It was almost unbelievable when the story broke. To order your driver to purposefully crash his car is an idea so bereft of any respect for him as a person that you could not help but think that it was made up. Therefore I think that Flavio Briatore’s indefinite FIA ban is entirely justified, a view not shared by the formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.
I heard an interview with Alex Zanardi this week, he is an ex-formula 1 driver that is now driving in the World Touring Car Championship in an adapted car and was talking about potentially competing in London 2012 in hand cycling. He is doing these thing because he has no legs. He lost them as a result of a crash in 2001. No doubt this was at the forefront of Briatore’s mind when he asked Nelson Piquet Jnr to ditch his car into the wall in Singapore last year. Suppose Piquet suffered a similar injury or even died; a very possible scenario given the massive forces involved. Was it worth the risk for more points for his teammate?
Nelson Piquet did have the option to say no but this isn’t the first time in recent weeks an athlete has given into demands from those above. The ‘bloodgate’ scandal in rugby union over the summer also highlighted the power that bosses can have over their charges. It’s right that malfunctions in their moral compasses have been harshly dealt with, hopefully it will help to reduce the pressure that professional athlete’s are experiencing to win at all costs and reduce the temptation for those in charge to apply that pressure.