Honda website
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OCTOBER 5, 2006

Why Jean Todt should not preach about sportsmanship

Jean Todt hinted after the Chinese Grand Prix that Ferrari would be watching Renault closely to see what tactics the team employed in the battle for the World Championship. The unspoken implication was that Renault was somehow up to no good because Giancarlo Fisichella did not overtake Fernando Alonso immediately in China when Alonso was struggling with his tyres in the middle of the race.

Fernando Alonso responded to that by saying that he did could not imagine that Felipe Massa would drive past Michael Schumacher if situation was reversed and Ferrari had the same problem and one has to say that this is a very fair point given Ferrari's complete dedication to the cause of Schumacher for the last 10 years. Fisichella did exactly what one would expect in such circumstances. He could not afford to behind Alonso with Michael Schumacher behind the pair of them because Michael might be able to get ahead at the final pit stops. It made total sense for the team to think through the various scenarios and then allow Fisichella to push on and not try to defend Alonso by taking maximum points for Renault in the Constructors' Championship and taking away points from Schumacher in the Drivers' title. In this particular case Fisichella failed to achieve that as he made a mistake and let Schumacher through. However if he had won the race with Michael second, the World Championship contenders would have had the same points scores but Alonso would be ahead (because he has one more fifth place than Michael) but Renault would be five points clear in the Constructors' rather than just one.

However, with Todt's record of favouring Schumacher at the expense of his team mates, perhaps he is not the man best-suited to making public comments about what is sporting and what is not sporting. There are some in the F1 paddock who do not believe that Todt even understands the difference between sport and business. That may be harsh but it is a reality and thus to step into the limelight and give a sermon on the subject is asking to be pelted with abuse.