- United States Grand Prix
Within the rules, outside the spiritMartin Williamson November 19, 2012
Ferrari's decision to make a mockery of qualifying to allow Fernando Alonso to move up the grid and, more importantly, get onto the clean side of the track was within the rules but it again showed that in Formula One pretty much anything goes regardless of how it makes the sport look.
At least Ferrari made no bones about why it deliberately broke the seal on the long-suffering Felipe Massa's gearbox. "The decision has been taken to maximise the position for Fernando," team spokesman Luca Colajanni explained. Massa, officially said by Ferrari to be supportive of the action, made a good job of keeping his emotions in check, saying simply: "He is lucky to have a driver like me."
But whatever the rulebooks state, it again cast Formula One in a less than flattering light and made the neutral observers which the sport yearns to attract, especially in the USA, wondering if the rules are there to have holes blown through them by the sport's big guns.
And while the attention was on Alonso, those who moved up a place as Massa dropped back five slots suddenly found themselves on the opposite side of the grid to the one they had qualified on. What was good for Fernando triggered a mini lottery behind him, not that the effect of its actions on others or even the wider sport ever seems to bother the Ferrari management.
Formula One itself needs to again to plug this anomaly which allows teams to make a mockery of qualifying. Even if it does, the only certainty is that teams will find another way to work the system to their advantage and each time the sport will look a little more sullied.
Martin Williamson is managing editor of digital media ESPN EMEA