Spygate and racism: F1 back in the news (updated)

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Interlagos, 2007 | DaimlerEvery major British newspaper has at least one Formula 1 story in it today – and they aren’t good news for the sport.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis’s home has been raided as the spygate investigations intensify. Two days ago a report in Spanish newspaper Marca alleged Mercedes were on the verge of taking over McLaren and replacing Dennis. Yesterday Mercedes denied those reports in the German media. Is Dennis on his way out of the team?

Meanwhile some newspapers have published Fernando Alonso’s latest remarks on the Lewis Hamilton racism row. Why did most of them ignore what he had to say the first time round?

I’ll answer my last question first because it’s easier. The same British newspapers that howled with indignation when the racism story broke ignored Alonso’s first comments on the subject because they came out at the same time those newspapers were running headlines about football team Chelsea boss Avram Grant receiving anti-Semitic death threats.

The tabloids can’t push their ‘Spaniards are racists’ line when they are also reporting on damning proof of the racist element still present in some areas of British life.

The news of the latest developments in the spygate story suggests the new season may begin under the same cloud of controversy that hung over the sport for most of 2007. Police searched Dennis’s home but according to The Times:

Nobody took any paperwork from anybody?s home because they looked at it and said there was absolutely nothing to worry about. Nothing physical was taken.

Speculation about Dennis’s future at McLaren has been rife ever since his admission that he was unaware of how widely Ferrari information had been disseminated within his team.

But there will also be suspicion about the need for a search of Dennis’s house coinciding with the end of pre-season testing and the imminent start of the 2008 championship.

Many have called for Dennis’s resignation but I wonder what it would achieve? It wouldn’t make the spygate scandal go away because the police are interested in more than just the man at the top – they also searched the McLaren Technology Centre.

But do McLaren need a wholesale change of leadership to ensure there is no repetition of the lapses that allowed spygate to happen?

Update: 29/2/08 – McLaren has issued a criticism of the Italian police’s handling of the investigation and threatened to involve the British government in the matter. Read more here and here.

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24 comments on Spygate and racism: F1 back in the news (updated)

  1. Also, I must say that I wonder how much these rumors/reports have had affected the morale and focus of the McLaren team with the start of the season this close. I’d like to offer a comparison from America’s own “spygate” of late- the illegal videotaping of opposing coaches hand signals by the New England Patriots of the NFL during the first week of the season.

    With the Pats set to face my beloved New York Giants in the Super Bowl this season, word surfaced the week of the game that veteran U.S. legislators were looking into the spygate sitation. The Patriots went on to lose the Super Bowl,setting their final record at 18-1 and runing their chance at only the second undefeated seaosn in NFL history.

    Sorry for venturing outside of F1 waters, but it’s a valid point. I believe the Giants got the Pats best effort in the game, but I can’t help wonder if NE was distracted a bit by all the spygate attention that week. Will these new twists and turns in the F1 spygate have any bearing on the focus at McLaren as the season begins?

  2. Bye Ron, lets see who misses you!

  3. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 29th February 2008, 14:02

    Um, he hasn’t been fired.

  4. oliver said on 29th February 2008, 17:01

    Ron Dennis is a shareholder or part owner, unless he sells the rest of his shares, he will always be a part of Mclaren.

  5. He’s no Eddie Jordan, but I’m sure a lot of people would miss him.

  6. Keith, I think that Beken is talking about Mark Hughes. Not very clear but I think that’s it.

  7. Alex Andronov,

    Thanks! I posted in the wrong place, it must be in “A first for F1Fanatic.co.uk”
    And was a (stupid!) joke about Keith´s review on the Mark Hughes book!

    Sorry Keith!

  8. Ron will limp through this season as his last, a face saving measure for his pride and ego. I think he will retire from active racing management and probably retain his shares corporately. If he manages to rehab his image by the end of the year he may even stay on as racing principal.

    My ideal scenario? Win the titles, then retire.

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