According to the latest technical directive issued by the FIA, from now on in completed (and never started) races such as this Belgian Grand Prix, the height of the steps of the podium, like the score, must also be halved, in order to expose minus the pilots at the public throwing of blunt instruments.
I know, it’s a joke and not very tasteful: but then what do we want to call the outcome of this pseudogara? When, at vespers time, Bernd Mayländer’s safety car entered the track for the last time, I said to the one who divides my days and my sofa: you will see that the red flag comes out in two laps. It didn’t take a genius, actually. A for once democratic weather had been continuing, for hours and hours, to distribute exactly the same amount of water on the Ardennes circuit. Much of that water has soaked, all day, an audience that will not be refunded for their tickets, after having witnessed a couple of reconnaissance laps and a (sorry) Spasserella (sorry) of about six minutes. At this point I don’t understand why, after having wisely silenced the radio teams, international TV has spread to the world the blatant gesture of Michael Masi, the federal delegate, who stops the bandwagon at the first useful moment so that it can be declared that “the Grand Prix took place“.
Let’s clarify: there is no need for controversy. Every time it rains – and in Spa, lucky them, it still happens – nostalgics are unleashed who invoke the age of risk riders, sometimes forgetting that a) today cars, like motorcycles, go much faster, b) a at that time, at the end of the year, the survivors were counted and c) often it was Bernie Ecclestone who almost physically pushed the recalcitrant drivers into the car, shouting “You are paid to run and you will run”. The former head of F1 has never made a secret of his idiosyncrasy towards any manifestation of democracy; but this time, it is regrettable to say, even the current management system has made water – ah, ah, – on all sides.
I don’t envy Masi’s work and I know it’s easy now to criticize his decisions. From his command post, he must take into account a world in which, unlike fifty years ago, all traces of fatalism have disappeared. Everything is analyzed, criticized, stigmatized. However, it seems to me that it was clear to everyone that the situation on the circuit would not have improved compared to the scheduled departure time. The satellites and weather radars will also be of some use, at least for those who know how to use them (see qualifications). The rest, until the evening, was a useless Spantomima (and come on) inspired by a single principle: something must happen, the live broadcast cannot be closed. The show must go on, even when you know that running will be impossible.
And here we have to open a parenthesis. The closed park is and remains an idiocy. I don’t understand why there is so much talk about making wings less flexible and not thinking about making certain rules more flexible. But this is a general consideration, because in Belgium a few millimeters above the ground and a few more degrees of wing would not have changed the substance of things. However, there was no accident in sight. Compared to the past of the nostalgic, therefore, what has really changed is the conscience, the threshold of acceptance of drama or tragedy (then tragedies, in the world, continue to happen, but this is another matter). The first time I saw Spa, the legendary Eau Rouge was marred by a hideous tire chicane. It was 1994 and every race Gerhard Berger, Niki Lauda, Christian Fittipaldi and Roland De Bruyinseraede of the FIA inspected the circuits to find ways of not plunging F1 into the abyss of hell once more. Then, however, in that year they ran the same in Suzuka, under the flood. Even then there were binding and logistical television contracts to be respected. Postponing the race for a day (which in practice is almost never done) would have meant making life even more complicated, especially with the next race in the Netherlands after a weekend and with a compressed calendar and constantly threatened by the pandemic.
In short, it is true that starting the Grand Prix would have meant, in all likelihood, endorsing a demolition derby (with all the consequences of the case, because even if no one had been hurt, we would have had protests for broken bodies and engines out of use, and now who pays, with the budget cap?). What I really don’t like is the way. Since I know the FIA a little, even without turning the TV back on I know that the sporting power will explain that everything possible has been done, up to the last moment, to try to ensure the progress of the race, so as not to deprive the paying public of the show. and blah blah blah. But, this time, I don’t think it’s true. I think the script was already written and I don’t understand the need to keep it secret, instead of turning it into a protocol of actions to be performed. Maybe along the lines of the IndyCar championship, where if it rains you don’t run on the ovals and the races, if necessary, are changed by date. There is no one solution that satisfies everyone; but since this is the most beautiful track in the world, let’s at least avoid offending it.
FP | Alberto Antonini
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