Formula 1 (F1). The pinnacle of motorsport. The upper crust and definitive word in racing. I used to think that and still do in many ways. But things have changed. There is something going on in F1 and weâ€™re starting to feel it on our chests like a two-ton heavy thing.There is a pall over F1 in the last two years and while we have all waxed poetic about it, it has taken F1 by the throat, held it down and beat the stuffing right out of it.
It started with whispers and innuendos but it raged into to view like a monster intent on gnawing our faces off. What is it? Politics! Like approaching a calm glade, resting by its cool waters only to have the swamp thing lurch out from the murky waters and drag you under along with your dog Fifi and the soiled underwear your Mom said to wash. The last two years has been a gut wrenching, bum pounding tour de force and itâ€™s a wonder any of us has actually watched the races for fear we might miss some political scandal or have to endure a new one. Oh sure, there are titles to be won and events to be held but all of it seems to pale in comparison. There may be truth that any press, good or bad, is really good. I am sure the world has given Mr. Ecclestone every right to believe/know that. But I am starting to wonder if that is actually going to hold water in the long run. I can say from experience that in America, that proposition holds true for one or two times but after a while it becomes tedious and while we watch as spectators at a train wreck, we actually care little for the subject or the outcome. We just like the initial impact. Oooo, sparks and metal shards! Then we go on about our lives.
Letâ€™s look at this. At the end of 2006 Michael Schumacher, arguably one of the best drivers in modern history, retired. He was a galvanizing force in F1. Doesnâ€™t matter if you liked or hated him; he had everyoneâ€™s number, attention and opinions. He put butts in seats, period. The world held its collective breath in sheer wonderment at what F1 would be like without Michael Schumacher. The world was quick to find another hero and pretend that things were better than anyone could have expected. That no one missed Michael and F1 could finally be rid of the Schumacherâ€™s and their dastardly ways. Fair enoughâ€¦I don’t agree but I understand that assessment. Except, here is what we actually got:
Lewis Hamilton- Unfortunately sans Michael, the media has performed gavage on us to assure us we do have a person who can pick up where Schumi left off
Astronomical $100M fines
Tawdry sex scandals
Corrupt, contrived political charade of a vote of confidence
Bravado, chest-pounding power struggles between governing and commercial rights groups and teams
Random penalties with no consistency or explanations offered to the public
Politically managed race results and perceived manipulated outcomes
I suspect that we all have tried to convince ourselves that F1 post-Schumacher would be better than ever and more exciting. The prospects of Fernando Alonso and others was all too much to take. Sadly, that has not come to pass.
Given the above list or Schumacher? I would take Schumacher any day. Yes it was dominant racing but Alonso was bringing the fight on and we had fun watching a new champion unseat and old one. Old being relative obviously, Michael is a young man in his late thirties. Racing was the main focus and politics, woman #5 and espionage was unheard of. And you folks said the Schumacher era was bad! Having fun now? Right, you get my point.
Lest anyone forget that this weekends penalty was rendered by stewards who are the very ones who voted to keep Max Mosley in office after his bombastic soiling of the FIA office and complete dereliction of duty to the office of President of the FIA. I am a Ferrari fan, among others, and I was calling for Maxâ€™s FIA HQ front door key immediately after it was revealed that he had dragged the F1 name through the mud in April. Now, if there were any question to the veracity of his tenure, the structure of his organization and the effectiveness of his leadership, McLaren fans and Lewis Hamilton fans should surely see the truth. You were railroaded by Max sycophants who not only are incapable of maintaining a consistent ruling across the season but are also so flippant as to suggest that fans are not due explanations for drastically altering their sport.
At some point, money always talks and if the fan base of F1 speaks out, things will happen. Mr. Ecclestone, who I personally do not believe is behind any of this, is a sharp man. He will protect his investment with gun, sword or word. If F1 fans pressure the FOM for a change, perhaps the FIA will be relegated to road safety measures and the rest of us can get on with professional racing at its highest levels. Max isnâ€™t going to do anything about this debacle. In fact, Mr. Ecclestone is about the only man in a position to change the series. Here is the web site, go tell Bernie what you think. www.formula1.com