Eddie Jordan’s ‘fake news’ highlights F1’s human element

Bayden Westerweller Roar Guru

By Bayden Westerweller, Bayden Westerweller is a Roar Guru

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    Mercedes could yet pull out of Formula One in the foreseeable future, though Toto Wolff’s repudiation of Eddie Jordan’s latest prophecy demonstrates the humanity which remains in a sport driven by relentless speculation at the media’s behest.

    The German manufacturer’s executive director took a dim view of the notion that his team will depart the sport following the 2018 season as foreseen by ‘Village Idiot‘ Jordan, citing the livelihood of its many employees and the undesired doubt such views can create as his foremost concern.

    “I stop laughing when it’s about making jokes on the back of 1500 employees that care about their future,” remarked Wolff, speaking of his personal conviction and investment into the team’s culture beyond Stuttgart’s long-term intentions, placing a human aspect on innuendo extolled by the fourth estate.

    ‘Fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ have entered the lexicon in the wake of Donald Trump’s inexplicable ascension to leader of the free world, yet the Austrian is succinctly on point when he calls out “these rumours” as such reported in media outlets covering the sport at large, particularly the British press.

    It’s callous to act compassionately for the world-beating Mercedes team – despite admiring their achievements, this columnist is no fan of the outfit – but while Manor became the latest operation to bite the dust with little fanfare in the offseason, it doesn’t require much coverage for a topic to gain traction and for the insecurity to set in.

    Jordan, who ran his eponymous team with moderate success for over a decade until its sale in 2005, has carved a reputation in his punditry capacity as an ‘oracle’ of the paddock, with a tendency to be alarmingly correct or spectacularly misinformed. This particular case, should it fall into the latter category, highlights unconsidered implications of theories perpetuated by some.

    (Image: Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport).

    The Irishman justified the reporting of his theory with a corporate point of view, replying, “he’s talking about 1500 people, I’m talking about thousands and thousands of shareholders. It will be a decision of the board… they will do what suits the company best”. That may be true, but it displays the ruthless manner in which media creates a story certain to capture attention.

    His reasoning is that title sponsor Petronas and UBS are looking to wind up their association with Mercedes at the conclusion of their respective contracts – next season, according to Jordan – is baseless despite its fundamental logic and irresponsible when accounting for a successful manufacturer which isn’t dependent on commercial arrangements as a means of survival.

    Regardless, it’s sufficient for the whispers to commence, and coupled with the rise of the so-called fifth estate – primarily encompassing social media – in no time the idea, founded on little other than precedent, becomes an unstoppable juggernaut with which the subject must contend until a definitive response is issued, even if it isn’t expedient to do so.

    The pen is mightier than the sword, as the saying goes, and the views of its modern successor in the broadcast medium put those in its crosshairs to the sword, rendering the organisation accountable to its employees. Notwithstanding the media’s perennial lust for an answer, in many cases ‘stories’ are condemned to the trash bin the instant the outcome is known in either direction.

    For his part, Jordan fights his corner – “I’m in the job of reporting what I know… no one is going to shut me up” – and it’s understandable that he must produce content for his own employer; it’s simply that some content is more meaningful than harmless contemplation.

    It might be that Stuttgart is readying itself for a pullout or a ‘soft exit’ and returns to its former capacity as a heavily invested engine supplier, as is its prerogative, but it’s the principle raised by Wolff that must be championed – the human aspect, far too frequently made a pawn as the line between fact and fiction is straddled with the sole motive of conjecture and publicity.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • Roar Guru

      July 5th 2017 @ 2:19pm
      Jawad Yaqub said | July 5th 2017 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

      It is quite an important facet that does tend to get overlooked in these scenarios, though sensationalism is never going to drown out from Formula One or any sport for that matter of fact.

      On the subject of Mercedes, yes it would be a disappointment to their legacy if they were to withdraw from the sport. Though manufacturers tend to see motorsport these days as cyclical exercises and when they see their time at the top at an end, they’ll withdraw – rather than remaining present to fight their way back to the top again.

      • Roar Guru

        July 5th 2017 @ 8:35pm
        Bayden Westerweller said | July 5th 2017 @ 8:35pm | ! Report

        We certainly can’t expect it to cease, though Wolff highlights that speculation of this nature is more than conjecture, livelihoods are brought into question which causes relentless doubt for the personnel away from the coalface.

        Mercedes would stamp their reputation if as you suggested some time ago that they triumph under multiple regulations, be it the previous, current and next – whenever that occurs, if they re-commit, the reward could be enormous.

    • Roar Rookie

      July 5th 2017 @ 6:36pm
      Chancho said | July 5th 2017 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

      In this bout I make it 1-0 to Eddie… Toto’s come back was pretty toothless really, but I’m glad he took it on with a bit of passion as opposed to the PR scripted replies.

      I do agree with Eddie’s stance; he’s a commentator and he’s there to opine on what he hears/knows and no one is going to shut him up. But the reality is that Eddie could have quite easily inserted ‘Brexit’ in place of the ‘sponsors’ as a reason and it would have been a good enough assumption for MB to want to wind up its F1 operation.

      • Roar Guru

        July 5th 2017 @ 8:39pm
        Bayden Westerweller said | July 5th 2017 @ 8:39pm | ! Report

        EJ certainly rattled Wolff’s cage, yet it displays that the latter sees beyond the simple objectives of taking the world then getting out with no hesitation on the consequences.

        Jordan is entitled to his opinions, which as past has proven, can come to pass, it depends which scale he sees the story to decide on the particulars to justify his stance, which could be the most frustrating component.

      • July 6th 2017 @ 11:36am
        Bamboo said | July 6th 2017 @ 11:36am | ! Report

        Agreed, and you must ask why the insecurity on the matter?

        Its all well and good to tow the human element angle now, but that will mean jack all to Toto when it comes to decision making time. You might want to add into it that Hamilton contract expires in 2018.

        He may come across as a nice guy, but Toto is a ruthless businessman. You don’t amass a half billion dollar wealth by playing it by the moral book.

        • Roar Guru

          July 6th 2017 @ 4:42pm
          Bayden Westerweller said | July 6th 2017 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

          It might ultimately boil down to a swift decision to pull the plug, yet it’s rare that the other side is highlighted by such a prolific figure as Wolff. It’s convenient that Hamilton’s contract expires following 2018 if that’s when Stuttgart has in mind for any bailout, yet it can only be treated as coincidence at this stage,

          Wolff strikes me as an individual who could invest in the operation personally if Mercedes withdraws its factory presence, and perhaps any new identity will carry its backing as a ‘satellite’ effort.

          • July 6th 2017 @ 8:07pm
            Bamboo said | July 6th 2017 @ 8:07pm | ! Report

            I may be reading too much into it but perhaps this could of been the rational behind Bottas only being signed one a 1 year deal. Any decision to withdraw at the end of 2018 would be decided by Mercedes this year.

            If Mercedes decides to pull pin Bottas will get a 1 year extension. However a signing of a Alonso or a Vettel would mean they are staying on longer. Perhaps even these drivers available might be justification for them to stay on longer, being that any of these two as Hamiltons team mate will mean a lot of coverage for Mercedes, combining that with a race winning car could see Mercedes do a McLaren 1988, which is etched in the sports history,

            As left field as it sounds, I wouldnt rule out Vettel in a Mercedes next year, if their intentions go further than 2018. This is a german team, selling germans cars, and this is the only season since their 2010 return that doesn’t have a german in at least one of their seats, and that wasn’t by design.

            • Roar Guru

              July 7th 2017 @ 9:19am
              Bayden Westerweller said | July 7th 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

              It keeps them flexible if nothing else, Bottas could yet be extended for longer if Mercedes commits to the foreseeable future and continues to deliver.

              Vettel can’t be dismissed, though creating something majestic at Maranello seems to be his only concern at this stage.

        • Roar Rookie

          July 6th 2017 @ 10:18pm
          Chancho said | July 6th 2017 @ 10:18pm | ! Report

          I agree with the remark re the human element come decision time… I mean, it didn’t stop Honda when they left that team

          • Roar Guru

            July 7th 2017 @ 9:21am
            Bayden Westerweller said | July 7th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

            Once the numbers are crunched, sentiment is the first casualty, though it’s nice that Wolff at least considers personnel in any speculation.

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