GLOBETROTTER

The day the writer turned into a mushroom

In Formula 1 there is always some new scandal. Each week someone is arguing with someone else. This week everyone is in a flap about Williams being denied an entry in F1.

That's like stopping Linford Christie from running in the Olympic 100m. Or insisting that Nick Faldo stays in the clubhouse for the British Open.

Silly isn't it?

FISA folk and others who have power in F1 (the two are not synonymous) will argue piously that Williams missed the deadline and thus and therefore... and wake me up when they have finished.

Everyone in F1 knows that the business with Williams has nothing to do with the team failing to enter. It is a political manoeuvre.

If it were not a political manoeuvre FISA would have avoided a kerfuffle by brushing the whole matter under the carpet. We know such things are possible in F1 because no-one said 'Boo' to a goose when a car was found to have illegal fuel in the Australian GP. FISA said Scuderia Italia didn't know that its Dallara-Ferrari was running dodgy petrol. So who did? The incident was embarrassing to Scuderia Italia.

Still, this week, Beppe Lucchini's team isn't looking too unhappy as it has miraculously acquired a top 10 place among the FOCA teams.

I am told that there was a change in the Concorde Agreement last year which means that Dallaras and Lolas are now the same thing - intellectually-speaking.

Yes, and I'm a mushroom.

No, it is true. The signatories of the Concorde Agreement seem to believe in the mushroom theory of public relations. Journalists should be kept in the dark and fed on horse-shit. FISA and FOCA will not let people like me see the Concorde Agreement because it has all the financial details of F1.

Let's go back to Williams's entry scandal. It has caused the team acute embarrassment. It has made life difficult for Frank. Why?

Could it be that Frank is making it difficult for the rules to be changed. He is opposed to anything artificial being introduced to reduce the advantage he - and his team - have fought for. You can understand that. Frank wants to keep his advantage. There is more to it than that and there are more people who sit in FOCA meetings who are opposed to the idea of weight penalties and pace car interventions. Why? Because the very fabric of Grand Prix racing in being threatened.

F1 is the pinnacle of motor racing for one reason only: it is the place where ideas are generated. It is pure competition - rather than TV-packaged. Sometimes technology gives one team the advantage: in 1978 Lotus made a huge leap forward with ground-effect; in 1983 BMW chemists produced F1 rocket fuel and Brabham walked to the title on pure horsepower; in 1988 so good was the McLaren-Honda that everyone else was wasting time.

But the other teams always came back: Lotus isn't winning now, is it? McLaren isn't the top team any longer and Brabham. Well, let's not talk about Brabham. It makes me want to cry.

Last year Nigel Mansell dominated. In 1988 McLaren dominated. What was the difference? In 1988 McLaren team mates Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were at war, last year Nigel had no real opposition from his team mate.

As a result the racing was often dull and the television companies - which are always looking for instant action and excitement - are beginning to make noises about F1 being boring. It will not last. This season will be much closer and interest will be stimulated once again.

It is my belief that television is being given too much clout in how F1 is run. Pace cars and weight penalties are not the ideas of those who care about racing. They care more about making money.

Everyone is F1 has been made rich by the money-making skills of Bernie Ecclestone and good on him. The problem is that there are now powerful people who are willing to make a quick profit at the expense of the sport.

The worrying thing is that FISA is going along with this silly business? Have they seen the headlines: 'F1 goes crazy'. That sort of thing is good for the image of the sport, isn't it?

Speaking as a humble mushroom, I reckon FISA should throw itself out of the F1 World Championship for bringing the sport into disrepute.

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