Monday, September 21, 2009

If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'

Motorsport entry! Motorsport entry!

I don't get this. Another Formula 1 controversy (pronounced: khan-trah-vezy) has resolved itself this week. I love Formula 1 but it may be the most mafia-like sport in the World. Renault (Benetton as they will always be to me - home of four World Champions) was dynamited when former driver Nelson Piquet, Jr. revealed that he intentionally crashed during a race last year in order to sway the outcome towards his teammate, Fernando Alonso. What's even more interesting than the result for his teammate, who I think finished third or so, was that the rest of the field was jumbled and the eventual World Champion would not have won the title if it'd been a straight race. The details have to do with crashing on the track in a position and style that would warrant the safety car to come out thus screwing with everyone's fuel strategy; this is some pretty heinous racing stuff. When you're dealing with race fixing - which is what this was, especially intentional crashing - then the sport has some serious issues. When the story broke, all those primarily involved including team technical director Pat Symonds and owner / director (and all-World Playboy) Flavio Briatore denied everything. Of course, there's little chance they were telling the truth. (In fact, the telemetry alone from the car should have tipped off F1A to the cheating.) Eventually, both resigned and have been banned for something like five years to infinity. The team will continue to exist on a two-year probationary period. I felt the punishment was lame on all fronts. I would have suspended the team - across the board - from F1 for at least ten years and fined the ownership something near an assload of money.

To put things in perspective, McLaren-Mercedes was found guilty a few years ago of having confidential Ferrari tech manuals. They denied it, it went to the court of appeals, and they were found guilty. This is some Cold War-like espionage but I don't put it on the same level as actually fixing a race. Their punishment included some probation and a fine equal to $100 million. Pay up, baby! $100 million is absurd but it would certainly sends a message - or, one would think so. Apparently, Renault didn't get the memo. Then again, they didn't have to vacate any results and they still get constructor money.

The McLaren fine got us talking about the Patriots and SpyGate a few years back. I think the Pats were chastised and lost a first-round pick (which isn't nothing) and paid a million dollar fine ($500k from the team and $500k from Bill Belichick). Imagine if the NFL has been badass and fined a team a cool $100 million? That would have made news.

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