Formula 1 Insight

Medals and Morality

It seems that this week FOTA are going to discuss Bernie Ecclestone's proposals to introduce medals to F1. That comes as no surprise to me as I suggested in a previous post that Bernie was being economical with the truth when he said that all the teams supported his idea.

Bernie Ecclestone
Bernie Ecclestone

According to Dr Mario Theissen, this will be the first time the teams look at the suggestion. If that is the case, Bernie's statement that all the team owners were in favor was, to put it bluntly, a lie. And, in my book, that makes him less than suitable to have such control over an important international sport such as F1.

I may be an old fogey but I am well aware that much has changed over the last fifty years or so; morality and standards have been altered so that it is anyone's guess as to what is acceptable and what is not these days. Many would shrug and say, "So what?", on learning that Bernie fibbed on occasion - we all do it when it suits us, after all. It's a comfortable argument that allows us to relax in our own standards, giving substance to the old line that "everyone does it".

Regardless of personal morality, however, I would point out that the demonstrable untruthfulness of a public figure destroys his credibility. If we know that the leader of an organization resorts to lies when it suits him, we can no longer believe anything he says. So, when Bernie blames the Canadian government officials for the loss of the Canadian GP, for instance, there is no reason why we should take his word for it.

In effect, Bernie becomes a character that is best ignored, the reliability of anything he says having been put in doubt. That may not surprise many and I am sure that a common response would be to laugh and say that nobody has believed a word Bernie has said for decades. But how does that make him a suitable person to be negotiating deals for the sport? If he cannot be trusted, how can circuit owners and sponsors put any credence in any agreements made with him? And how do the millions of fans feel about their sport being run by a man who is quite happy to lie to them?

It saddens me to think that F1 is being run by men without honor, whose morality is dependent upon expediency only. As pointed out by Joe Saward on Grandprix dot com recently, there remains an element of chivalry at the heart of F1 and yet the actions of its leaders destroy our belief in any such finer motives.

Consider how contracts between drivers and teams have become worthless over the past decade, for instance. There was a time when a driver could be sure that, once having signed on the dotted line, he was certain of his seat for the coming season, at least. Not these days, however. It seems that any team manager can tear up the contract whenever he sees a better prospect to drive his cars. The contract has become worthless, a mere statement that, as long as it suits the team, they will use a particular driver - after that, he is out, regardless of what the contract says.

That is the uncomfortable fact that we ignore so readily in the modern world; the morality of the leaders will set the morality of the sport. That is why they are called leaders, after all - by their actions they lead where others might not have gone without them. And, if a leader's word is no longer trustworthy, so will the standing of his followers be undermined. The sport becomes, in effect, contaminated.

This may seem a huge generalization to make from one statement by the little man who holds the purse strings of F1 - and so it is. But it is in the small things that we see clues to the greater truths beyond. And, if there is no longer any morality, anything becomes possible...


Steven Roy
I fall into the group who never believes anything Max or Bernie says. I think it was Adrian Newey who said that when he go the new rules for a new season he read them twice. First to see what they said and again to see what they didn't say. I tend to treat Bernie (and his sidekick) the same way. Read what he says and then re-read it to see what he didn't say or what could be inferred by what he said.
Date Added: 01/12/2008

I have treated their statements in pretty much the same way, Steven. Somehow a statement that bends the truth or is more interesting in what it doesn't say is better than an outright lie, however. I confess myself thoroughly disillusioned with Bernie, even though I suspected he was "exaggerating" to say everyone agreed with his proposal.
Date Added: 01/12/2008

Pink Peril
F1 is run by a greedy liar and a power hungry pervert.

Not a state of affairs anyone should be happy or proud of.
What more can I say?
Date Added: 01/12/2008

Nick Goodspeed
It is too bad we cannot have a running commentary of what is going on in the wind tunnels and drafting rooms as they are the only places that remain unpolluted by the idiot twins. Despite any contemptuous, moronic rule changes inflicted on F1 by senile minds, the engineers keep coming up with miraculous and elegant solutions. We are nearly at the point that it might make more sense to apply there calculations and equations and create virtual cars and tracks just to be rid of the medalling jack asses.
Date Added: 02/12/2008

If we go to virtual races, I can see the drivers becoming even younger... ;)
Date Added: 02/12/2008

I have to agree with you entirely Clive. We not only see this in F1, but in a lot of other large businesses.

Bernie Ecclestone isn't any different than any other leader in today's world. They rewrite common definitions that enable them to be interpreted the way they like. As you say, what is a contract in F1 today. Nothing! I use to say to myself when a driver was dropped 'what about his contract', but now I just shake my head.

I lost all faith in Max after his sex scandal and law suit. I lost faith in Bernie Ecclestone years ago with his unscrupulous dealings. These are people who laugh in the face of others and use their influence for their own personal gain while at the same time looking for an interview to say they have the best interest of the FIA or F1.
Date Added: 02/12/2008

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