24 Jun 2013

F1 - Why The FIA Have Made A Huge Mistake

So the Great Mercedes/Pirelli Tyre Scandal of 2013 is finally at a close with Mercedes being punished as expected. The punishment: a reprimand and a ban from taking part in this year’s young driver test. A Mercedes team statement claims that “in the best interests of the sport, the team does not intend to avail itself of any right to appeal the decision.”

No kidding. This punishment is ill advised on so many levels and Mercedes must know they have effectively gotten away with it.

First up, answer me this, FIA: how on Earth does banning Mercedes from the young driver test hurt the team? Lest we forget that Mercedes they already has two very young and incredibly fast racers in Rosberg and Hamilton, so they are not exactly crying out for young, fresh blood and therefore rendering the punishment utterly pointless.

It really does strike me as odd that the FIA has singled out the young driver test where, let’s be honest, any useful feedback on a car will be minimal because these drivers are young and will have little or no experience behind the wheel of a Grand Prix racer.

Secondly, why take out a management error out on young drivers when F1 is harder than it ever was to break into, what with the already paltry limited in-season testing? I genuinely cannot believe that somebody thought it a wise idea to punish potential stars of the future because some fat-cats at the top (who have already established themselves within F1) made an error. As far as I can see, the players involved in the decision to test get off free, whilst entirely innocent parties are punished.

Now the FIA does acknowledge that neither Mercedes or Pirelli acted in bad faith or set out to gain any unfair advantage, but the point is they did gain an unfair advantage and this is the error of the management, not the fault of a twenty-year old youngster looking for his big break.

Somebody with significant authority within Mercedes even went to the lengths of telling Lewis and Nico to wear anonymous, black helmets instead of their own easily identifiable ones. These are the actions of somebody with a guilty conscience and it is these actions that should be punished.

There are some mighty intelligent people in that team and this sort of instruction is not given on a whim. I simply cannot get my head around this.

You do have to question the FIA sometimes, even on a race-by-race process, what with its inability to deal with racing incidents during the race and instead choosing to deal with incidents after the grand prix. Yes, it must be challenging to stay on top of the countless issues that must arise and require action, but I do find it irritating when, for whatever reason, innocent parties are hung out to dry unnecessarily.

So, do you agree?

Article by Ben Hawkins

You can read more of Ben's work, and the original copy of this article, at his website http://wheelnutter.wordpress.com