“FIA’s incompetence revealed in Alonso’s four-hour wait for F1 podium”
BERNIE ECCLESTONE once pondered the idea of a water sprinkler system to liven up dull F1 races.
He believed that by forcing drivers to pit for wet tyres would add some jeopardy and keep people watching at home until the end.
Fernando Alonso celebrated on the podium, then had his third place stripped off him, before the decision was reversed at Jeddah yesterdayCredit: Getty Images – Getty
It was a silly idea but at least we would know who ended up on the podium at the end of the race.
However, at Sunday’s Saudi Arabia GP we were left waiting almost four hours after the race had ended – at around 2am local time – to find out whether Fernando Alonso was third or not.
The farcical outcome did indeed liven up an otherwise dreary race but it is not a look the current F1 custodians want to have.
They were left embarrassed and angry as the FIA once again proved they are not fit for purpose when it comes to refereeing races.
The stewards flipped and flopped their decision before siding with the Spaniard but not without a bawling from F1.
It was hugely embarrassing given the dignitary who presented the trophy to Alonso on the podium was the CEO of Aramco – the state-owner oil business.
The same company who sponsors Alonso’s Aston Martin team, have a handsome deal with F1, plus other F1-related deals.
It looked ridiculous as the governing body published emails detailing how a report came to light in the final few laps triggering the investigation into Alonso’s incorrectly-served penalty (conveniently when he did not have enough time to build up a big enough gap to protect him from a demotion).
There was no indication as to where this report came from but the smart money is on Mercedes as they were telling George Russell to speed up because Alonso could get a time penalty and stood to inherit third place.
Of course there were missing details, you’d not expect anything less as the FIA seem absolved of any accountability.
At least Michael Masi, the former race director who controversially fudged the 2021 Abu Dhabi and subsequently lost his job, had the decency and front up after races to tell us why he made the decisions he did – save for the final race of his tenure.
Oh, but don’t worry we have been told, there is a meeting on Thursday to tighten up the rules. Until the next time it happens.
And that is the problem. This keeps on happening.
Even after the spectacular fall out from the Abu Dhabi finale and the introduction of a state-of-the-art VAR-type set up, it is simply not working well enough.
F1 and the teams are understandably running out of patience. Last Sunday was a mess and it needs to be addressed, not in the form of an amendment to an out-of-date rulebook that’s open to interpretation, but by establishing a set group of professional stewards who oversee all the races and are answerable for their decisions.
Because if we are to have this unknown extending beyond the chequered flag, then I’d rather take Bernie’s idea of sprinklers.
Red Rag to a Bull
Despite their victory on track there seemed to be a touch of tension at Red Bull yesterdayCredit: Reuters
There could be trouble brewing again between Red Bull’s two drivers.
After last year’s rift, centering on Sergio Perez’s accident in Monaco that allowed him to take a decisive pole position – much to Verstappen’s suspicion, trust is again proving thin.
In the final stages of Sunday’s GP both drivers were given targets to stick to in order to maintain a gap and bring both cars home in first and second place.
Only Verstappen went quicker and quicker leaving Perez surprised that the Dutchman had closed the gap, and breached the team’s clear instructions. He has now called on the team to review the process.
Will I Never
F1 bosses have asked Black Eyed Peas star Will.i.am to produce some music that can be used before and after qualifying and races.
The singer, rapper, producer, DJ, was filming a video in Saudi to accompany his music.
While it is likely the traditional Prelude Act I Carmen ditty will be retained for the podium celebration, Will.i.am’s tracks will fill up the rest of the playlist over a weekend.
In doing so, it will avoid any music rights issues that could occur when TV broadcasters pick up audio from guest DJs, who perform immediately after the podium presentation.
It was ironic in the land of oil that it would cause such a problem on the drivers’ parade.
The fleet of old US motors brought in for the usual pre-race presentation around the track had to be scrapped – because they were leaking too much oil on the track.
Could Michael Masi make his first return to F1 since his cock-up in the Abu Dhabi GP that cost Lewis Hamilton a record eighth title?
Masi is now the chairman of the Australian Supercars Commission, which is on the bill for the Aussie GP later this month.
Michael Masi left F1 as a divisive figure after the controversial ending to the 2021 seasonCredit: PA
Drones caused a big problem for the Saudi GP bosses last year – with one being flown into a nearby fuel depot.
But there were an incredible 1,600 of the flying devices being used to put on an impressive light display on race day.
The drone show also featured one of the world’s most powerful laser beams, which was capable of being seen from as far away as Egypt, some 150 miles away.
Hitting the Right Notes
MOTO GP have enlisted the help of Hollywood composer Marco Beltrami to help them get on-song with the sport’s fans.
F1 used American composer Brian Tyler for their theme tune, which has been a huge success, particular among new fans in the US.
MotoGP chiefs have done something similar by asking Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning composer Marco Beltrami to produce a score for the series.
The new MotoGP season kicks off March 25th in Portugal and this season will feature more GPs than ever before, plus the introduction of shorter sprint races.
Motorsport fans already bored by F1 can look forward to the return of Moto GP this weekCredit: EPA
New Man at Merc
Former F1 driver and Formula E team boss Jerome d’Ambrosio has been appointed as Mercedes’ new director of driver development.
D’Ambrosio, who drove for Marussia in F1 before switching to FE where he worked with Toto Wolff’s wife, Susie.
He will oversee the development of the team’s young drivers, a role that was previously held by James Vowles, who left to become boss of Williams.
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