Is F1 Shifting From a Sport To a Soap Opera?

I3odaciousCorrespondent ISeptember 4, 2009

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JUNE 05:  (L-R) Ferrari Sporting Director Stefano Domenicali and Renault F1 Team Principal Flavio Briatore attend a press conference following practice for the Turkish Formula One Grand Prix at Istanbul Park on June 5, 2009, in Istanbul, Turkey.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

I am from Brazil; a country where any local television channel's most lucrative form of entertainment is unquestionably its soap operas. These short stories, lasting on average for six months are each rough replicas of their predecessors. A very small group of actors are picked by each channel and all share the parts for each 6 month soap, alternating the major and minor roles amongst themselves.

Every time, predictably similar events unfold, always as dramatic as possible, until the end of each soap when things tend to settle down a bit.

Over the years of watching Formula One I have always joked to some girlfriends who couldn't understand why I watched the sport, that it is the male's version of a soap opera.

At this time I would like to state that I am aware that some women also enjoy Formula One, in a similar way that some men also enjoy television soap operas, and that this article's title is targeted towards the core audience for the sake of comparison.

With that said, more recently it has struck me that Formula One has resembled the structure of a soap opera more and more to the point where it has actually affected the outcome of the championship.

The 2007 McLaren espionage case being the first event to fortify this view. Not only was the scandal dramatic, but the stripping of McLaren's constructors points along with arguably the biggest most dramatic fine in sports history had many men reaching for tissue boxes in a similar fashion as their female counterparts would have when Claudia found out Fernando had been cheating on her with her best friend...no...make that...her sister.

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Speaking of Fernando, Alonso's dramatic relationship with Hamilton and the McLaren team was also very soapy.

Now, fast forward to 2008. As if the season wasn't dramatic enough, Renault have just been charged with fixing the grand prix at Singapore. For a hard core Massa fan like me, this is like watching a rerun of a soap opera only to find that it is even more emotional than it appeared.

Break out the tissues again because if it wasn't for Nelsinho's alleged Brazilian on Brazilian crime, Massa may very well have scored 10 points at Singapore as his fuel hose incident was a direct result of Nelsinho's crash.

The Pit madness that prompted Ferrari to use the manual pit light system which turned green prematurely via a human error would not have occurred if Nelsinho hadn't put drama before sport that night.

After learning about the Renault accusations, and watching it evolve into a more and more legitimate claim, I am conditioned to think dramatically which leads me to question other events during that season.

If an event like Nelsinho's crash can be deliberate, then why not question Timo Glock's final lap or two at the Brazilian GP in 2008? When it first happened every single person in the room I was in, (not all Ferrari fans) immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was intentional based on how it looked.

I have since painfully dismissed the ideas that it was intentional but as it becomes clear that crashing a car deliberately as a part of a plan involving a team and two drivers can go unnoticed; slowing down the Toyotas for the last couple laps of a championship deciding race is suddenly not very far fetched in soap opera terms. In fact it is considerably easier to orchestrate.

Should a probe be launched to investigate that GP as well? Perhaps not as it would cause too much controversy to a sport which is exponentially becoming riddled with scandals.

The 2009 season has seen no change in this familiar pattern.

The war between the FIA and FOTA seemed likely to break up F1 into two leagues, but just as the friction reached its peak, things settled down.

In a similar fashion, it seemed that Lewis Hamilton would receive a multiple race ban for misleading officials at the first grand prix of the season, that too took care of itself with time.

What will the rest of this season bring? What about next season?

With so much drama, the last thread that seems to be preventing Formula One from transitioning into a full on soap opera is Kimi Raikkonen, the kryptonite of drama itself!

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