Brought to you by TJ13 contributor Mike Cloud
What has become of society? What has become of sport? It appears to be win at all costs. Maybe it is due to the amounts of money involved. What was once a tournament between gentlemen, who regarded anything underhand or sneaky as abhorrent, has now become big business. Money rules it all – money makes the wheels go round.
Formula One, like World Cup Football (soccer), is ruled by people with vested interests, who don’t want change. They just want to stay on the gravy train. FIFA, ruled by Blatter, had resisted until recently the use of goal line technology – which was only introduced thanks to extreme pressure from several of the leading national football bodies around the world. This has subsequently been introduced as part of the game and is a very useful tool. However, instant replays used by referees to give more informed decisions for penalties or bad behaviour, to be shown on the big screens in the stadiums has not been allowed. It works fine in rugby matches, allowing crucial decisions to be awarded correctly
Footballers are given lessons on how to fake being hit, to fall convincingly to get penalties or free kicks awarded. How can this be right? So now we have a generation growing up who think it is not only acceptable, but also clever to cheat their way to a win.
Maybe we are more fortunate in Formula One because it appears harder to cheat. However, cheating is a concept which comes in many forms. Anything that gives an unfair advantage could be considered a form of cheating. I don’t mean innovation and design as that is part of the development of a car and is entirely ethical. An example of this would be the extreme exhaust blowing that Red Bull perfected by using specialised engine maps – which is much of the reason that the regulations for 2014 have changed to prohibit constantly changing. The controversy that surrounded the German GP of 2012 is often forgotten as nothing came of investigation (as it was actually found that Red Bull were acting within the regulations). Pushing the governing regulations of the sport to the limit is something that should be encouraged.
There is a form that is often missed by the media and is commonly accepted as the norm within our sport. The top, winning teams, (and in some cases not winning teams) ensuring they get the lion share of the money, while the lowest teams get nothing, is, as far as I’m concerned, a form of cheating. How is that a level playing field? How can the lower teams ever get enough money to compete on an even basis?
Of course, Formula One is a dog eat dog sport which should encourage innovation and ‘thinking outside the box’, but it should never marginalise teams from competing. It has taken 5 years for one of the ‘new’ teams to score their first points which, in truth, was only achieved due to a great deal of luck.
We have only considered here the ethics of competing together and enriching the competition. However, there are also moral dilemmas of whether it is just to keep teams so far towards the back of the grid they cannot provide job security to their employees. There are always far greater bodies to consider outside the race weekend personnel we see servicing the cars.
The current model is not only immoral, but also unsustainable. The coming years in Formula One will be an interesting period to see who manages wrestle power to their corner and whether the needs of the smaller teams will be more greatly considered. Change is required as the sport would be not be anywhere near the same spectacle if there were only 5 or 6 teams competing.
As ever, the future is intriguing in the world of Formula One.