Why the FIA cannot lose

The Mole had decided to send Penelope (Wycombe Abbey) to the FIA International Court of Appeal in Paris, figuring that a visit to the city so soon after his misadventure with Isabelle, his Renault spy, would reopen wounds. He suggested that she go over a day early and planned, as everyone else was away, that he would spend at least some of Monday watching the Test Match at The Oval, a mere stroll away from the office. The Mole had spent the weekend carefully listening to the cricket on Radio 5 and was shocked when the Pakistan team failed to come out after tea.

"Well that's ruined my Monday," he said grumpily. "Imagine not coming out after tea. It's just not cricket."

As a result Monday was very slow. There were some cheery postcards from the girls but apart from that the IN tray was decidedly empty.

That evening he went down to the pub with The Colonel (The Mole's next door neighbour and a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party) who informed him that despite the cricket, things really were looking up and that a friend of his had told him that The Guardian was about the publish a survey showing that the Labour Party support had sunk to its lowest level in 19 years.

"Nineteen years!" he said. "It's brilliant. Soon the age of Blair will be over and we will have the Conservatives back in power."

The Mole grunted. He had long ago given up trusting any politician.

"I've not been able to understand it since Labour became conservative and the Conservatives did not know where to go," he said. "As far as I am concerned politicians of all sorts should be given the old floating witch test. If they drown they are innocent but if they float they are clearly witches and so should be burned at the stake."

"A bit harsh," said The Colonel.

"Not at all," said The Mole. "If they had tests like that all the crooks and car dealers would stay away and we would have good men running the country and there would be no need for the tests. The only problem with that idea is that if you drove the crooks out of parliament they might all end up in sport and then all sports would be in a big mess - which would ruin all the fun."

"I think all sports are in big mess," said The Colonel, rather glumly.

"Actually I don't agree," said The Mole. "Yes, cricket is a mess. And soccer is not much better judging by the scandal in Italy. Cycling is just a disaster and most of the athletes rattle when they run because of all the pills, but motor racing is really not in such a bad mess when you look around a bit."

"Well what about this mass damper business?" said The Colonel. "That's a mess."

"No," said The Mole. "I think not. First of all, the cricket scandal has wiped the whole thing out in the newspapers. Who cares about a few mass dampers when there is a right smelly mess in cricket? And secondly the whole thing is a no-lose situation for the FIA."

"What do you mean?" said The Colonel.

"Well look," said The Mole. "The FIA technical department came up with this daft new interpretation of the rules, turning things it had previously accepted upside-down. OK, I can understand the need to make some changes for next year but you cannot just change rules willy-nilly without people suggesting that you are doing it to manipulate the sport."

"So?" said The Colonel.

"Well the FIA Stewards duly did what they are supposed to do and told the FIA technical department that they were daft, although it was phrased so very nicely. The FIA appealed to the Court of Appeal. Renault took the damned dampers off the cars and suffered for it and so Flavio Briatore started mouthing off about manipulation. That kept the sport in the papers for a day or two. And now, weeks later, we have the court and I don't see how the FIA can lose. If the court decides in favour of the technical department, the FIA will get rid of the dampers, which was what it wanted. If the court finds against the technical department, there might be a lowly nose or two put out of joint but there will be an underlying victory because the stewards will have been seen to be independent and the Court of Appeal will have seen to be independent and so the FIA will have a little more in its armoury should the manufacturers ever decide to do anything legal about the federation. How can one argue that stewards and courts are not independent when there is a clear and recent case in which their independence has been proven. And you can bet that whatever happens the mass dampers will be banned for next year, which is really all that matters."

For a moment The Colonel remained silent, chewing over the argument in his head.

"You know, Mole," he cried finally. "You're a damned clever chap. I never thought of that."

August 22 2006

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