Wednesday, 23 September, 2009

Piqued by F1 'Decisions'

Somebody tell me the logic why F1 drivers are let off every time, as if they are not privy to the goings on in a small, highly charged group like an F1 team in the race paddocks.

Michael Schumacher (as much as I love that man), did everything to win his 7 World Championships, including deliberately crashing his machine and got off with barely a frown. We have the 2007 Mercedes Vs Ferrari spying scandal. Here purportedly, only the race engineers were involved. Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso happily cooperated and were absolved of any knowledge. And Mercedes was fined $100 million.

And now this.

Renault's Flavio Briatore and his Director of Engineering Pat Symonds co-opt (if that is the term) Nelson Piquet Jr. the son of a former F1 champion by the same name. The rookie is not performing too well, as the second to double World Champion Fernando Alonso.

Supposedly under pressure that he might lose his seat, he agrees to the devious plan. He crashes his Renault F1 machine on turn 13 of lap 17, a pre-decided location, his foot on the accelerator, as opposed to the high performance carbon fibre brakes. What that does is, after the horrific crash, young Nelson runs across the track, rather dangerously, as the safety car gets out, towards the pits, having perfectly executed the plan.

Smartly enough, the location chosen to crash the car did not have access to tractors and hydraulics to pull the crashed machine out of the race track quickly enough. This allowed Fernando Alonso to pull into the pits for a quick stop to refuel, et al. With this 'revised' one stop strategy, he goes on to win the 2008 Singapore GP.

So Nelson waited for ten months for his conscience to gnaw at his good heart? Or was the reality that without having scored a point in 2009, his seat was in serious jeopardy, yet again. So he, with his father's nod, and back end support with friend Bernie and Max, spilled the beans. If by chance, he had done decently enough as a second to Fernando Alonso, we would never have known.

As lead driver, and double World Champion, Fernando didn't know the race strategy? As a race driver, wasn't he as desperate to win as his manager and team principal? Or was he fed a race strategy right from qualifying to race day that had him carry low fuel, right tires, just enough to last till the crash was scheduled, and never questioned how a 2 or 3 stop strategy was going to help him win the race?

I guess, in the economic times of today, FIA can't afford to fine Renault a similar or more fine, and watch another constructor team walk away from the championship.

How many more scandals are never going to see the light of day? As many as the number of competing teams, I suppose.

1 comment:

  1. And talking about penalities, Renault has merely had a suspended sentence, which basically means, they will have to watch their back for a prescribed number of years and continue as if nothing happened. Any comparable infringment in any walk of life will not allow you to be let off so easily.

    And yes, your take on driver absolvement is spot-on. The F1 world has truly become one hell of a bad soap opera to follow in the past few years.