OCTOBER 23, 2006

Just for the record

There are not many people around who know all the rules of Formula 1. Some of them are secret; some are very complicated; some are ridiculously vague; others are just plain dull. And, sadly, some of them are just silly. At Monza we saw Fernando Alonso punished harshly for supposedly blocking Felipe Massa in qualifying. That was a bad decision and caused damage to the public perception of the sport and the way it is run but a rule existed and it was felt that the rules had to be applied and acted upon.

Fernando Alonso alluded to that after the race in Brazil when he said that "there were some decisions that were not sporting and not fair and I know that and I think the people who did it, they know that."

Alonso spoke only briefly of his frustrations this year. It was not the moment to sour the jubilant atmosphere. Alonso had just won the World Championship, Michael Schumacher had left the sport with an awesome performance and Felipe Massa had driven a great race and delighted Brazil by driving around Interlagos, waving a Brazilian flag handed to him by a delirious race fan.

It was all great stuff.

And yet, hidden away in the FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations is Article 154, which states that "after receiving the end-of-race signal all cars must proceed on the circuit directly to the post race parc ferme without stopping, without overtaking (unless clearly necessary), without receiving any object whatsoever and without any assistance (except that of the marshals if necessary)".

There is no clause that says Brazilian flags are allowed. Massa clearly had no idea that he had broken a rule as he talked merrily about what he had done.

Would it be wrong to apply a stupid rule that had so obviously been broken?

In Monza a stupid rule was applied.

In Brazil a stupid rule was not applied.

Where is the logic in this?

And why are there stupid rules in Formula 1?

These are not questions that are fun to ask. They are not questions that the FIA wants to answer, but would it not be better for the sport if such problems were sorted out so that the questions need never be asked again?