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!