Tag Archives: Sports

F1 2012 – Time to Start Getting Excited

by Jake McMillan

It seems like it’s been forever since we had the last F1 race, but with the first F1 Pre-Season Test only two weeks away, it is time to start getting excited. In fact, there are a number of reasons to get excited about the upcoming 2012 Formula 1 Season:

  • Teams more closely matched: As the rules have not changed massively for 2012 everyone expects the teams, especially at the top, to be more closely matched than in 2011. It’s very unlikely we will see the dominance of one driver or one team like we did with Vettel and Red Bull last year. Ferrari and Mercedes are both expected to do better this year. But will they?
  • The return of Kimi Raikkonen: He’s unlikely to be quick from the get go, but it will be fascinating to see how he gets on in his first season back in F1. Will he have the hunger? Will he smile?
  • A Senna back in a Williams: Although it is a time for rebuilding at Williams, it will be great to see Bruno Senna in a more competitive car and with a very professional team to see what kind of potential he really has?
  • Rivalries: So many of them up and down the pack – Can Webber be more on pace with Vettel this year? If Massa doesn’t run Alonso closer this year then he will likely be out of Ferrari at the end of the year; Will Massa and Hamilton manage to avoid touching each other? Button Vs Hamilton, who will come out on top this year? Schumacher Vs Rosberg; Paul di Resta Vs Hulkenberg … the list goes on.
  • How will Caterham do? Caterham (formerly Team Lotus) were floating between the teams at the back and the mid-runners last year. They expect, as do most of us, that they will be closer to, if not part of, the middle of the pack in 2012. Would be good to see.

Plus there is the Malaysian Grand Prix to be excited about. Well, for me, anyway, as I am going to Malaysia to watch it for the first time and I cannot wait!


FIA decision not strong enough

The FIA has announced its decision on crashgate:

  • Renault has a 2 year ban, but suspended
  • Renault to pay costs of FIA investigation
  • Briatore banned for an unlimited timefrom all FIA involvements and drivers signed to his management will not have their superlicences renewed
  • Symonds banned for 5 years

The FIA have not quite made a strong enough decision here regarding Renault. The team must be extremely relieved that they have only got a 2 year suspended ban plus having to pay the costs of the investigation. However, this weak punishment does not send the right signals out to the other teams as is inconsistent with other decisions (e.g. McLaren in spygate) and will create doubt in audiences minds as to whether other cheating is going on. I think this will encourage other teams to push the envelope and bend rules and if they get caught, they only need to quickly get rid of a couple of ‘rogue’ employees and make a full apology.

The punishment I think should have been stronger. I can understand giving them a suspended ban, but I am shocked that a far more severe financial punishment was not given. McLaren were fined $100 million for a crime deemed by everyone as less damaging to the sport than crashgate and Renault get away with paying just investigation costs! They should have had a fine at least as large as McLaren and also possibly be stripped of their 2008 constructors points and so have to pay back their prize money. This would be a strong enough punishment for a terrible act of cheating that would hit Renault hard, but not cripple them but will also deter other teams from cheating.

I know Renault will say that it was only 3 employees of several hundred, but it was the boss, the technical head honcho and one of the drivers at fault. Renault, as employers, must take responsibility for this, as the rules state, and so should have got a stronger financial punishment.

The FIA have singled out Briatore more than Symonds as he continued to deny his role in the affair and their punishments reflect this and I think seem strict enough to deter others. Piquet Jr is a very lucky boy to have his immunity and most think it is unfair he has it. Briatore, I believe, will have to step down as Chairman of QPR as the English Football Association rules state that he can’t hold this position if disqualified by another sporting regulatory body. He will not be happy about that, but I’m sure he can comfort himself with his millions in the bank. However, as I wrote recently, why did he take the risk of sacking Piquet Jr?!

Alonso has been cleared of any involvement. People will still be suspicious of course, but no evidence was raised or found so his reputation will not be damaged. However, if he is involved or linked to anything else, everyone will bring this and the McLaren incident up very quickly.

So why did Briatore risk getting rid of Piquet?

This morning the ING Renault F1 team announced that Briatore and Symonds have left the team and that they will not be disputing the charges made to them by the FIA of cheating at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. As I and many others predicted, this will now be the end of Flavio Briatore in Formula One. This is a shame, as is the loss of Pat Symonds, but they cheated and so they have to go. This kind of activity can not be tolerated ever in the sport. The FIA will now have a tough decision as to how to punish Renault as not only is their reputation tarnished but hundreds of people at the Renault F1 team risk losing their jobs.


Piquet Jr clearly only went to the FIA to report this after he and his father tried to keep or get his job back with Briatore and Renault. Whether it was blackmail and its extent will probably come to light soon as I am sure Briatore will want to take the Piquets to the cleaners. I think Briatore must have thought the Piquets were bluffing and that they would not tell the FIA as it would implicate Piquet Jr too and ruin his motor racing career. However, the Piquets are as stubborn as Briatore and may have felt Piquet Jr’s F1 career was over after his unceremonious sacking and had nothing to lose. Whereas Briatore and Renault had everything to lose. So why on earth did Briatore take this gamble?

Piquet Jr was not doing that well, but he had not had the same equipment as Alonso so why not give him a bit more of a chance and let him finish the season? It’s not as if he had a proven F1 driver to replace him, he put Romain Grosjean in the car who has not really done any better than Piquet Jr. Briatore was also Piquet Jr’s personal manager and so should have looked after him a bit better than this, surely? If he had let him drive for the rest of the season, he could have got rid of him much more easily at the end of the year and in a way that would not have led to him telling all to the FIA on the cheating that took place the previous year.

Therefore, there must have been lots more going on behind the scenes and it seems that Piquet Snr and Briatore have had their share of heated discussions this year. Several of these have been documented and Piquet Jr has alluded to them in a few interviews and perhaps Briatore had got to the end of his teather and wanted Piquet Jr and his father out. Apparently there was a clause in his contract that if he had not scored 50% of the points Alonso had by some mid point of the season, he could release Piquet Jr from his contract.

Ultimately this is a lesson to all employers, be extremely careful about dismissing an employee as it could come back to bite your very hard, even if you have done nothing wrong. In Briatore’s case, he was a fool to get rid of Piquet Jr in this manner, especially when he had conspired to cheat in a race with him, and he will now pay the price.

Jake McMillan