MAY 4, 2006
An odd business
The FIA says it has nothing to add to the Super Aguri press release earlier today that revealed that the team had been "offered" advice by the federation to switch Yuji Ide to a testing role and put Franck Montagny in the second Super Aguri. Ide was granted a superlicence by the federation at the start of the year and thus had obviously met the necessary criteria to be a Formula 1 driver. His involvement in the crash at Imola resulted in a simple reprimand from the race stewards, which does not suggest that he deserved to be kicked out of his drive.
There have been examples of drivers causing accidents in the past which have led the FIA to suspend the driver from racing for a period of time. The most obvious one of these was back in 1994 when Eddie Irvine was banned for three races after causing a multi-car shunt in Brazil. Mike Hakkinen was forced to miss a race in 1994 after causing a major shunt at the start of the German GP.
Both Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher were banned for ignoring black flags.
The accident that Ide caused in Japan was not a very smart manoeuvre but the FIA stewards did not think it deserved more than a reprimand and thus it is strange that now the federation is advising Super Aguri to put Ide on the bench. Super Aguri was set up to be a Japanese team and wanted to have Japanese drivers and so hired Ide. There must therefore have been some resistance to the replacement of Ide by a Frenchman, not least because of the loss of face involved for Ide at home in Japan and the potential damage to his reputation and career.
Yuji Ide is not an idiot and his performances in Formula Nippon were such that he qualified for a superlicence. He was nonetheless in a very difficult situation. He had precious little pre-season testing and did not know the F1 tracks. The fact that Ide had a large number of spins indicates that he was pushing hard to get the most from an uncompetitive car, underlining his fighting spirit.
Let us hope that the damage done to Ide's reputation will not ruin his career.
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