Flavio Briatore has hit out at the state of Formula One, saying that the spectacle is suffering and that costs are spiralling out of control. Looking at what the ex-Renault team boss has said, it is apparent that his disagreements with the FIA are still burning inside.
The Italian bemoans the lack of spectacle in the sport, saying that unpredictability is slowly eroding Formula One as we know it. Yet, it has never been solely about the spectacle.
Formula One in its current guise was established in 1950 and has its roots in the European Grand Prix Motor Racing of the 1920s and 1930s. A collection of European car manufacturers that got together and held grand prix meetings. Any notion of a 'spectacle' arrived with the dawn of televised racing, and the almighty burst of commercialisation that started in the 1970s.
Formula One does not have a cast-iron duty to entertain, for entertainment for the onlookers was not the intended purpose of creating a drivers' world championship. It is simply a side effect of the mass commercialisation of the sport, propogated by Bernie Ecclestone. As such, we have seen a growing tendency for outlandish ideas from sprinkler systems on circuits, shortcuts, three-car teams and reversing grid orders. These impractical ideas belong in the lower formulae of racing, as the '1' in Formula 1 suggests that it is the highest form of racing that is sanctioned by the FIA.
Formula One will survive, regardless of what any flamboyant Italian playboy believes. There will always be a core group of motoring enthusiasts, whatever a vertically challenged 70-something British entrepreneur believes.
Parameters may change, budgets may change and logistics may change, but Formula One is more than a sport, it is a principle. It's hard to sympathise with those who call for a better show from Formula One, as it is with those who decry the "anti-football" of Jose Mourinho.
It is bordering on childish and naive to want to be entertained all the time. Instead, it should be about respecting what is being achieved and enjoying the lengths to which a man can push himself. It is also hard to remember a time when Flavio was complaining in 2005, when his young Spanish charger was racking up the points, choosing instead to play it safe rather than go all out for victory.
This is not a stand against what he believes, it is another thinly veiled attack at those who ejected him from the sport. Whilst he was and still a competent businessman, he still has not grasped the art of being a competent sportsman.
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