Renault F1 gets slapped, the boss fares much worse
- Branko Brkic
- 18 Sep 2009 (South Africa)
The end of the road for once all-mighty, multiple championship-winning Flavio Briatore
There’s no doubt that the world of sport is dirtying its moral carbon footprint. Especially motorsport, it seems. Remember the movie Rollerball, dated as it may now be in the face of cage fighting and other adventure sports. Win at any cost. Well, that happens sometimes in boxing, where dead fighters may have been murdered by proxy, as it were, when refs don’t stop the fight.
Soccer has its prima donnas who dive to exact an unsportsmanlike penalty, and Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal in the quarterfinals of the Mexico City 1986 World Cup against England should have made world football blush.
Then there is the doping of the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, and the tales of many muscled East German women swimmers that make the Caster Semenya furore a storm in a teacup. Win at all costs. It sounds like war, and ex-Formula One driver Eddie Irvine says that’s what is its,
"Formula One has always been a war and in war all is fair," the former Jordan and Ferrari driver told Radio 5 live in Britain. "When I was in various teams you would do anything to win. Back in the day it was normal," he says.
Irvine is wrong: even war has rules, like the Geneva Convention. But they’re there to be broken. So the slight changes to the aerofoils in F1, or tweaking of the jets is small nuts, although the same can’t be said of Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard being found guilty of having illegal fuel in their cars.
Now Renault’s Formula One team has been charged with conspiring “with Nelson Piquet Jr to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, with the aim of causing the deployment of the safety car to the advantage of its other driver, Fernando Alonso."
This was enough to see Flavio Briatore leave his post as Renault team boss along with executive director of engineering Pat Symonds, after the team decided not to contest the charges of fixing the race.
It wasn’t the first time that this had happened to Alonso, who had his 15 seconds of fame when he became the sport’s youngest world champion way back when, and then the double youngest champion the following year. Since then he kinda went off the radar, as the Americans might say, despite the fact that this British invention enabled the Tommies to win the Battle of Britain. Take that, Yankees!
Subsequently Alonso was beaten by Britain’s Lewis Hamilton, who in turn became the youngest ever F1 champion. Both drove for McLaren and fell out numerous times in their rivalry, especially after McLaren was investigated for breaking F1 rules by enforcing team orders that Hamilton allow Alonso to win. The charges didn’t stick.
Britain’s The Times newspaper says Eddie Irvine gave his radio interviewer his views on the Renault matter: "This is probably slightly on the wrong side of the cheating thing, but in days past every team have done whatever they could to win -- cheat, bend the rules, break the rules, sabotage opponents," he claimed.
"Formula One cannot afford to lose more teams,” Irvine said. “For me, it will be a massaged court where the fine will be reduced in order not to scare Renault away.”
And F1 is scared that teams will be chased away. The sport’s biggest teams began preparations for a breakaway series recently after failing to resolve a dispute with their governing body over financial constraints. Brawn GP, Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, Toyota, BMW Sauber, Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso are set to be lost from F1.
In line with the war talk, F1 president Max Mosley is insistent on introducing a voluntary $US60 million budget cap on teams to curtail a "financial arms race" in F1. Some teams survive on the equivalent of a peanut, while others sail the Med in yachts.
And talking of war in other realms, such as the bedroom, Mosley has been under pressure to resign after he had a Nazi-style orgy with five prostitutes. The Nazi link is palpable, as his father, Sir Oswald, was the leader of the British Union of Fascists and a friend of Adolf Hitler.
Mosley was caught on video by the News of the World gutter press in an underground “torture chamber” in London, where he allegedly indulged in sado-masochistic sex. Speaking in German and brandishing a leather whip, the paper says he beat the women after allowing himself to be subjected to a humiliating inspection for lice and an interrogation in chains.
Max is also a close confidant of Bernie Ecclestone, aged 78, who holds the commercial rights to F1. Ecclestone, who is very short, like Napoleon was, is now embroiled in what is likely to be Britain’s most expensive divorce from his much younger six-foot-two-inches tall Slavic wife, who is a former Armani model.
He is said to have hired Guy Richie’s divorce lawyer, who got the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels director plenty of filthy lucre from his ex-wife Madonna. This time Bernie is trying to hold onto what Forbes magazine reckons is his $3.2 billion fortune.
Maybe F1 is set to get even dirtier to increase its falling ratings. That’s showbiz, folks!
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