unsuitability to be president of the FIA; if he fails to understand that competition between chassis designers is essential to the whole package that is F1, what the heck is he doing creating regulations for the sport?

This is not the first time that Bernie has disagreed publicly with Max - is it possible that we might be on the verge of a power struggle between the two? If that ever happens, I know which side I would be on...


Alianora La Canta
Since the FIA has tacitly allowed team orders in the sort of circumstances it has just permitted McLaren to use them for years, there was little chance of McLaren getting convicted. Since I am not convinced that Lewis could have passed Fernando without colliding even if no team orders had been applied, maybe that should have read "no chance". Statements like the first one make me wonder where Bernie has been for the last five years. That said, standard chassis combined with nearly-standard engines would turn F1 into GP2 (given the proposed engine format's lack of power, probably not even that). Bernie's statement on that makes me think that wherever he's been for the last five years, he's remembered that being the pinnacle of motor sport requires some sort of justification for the "pinnacle" tag. Max is just plain wrong about standard cars - F1 is F1 partly because it is [i]not[/i] a one-make chassis series (either in theory or practise). Simply because many Americans focus on other elements of a racing series does not mean the same applies to the rest of the globe, or for that matter, other drivers on the globe. That said, I can't see Bernie and Max having a serious bust-up over this admittedly major point of divergence. They are good at hiding their differences when there is money and/or a political point to be gained. The pursuit of money and power will triumph over any potential disputes, especially since they are canny enough to know that without one, the other would have very little strength. Even when Max has left the FIA presidency, he will probably wade in with comments on F1 if he thinks they will help Bernie.
Date Added: 30/05/2007

Gone Away
All true, Alianora, and it shows just how clever Bernie is - that business of chucking McLaren out if found guilty was said in full knowledge that they'd be exonerated. Just something to feed the media frenzy... I agree, too, that he and Max are unlikely to fight over the proposed rules - I was really voicing my opinion that it's Max who is the real danger to F1, not Bernie. It seems to me that F1 could really use a new broom that sweeps clean, preferably one with as long a history in the sport as Bernie's.
Date Added: 31/05/2007

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