Sir Jackie Stewart has lambasted Formula 1 for the 'mood of self-destruction' into which it has plunged over the past two years – arguing that fans are 'disgusted at a sport which now goes from crisis to crisis with everyone blaming everyone else'.
Since 2007, the top flight has indeed lurched from one salacious controversy to another – from the espionage row involving McLaren-Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault, to FIA President Max Mosley's infamous sado-masochistic orgy éxposé, Lewis Hamilton lying to race stewards following the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne earlier this year, the FIA/FOTA civil war that very nearly ripped the sport in two and now the 'race-fixing' scandal that has already cost the heads of F1 stalwarts Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds and is threatening to drive Renault out of the paddock altogether.
Whilst acknowledging that he is in 'no position to judge' the latest incident – dubbed 'Singapore-gate', and in which Renault stands accused of ordering Nelsinho Piquet to crash out of F1's inaugural night race just under twelve months ago in order to enable then team-mate Fernando Alonso to triumph from a disadvantaged grid slot, a charge the Régie
has confirmed it will not contest – Stewart is adamant that the category frequently described as the pinnacle of international motor racing will not survive the constant blows to its reputation and credibility forever.
“What I do know is that there is something fundamentally rotten and wrong at the heart of Formula 1,” the three-time world champion is quoted as having said by Auto Trader
. “Never in my experience has F1 been in such a mood of self-destruction. Millions of fans are amazed, if not disgusted, at a sport which now goes from crisis to crisis with everyone blaming everyone else.
“There is a nervousness and fear within the teams, which is not healthy. There is no respect or trust for the individuals, or the institutions that are meant to regulate and govern the sport.”
Key amongst those institutions, of course, is the FIA, and with Mosley due to step down from the most powerful and influential post in the sport next month – following 16 years at the helm of the governing body – Stewart is adamant that there should be wholesale change.
“There needs to be a fundamental reform of all the structures of governance and management of F1, from both a regulatory and commercial standpoint,” the Scot urged. “Unless proper leadership is established soon within F1 at every level, the commercial sponsors will walk away and the sport will be seriously damaged for years to come.”