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JULY 5, 2005

Coulthard launches diversionary attack

David Coulthard was under pressure at Magny-Cours. He told his fellow drivers about conversations which he had had with FIA President Max Mosley. This upset the majority of the drivers. But when push came to shove and everyone was waiting for a statement from the Grand Prix Drivers Association the drivers decided that it was not a good idea to challenge the FIA president in public.

The issue, it seems, was that the conversation between Mosley and Coulthard was not recorded and so it would simply be the word of one against the word of the other and with one of the parties enjoying a considerable amount of legislatory power (as the FIA World Council proved the other day), it did not make sense for the drivers to make accusations which could not be proven.

This does not mean that drivers are any happier than they were and Coulthard makes this quite clear in statements made in this morning's Times newspaper in London.

"All these rules - qualifying, single laps and 10-place penalties - are not designed to wreck races, but the consequence is that they do," Coulthard said. "If you go out early in one race, you have to start early in qualifying for the next. That means you have a bad qualifying, because physically you just cannot go quicker than someone else who has an equal lap later in the session because the track is in a better condition. So it is a handicapped F1 system we have. You are handicapped if you have an engine failure, even if it is no fault of the driver, and then the crowd are deprived of what may be a fantastic race, as they were in France.

"All this shaking the grid up artificially. Why? Ultimately cream rises to the top during the year and shaking the grid up only allows other lesser people on the grid to influence the outcome of what could be a great World Championship."

So while some may criticise the drivers for backing down at Magny-Cours, one must also remember that a good General is always careful to choose his battlefield well.