An appeal on behalf of F1 fans everywhere

Published: 03 April 2009

A week on Saturday, with any luck, we will be able to bring you the result of the Australian GP, two weeks after the chequered flag.

That’s the day when Ferrari’s mealy-mouthed appeal against the rejection of its claim against the legality of better cars will be heard. If they win (and let’s face it, they are Ferrari) then Button and Barrichello will be booted out and Jarno Trulli will be declared the winner.

Yes, that’s the same Jarno Trulli who finished third, was handed a big trophy, then had the trophy snatched off him and given to Lewis Hamilton, then saw that same trophy snatched back off Hamilton and handed back to Trulli again. If Ferrari win that appeal, F1’s ‘arbiters of fairness’ will snatch the trophy back off Trulli for a second time, and replace it with a slightly bigger one. He’ll be so proud.

And don’t forget, this is the man who was disqualified from qualifying for cheating with an illegally flexy rear diffuser, and made to start from the pit lane. Will he tell his grandchildren about his triumph? Nah, they won’t understand what he’s on about.

As stated above, this is an appeal on behalf of all of us poor saps who like watching motor racing. This appeal is not politically motivated, nor driven by any desire for one team or driver to be given special treatment. Quite the opposite – I just want to see motor racing, in which the first car wins and the second car comes second, and in which all the overtaking happens during the race rather than during the appeal hearing.

I implore F1’s bosses, rulemakers, stewards and teams to stop squabbling for one moment and consider this: they exist to serve the audience, not to serve each other. More than ever before, the sport in 2009 is obsessively inward-looking, anarchically inconsistent, avowedly self-serving and, increasingly, irrelevant. If it continues at this pace, people will stop watching it because watching it is a complete waste of their time.

The sight of the BBC’s bewildered new anchorman Jake Humphrey appearing in the dark at the end of each broadcast to explain why the two hours you’ve just enjoyed have subsequently been rendered void must not become a staple of the season. If it does, the ‘sport’ will die. A BBC man told me this week that corporation bosses had their heads in their hands when they heard Hamilton had been excluded on a risible technicality. He’s one of the reasons the Beeb forked out millions of your money to snaffle F1. And nobody outside the pitlane understands – or cares about – the imperceptible infraction which seems to have turned the World Champion into a Fritzl-style pariah. The BBC, privately, will insist on better than this, or tell Bernie the deal’s off.

Don’t let this, happen, F1 leaders. Put the 10,000-page rulebook down, walk away from the courtroom, and get back on track.

By Greg Fountain

CAR's former managing editor, editor, caption chiseller, noticer of ironies