With only one Grand Prix remaining in the 2009 season (next weekend in Abu Dhabi), I’ve been reflecting on the year and I think even its most ardent defenders would have to admit that F1 has seen better days.
I’m not alone. This is what Britain’s respected Guardian newspaper (via National Speed Sport News) had to say about the sport in a recent editorial:
"The problem now in F-1 is that no one believes anyone.
"Under its present rules, it finds itself wrapped in a web of deception and sophistry spun by highly intelligent but totally unscrupulous people who have been encouraged to see it as a world in which vast sums of money can be accrued without too many questions being asked.
"Regulations are changed on a whim, resulting in aberrant results that distort long-established competitive values. Six wins in seven races for the Brawn team and a pole position for Force India may be someone’s idea of fun, but they are the results of a randomly rigged lottery, not of Grand Prix racing.
"One month (Bernie) Ecclestone swears that the British Grand Prix will never return to Silverstone, and the next he is behaving as if he never said it, just because it suits him.
"Soon, FIA President Max Mosley will be gone, to be followed one day by his little pal. Behind them, the pair will leave a sport stripped of its integrity, its old values replaced by a superficial prosperity that can no longer conceal a putrescent core."
Wow. Talk about a slap across the face.
Last Friday, as we all know, Mosley made his exit and was replaced as FIA president by another old pal, Jean Todt. Although the jury will be out for awhile, the initial reaction is that nothing will really change because Todt was supported in his campaign against outsider Ari Vatanen (former Finnish rally driver and current member of the European Parliament) by Mosley, Ecclestone and Michael Schumacher – all members of the Old Guard.
Only Jackie Stewart (so far as I know) was openly calling for a change in the form of Vatanen.
So chances are it will be business as usual – which, in one way, may be a good thing because Todt is an experienced hand at all things F1 and a steady hand on the tiller going forward will be beneficial with new teams coming into the sport.
On the other hand, the cheating, corruption and all-out dishonesty became rampant during the Mosley-Ecclestone era and it might have been time for a guy like Vatanen to come in and clean house.
Formula One is completely (well, almost) dependent on commercial sponsorship. Regardless of the recession, there are still companies with money out there who are interested in motorsport.
But whether they want to be involved at this time is the question.