There are times when Formula One simply appears to have no grasp of its profile in the world at large. And the governing body is unaware of its own ability to reduce itself, and the sport as a whole, to a laughing stock.
On the one hand you have the immense professionalism, as represented by the smartly turned out phalanx of trucks and motorhomes which grace paddocks the world over, each and every one being subjected to a daily polish in deference to the ‘show’.
On the other you have the FIA changing the regulations which govern overtaking, without bothering to consult those qualified to judge on such matters. Such as the drivers. And when the drivers point out, quite reasonably, that the FIA’s directive is a tad short-sighted? Well, they change their minds again. Simple.
It’s not exactly confidence-inspiring government, is it? Before the Hungarian GP, the FIA’s John Corsmit announced that, henceforth, it would be the responsibility of the leading driver to give way if the man behind should position his nose ahead of his quarry’s rear wing. It was a modification of the interpretation of the existing rules, and it effectively wiped out a racing driver’s powers of defence at a stroke.
It would mean, without question, that Michael Schumacher would be 100 per cent culpable for the accident in Adelaide last year, and likewise for that at Silverstone in July. In the first instance, many would agree that this was the case. Schumacher was to blame. But Silverstone was not so clear-cut. And certainly, under the present regulations, it was a case of 50 / 50: irresistible force meets immovable object.
Imagine the situation. It is the final lap of a Grand Prix. Schumacher is leading. Hill is right behind. But, under the new rules, Hill has only to edge a fraction alongside his rival, who immediately has to pull to the side and let him pass. Is this what the crowd wants?
Palpably not. But, if nothing else, it at least proved that the FIA is aware of the dire absence of genuine racing in Formula One at present. As Eddie Irvine say, “They are addressing the right problem. They are just going about it the wrong way.” S A