Next to a feature on independent teams a small column titled, “The Max Factor” claimed FIA President Max Mosley’s stance on the issue of car manufacturers in the sport had “yo-yoed for the past five years.” (Autosport, February 8th 2007)
It went on to state, “At a Monaco meeting [in 2004], Mosley abandons the planned agenda and tells a stunned group of team principals that F1 will adopt…2.4 litre V8 engines. Aggrieved teams threaten the FIA with legal action.”
The following week a quarter-page correction (larger than the offending story) titled “The FIA” clarified the original comments: “Only two teams, BMW and Honda (not all teams as our story suggests), threatened arbitration.” But that was only the beginning.
The same article stated, “our new information makes it clear that the FIA has always welcomed world car makes to F1, but has consistently made it clear that the sport cannot rely on them.”
That article promised a further explanation of how the V8 engine rules were agreed upon in the following edition of Autosport. This was in turn postponed to last week’s issue (March 8th).
That two-page un-bylined piece “The real V8 story” claims, “most of the car manufacturers backed the move,” from V10 to V8 engines. Presented as an unbroken block of text it lacks the look and feel of an ordinary Autosport page both in appearance and content.
The sheer size of the response to an error which was made in a fairly small column indicates the FIA were seriously upset with the original claims.
If the first correction took up a surprising amount of space the second was truly astonishing. Clearly Autosport took the FIA’s objection very seriously.
I have always found Autosport to be a highly accurate and reliable source of Formula 1 news and this episode has not changed that opinion. But it does make you wonder whether the sport’s governing body might be tempted to use its power of veto over media access to Formula 1 races to stifle criticism of its policies?
Even more confusingly, an article on autosport.com from 2005 (below) insists that three manufacturers backed the arbitration – BMW, Honda and Mercedes. So where lies the truth?