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Just another manic (F1) Monday... Tuesday...

NEWS STORY
11/01/2022

Despite drivers who seemingly can't stop talking to the media, Twitter 'bitch fights', David Bowie, Michael Masi and "ex champion" Alain Prost... these are lean times for the F1 media.

On retiring from the sport at the end of last year, Kimi Raikkonen admitted that though he would love to continue racing, there were certain elements of the sport of which he was sick to death, these being promotional work on behalf of the team and sponsors and the endless meetings with the media where one is asked the same questions week after week after week.

Odd therefore, that at a time the drivers should be winding down following their winter breaks, perhaps stepping up their fitness regimes and talking to their engineers about the new car, if we are to believe what we read ever since the flag fell at Yas Marina some have been in constant contact with the media, reflecting on the season past, looking ahead to this year, opining about rival teams' choices of drivers and much, much more.

With a dearth of genuine news the media is forced to seek out every possible hint of a story, and while a bona fide headline grabber is at least a couple of weeks away, some are relying on the age-old practice of clickbait.

There are plenty of offenders, but among the worst is the British tabloid, the Daily Express.

The Express appears to create its headlines using the William S. Burroughs method of cut-up, subsequently used to great effect by the likes of David Bowie.

In the tabloid's case however, the only proviso appears to be that at least two of the following words are used in the headline: 'Hamilton', 'Verstappen', 'Masi', 'shock', 'warning' and 'threat', though the more of those key words included the greater the number of clicks.

Over the last 48-hours, some may have noticed what is commonly referred to as a 'bitch fight' on Twitter, between celebrity something or other, Nick Knowles and members of the F1 media.

Mr Knowles, quite reasonably in our humble opinion, initially tweeted: "I have invited all the journalists and presenters employed to cover @F1 to answer the simple question. Was it fair to allow only the 5 cars between 1st & 2nd to overtake but not the 2 cars between 2nd & 3rd. None, despite their expertise will give an opinion."

As he says, few are willing to raise their heads above the parapet, most likely because they are unwilling to risk offending the powers that be.

Those that have responded merely point to the FIA, claiming that the governing body has already announced that it is to investigate what happened and what lessons can be learned… an age-old 'get out of jail' ploy.

Other than the fact that we can all recall when the FIA 'investigated' Ferrari's power unit at the end of 2019 and subsequently came to a private arrangement with the Italian manufacturer that meant the facts (truth if you will) never came to light, there is the little mater of the fact that in this case the sport's governing body, in investigating Michael Masi's role that day, is effectively investigating itself.

Anyone who truly believes that in time, the FIA will point to one of its own leading officials and say "he got it wrong" is deluding themselves, and probably also believes that at some point soon a political leader is going to hold his hand up and admit to overreacting to the pandemic.

On the same topic, Mr Knowles agenda aside, the fact is that for the most part, a media that was outraged in the wake of the events of Yas Marina has gone remarkably quiet since.

Basking in the global outcry - and the resultant clicks - that followed Mr Masi's call, the media appears to have moved on, and while many fans still want their questions answered, all we are being told is how the sport is booming and how great this season is going to be.

Finally, a particular bugbear of this site is the description of the likes of Messrs Mansell, Villeneuve, Brabham, Stewart and Raikkonen as "former champions".

The Formula One World Championship, like the English Premiership, is an annual competition and the ultimate winner holds the title in perpetuity, they cannot lose it, therefore, unlike boxing, for example, they cannot be "former" champions.

Imagine our shock therefore when we saw a headline yesterday referring to an "ex world champion".

We cannot begin to imagine what French legend, Alain Prost - for it is he - has done to be stripped of his four titles, but no doubt, with canny use of 'Hamilton', 'Verstappen', 'Masi', 'shock', 'warning' and 'threat', the good old Daily Express will let us know.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Spindoctor, 14/01/2022 9:00

"Very informative article which rightly lambasts Britain's "Best in World" gutter press. Particularly enjoyed the Burroughs\Bowie reference which is spot on. In terms of the substance of matters, it's hard to see how FIA can easily resolve things without making things worse. Maybe they should have paid attention to the adage: When you're down a hole, stop digging.... "

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2. Posted by stoney, 12/01/2022 19:14

"At least then it would be a good party..."

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3. Posted by Editor, 12/01/2022 12:59

"@Stoney

Exactly.

Of course, if the FIA were to 'find' that Masi acted incorrectly that would surely leave the way open for a legal challenge of the outcome of the race and therefore the title.

Furthermore, if Masi were to be sacked, no doubt the FIA and Liberty would be terrified of him speaking out.

All that's needed now is the involvement of Boris Johnson."

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4. Posted by stoney, 12/01/2022 12:53

"On a similar note, I was surprised that Andrew Benson from the BBC actually wrote in his latest piece on Hamilton ("Mercedes driver to decide on F1 future after Abu Dhabi inquiry") that "Masi ... failed to apply the rules correctly in two different ways" - very much sticking his head above the parapet.

That's pretty bold for the BBC to state so clearly. And more power to him, I say. Freedom of the press, and all.

I mean, if that were the case, we can only conclude we have an illegitimate champion. Which is why F1 will never conclude this."

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5. Posted by trackrecords, 12/01/2022 10:11

"The Express used to rely on BMW press releases when stuck for copy - I wonder whose they cut and paste now?

I forgot about Bowie stuffing cut-up lyrics into his pockets. Saw that all his songs have been sold for a huge bag of gold, and there was now on sale a Hunky Dory LP picture disk (re-mastered of-course, not that there was anything wrong with Ken Scott's 1971 version and sadly, Mick Ronson couldn't do it instead): how to make money from Pretty Things now 50 years old.
"

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6. Posted by jcr, 11/01/2022 13:48

"Could not agree more about the British tabloids and the Daily Express in general,
But I was surprised You let Sky completely off the hook !!
After all they fed more info to Michael Masi in opinionated commentary than any newspaper."

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7. Posted by Editor, 11/01/2022 13:45

"@R1Racing71

Wasn't suggesting a real headline grabber merely saying that it is going to be another couple of weeks before the teams start giving details of their launches etc.

That said, we hear that F1 is "officially" up for sale.

Glad you enjoyed the piece, actually came to me while I was sleeping at around 03:00 this morning but waited a few hours before getting up and writing it. It's great when articles come to you like that."

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8. Posted by @R1Racing71, 11/01/2022 13:41

""a bona fide headline grabber is at least a couple of weeks away...."
Ooow what could it be????

Nice piece by the way, really enjoyed it."

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9. Posted by ian_w, 11/01/2022 12:06

"I think it would fair and unfortunate to call Felipe Massa a former F1 World Champion. He did after all hold the title briefly before it was taken away from him."

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10. Posted by noname33, 11/01/2022 11:44

"Thanks! This was pretty good."

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