Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2003 9:39 pm
Crashgate was not an incident of race fixing. Let's assume that there was no danger caused by their actions and they were technically not against the rules - under those circumstances what they did was to manipulate a loop hole in the rules to stack the deck in their favour. They didn't fix a result.
Firstly, in principle they are not the same.
In principle I consider Massa's gearbox saga identical to crashgate. They took advantage of two common racing situations such as a driver changing the gearbox or creating a Safety Car situation after a crash, and INTENTIONALLY used them with the MOTIVE of benefiting a particular driver at the expense of others. I emphasized intention and motive because without them, both incidents are totally legal. No other driver has incurred more than a 5 grid penalty for changing the gearbox and no other driver has been penalized for crashing on his own (without involving any other car) and causing a SC as a consequence if it was clear they had no intention or motive to do so. Matter of fact, Piquet Jr. wasn’t penalized in the race for causing the SC. However, intention and motive are very important and a complete game changer. They were the reason Schumacher was excluded from the 1997 championship or why he was penalized for Rascasse and they were the reason why Piquet Jr. and others were banned when proof of their intention and motive came up. You do realise WHY CrashGate was considered such a terrible set of actions by those involved right? Because if you think it is identical in principle to Massa's gearbox change then I don't think you do.
What makes it even worse is that Ferrari made it clear why they were taking the penalty. And FIA did nothing about it. And many people not only agree with the action but they even find it genius.
You do realize what IN PRINCIPLE means, right? Because if you think they're different principles because of the consequences then I don't think you do.
Drunk driving is the same whether you're in a busy street or in a godforsaken road.
Ferrari did not break any rules when they opened up the seal on Massa's gearbox. The reason they decided to do it was a loophole to get out of the more extreme option of starting him from the pitlane by changing the set up of his car, which is an option that will always be in the regulations. Doing the gearbox change just meant he dropped 5 places instead of to the back, and you can be sure, given how important the clean side of the grid was that Ferrari would have put Massa to the back if the gearbox thing wasn't an option. Alonso would always have benefited regardless of the rules, the rules ust meant Massa didn't take such a big hit.
Crashgate on the other hand broke several rules. The rules will state in come form or another that deliberately crashing is against the rules. It is also against the rules to deliberately put the marshals and other drivers in danger.
You only have to look at the scale of the cover up, the heads that rolled as a result of Crashgate and also, more fundamentally to the point, that there weren't any changes to the Safety Car rules as a result, to see these are totally different. What changed was the FIA introduced rules to enable them to ban Team Principals. The FIA is not seeking to ban or sanction Ferrari over the gearbox change - they might change the rules to stop a team from doing it again but they won't punish Ferrari because they did not break any rules.
Renault, Briatore and Symonds all got punished as a result of Crashgate but the FIA did not change the rules. Why not? Because deliberately crashing to bring out the Safety Car was already illegal.
Secondly - even if were to take it that what Renault did in 2008 was not illegal and only unsporting - it was still fundamentally different because in Singapore their actions endangered the lives of all of the other drivers and the marshals on track to remove Piquet's car. Ferrari endangered no one with Massa's gearbox change.
So, in principle the same thing? No, not anywhere close.
Alien you're giving too much focus to the dangerous aspect and you're ignoring the race fixing aspect. By your post it would seem that if the move was safe it would be alright. If Piquet Jr. somehow managed to spin, slide back on track and stop the car there blocking it, creating no danger for anyone would you consider it ok? Would you? Forget the dangerous aspect and what is it that makes the two situations different? Sure, FIA considered Crashgate dangerous later but i thought it was a bogus charge just to justify the harsh penalty even though they didn't need to. Anyway, this is another topic and doesn't matter for our discussion because the WMSC punished the guilty parties ALSO because of the danger but not ONLY for that and this is why I consider both instances identical on principle because they both operated on the premise of artificially recreating a common racing occurrence with the purpose of benefitting one particular driver while impeding others.
An incident of race fixing would be a secret agreement between teams to allow one of the party to achieve a result. The closest example to this I can think of is Williams and McLaren having an agreement to allow them to win a 1-2 in Jerez 1997 once it was certain Villeneuve had won the championship. Although, this is a little different still - basically, the McLarens were faster due to Villeneuve's damage and it was not worth him fighting and then retiring from an incident. Also, it relied on race circumstances, but it is pretty close to 'race fixing' although it is still fundamentally different to match fixing in other sports where you have a head to head between two sports teams/players and they agree to arrange a specific result - or like what John Higgins was videoed agreeing to in Snooker, of throwing very specific frames of snooker so people could put bets upon them.
Results-fixing usually goes hand in hand with gambling - it is done so people can make a lot of money betting on something and then that result is arranged. None of the examples - not even the Williams/McLaren one are in this vein. In that incident the teams were acting in their best interest, McLaren secured a victory, Williams secured a world championship.
Renault's strategy could not have been done without creating danger. Any incident, by definition, involving the SAFETY car means the track is unsafe. Any time that marshals are on the track, be it under yellow flags or safety car conditions, puts their lives at danger. It might look slow on the TV, when the cars are going behind the safety car compared to racing speeds, but they are still driving much faster than you would be on the roads.
But even if we were to say that what Renault did in Singapore was race fixing (which it wasn't) - how in all that is sane was what Ferrari did race fixing? They improved Alonso's chances by promoting him one position on the grid and putting him on the clean side of the track, but they didn't fiddle a result, collude with other teams or deliberately throw a race. Their target for the US Grand Prix was to get the best result for Alonso, and that's what they achieved with no outside assistance from other teams. Now, yes, this was at the detriment of Massa's qualifying position, but Massa would not have beaten Vettel or Hamilton in the race and would have had to have pulled over for Alonso, so Massa achieved the maximum he was ever going to even if he had not been demoted.
And if we are counting incidents where a team sacrifices one driver's fortune for another, then suddenly the list becomes much bigger for race fixing. Winggate 2010 - race fixing. Hamilton getting all the good updates first in 2009 - race fixing. Things like this will happen in just about every race. It's not race fixing, it's teams maximising the best result for their end goal. I'm not a fan of what Ferrari did in Austin because of the way they treated Massa - but there was nothing unsporting about it, there was nothing illegal about it, it certainly was not racefixing (!!!!), and - from a weekend objective point of view - it was the best decision to be made. Yes, it sucked to be Massa, yes, it was not the best move from a PR point of view for Ferrari or the sport, but it was the right decision and that was ultimately vindicated by the team's 3-4 position at the end of the race.