'Splain This: Oil Slick Shows F1 No Better Than NASCAR. But Who's to Blame?

Adam Amick@adamamick1Senior Writer IJuly 4, 2008

Let me say something about Formula One. Yes, that includes you, Mr. (Bernie) Ecclestone, and Mr. Nazi-themed Orgy-having el Jefe de FIA Max Mosley (Imagine Michael Buffer giving that introduction at a prize fight).

For a racing series that is supposed to be the pinnacle of the sport, I dare say somebody had their head up their ass this morning.

The traveling circus that is the Formula One "World Driving Championship" is visiting the airstrip-turned racing circuit called Silverstone. Home (at least until next year - see this story by Michael Griffin about that) to the British F1 Grand Prix.

Friday a.m. the cars were taking part in their first of three practice sessions of the weekend.

Two-time F1 Champion Fernando Alonso was running flat-out on the Hangar Straight when the engine of his Renault gave up the ghost in a fit of mechanical mayhem. The result was a shower of oil spraying onto the racing surface. To see Alonso's engine erupt as it did, but not send out safety crews to properly inspect and clean the track afterward, could have gotten someone killed.

And almost did.

Oh, these are the "Best" drivers on the face of the planet... Especially the ones in the red cars... 


So with oil on the racing line, Felipe Massa comes screaming along at upwards of 190 miles per hour, tries to slow for the turn at Stowe, and... Hasta la bye bye!


One severely damaged racing machine, one fortunate driver. Lucky Ferrari has all those spare parts sitting around, including Michael Schumacher.

So who gets the 10-spot penalty for this "avoidable" accident?

The stewards didn't throw a full-course caution to inspect and properly clean the track. Mind you, sometimes cleaning the track doesn't always do the trick, just ask Sprint Cup Driver Michael McDowell after his dramatic qualifying crash at the Texas Motor Speedway in April. But at least NASCAR stopped things and made an attempt to sop up oil on the surface following David Gilliland's engine failure.

Seems to me the stewards that work for F1 need some refresher training. Of course, they may need a clarification on the fuel temperature measurement regulation, or the definition of "overtaking", even "avoidable accident" while they're at it.

So does an official who failed to make a decision that could have cost a driver his life, let alone the darlings of F1 an expensive race car, get penalized? Maybe they can sit him in the corner of the classroom with a pointy "Dunce" cap on his melon. Or one of Mosley's leather-clad, whip-bearers can give him what for.

Perhaps blame lies with the flag people alongside the track? Did they wave the "Oil!" standard to let oncoming drivers know of the potential danger? I'd consider reassigning them to traffic detail at a pedestrian crossing, serving drinks at a concession stand, or waving a toilet brush following the weekend.

What about Felipe Massa, current leader in the World Driving Championship, himself? The onboard camera shot clearly shows dark streaks on the racing line, and he drove right through them.

I thought Formula 1 drivers were supposed to be the best in the world. Certainly Ferrari is arguably the best racing team in F1. Did they not realize they hired a couple of bozos like Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, who couldn't avoid a bump in the road at Monaco and could have gotten himself and another driver killed?

You'd think these guys hadn't turned a lap at some of these places a time or two. Maybe F1 drivers do need coaches, after all.

So based on recent precedent that drivers receive a ten grid-spot penalty for "avoidable" accidents, should... Wait. Would this one be on Alonso for dropping the oil or Massa for not heeding his team's radio warning to steer clear of it?

Confusion sets in...

Maybe the oil manufacturers themselves are to blame. After all, oil is dark, and somewhat blends in with the color of asphalt. Why can't they add a bright, springy hue to it? Say neon green or yellow. Or something fresh that "pops", like a nice shade of turquoise-to better indicate to track workers and drivers alike where trouble may loom.

White would work but only until Labor Day. We wouldn't want designer Mark Ecko and the Fashion Police going after the champagne and caviar crowd they intermingle with, would we?

Hell, right now the oil manufacturers are getting blamed for everything else in the world, this side of President Bush. I chipped a nail! It's Bush's fault! A hurricane hit my city! It's Bush's fault! (Seriously-they say he has a hot line straight to God.)

So why shouldn't they be the ones held responsible?

I know, let's pile on the oil companies for not having the foresight to know that if their product is released from a contained environment onto a driving surface, it could endanger a someone taking part in a high-risk occupation (ala the tobacco companies).

Not to mention a drop or two might stain the soil adjacent to the track (It's Exxon Valdez part II! Quick! Get some towels!)

Watson, I've got it! Is MUST be McLaren's fault...

Where was I? Oh, yes.

Mind you, after Massa's crash the track crew lolligagged on over (I thought they only did that in baseball) and put down some oil-dry to clean up the mess...

"After" being the operative word.

Ultimately, Felipe Massa walked away from his wrecked machine, and the Ferrari folks have the money and pieces required to rebuild it. Better than it was before...

Better... Stronger... Faster... (Cue The Six Million Dollar Man theme)

This is my 100th article here on Bleacher Report, and I really had other things in mind than talking about how dense the clowns in F1 can be. The highest-tech and most expensive racing cars on the face of the Earth, with a couple of guys who think they're God incarnate running the show, and the "best" drivers money can buy, yet they can't figure out how to get around an oil slick.

Makes me feel a little better about Mike Helton and the dufuses running NASCAR. At least they try to clean up a mess before someone gets hurt. Formula One is apparently above all that-drive around that debris or oil!

Wow. Such high expectations on mere mortals.

In Massa's defense, it is said that when a racing driver puts on a helmet, it cuts off blood flow to the brain, severely limiting cranial function (or something like that). Wait!

The helmet manufacturer is to blame!

Superior my ass.

Somebody please 'splain that to me.


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