Forcing Haas to dismiss Mazepin would throw the team back into financial crisis, threatening thousands of jobs. It would also be grossly hypocritical, given the decades that governing bodies have ignored the paddock culture his video emulated.
This can be addressed and has to be, not least given the current importance to F1 of money from the Middle East, where there’s a greater culture of modesty. Some irony that a Saudi Arabian race may put pressure on the paddock over this; the same incident there would have more consequences.
Motor sport’s moral compass is very twitchy and PR-based but this is an opportunity for governing bodies. Make a clear stance on treatment of women, put in place basic safeguarding, clean up paddocks.
This year the sport has been the most closed it ever has. When the privilege of access gets opened back up, make it conditional on behaviour standards whether you’re a driver or a sponsor delegate. Create clear, open pathways into paddocks that make the qualifications straightforward.
There’s a financial incentive: this is good PR and likely to improve reputation and visibility at a time when the old F1 culture is rubbing against 21st century attitudes.
Getting more women into paddocks in more vocal roles will create new audiences. And it’s not like there are no wealthy women who might become a lot more interested if the sport tried to flatter them, too.
Morally, I’d like to think F1’s hand would be moved by more than money but in times when series are struggling to hold events and survive, it is a very powerful argument.
The people who work in paddocks, bar the ones worrying the secrecy around their behaviour might finally be broken, would definitely welcome it. Only a minority have exploited the situation, most people just want to work in and watch something they love.
Talking about this openly and addressing it go hand in hand: let’s make Mazepin’s mistake the groping, not getting caught.