On the eve of the Formula 1 70th Grand Prix, there is a lot of debate, accusation and contemplation inside the F1 paddock.
Racing Point were fined 400k Euros for their use of a 2019 Mercedes brake duct design, which would have been legal if they had used in last year but not this year, and they also will lose 15 Constructor’s Championship points.
That’s not enough according to Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Renault. They have protested the verdict and if they maintain their position within 96 hours, it will go to the International Court of Appeals. Racing Point have appealed the decision believing the penalty too harsh. It certainly is a case of perspective then. Breaching Sporting Regulations versus Technical Regulations is no easily dismissed issue but then Ferrari seemed to have escaped a serious accusation last year too.
There is also the war of words in which McLaren’s CEO, Zak Brown, thought the verdict was BS and Racing Point said Zak is BS and knows very little about F1 or something like that, I am a paraphrasing.
All of this is happening as drivers point fingers and the mobocracy on social media engage in cancel culture on 6-7 drivers who aren’t kneeling during Lewis Hamilton’s organized Black Lives Matter protest. What was said on Twitter to Charles Leclerc is beyond the pale regardless if he kneels or not. It’s uncivilized and unbecoming of the sport of Formula 1. A shame the FIA can’t penalize the fans for breaching section 8.7 of the Sporting Regulations.
Then there is the looming Concorde agreement in which Mercedes is not aligned with the other teams in their willingness to sign the agreement with F1 and move on. Mercedes feels they are the team who loses the most and Ferrari, it is said, loses the least.
Christian Horner of Red Bull Racing believes the teams will get the agreement signed on August 12th but Mercedes is reluctant and its boss, Toto Wolff, has had some of the harshest language I’ve seen to date about this issue as well as others. It is clear, he’s not happy at the moment.
“We are I would say the biggest victim in terms of prize fund loss in all of that,” Wolff said.
“Ferrari has maintained an advantageous position. With Red Bull, it obviously balances out with Toro Rosso. So it’s us that are hurt the most.
“I feel that Mercedes has contributed to the sport over the last years. Apart from being competitive on-track, we have the driver that has clearly the most global appeal.
“We feel that whilst being in those negotiations, we weren’t treated in the way we should have been.
“Therefore there is a bunch of open topics for us that are legal, commercial, and sporting. In our point of view, I don’t feel ready to sign a Concorde Agreement.”
While all of this is going on, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez still tested positive for COVID-19 and will not race on Sunday.
It seems like there is a lot of anxiety and frustration in the paddock. I can understand why. There is a lot to do, a lot that has been done and a lot happening. Perhaps it is a microcosm of F1’s bubble and how that reflects life in general. All of these details would be daunting in the best of times but with a virus looming and the global economy taking a knee and teams in short cash supply, it is clear that tensions are rising and tempers are flaring.
It’s unfortunate because sport is supposed to be, or has traditionally been, the one escape that fans enjoy to take their minds off the trials in their own lives. All of this ire is simply adding to the fray and while no sport can promise its fans a complete release and escape from the tedium and challenges of their days, perhaps they would do well to not add to their fans anxiety.