The Daily Fail strikes again

Are we in the middle of a news vacuum, or something? I ask because that paragon of journalistic virtue, the Daily Mail, has taken a brief detour from its usual obsessions – you know, burning all immigrants, dole scroungers and single mums at the stake and whatnot – to commit to print what is possibly the stupidest story of the year.

Under the headline The Italian’s job: Abu Dhabi steward’s link to Ferrari… and Fernando Alonso it engages in a thoroughly muddleheaded attempt at a syllogism. I’ll save you reading the Daily Mail’s guff by summing up the proposition here:

- Emmanuele Pirro, the third steward at this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, is Italian

- Italians all love Ferraris and are therefore, as well as being institutionally corrupt, all instinctively biased towards the cause of the Ferrari F1 team

- The FIA appointed Pirro even though they’re not supposed to have driver stewards who are linked by nationality to the cause of a championship contender

- Pirro is therefore biased in favour of Fernando Alonso and the FIA smell of elderberries

- Is he a dole scrounger and a single mum as well? Probably – pass the matches, Tristan…

You don’t even have to know much about F1, or motorsport in general, to see this for the codswallop it is. Emmanuele Pirro was a test driver for McLaren and a multiple Le Mans winner (and touring car winner) for Audi. I know him well from my days in sportscar racing and can testify that not only is he a true gent, he doesn’t take orders from anybody.

During his time at Benetton in Formula 1 he was royally shafted by Flavio Briatore. About nine years ago, when Benetton became Renault, I was helping to write an ensemble feature for a magazine in which we contacted all the team’s ex-drivers and invited them to sum up their memories of their time there. When I rang Emmanuele he simply wasn’t interested in doing an on-the-record denouncement of someone who had harmed his career. “It’s a long time ago now,” he said. “In many ways it was a good opportunity for me. I have only good memories.”

Unfortunately the next person I phoned was Roberto Moreno, who spent the next 75 minutes heating my ear up with a full and frank expression of his feelings on the subject. Shame I only had space for 50 words…

Anyway, needless to say, the Daily Mail’s story has been taken up and promulgated by another F1 ‘news’ source with little connection to the real world: GMM. What a surprise!

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  • Comments (7)
    • antoine
    • November 12th, 2010

    My flabber is definitely gasted. Doesn’t the Daily Mail have a permanent F1 correspondent who’s supposed to know a bit about motor racing?

  1. The Daily Mail.
    Why am I not surprised…

  2. Shocking story. I’m getting really sick of seeing these extreme stories about F1 these days … too much rubbish and ‘us versus them’ attitudes!

  3. i wanna know what moreno said ;)

    • Steven Roy
    • November 12th, 2010

    There are a lot of people in F1 and motor racing in general that you could make these kind of accusations about but not Pirro. Anyone who ever listened to him speak could hear that he has the same enthusiasm for racing that you would expect a teenager to have. No-one with that raw enthusiasm could be corrupt.

    Apart from anything else Johnny Herbert was a steward recently when Britain had two drivers in contention for the title.

    I was always under the impression that Moreno was a thoroughly pleasant man but I can understand why he would be less than thrilled about being thrown out of the Benetton team for someone with less than 50 yards F1 racing experience and can understand why he took the opportunity to vent his spleen.

    • Stuart C
    • November 13th, 2010

    mr. c. :

    i wanna know what moreno said ;)

    Well, I was working on mini-tape then and unfortunately it’s a dead format so I don’t have a means of playback now (even if I could find the tape). Shame – it would have made an amusing transcription. The Villain of Singapore was the principal target of his ire, although if memory serves some flak also went in the direction of a badly shirted BBC TV pundit…

    After about 40 minutes my editor, who was sitting opposite, scribbled on a notepad: “ARE YOU DOING A BOOK DEAL OR SOMETHING?”

    • Steven Roy
    • November 13th, 2010

    The Villain of Singapore was the principal target of his ire, although if memory serves some flak also went in the direction of a badly shirted BBC TV pundit…

    Seems likely. Flavio fired him to make room for Schumacher and paid him a lump sum to make him go away. Ej then offered him a drive for exactly the same amount of money so basically Flavio paid EJ to swap any claim on Schumacher for Moreno.

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