One of the stranger events in the decidedly odd weekend we’ve just had was the non-appearance of the Force Indias on TV in qualifying.
This was rumoured to be a punishment from Bernie Ecclestone for them missing FP2 and thereby giving ammunition to critics of the race.
There were alternative explanations. For example, it may have been entirely innocent – although it seems every other driver was shown during the session.
Alternatively, there were claims the cars weren’t seen as they carried alcohol advertisements – but that didn’t stop them appearing during the race coverage on Sunday.
Lending credence to the claims that Force India were “blacklisted” were these tweets from F1 journalist Adam Hay-Nicholls:
Not the 1st time they’ve been instructed not to film a certain team
Sworn to secrecy. Would open a can of worms.
All I’ll reveal is that the name of the team no longer exists
This leads us to an obvious question – assuming this is all true, which team got the same treatment as Force India in the past, and for what transgression?
One possibility that came to my mind (as I’m preparing an article on it at present) is Tyrrell breaking ranks over the FOCA boycott of the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.
Ecclestone, many will recall, was in charge of the teams’ organisation FOCA (forerunner of today’s FOTA) who agreed not to race at Imola that year. FOCA-aligned Tyrrell went ahead and raced anyway as they’d recently landed sponsorship deals with two Italian companies. This was around the same time Ecclestone set up FOCA TV to handle race broadcasts – did he take advantage of his new-found powers to get them back? In light of Tyrrell’s treatment in 1984, it seems plausible.
Interested to hear any other theories readers might have on this one.