OCTOBER 26, 2004
The meaning of "betrayal" in F1
Jean Todt of Ferrari was apparently outraged when he first found out that the Italian team had been isolated from all the other teams over the Cost Saving Initiative in Brazil. Todt has a right to be angry because the idea of linking the future of the British and French Grands Prix to the cost-cutting measure, while obviously being very clever, was a subtle form of pressure. One would refrain from calling it blackmail, but there may be some who have used that phrase.
And Todt, who does not understand when people think he is unsporting, thought that this was unacceptable. In an attempt to justify his opposition to the Cost Saving Initiative Todt argued that "we would never betray one of our partners, and I want to make it clear that neither Bridgestone nor Michelin were aware of this situation". The implication is there, Todt seems to think that the Cost Saving Initiative is a betrayal of Ferrari.
And that opens up a number of interesting discussions because in response to that other F1 team bosses will say, off the record, that Ferrari has been betraying the sport for some time with its total support of Michael Schumacher at the expense of Rubens Barrichello and that in previous eras when one team was completely dominant, the team allowed its two drivers to fight openly for the World Championship, often to the detriment of the team. As Austria 2002 showed, Ferrari does what is best for Ferrari. Others argue that betrayal can be defined in many ways and the fact that Ferrari constantly blocks all initiatives to cut costs is a betrayal of the sport.
We do not seek to judge who is right and who is wrong in these assessments but merely wish to point out how it is that Ferrari has been cornered. Todt may say that there is not agreement on some of the things that are included in the document published but the fact remains that he cannot argue with a piece of paper with nine signatures.
"Ferrari," Todt says, "would never get in the way of staging historic races such as the British and French Grands Prix, if all the teams want more than 17 races in a season" and yet by refusing to sign the document which has been offered to him on several occasions, he is doing exactly that.
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