Another failure from Jean Todt and the FIA

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

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    Sebastian Vettel signs autographs for Ferrari fans at the Formula One Grand Prix in Austria. (GEPA Pictures/Red Bull Content Pool).

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    There has been much dismay over the decision to not take further action against Sebastian Vettel for his swipe on Lewis Hamilton during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as the FIA dismissed the case entirely.

    A mere apology saw the four-time world champion escape any sanction and while many will continue to debate that Vettel deserves greater punishment, this scenario has transcended beyond the Baku misdemeanour all together – becoming a matter of questioning the very governance of Formula One.

    Once again, the governing body of Formula One has appeared toothless, failing to exercise any of its power to draw a line between headmaster and pupil.

    Arguable is the position of the FIA as the true governors of Formula One, with insignificant impact being made on a sporting front across the twin-terms of incumbent president Jean Todt.

    The former team manager of Ferrari, who came into power in 2009 following the acrimonious demise of the frivolous Max Mosley, has largely spent his time in the top job as a doyen for road safety.

    With dreams of one day being the envoy of road safety to the United Nations, Todt has dedicated both his terms to increasing the awareness for global safety on roads, using motorsport as a medium to communicate a universal message – and he has succeeded in that for the most part.

    Though while promoting road safety is a crucial mission and the behaviour displayed by Vettel in Baku was very much anti-that, Todt and the FIA have somewhat forgotten that Formula One is a sport and with any world sport – the rulers need to rule with iron fists.

    As maligned as the Frenchman’s predecessor was, as well as the dictator-like Jean-Marie Balestre before Mosley, they both were definitive in their decision making and were not afraid to make examples of drivers and teams, if they out of line with the regulations of the governing body.

    Need it not matter, the divine presence of whatever driver, as the former presidents had famously and quite bombastically made examples of the legendary duo of Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna, in separate incidents without hesitation.

    Had Vettel told race director Charlie Whiting to ‘f#ck off’ as he did in Mexico last year, Balestre would have paraded the German au naturel through the streets of Paris – or something of that ilk.

    In the end, Formula One is a sport and the pinnacle of motorsport at that, and while the drivers should be allowed to compete at a fierce level – a line must be drawn in the sand to keep these identities in check.

    Todt’s FIA, in not definitively laying down the law immediately following the incident in Baku, has once again demonstrated that they are unfit to govern Formula One. This speaks directly to Todt himself, who in an election year has decided to stand for a third term.

    Should the Frenchman be re-elected, there ought to be grave concerns over the presence of the FIA altogether and its position as administrators of automotive racing. In that case, the leadership should just be thrown to the sport’s individual commercial parties and let Todt jump on his springboard to the UN stars.