Editorial: A question of sportsmanship

Not for the first time in 2005, Ferrari’s controversial stance on testing has drawn serious criticism. Not only have they continually refused to subscribe to the testing limits agreed by all the othe teams, but they have now reneged on the previous agreement not to test during the summer break.

Ferrari’s reasoning is simple enough: they have enough money to spend on testing, so why should they not spend it?

The answer, as has been argued time and again, is that too much emphasis is placed in modern Formula One on how much money you can spend, rather than how good a job you do. It’s a fundamental contrastbetween the ‘sport’ and ‘business’ faces of the sport. And modern Ferrari, for all their rich heritage, are excluviely about the latter, as scandals such as Austria and Indianapolis in 2002 showed.

Besides which, Ferrari and their supporters believe they have an equally valid counter-argument: that the agreement reached to limit testing by the other nine teams is nothing more than a devious ruse calculated to undermine Bridgestone, Ferrari’s tyre supplier, who have practically only Ferrari left to rely on for tyre development.

There are all sorts of reasonable responses that undermine this claim, not least of which the simple point that testing is undertaken at least as much to evaluate new car parts as to develop tyres. But recently a new and even more compelling point has arisen:

If the testing agreement was just a conspiracy to undermine Ferrari by making them stick to it, why are all the other teams still sticking by it eight months on, when Ferrari are obviously gaining an advantage through all their extra testing?

As explained elsewhere, Ferrari’s new found form may well be the key to sustaining the championship battle over the final six races, so perhaps we should not look a gift (prancing) horse in the mouth. But in the name of fair competition, it is imperative that the FIA acts soon to right the testing imbalance that grossly disadvantages the poorer team.

After all, if Bridgestone’s tyres really are so good to have taken all of the last seven drivers’ and constructors’, it shouldn’t be a problem for them to find more teams, should it?

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