It’s official, there is no saving F1 and the governing body have sounded the final death knoll as they prove once again that their motivations are money and Ferrari, and that their decisions are continually inconsistent, wrong and unfair.
On Thursday the governing body, the FIA, decided that McLaren should pay a US $100 million fine and not receive any constructors points for this season for their alleged part in the whole affair.
As the Metro newspaper pointed out McLaren have been hit with a fine that is over twelve times the amount that Network Rail were hit for after the death of 31 passengers at Paddington station in the UK.
If a value was placed on human life, that would mean whatever McLaren was found guilty of was equivalent to 372 passengers dying at the hands of a negligent transport company. Is that entirely right?
The fine aside, information seems hard to find on the exact details, until today. The Guardian newspaper has revealed some of the details of what has happened and summarised the events.
The McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan was in discussion via text, mobile and email with Nigel Stepney, the ex-Ferrari engineer, and through emails given by Fernando Alonso and Pedra de la Rosa, it seems that information was being passed between Coughlan and Stepney about weight distribution and fuelling strategies.
The evidence are a few emails between drivers regarding some information that Stepney apparently passed to Coughlan and a list from the obliging Italian police with the numbers of SMS text messages, emails and mobile calls made between the two.
Something seems to have been forgotten in this whole affair though. Something that backs up the idea that this is a Ferrari versus McLaren political problem, Honda.
Even today Max Mosley announced that Honda had received some three hundred and twenty three SMS messages from Nigel Stepney, and the question remains as to why they haven’t been implicated in any of this.
However back at McLaren they are firmly stating that they never took anything from this information and that Coughlan was operating independently when he was talking to Stepney, as is the way Ferrari say that Stepney was operating.
Interestingly it is stated by many in F1 that information such as weight distribution, stopping strategies, etc. can often be gleamed from conversations in the paddock with other team members. It seems now that if the FIA suddenly decide to be fair and equal then many other teams and team members could be under potential threat from fines and point reductions.
What is most important is that, as far as I understand, there has been no work done to see if McLaren have actually used the information to develop their car. Something that McLaren actually deny.
So it does boil down to a $100 million fine and a complete exclusion of a constructor from an entire season for an employee simply being in possession of a document.
It’s the seemingly political motivation behind the outcome that’s more disturbing.
We’ve seen this time and time again with Ferrari and McLaren, something I’ve written about before, and it seems that whenever McLaren start to dominate over Ferrari they take to the FIA and the courts.
I’m not saying that McLaren are blameless, but surely it’s clear that the fine is insanely out of proportion and that there has been no real evidence of wrong doing, especially not to warrant the exclusion of the constructor.
Of course it’s not just the fine that’s the problem but the loss of constructors points leads to another huge blow for the team on two fronts.
First the drivers are paid by constructor point wins, sure they receive standard payments, but there is a big bonus scheme related to these points. Now I’m sure McLaren won’t pass this loss down to them, but if they’re already shy of $100 million from here on then they might have no choice.
What’s a $100 million to an F1 team I hear you ask, there’s talk that it’s just half their yearly budget? Well that leads to the second point. The teams receive shares of the revenue raised from F1, and the percentage that they receive is based on the position they finish on the constructors championship the previous year.
So think to next year, McLaren will be last, no points, hence the lowest (if any) share of the revenue will be theirs, a share previously reserved for someone like Spyker. So how will a top team that spends way more on research, development, personnel, marketing, premises, drivers, etc., manage to pay for the yearly costs without the huge revenue coming in.
Another kick in the groin moment is that the 2008 McLaren car is to be technically investigated in December 2007, and a report will be made on that as to whether more action will be taken.
If McLaren are already claiming that nothing on the current car, for which they are being fined and stripped of constructors points, is based on this document, then surely the 2008 car will be in the same position. After all it won’t be drastically different to the 2007 car they are currently running and winning with will it?
Of course as far as I can ascertain there’s not yet been an independent technical review of the 2007 car, just a few meetings with loads of documents and presentations being made. So all these decisions against McLaren are being made without any physical evidence that the car has been adapted due to information given by the ex-Ferrari employee.
Just now I’m watching the qualifying opening for the Hungarian Grand Prix, perhaps the last Grand Prix event I’m going to watch, and Max Mosley has once again shown no integrity by openly speaking to the press saying, without actually using the word, that Ron Dennis lied to him.
Ron Dennis came out and responded directly a few moments later, and by the end of the statement you could see he was struggling to keep the tears away and he even had to turn away from the cameras and stop speaking.
He said that at no time has he lied and he really didn’t know about this until Alonso revealed that he had incriminating emails. Dennis swore that his personal integrity matters more than anything and that it is the highest in the paddock, and I believed him.
Frankly it’s all childish and quite degrading at the moment. It undoubtedly looks to me that Ferrari and the FIA are trying their hardest to put McLaren out of business in F1 and get Ferrari to the front, and they’ll do it any way they can.
Right now that means the $100 million fine, points stripping resulting in a huge loss of revenue next year, and possible further fines and point stripping for the 2008 season which would even flow in to 2009.
Then what if they tell McLaren to radically change their car design? That would be years of lost development time, resource and money.
I don’t see any way out for McLaren at the moment, and even if the appeal wins I would be considering a future in F1, and if I was any other team than Ferrari I’d be warning all my employees not to talk to anyone from any other team.
Perhaps now the teams are wishing that they had not signed up with the FIA and that they had stayed and pushed for the rival F1 championship.
However it’s Fernando Alonso, a so called Champion of the sport, that has come out the worst from this whole affair.
It now appears that Fernando Alonso exchanged some emails with Pedro de la Rosa about the information Stepney had supplied, and Alonso threatened Ron Dennis that if he wasn’t made the number one driver he would reveal all to the FIA. It was this threat that prompted Dennis to call Mosley and let him know what he had just learned.
Alonso shows what an incredibly selfish and arrogant man he is, and these are the actions of a so called champion. Frankly if he can’t race and beat the rookie in his team then he’s not that much of a Formula 1 driver, and he does not deserve to be made the number one driver even by using blackmail.
Through this whole affair Hamilton has continued to show that he’s the driver with more class and dignity. He hasn’t needed to hold up his team mate to stop him from competing and beating his race time.
More to the point he hasn’t been the driver that has threatened his entire team, knowing that the FIA would offer him immunity. Now that’s the way to gain respect and show your integrity.
Once again the FIA and Ferrari have lowered the sport into the gutter and made a mockery of it. Personally I’m considering my own future and if it’s time to stop watching such a corrupt sport.
Congratulations to Ferrari, now the proud winners of the constructors championship. Another championship won under the banner of FIA and court interjection.