Friday, 30 July 2010

Hubris Repeated

It only took their first opportunity for a 1-2 in two seasons for Ferrari to put themselves in the mire.

Repeating the actions of Austria in 2002, they ordered the drivers to reverse their positions to give the favoured son the benefit of the extra points for first place, and the manoeuvre was carried out in a blatant fashion by the drivers. Ironically (or not) it was 2002’s actions in Austria, and the resultant furore, that caused the FIA to introduce the ‘no team orders’ rule in the first place.

Then, as in Hockenheim, they faced booing from the crowd, an embarrassing podium ceremony and critical questioning from the specialist press corps. Then, as now, the team management shrugged their shoulders, accused their many critics of not understanding motor racing, and pretended it was all part of anti-Ferrari bias in the ‘Anglo’ press.

Then, as now, we were faced with the unedifying site (and sound) of senior engineers’ and drivers’ bare-faced lies about missed gear changes and being all the drivers’ decisions - even though the telemetry shown on screen clearly showed Massa using only 50% throttle leaving the corner where the ‘pass’ took place.

What it did demonstrate once again, quite clearly, is that Ferrari feel they have no loyalty to any concept of ‘sport’ in Formula One, or to its many supporters, or those that turn up each fortnight having paid their hundreds of Euros or Dollars to see a race.

For them, Ferrari is bigger than F1, and what’s good for the team is good for the rest. That's the way the planets should be aligned, and the Scuderia can get on with winning in order to maintain the ‘brand’ that allows them to make money from the road car and T shirt business.

We saw that in during the triumphalism of the Schumacher years, at Indianapolis in 2005, in Austria in 2002, and in their shabby behaviour during Stepneygate. So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to see it again in 2010.

Talk about team orders long being a part of Grand Prix racing (so was sudden death on Sunday afternoon), and being implemented by other teams (none with the flagrant arrogance of the Scuderia) show a point being missed.

What F1 shares with other great sports is that it really isn’t just about winning, it about winning well.

It’s a shame that Ferrari’s hubris blinds them to this.

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