Features - Feature
JUNE 23, 2005
An American journalist writes
BY JOHN ZIMMERMANN
It is now obvious to anyone with eyesight that the USA represents little more to F1 than another source of revenue to be salted away in offshore accounts and not reinvested in the sport. That the particular politics presently afflicting F1 were allowed to abort what could otherwise have been a grand occasion is inexcusable. Americans can often be gullible yokels, but on the whole we are a fairly astute bunch of folk and eventually recognize a lie when we have been told one. Witness the war in Iraq. I could be wrong, but I am afraid that F1 did itself irreparable harm here last weekend, and that it may want to begin looking elsewhere for its next victim. The FIA's (and Ferrari's) arrogant insistence that the rules be followed to the letter, even though it was going to cause a disaster, demonstrates a callous disregard for the very fans F1 purports to woo.
The debacle inflicted on the fans in Indianapolis last Sunday should make it painfully obvious to all but the closest observer that most of F1's rules are ridiculous, and that no one in "authority" knows how to write them without leaving enormous loopholes for exploitation by those more intelligent than they are. Further, how can F1 claim to be the pinnacle of racing technology if everything is dictated and regulated, leaving no latitude for individual initiative or creativity regarding any of the primary components of the cars? Racing has always been about finding the best solution to each new problem, and one has only to look at last weekend to see that this is no longer the case. Either that or F1 is not racing.
The business of F1 has ruined the sport of F1. All everyone is concerned about is getting as big a piece of the pie as they can, and to hell with everyone else. And, as good a solution as it may have been when first created, the Concorde Agreement, written for a specific instance more than 20 years ago, has handicapped the sport ever since with its requirement of unanimity that allows anyone to hold everyone else hostage at a veritable whim.
Despite all the website surveys, there is no consideration being given to the fans except how to squeeze as much money as possible out of them. If there were, the situation that blighted Indianapolis last weekend would never have been allowed to transpire. If everyone had been able to sit down on Friday or Saturday evening and have a rational discussion with the best interest of the sport, and not that of the individual participants, as the foremost consideration, I believe a solution would have been possible. Perhaps an actual compromise might have been achieved that would have reflected the oft-stated view that the American market is crucial to Formula 1. As it is, this may be the last we see of F1 in the USA. Of course the die-hard fans will always want it, but as far as the larger, more general audience goes, the opportunity may now have been well and truly squandered.