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Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Wolff? : 2.5 minute read 23/05/21

A hotel top Grand Stand, raring to go.

“What we need is a random miracle,” she declares.

Aren’t all miracles random, though?

It’s luck that isn’t dumb. But my daughter was speaking of long-shot odds. Yes, it’s F1 time again. And the type of risky business she means is the sort that you (or rather, F1 drivers), encounter. This weekend it’s in Monaco, where flashes of famous landmarks as the cars whizz past on the streets that forms the track here, makes it the sport’s most iconic.

Yesterday, in Qualifying, Charles Leclerc, the born and bred Monégasque gave it his all and did make pole, only to crash seconds before the session’s end. Can mechanics put the car back together again, and in time? It’s possible, we think —the sleek Ferrari is no Humpty Dumpty. But if there’s a gear-box change, young Charles will start at P6, slapped with a five-place penalty behind the all important pole position, more so here in Monte Carlo where to overtake is next to impossible. So, I’d have to agree with the girl: it’s time for a miracle.

In news of another personage sat on a wall (perhaps the mightiest of them all in F1), pundits* see a fall ahead for the Wolff Man, Mercedes’ Toto Wolff himself. But surely, they’re wrong? —To topple him, would require the greatest miracle, surely.

Street racing at its most exclusive …

F1 corporate governance stewards might stand half a chance—If they exist? And if they’re not made of straw like the house of the laziest of the Little Pigs. For starters, there are the conflicts of interest across several teams—that appear to benefit all concerned from their less than arm’s length relations (crucially, to the unfair exclusion of others). What exempts F1 from dog-eat-dog indecencies?

And if competition rules (also called anti-trust), were applied to F1 as they do in consumer markets to curtail unfair practises by dominant players, wouldn’t that weaken the top dogs more than any budget caps we’ll see coming into play next year?

In the securities markets, insider trading regulations make it a crime to benefit personally from the pies you have fingers in so others might have a decent meal, too. Which is only another way of levelling a playing field. Seeing that this is absent in analogy from F1, is a Wizard of Oz, or F1 oracle needed to shine a light on where that winding, chicane ridden road might have led the sport down already?

… Literally.

In Toto Wolff’s defence, however, is it entirely his fault that the influence he wields reaches the lengths it seems to?; That his wife, a former F1 driver herself, is also a racing team manager, and can also aid in spreading the Toto “magic”?

The two other Little Pigs used sticks and stones to keep out the big, bad wolf. Both, similarly failed. In the end it was the cauldron of boiling water which Mr Wolf fell into climbing down the chimney that did it. Just shows how great strength can do with some dousing down, having its claws clipped, and talons tamed—That unchecked power can always do with controls.

Again, it’s drama on and off the track, in board rooms —and court rooms—and the wheeling and dealing behind the scenes, that makes F1 riveting to follow. Miracles aside (and we hope Leclerc will have more of these come his way today), how long before F1 will hit the breaks on what appear to be abuses of position and power?

Even if it slows things down and we see speeds fall, a fair race after all, is only good sportsmanship.

* Toto Wolff’s Collapsing House of Cards

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